Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Weekend To Celebrate.

A story told in reverse chronological order. The pictures were taken on my return journey. I had come home safely from a celebration weekend under the gaze of an imposing mountain. Getting home safe from a motorcycle adventure is always worth a toast. We don't like surprise endings in motorcycle stories, the cliche and boring "Home safe and sound" ending never gets old in our world. 

It had been a great ride, astride my fire breathing monster of a steed. Fire breathing both literally as in it was a 100+ degrees outside and the heat from this 1298 cc engine between my knees was roasting my ... ahem ... nuts, and figuratively as in some scorching performance on the winding roads of the Sierra mountains.

It's not unlike the well muscled and sculpted steed of this Pony Express rider, whose statue stands (gallops?) in Old Sacramento, where I stopped for a few minutes on my way home, but the monster of an FJR doesn't need a whip to goad it to go where I point it to, and go there fast, it just needs a gentle roll of the right wrist..

A well oiled machine, esp if it is a Yamaha (or Honda, or Kawasaki, or Suzuki), gives unparalleled and reliable performance. It took a good amount of work to get this machine back into shape, as I re-built it, because the last time I was where I was visiting, I was coerced to drop it .. on both sides. ;) 

Some things, however, maybe be beyond repair and sometimes you wouldn't even want or care to. Just outside of and after visiting Lassen National Park, I found this decayed barn, the roof had collapsed and split into two and it was a good contrast to the new barn next to it. It was private property, so I didn't venture near it and did the best I could taking a picture from near the roadside. 

Lassen National Park is a great escape from the heat of summer. Typically, when the Sacramento Valley and the I-5 corridor in Northern California is sweltering in triple digit heat, the park is nice and cool and refreshing. Also, if you are passing through the park south to north and had just traversed through the fire pits to get here, then stop at the visitors center and enjoy an ice cold fruit smoothie! I was passing through the park north to south, but I ordered one anyway. Something cold to hold on to as I dropped elevation and headed towards the smoldering valleys..

There is still a lot of snow left in the park. The parking lot and picnic area at Lake Helen at 8200' is still closed and covered with several feet of snow. Lake Helen is almost thawed out. 

Contrary to the beliefs of some who think the lake occupies a volcanic crater. It is actually a glacial lake occupying a cirque formed by glacial erosion. 

A previous view of Lake Helen and Hwy 89 skirting the south side of the lake. You can also see Brokeoff Mountain (not to be confused with Brokeback Mountain - not that there is anything wrong with it, but it's not that kind of a story), Mt. Diller and Pilot Peak.

... and yet another look at the same peaks from Bumpass Hell lookout. 

One of my favorite shots of the day. "The road to Mt. Lassen." I had first taken this shot in July of 2012. The bike looks somewhat different from what it looked like last year, so I had to recreate the shot and bring it up to date! Yes, I know the aux. light on the right fork is missing, it has been awaiting a warranty replacement since February.. :(

Kings Creek and Upper Meadows pull offs were teeming with cars who had pulled off so the kiddos can monkey around on the snow accumulated on the road side, as well as in Kings Creek itself. They had the easiest access to Kings Creek. Nevertheless, I parked a little distance away from the curious monkeys and walked over to Kings Creek, except here there was a big and steep snow bank between me and the creek. Not wanting to risk a slip and fall, I took my shot from where I stood instead. The meadow still hasn't recovered fully from spending Winter buried under several feet of snow. In a couple months time if not sooner, it will be lush green again.

This glimpse caught my eye as I headed towards Upper Meadows. Fortunately, right after it did, I spied a pull off which would barely fit a car, so I stopped and walked back to take it all in. In the distance, you can see Lake Almanor and the leading edge of a brewing storm which would cool off the valley in the following week, a welcome changed after it had burned in hell all weekend. 

A previous view of Lake Almanor in the distance from another pull off. As you can see still a lot of snow in the park in the upper elevations. 

A towering Mt. Lassen as viewed from the Devastated Area. The recovered flora in the area masks the wrath this area incurred from Mt. Lassen when it last erupted in 1917. There are easy hiking trails in this area I would like to do one of these days. One of the pitfalls of traveling on a street motorcycle, we stick close to the road and whiz pass some great sights which can only be seen if we ventured a bit off of it. No, dirt bikes wouldn't help either. They are allowed on some trails in the Lassen National Forest, but are not allowed in the park. 

Manzanita Lake is near the North entrance to the park. I had been looking for a spot to photograph Mt. Lassen with Manzanita Lake in the foreground and after a short hike I found just the spot. There were some kayaks in the water, but they were all pretty far away from me. Wish there was one closer..and wish the water was calmer for a reflection, and wish the trees weren't so tall, and wish....ohh the silly wishes of photographers..

As I was heading towards Lassen National Park, I made a detour to go see some waterfalls. The most popular one in the area is Burney Falls, which is also a State Park and being a state park in Kalifornia, they want to charge you $15 for an entrance fee, which might make sense if you were planning to camp in the area etc, but $15 for one to spend 1/2 hour in the park to take some pictures? For comparison, Lassen National Park fees are only $5 for motorcycles and is good for 1 week. Needless to say I told them (in my head) to stuff it. Unlike the Summer months, the park isn't staffed by rangers in the Fall and maybe early Spring. So, if you want to go see the falls and they are raging all year, go in the early Spring or Fall. 

Long story short, instead of Burney Falls, I found myself some other waterfalls. No fee to boot! 

A short hike and you can see the Upper Falls on the McCloud River. 

Another view of Upper Falls. 

Some more riding and a very short hike later, you see the Middle Falls on the McCloud River. If you feel so inclined, you can hike down all the way to the base of the Falls. It's a steep hike, but one of these days I want to do this! Most definitely! 

Another view of Middle Falls. 

And yet another. This was my favorite waterfall! 

Which brings me to my least favorite picture of Lower Falls. The sun was shining directly on the waterfall and my bridge camera just couldn't compensate no matter what I tried and left me with a white apparition where a waterfall should be. Included just for completeness. I will have to come back and I gladly will! :)

It also looks to be a great swimming hole doesn't it? :)

I have been saving the best for the last and the reason I wrote this ride report in reverse chronological order. There was a purpose for my little weekend trip,  it was Uncle Rick's birthday party in beautiful Lake Shastina. Aunt Corinne is a  gourmet cook beyond compare. Birthday dinner was a 1" thick Rib-eye steak, creamy sauce pasta, salad greens and brownies a-la-mode for dessert! Yum!! We ate great food, we drank great wine, we played Blackjack and then talked and caught up late into the night! 

Happy Birthday Uncle Rick!! It was wonderful to celebrate with my American Family!

The view from the house is also delightful. I can never tire of this view. Every time I am here, I can't help but we awed by the overwhelming size of Mt. Shasta. Nothing in the vicinity to come even close to rivaling it, a towering giant rising up into the heavens! I maybe biased, but one of my favorite views of Mt. Shasta.

Thank you very much for reading! :)


  1. Gorgeous photos. The snow against the blue sky. So pretty.

    But I have to say that view of Mt. Shasta is that last pic is a stunner.

    Very nice.

  2. The photos of snow are much welcome, I am getting so homesick for Oregon's green! The waterfalls are beautiful as are all the photos, such nice compositions. :) Thank you for posting your wanderings, it is lovely to take in another adventure.

  3. Thank you, both of you! :)

    Sabrina meet Trobairitz, Trobairitz meet Sabrina. Trobairitz is from Oregon and she posts the pretty greenery of Oregon pictures often! :)

  4. Loved the read...thanks for taking me back to Lassen. We were there 2 years ago. Great pics



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