In Search of Fall Color in the North State

Last Friday, Mike and I took a day trip. Our goal: soak up the fall color before the leaves dropped. We found color, but oh so much more.

We mapped out our route to start at Burney Falls. I hadn’t been to the Falls in over 35 years, but remembered them being quite majestic. We stood looking at them, channeling John Muir. (Read with Irish accent.) The spray from the white veils of water misted the forest where we stood, knowing this must be one of the wonders of the world.

Near the top the Falls, a doe wandered, giving us a half-stare. After walking to the base of the Falls and back up, we drove further into the park to discover a still Lake Britton. Surrounded by blackberry bushes, fall color hugged the lake. We walked to the end of a pier and soaked up the quiet. With no movemement but the rings in the water from distant ducks, the color of the surrounding trees doubled, reflected by the glassy water.

The solitude was tempting and we could have stayed all day. But alas, the volocano awaited us!

After taking a side street up to Hat Creek and seeing the observatory where the SETI folks from Mountain View base their alien search (and UC Berkeley looks for astronomical discoveries), we drove into Lassen State Park.

Mt. Lassen is the only plug volcano in the Ring of Fire and is currently active. You realize how much is going on under the earth as you pass by portions of mountain with steam barreling out. In some parts of the mountain, large sulfur ponds boil up in a witchy brew like grey matter. We drove through the park, and through the snow splattered mountain, seeing evergreens far beyond the line of sight.

The park is something to see: meadows below the peak, streams running through fields of tall, wheat-colored grass, vast views of the valley extending clear to Lake Almanor, volcanic rock reminders of the explosion some 90 years ago and trees, trees, trees.

As a child, this trip seemed like a long car ride. As an adult, my spirit renewed, I returned home grounded and inspired. The trip reminded me to keep my eyes open to the journey for it is often there that life’s purpose lies.

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