26 July 2012

Brokeoff Mountain

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Locate the trailhead.

Passing the entrance station and halfway to the park boundary from there, a parking lot marks the start of the trail up Brokeoff Mountain. My hope had been to go up Lassen Peak, but since the park is doing a multiyear trail rehabilitation project and has that trail closed somewhere between half and two-thirds of the way up we came here instead. This trail is considered more pleasant but does go up to a shorter peak after climbing a longer distance. We passed some tiger lilies in the stream just before the lot and starting up the trail were greeted by more of them and other flowers as well.

tiger lily
The trail crosses the stream, or attempts it for a while, near where a number of tiger lilies hang.

purple bells on their way to seed
Some purple bell flowers that are on their way to seed.

bright orange columbine with some white hemlock
A perfect columbine among some white flowers that probably get called hemlock by some.

monk's hood
Some larkspur, maybe slightly old.

Once past the section of trail that crosses many bits of stream, some of them following it, the wildflowers didn't quit, they only changed. The trail climbs fairly steadily through lush forests and meadows, each with its own flower arrangements.

penny royal
Pennyroyal bursting out all over.

field with stripes of color from blooming flowers
Mule ears, paintbrush, and pennyroyal in strips in a field.

lines of grass in a pond
A pond split into many by the tough grasses that have taken hold within it.

We started to climb more sharply above the small lakes along the stream. A small creek ran down at a steep angle and a larger lake could be seen just around the hill it came down far below our elevation. A little more climbing and we crossed this, the last of the water, and climbed out into a more exposed area of the mountain, but first we stopped by some trees with a view for a bit of food.

creek coming down a steep hill
Not quite the right angle to see the large lake behind it, or at least the suggestion of one, but this line of green is the last water.

shallow ponds below big rocks nearby
Looking down from that same spot, we've climbed a bit since being near the stream below.

flowers with a small beetle on them
Another flower common to the area, this one wearing an ornamental beetle as a hat.

looking around the old caldera
A seat for lunch with a really good view.

ants killing a wasp
A life or death struggle carried out on the puzzle piece bark of a Jeffery pine. The wasp was climbing on the bark and the ants found it. They bit and tugged it until it could struggle no more.

Starting off again, we still had quite a few feet to gain. The trail climbed and climbed, almost never having a switchback. It just wrapped itself around the mountain, a bit or ridge, and then some more mountain. We seemed to travel the whole of the east and south slopes of it before finally the trail turned back on itself and climbed to the top. On the way, we passed stone built into a circle for something. The top is flat over a square area and has a few cables, the remains of a fire lookout that once sat there.

the view off the south slope
The loose south slope generally served as a good trailbed except for some slippage. The trees don't seem to like it so much, probably because of the slippage.

Lassen from near the top of Brokeoff
Lassen and the old caldera of Tehama from near the top of Brokeoff. The peak of Brokeoff is just a little way up along the cliffs on the right.

some sort of round structure
Rocks cemented in a circle that look rather like a well, except the top of a volcano remnant is probably not a good place to dig for water.

Once at the top, we spent a good like time taking in all the color of the nearby topography. Looking far, we could see Shasta rising into the clouds and still wearing a cloak of snow. One fellow came up, glanced around, and went back down while we were there. We just continued to soak it in.

Tehama caldera
The valley that is the old Tehama caldera and where things still bubble up scalding hot stretched out below us.

ridge of remnents of Tehama
Ridge stretching out somewhat northward that is more of the remnants of Tehama. When I climbed up past Ridge Lakes, I stood in the saddle where yellow rocks turn to generally brown rocks.

down the cliffs
A glance down a chute on the loose cliff on the north side of the peak.

shasta in the distance
Shasta trying to hide in the distance.

Eventually, we headed down again, enjoying the abundant wildflowers as we went.

little yellow flowers
Small yellow flowers that were up near the top of the mountain.

purple flowers
These were very abundant on the south side of the mountain, but only above a certain elevation.

flowers by the creek
Down to the creek again, we stopped for water so had time to really see all the flowers that were there.

tiny things on tall stems
These tiny flowers were growing right by the water's edge.

yellow flower
A touch of yellow along the way.

shooting stars
A couple of shooting stars beside the creek.

The clouds were coming in, keeping things nice and cool even as we lost elevation. We had a touch of trouble going the wrong way as the trail crossed a meadow but others had tried to make it around leaving a second trail. The other side of the meadow has a similar trail to help those going up go astray. Besides that, the trail is well defined and we quickly found ourselves back off the mountain.

small meadow
A meadow along the side when we are nearing the bottom of the trail.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 2 Aug 2012

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