Friday morning we packed up the car, including the nice new car hat, and headed out. We managed to fit everything in the hat and the trunk except for one box, so the backseat was a little cramped but there was room for four people and the camping gear.
Just after the entrance to the park proper, there were some fallen rocks on the road. I went around one, but the other one was right in the middle of the lane and looked pretty low to the ground, so I went over it. Had the car been riding at its normal height, this would probably have worked. However, the car was not in fact at its normal height, given several hundred pounds of extra people and camping gear. I did not actually tear the bottom out of the car, but it sure sounded like it. We kept a sharp eye out the back window for leaks the rest of the way up the road.
Once we got up to the campground, we set up the tent. Here is Andres inspecting the tent to be sure it's set up right:
(As we were leaving, two days later, he looked at that rock -- that one, there, less than two feet away from him -- and asked where it had come from. Note its convenient position right in front of the door.)
Once camp was set up, andres_s_p_b, brooksmoses, and I took a walk around the lake to admire the lime green lichen on the trees, the interesting wavy patterns in the trees' trunks, and so forth. Andres demonstrated how to fill the entire lake with ripples.
Then we had dinner and Andres scavenged charcoal from the firepits in all the neighboring empty campsites, since we hadn't come in by the park entrance with firewood for sale. After dinner and smores, we lay out a blanket and watched the stars.
Saturday morning brooksmoses and I went to buy proper firewood and gas for the car (the last-chance gas station in Mineral, California, has recently closed) at the other park entrance while andres_s_p_b and chinders made pancakes. They also converted some pears that had gotten squashed in the cooler into very tasty sauce.
After breakfast, we hiked out to Bumpass Hell, a geothermically active hotspot, filled with fumaroles and extremely hot bubbling pools and boiling mudpits. It was great!
The hike itself was very pretty, full of wildlife (chimpunks and clickybugs), interesting rocks and trees, and great views.
Brooks didn't want to climb out on this little rock peninsula, which provided an extremely fantastic but not very photographable view in the general direction of down.
Eventually we reached the fumaroles.
This pool and the stream leading from it are black with tiny iron pyrite crystals. Sulfur is responsible for most of the yellow deposits. I'm not sure what's behind the turquoise.
We took our lunch to a very pleasant picnic area near Kings Creek, and then hiked out to the falls. Most of the hike was nice, but part of it was a very steep climb down a tall pile of rocks. We were really tired by the time we got to the falls.
(We blame the oxygen. The height at which we were hiking meant that we were getting about 3/4 as much oxygen as we're used to, spoiled sea-level-dwelling creatures that we are.)
But it was worth it.
On Sunday we had breakfast and packed up the car, then visited a few more bits of the park. We drove north so that andres_s_p_b and chinders could see some of the different landscapes up that way and visited the Devastated Area Interpretive Loop.
This rock was flung from the volcano in 1914.
We also stopped by the Sulphurworks, an area of fumaroles and so forth that is right next to the road. Apparently there used to be an interpretive trail there, too, but the mudpits ate it.
There are lots more neat things in the park that we didn't get to see because they were harder to get to. We'll have to go back some time, either for a longer trip or when we're in better shape, to try the more challenging parts.