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Chico 11 September 2015

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Grandchildren via Lassen

After breakfast at Morning Glory (Yum!) we rolled over Siskiyou Pass on I-5, a truly magnificent piece of highway engineering, and around the foot of Mount Shasta (who was shyly hiding her bareness in the clouds and no picture for Her!)

We were stopped for awhile on Highway 89 for re-paving; at right, the view out the driver-side window, a beautiful transect of mature Ponderosa Forest. Looking closely, you see distress: climax trees in drought; Abundant litter on the forest floor to fuel a fire; stems too close together, encouraging over-tall trees; dead low branches to help a fire crown. An invitation to a conflagaration.

A few miles farther, and we began seeing evidence of last year's massive (31,000 acre) Eiler fire of August, 2014. The forest here is tinder dry, and a lightning strike or careless match sends it up. Below, today just outside Hat Creek town, and the view from nearby Burnie (dangerous name!) in 2014. Modest little Hat Creek lost its only restaurant, the Fireside Cafe. Be careful how you name things!

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<p>Hat Creek hillside today; the Eiler Fire above Burnie in 2014</p>

Hat Creek hillside today; the Eiler Fire above Burnie in 2014

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Emerald Lake, Mount Lassen 

The treasure the fire fighters were hoping to protect (and succeeded) in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Unlike the surrounding forest, the Park is managed to protect the forest, and the understory looks relatively clean. Here at about 8,000 feet, we stopped beside an amazingly green lake to take a diatant picture of the Park's dominant feature. 

Here at Emerald Lake we are very close to the center of the massive historical mountain, Mount Tehama, Mount Shasta's brother, who blew his top Mount Saint Helens style but 50 times more powerfully 50,000 years ago. Tehama was 11,000 feet tall and 425 cubic kilometers, bigger than Shasta or Mount Hood by about 50 cubic km. One local native legend has Tehama and Shasta as the brother and sister who formed the world -- well, not that local; the locals would have become extinct in the event! 

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<p>Lassen from Little Hot Creek; Sulfur Banks</p>

Lassen from Little Hot Creek; Sulfur Banks

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A fiery, still active volcanic area. The last major flow was in 1915 (seen from 33km distance at left), but recently (May of 1915) Lassen was again seen to be ejecting incandescent rocks from his summit. The feeling of tiptoeing across the flank of an angry living mountain is very present, much the same as on the south end of the Big Island of Hawaii or the caldera at Yellowstone.

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A little more than an hour after leaving the National Park, we were rolling down the Deer Creek Highway into Chico, where Rochelle was joyously reunited with her granchirrun Zoe (left) and Mia.

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