10 November 2009

Boiling Springs Lake

Warner Valley, Lassen Volcanic National Park

Locate the trailhead.

This was a quick hike late in the day before driving back home. Warner Valley is along a road that goes into the park and stops a bit east of the main road. A sign in Chester pointed the way to the park road. Keeping left, then right brought me to a small parking lot for the Pacific Crest Trail well after the road had turned to gravel. The trail had many junctions but was well signed. Someone had written in "Boiling Lake" on the one sign post that forgot to mention it. The lake itself was a very easy 1.5 mile up the trail which has a loop around it. It's so easy, or maybe the land so cold this time of year, that I was quite comfortable in my thermals the whole way up to the thermal feature.

The road actually goes up to a ranch just past the trailhead. I followed the PCT along through some sloshy grasses and over a small but fast stream to a footbridge across a small but fast river. Above the river, looking down the trail, steam could be seen rising from the grasses. The trail passes along what appears the be the head of a hot spring that is flowing down to where the ranch is though on the other side of the river.

Stream and steam.
Steam rising from a tiny stream bed sourced by a hot spring near my feet and headed on down in the direction of a local ranch.

I came to a sign marking the trail for the loop around the lake and took it even though no lake was yet visible. It turned out there were two places on that side of the lake to turn off for the loop, the second much closer to the lake. I quickly came upon it anyway.

Red dirt shaped by the thermal forces below.
Some bits of the land around the lake take of a funny shape and color. The trail I took avoided walking too near to this, which may or may not be particularly stable.

Lake obscured by steam rising from it among more warped land.
The lake is just beyond, among more warped red land.

The warps of the land.
The land sinks down to the lake which is not all that deep although the sides are steep.

I continued around the lake. Nothing else in the area seemed to be steaming but many funny features could be seen to the lake itself. There were a few spots that looked to be the source of water, hot or otherwise.

Funny feature, a pool at the side of the lake with a hole in it.
A spring, which does not seem to be steaming itself, welling up at the side of the lake.

Puddles of steaming mud at the upper end of the lake.
At the top part of the lake, being the opposite side from the outlet, muddy puddles form and steam.

At the upper end of the lake (as I started around the loop, I crossed a dry stream bed that drains the lake, so that is the lower end), I came to a bit of snow on the ground even though this is a low section of the park.

A bit of snow on the ground and steam in the background.
Upwind of the lake doesn't have the mild sulfur smell or the warmth from the lake allowing a bit of snow to remain.

The loop came back to the main trail and a sign teased me that it was only about 1.5 mile further up to something called Terminal Geyser but I had to admit it would be even colder when it became dark, which was coming soon. And also that it would be a long drive still once I got back to the start of the trail.

Lake and mountain.
The mountains on this overcast day.

Lake from the other side.
Another view of the lake. The different shores have very different character.

From the trail I could see spots where the water was bubbling up from below. I tried to photograph it, but it was almost totally obscured by the low light and steam. As I walked back along the trail, I noticed that the edge of the valley I was in also had steep edges that fell down to a rather flat bottom much like the lake.

Steep cliff edges around the edge of the valley.
The valley edge is made of cliff faces in among the trees.

And so I continued to hike back to the car with the light starting to fail although the sun shouldn't have been quite down yet. I met another hiker coming up the trail as I went down even though I thought I'd started later than I should.

Back to the spring.
And thus I get back to the hot spring dribbling it's steamy way down the hillside.

Back to the river.
And back to the river rushing along.

©2009 Valerie Norton
Posted 14 November 2009

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