Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bumpass Hell

The story goes something like this:  Once there was an explorer who discovered some geothermal areas (aka: sulfur hot springs and boiling mud pots).  While exploring the area he broke through the weak surface crust over a boiling mud pot and fell in.  Let that resonate for just a minute...HE FELL INTO A BOILING MUD POT. Let me just say, that I have seen these a fore mentioned pots of mud, and they do indeed boil.  Anyway, it scalded his leg and he later had to have it amputated.  His name was Kendall Van Hook Bumpass.  And apparently falling into a boiling mud pot is like being in Hell.  (Not to mention the smell...of the sulfur...but we'll get into that later.) 

Hence the name Bumpass Hell.

Well, now that you are officially freaked out, and do not go anywhere near the boiling mud pots, let me tell you why the hike to Bumpass Hell should be on your summer "To Do List" in Lassen Volcanic National Park. 

Bumpass Hell Hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park

The Stats (According to The National Park Service):
Start: Bumpass Hell parking lot
Round Trip Distance: 3 miles
Round Trip Time: 2 hours
Terrain: easy 300 foot descent
Elevation: 8000 feet
Cost: $10 Park entrance fee 
(There is so much to do in Lassen it's worth it. Or use this link to find out about their free days.)

For my husband's 40th birthday, we celebrated with the easy hike.  We had with us 6 adults and 9 children (ages 4-16).  It was an easy enough hike for all.  The two little ones did get quite tired by the end, so we played a lot of "I spy" to keep them distracted.

The hike has some amazing look out points with great picture locations.  The forests in Lassen Park are so beautiful.  

There were a few areas of the hike where my fear of heights kicked in.  We were never in any real danger as long as everyone stayed on the trail, but just a little warning for those not too fond of tall places.

The kids kept wondering when we would get there, but it was painfully obvious to our noses when we were close.  We could smell it, before we could see it.  The kids said it smelled like rotten eggs.  And they were right.  But, you do sort of get used to the smell, as long as the wind doesn't carry the steam directly toward you.

Bumpass Hell Hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lucky for all of us that are making the trek after poor Kendall Van Hook Bumpass, the National Parks Service has built up boardwalks to walk on, so we too, do not fall into boiling pots of mud. 

Ok, so the stench is quite bad, but the the fact that we have these amazing geothermal features without having travel to far away places, is so great!  From the marked signage, my children learned so much about what creates these feats of nature.  And they were amazed at what they saw.

Be sure to walk all the way down the boardwalk to the end.  There you will find the most beautiful, clear, turquoise pool of water, back dropped by the evergreen forest.  The juxtaposition of the brown and tan sulfur springs with the sparkling turquoise pool is stunning.  I wish my pictures could do it justice.

Bumpass Hell Hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Come. It will be worth it.