Mount Lassen: Hiking dumbly unprepared

There is a certain degree of glory in knowing that #1 Fan and I were some of the very first people to hike to the top of Mount Lassen this year. The road just opened last Friday and so we decided that Monday seemed like a great day to make the hour and a half drive up from my mom’s house to enjoy all that our National Park system has to offer.
The only problem in all of this is that while the road to the peak was open, the trail was still about 2/3 covered in snow. They warned of us this going in, but we didn’t think too much of it until we got to the parking lot and saw that it wasn’t a little dusting of snow, but a serious snow pack that made it hard to even figure out where the trail was. Being ever so curious, we stepped up the first switchback on the trail. Then we went on the next one and then the next. Before we knew it, we were about halfway up the 600 meter incline and we decided to go the rest of the way, passing a CAL Fire inmate crew on the way up who were carving the first real trail of the year.
It didn’t end up being that bad. Tiring yes, as walking 600 meters in 4km is pretty intense, but it’s definitely much more of a hike and not a climb. Hell, I even did it as a kid when I was about eight, so it really isn’t that bad. The only real catch is that we weren’t expecting to make the climb. We just started and then kept going. Amazingly we had the camera with us, but just one lens. We also thought to bring sunscreen, but in an amazingly bout of stupidity, didn’t put it on before the hike, which given the altitude and glare from the snow has made from some very fresh, wicked sunburns. I’m actually sunburned on the front of my neck and under my chin. I don’t think I’ve ever even been able to tan there much less get burned there.
Oh yeah, we also did this hike in running shoes because again, we were expecting a dirt trail and not the Yukon Territory. In the end though, it was worth it. The views are quite magnificent from up top there from 3230 meters. It’s just a shame that the lakes around the peak were snowed over and still frozen. You can see what should have been Emerald Lake below, but instead was more of a skating rink. Usually, it looks like this when not frozen.
It makes me realize as I reflect back on my Hawaii trip last year, that apparently one of my new hobbies is hiking in the wrong footwear. I don’t really know what to tell you about this hobby, but it’s edgy and it gets you some funny looks from the people with the expensive hiking boots and poles. Sure, you can feel like a rebel in this new (dare I say, “extreme”) sport, but one of these days you’ll end up getting frostbite and then you won’t feel like such a rebel anymore.
Check out my Lassen Photo Album if you want all the good stuff.
Mount Lassen: Hiking dumbly unprepared