Hell—Bumpass Hell—at 8,400 Feet

Thu, Aug 19, 2010

General, Outdoors, Vocational

Hell—Bumpass Hell—at 8,400 Feet

We’ve enjoyed a very fun little pop-up book over the years about earthquakes and volcanoes.   You pull a tab and the strike-slip fault moves, or you open up a double-page spread to see a tsunami roaring toward people fleeing the beach.  But best of all are the tabs that make the lava flow, or fling rocks and ash.

What better, then, than a trip in the real world to a real volcanic area?

Lassen Volcanic National Park is uncrowded, clean, peaceful, and gorgeous.  We had no need for campsite reservations in August, the peak season.  There’s a large thermal basin not far from Lassen Peak.   We just showed up with a backpack of peanut butter sandwiches, Propel water, and our hell jokes.

“I’m in HELL!” my son said, as people passing us on the 2-mile trail laughed.   Indeed, it was a bit of a hike down into the active areas of fumaroles, mud pots, steam vents, boiling lakes, and hot-hot creeks.

“It stinks here!” his brother said.  Eau de sulphur filled our nostrils and throats.

There is a boardwalk that allows visitors to trek above the various super-hot areas.   I love it that it has NO railings…it’s just an open boardwalk most of the time. Stumble, and you might wind up like the man for whom the place was named:

In 1865, a pioneer named Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, who had discovered the site the year before, guided a newspaper editor interested in covering it.  While showing off his discovery, Bumpass stepped on what looked to be ground but was really only a thin crust covering boiling liquid.  The crust broke, his leg plunged through into the scalding muck, and his injuries were so severe his limb had to be amputated.

Afterward, he reportedly said, “The descent to hell is easy.”

Oh yes, Kendall V. Bumpass…yes, indeedy.

I reminded the boys about you and your burned, then amputated, leg most of the afternoon.

Lassen Park, could you pretty please install some railings on those boardwalks, if only for us nervous tourists with little boys in tow?

Vulcanology is definitely not a specialization for wimps.

5 Responses to “Hell—Bumpass Hell—at 8,400 Feet”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Just came across your blog and I am intrigued. Look forward to reading about your travels and adventures.

    BTW: Lassen is one of our favorite national parks.


    • Ada Says:

      Thank you! I also took a good look at your blog. I just love your photography and I also love where you are going in the great outdoors. Anyone who loves Lassen is very cool in my book.


  2. Lori B Says:

    Your ideas resonate with me; I too will be following your adventures as I begin the homeschool journey with my own 11 year old son!



    • Ada Says:

      Thank you, Lori. We are in the process of what is known as “deschooling.” I wish you lots of luck in your family’s journey with homeschooling.


  3. Home Schooling Says:

    Great post on homeschool journey! I really enjoyed reading it, and my own site is about Home Schooling so I’m not just saying so lightly. Keep up the good work!


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