Saturday: Settling in.
There was a lot to wash too: the last 7 miles of the road leading to Juniper Lake are packed gravel dirt road. The layer of dirt that covered our car had provided the chicas with much entertainment and us quail parents with plenty of no-nag time to settle in.
|Dirty car art|
|The last rays of the setting sun illuminating the dome of Lassen Peak behind the lake and the trees.|
On our first afternoon we hiked to the nearby Crystal Lake, a beautiful short hike which I'll describe in the following post, as well as the hike on Monday morning to Horseshoe Lake. The rest of this post I am dedicating to the long hike we did on Sunday, to the summit of Mount Harkness and down along the southern shore of Juniper Lake.
|Dawn at Juniper Lake. The morning moon is taking a bath in the water :-)|
Sunday's hike: Mount Harkness
The Mount Harkness trail, map section scanned from Earthwalk Press' Lassen Volcanic National Park Hiking Map & Guide. Please ignore the mileage labels, they are inaccurate. Our trail is labeled in yellow. We started and finished at the campground.
|Mount Harkness trailhead|
|Mount Harkness as seen from the northern shore of Juniper Lake|
The slopes of Mount Harkness are covered with a fir forest. The forest, thick at the bottom, thins out with increased elevation and the forest floor becomes covered with vegetation - mostly flat Manzanita shrubs.
|The Spacious fir forest on the mountain slopes|
|Mats of Manzanita cover the forest open areas.|
|Red fir tree|
Mount Harkness is a shield volcano, similar to the Hawaiian ones. One practical meaning of this is that its slopes are reasonably gentle. Still, it took us 2.5 hours to reach the summit. The trees in the higher regions are sparse, separated by wide openings carpeted with still flowering shrubs.
|The mountain shoulders are covered with blooming shrubs.|
There were three dominant shrub species, growing in large patches of distinct color. The yellow mats are the blooming rabbitbrash goldenweed, the silvery-blue patch belongs to the lupine and the darker silvery-green was the mountain monardella, which gave off a strong scent of mint.
Walking up we disturbed two bucks and a doe that ran across the clearing in search of a different shelter. I managed to catch the doe on camera:
|A doe crossing the clearing|
|Butterfly visiting a pale mountain monardella|
|Butterfly visiting the rabbitbrush goldenweed|
|10500 ft tall Lassen Peak overseeing the park|
|Juniper Lake, view from Mount Harkness|
We could faintly see Mount Shasta in the far horizon but it didn't come out well in the photos. We did, however, got a nice view of Cinder Cone, just below Prospect Peak's slope line. As nice a view as we could get through the smoky air.
We hiked down north-westward on the trail leading to Werner Valley. This trail is considerably steeper and rocky and evidence of past eruptions were displayed all around us.
|A pile of broken volcanic rock|
|A volcanic rock bulging from the ground|
|A yellow pine chipmunk|
we encountered along the way
The trail down reaches a 4-way intersection and we took a right turn, going down to the south shores of Juniper lake. It was nearly two o'clock and the day has already turned hot. There was no one else around so we took advantage of our isolation and took a nice, refreshing dip in the lake. The water was colddddddd!
|Juniper Lake, view from its south west corner|
|Juniper Lake, a view from near the campground.|