the lee of twisty pines —
high jets crossing the stars
In the morning I found a hiker sitting on the picnic tables in the hike/bike site. He figured he’d camp at Burney Falls for a week or so, hike the trails, “maybe take the PCT over and then hike up Lassen Peak”. As he outlined his plans he crushed a package of ramen, filled it with water cold from the tap and stirred in a can of tuna. Breakfast of champions. You meet some real characters sometime in the h/b sites but I’ve only ever run into these outdoor enthusiast vagrants here in California. I made my own breakfast and packed up and headed out. But on my way out I stopped and did the short hike to Burney Falls and what stunning falls these are. Two big cascades free falling into a big round pool with countless little streamers running out of the pumice stone.
Today I was going to be on the 89 all the way to Lassen Nat’l Park and the first few miles were just like they’d been yesterday – among time pine trees, dusty shrubbery like sage and thistle, no shoulder on the road and a mix of traffic. But shortly I entered the section that had been closed due to the wildfires until just a couple of days ago. The fire led right to the road and eventually both sides of the road. The trees were blackened husks, the ground often burnt to just black stone revealing the contours of the land. The hills above were all just remnants of trees and I could see a few active twists of smoke rising here and there. Fire traffic was everywhere and cleanup crews were out there cutting down dead dangerous trees. There were a few amazingly preserved cabins and houses with the fire damage three quarters of the way around. In some sections there were smoldering piles of ash heaped along the road reminding me of nothing so much as the summer we spent in Idaho after Mt. St. Helens had spewed ash everywhere.
Out of the burnt sections I eventually emerged and climb up to this plateau like a bowl with mountains all around. Hot up there, fully exposed under the midday sun but happily with a stiff tailwind. But on passing through Old Station – the last “town” before the park the road turned or the wind shifted and I was facing the winds for the climb up to the park. A fairly long gentle climb through the woods, which as usual become increasingly dense as the elevation increases, it wasn’t a terrible climb to Eskimo Hill Summit at 5933′.
It was a short couple of miles to Lassen Volcanic National Park where I hoped to camp to it. But it’s a national park and it’s a Saturday so I’d been scoping out places outside the park in case I needed to wild camp. But on arriving at the Manzinita Lake Campground I talked to the campground hosts and they told me there was one site left, which I immediately grabbed. Unlike most national parks I’ve been too this one had a store and showers and even laundry. While I was utilizing some of those resources I ran into a fellow touron who commented on my Rivendell hat. I ended up talking into the evening with this fellow and his three companions. They were all out of Sacramento and really hooked into the utility/practical cycling scene but also touring and bike packing. Good to meet some fellow travelers.
scorched black stone,
clouds of ash,
like a campfire, still smoking,
all the way into the hills.
Through the burnt out land
a tiny, clear brook runs snakelike
along the road