Date: June 7 and July 28, 2015
Place: Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mineral, California
Coordinates: 40.437256, -121.533283
Length: about 4 miles
Last summer I was privileged to share the wonders of Lassen Volcanic National Park with a group of families from the Bay Area. On our final group day we hiked to Mill Creek Falls, by the south-west entrance to the park. My original plan was to take the group hiking to Kings Creek Falls. That trail, however, has been closed for maintenance work. Although hiking to Mill Creek Falls was my Plan B, it was no less a spectacular hike.
|My hike to Mill Creek Falls as captured by my GPS|
I hiked this trail twice last summer. The first time was early in June. Normally the beginning of the bloom season there. Last June, however, wildflowers were already at peak bloom.
|Sticky Cinquefoil (Drymocallis glandulosa)|
|Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata)|
The mule ear bloom was still on the up-curve. Most of the plants sported at least one open inflorescence, and none that was already done.
The mule ear is the dominant plant on that open hillside, but walking between them reveals that it isn't the only one. As I was walking down the trail and around the hill's contour I spotted more wildflowers nestled in the sea of mule ears.
|Bindweed (Calystegia sp.)|
The hound's tobgue is very common early spring flower. There are lots of them in the Bay Area. It was on that hike, however, thatI saw a white one for the first (and so far the last) time.
|Dog's Vomit Fungus|
A reminder that I was walking on a volcano - the exposed basalt of Bumpass Mountain on which I was walking.
I was descending along Mill Creek, listening to the increasing noise of rushing water. Then, all of a sudden there was a viewing terrace and the Mill Creek Falls came into view in all their glory:
After enjoying the view I continued down the trail to the top of the falls. There were more lovely flowers on the way down.
Ishi, the last of the Yahi people that used to live in that area before the gold rush. Within a few decades since the first white settlement in the Sacramento River area, the Yana tribe of whom the Yahi were the southern tribelet were completely eradicated by starvation caused by the settler's encroachment of their land and by active man-hunting and a series of massacres that left but a handful of fugitives trying to survive while hanging on to their ethnic and cultural identity. After a final raid had disbanded the last survivors Ishi was left all alone. He suffered loneliness and famine and eventually had turned himself in at a cattle ranch near Oroville where he was taken into custody. Within days he was transferred to the custody of an anthropologist from UC Berkeley and he was taken to San Francisco where he lived in the Hearst Museum and shared his tribal knowledge for five years until he contracted tuberculosis and passed away on 1916.
The deep canyon if Mill Creek was for a while the primary hiding place for Ishi's people . I was looking at the land of people now extinct for the ignorance and greed of the European-descent settlers that flooded California during and following the gold rush.
|6 weeks later - parched Mule Ears on the hillside|
Brokeoff Mountain is the second highest peak in the park. There is a hiking trail to its summit, too. But that hike would have to wait for another visit to Lassen, because on my July visit to the park, after our hike to Mill Creek Falls, I took my chikas to hike all the way up Lassen Peak.