Start of the trail up Mt. Lassen
Wildflowers everywhere. And mobs? swarms? flocks? of butterflies, even up at 10,500'.
Pristine, icy Lake Helen far below. I touched the water there once on another trip and it felt colder than the snow from which it had melted. A swimming pool for a higher order of beings, perhaps.
Since this hat was the replacement for one that got stolen on an Amtrak to Salt Lake a few years ago, I was not about to risk it being blown away into the void. Chin strap - check.
There is always room at the top, if not solitude.
Near the crater at the top were a lot of these lumpy boulders that looked like they were warm when they landed, like great big cookies shot out of the oven (though the cookie-shooter is a hard to find optional feature on most kitchen ovens). To use the scientific terminology.
Mt. Shasta through the haze, over the rim of the Lassen crater. It looks like it's the only thing left in the world from this perspective.
The whole hike, including the pause at the top to send some text messages and update my Facebook status, took three hours. It's a steady climb up for 2.5 miles but not technical and all ages of people were moving up or down the trail. Sneaking off during the week sometime would likely offer more of a serene hiking experience, but on the other hand, one can't help but be glad that people are out showing their kids what the world looks like from the top of a mountain. And a volcano to boot.