Sunday, June 05, 2016

Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park

Bumpass Hell Basin, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Bumpass Hell contains the largest concentration of geothermal features in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The hike is 3 miles round trip to the start of the boardwalk with 300 ft change in elevation, but add another 0.5 mile if you plan to explore the whole Bumpass Hell basin. Usually, the trail opens July 1st, so I did not expect we could take this trail because we were there on the first and second day of summer, June 21st and June 22nd. However, at the time we were there, the trail just opened, we're lucky!
Warning Sign at the Trailhead because of snow pack (but at the time we were there, trail was already officially opened)
There were still signs of dangerous trail conditions, but we did not approach the trail without permission from the park. The trail was already well defined but just 75% covered with snow, thanks to the park rangers who prepared the trail for visitors. 
Snow Covered Slopes to Bumpass Hell
At first, I struggled walking in the snow covered trail since I was used to using trekking poles when hiking in snow covered slopes. I had to sled (or slide) instead of walking when it was downhill, carefully avoiding the rocks or trees. When it was uphill, I had to stick my hiking shoes deep in the snow to avoid from sliding down. Thankfully, after a while, I picked up my confidence of not falling despite having no trekking poles ( forgot to bring the hiking poles ), and the walk had become easier. Also, the trail became more level.
Level Trail to Bumpass Hell Basin
Bumpass Hell could not be viewed from the trailhead which is at the Bumpass Hell Parking lot. Nevertheless, the view at the parking lot is still worth stopping and taking in. After a little over a mile of hike, we had our first glance of Bumpass Hell Thermal Basin. Its colorful and exquisite beauty is probably far from hell. 
First View of Bumpass Hell Basin from the trail
From here, the trail descends 100 ft on snow covered slopes. Though it looks pretty much a winter scenery, but this was early summer and the temperature was in the 50's (low 10's  in Celsius temperature) already making the hike actually a very comfortable one, not too warm you will be sweating throughout nor too cold to freeze one's sweat when resting. 
Downhill Trail to Bumpass Hell Basin
The Bumpass Hell Basin is filled with various steaming pools, multi colored soils (even the snow had some red color ), stained orange, red, brown, yellow and green from sulfur and other minerals. 
Warm River at Bumpass Hell Basin
At the basin, Bumpass Hell smelt like rotten eggs from the sulfur. The stream that flows out of the basin is whitish, acidic and warm. Bumpass Hell has 3 of the 4 main types of geothermal features. These are: fumaroles, mudpots and hot springs. Lassen Volcanic does not have geysers unlike in Yellowstone National Park. Geyser requires specific rock type, water depth, and sub-soil temperature which Lassen does not have. What it lacks, Lassen Volcanic compensates by offering a more tranquil and peaceful setting (being California's least visited National Park in the mainland probably). 
Big Boiler, Bumpass Hell
At the basin, listening to the geothermal action seemed like listening to Earth's heartbeat. The noise is from the underground magma which heats the groundwater and pushing it up and out, mixing with minerals along the way.
 Big Boiler Up Close
Big Boiler has reached 322 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the hottest fumaroles in the world. Several wooden boardwalk leads to various point of interest across the basin. There are several large hot pools, from gray to blue in color, some with simmering and bubling water, while others were calm, but you can tell its hotness from the smoke atop the pool.
Turquoise Hot Pool at Bumpass Hell Basin
There are many mudpots in the area with varying viscosity, steaming soil, small water fountains, and noisy fumaroles ( or sulfurous steam vents ). But Bumpass Hell Basin is not about "HOT" at all, in fact, there are some cold water pool right next to the boiling pool.
Reflecting Cold Emerald Water Pool
The Bumpass Hell thermal area speaks of hot and cold combined.
Hot and Cold, Snow and Steam @ Bumpass Hell
Bumpass Hell is one of the best viewable volcanism in action within the US. The last eruption was in 1915, however, the rising fumarole temperatures in the park does not eliminate the possibility of an eruption in this very tranquil and uncrowded National Park.
Hiking Out of Bumpass Hell, with Lassen Peak in the Background

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  1. Welcome back, Betchai!

    I knew you would have wonderful, beautiful pictures to share. It's summer for us here in Michigan, and you're enjoying snow there? How remarkable!

  2. Spectacular images, Betchai! Very interesting geothermal features, and the colors of the rocks and water are beautiful. It must have been an exciting hike.

  3. welcome back to civilization,betchai! lol. gosh, you're living the life that i can only dream of. you're so blessed! i'm glad you're sharing your experiences and amazing photos with us.

  4. I think this has to be one of your most amazing posts ever!! Never seen such beauty or a warm river!!

  5. Welcome back.. Very interesting report and pics as always. Looks like Yellowstone with the hot springs and geysers! I have not been here, but will have to put it on my must visit list. Looking forward to more from this trip:)

  6. Glad you are back and nice to see lots of very interesting places! Great pictures!!

  7. Hello,

    I am new here, but no doubt that immediately your blog is one of my fave! I love visiting national park and states and your blog have it all :-)
    You did a great job with the picture, now you made me really think to pack my stuff and go!!

  8. hullo kimchai! welcome back! your pictures are postcard perfect. you should start a travel document coffee table book. am a fan sis!!

  9. Welcome back Miss Beth!

    What a great post to start the series on your adventure... :D

    Nature indeed is full of dualities... While from one setting, it's churning its hot bowels, in the other it is placid, calm and comforting...

    Indeed the place is far from hell... I like your close up of the big boiler... But my favorite is the pic of the water pool... Must be my eyes but the water seems moving the more I stare at it... :D It is very inviting and a dip would be refreshing I guess...

  10. This looks like an amazing place. It's something I would love to see many times. It's strange that it's the least visited park, but maybe that's because of all of the snow.

  11. betchai, i agree with anonymously yours love about the travel document coffee table book! you have what it takes to make one, girlah!

    oh! i love the cold emerald water pool...makes me want to touch the water...great calming effect!

  12. What an amazing looking place to visit. I am glad you are back from someplace named Hell, kind of scary sounding.

  13. Another great series of pictures, nobody would like to miss.
    The different experience to trek on snow is kind of new to me and is not belonged to me too.

  14. Wow.. the warm river's a stunning piece! Great work.

  15. AMAZING!

    My eyes were popping out like crazy viewing from photo to photo! ..hey they aren't simple..they are simply glorious! i could feel the temperature there, i could almost hear and touch everything!

    -the Big Boiler Up Close; the Turquoise Hot Pool; Reflecting Cold Emerald Water Pool are my favorites!

    and yah of course that smile of yours holding the Warning Sign at the Trailhead he he he he...need i mention the wonderful blue skies!!!?? he he he

    love yah Bethchai!

  16. Welcome back, betchai. It looks as though you had a great time as well as a good workout on those snow-covered hills! What gorgeous photos. The steam rising off of the hot pools is so well-captured. And I love that blue pool...just beautiful.

  17. That is so beautiful. I love the steam rising up.

  18. Glad you're back. You've got some great vacation pictures. Is there still snow out there?

    Hope you enjoyed your SF visit. The flag you saw in my blog was the Croatian flag. I'll be heading to SD again a couple of times the next few months.

  19. A cool place to go.

    I went to this kind of place when I was in New Zealand. I can't remember the place. But the whole area was really smelly. Smell of sulphur. Hehehe

  20. Bethchai welcome back dear!

    interesting and beautiful place! remind of " Volcano Solfatara " in Italy two years ago. The sulfuric mud, the smell like a roten egg, only different is there's no snow there ;) is there snow now there Beth? amazing we have about 30°C here! thanks for sharing your trip to us Beth. Again you've done a good job my dear friend.

  21. Welcome back, Betchai. The photos are beautiful! The steam rising up was well captured.

  22. ever thought of the reason why i call u BEST? simply because you are the BEST! you unselfishly share with us your amazing talent and God's gifts... what more can we ask for? THANK YOU, BEST!

    btw,i wanted to comment on the photos but couldn't find words that are not "understatements"...

    salamat ulit sa walang kasing sarap namnamin na pasalubong!

  23. WOW Betchai, you're back with more beautiful pictures to share! But I wonder why it's called Bumpass Hell, looking at those picturesque photos, they're actually "heaven!"

    Anyway, i'm sorry haven't been visited here for a couple of days, I've been resting and abit lazy lately.... But it's good to be back here!!

    Debbie :)

  24. very nice place but I don't think I can trek there. i love the hot pools, mudpools and most esp the cold pool. so vividly clear. nice shots betchai, i enjoyed your trip!

  25. Man, really want to know how can you be that smart, lol...great read, thanks.

  26. last few days our group held a similar talk on this subject and you illustrate something we haven't covered yet, appreciate that.

    - Kris

  27. Hot and cold in the same place. Maybe that is how it got its' name. Awesome snaps :)