I ended up getting to Lassen around 5:30pm and had just enough time to catch the last showing of a wonderful film at the Visitor Center. Lassen Volcanic National Park is truly a hidden gem in the National Park system and if I had the choice of going back to just one place in California … Lassen would be it! There were people around but compared to the crowds at Yosemite it felt like you had the whole place to yourself.
The attendants at the Visitor Center were extremely helpful and pointed me in the direction of the best campground for my birding adventures the next day. The campground I was going to was on the opposite side of the park so it worked out that I got to see 90% of the park on my drive over. When I eventually got to the Cragg Campground I paid my fee and went and found a site. I was just starting to remove my stuff from the truck when one of the camp hosts rolled up in a golf cart and was so kind and told me that I might not want that particular site and pointed out a group of 5-6 tents that were empty and quiet at the time but she told me it was a pretty noisy group and she then proceeded to show me a much, much better site that would be my home for the next two days!
As you’ll see in many of the pictures there was still quite a bit of snow around. When I got up the next morning it was cool and for what was the 5th day in a row perfectly clear! I started my morning by taking a nice long walk around Manzanita Lake and one of the first things I came upon was this adorable fawn.
It was not real birdie when I first started my walk but as the temperature rose the birds started to get up and I did end up with a few new species including one of my favorites from the entire trip. The White-headed Woodpecker (L) was one of the species I had hoped to see but wasn’t that confident about in finding but I did end up only seeing this one but was lucky enough to get one OK shot.
Some of the other great birds I ran into included Brown Creeper, the Red shafted version of the Northern Flicker, Fox Sparrows, American Dipper, Dark-eyed Juncos, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a few I’m sure I missed.
In the afternoon I climbed one of the many, many trails available and again it was so un-crowded that it made me feel as if I was exploring all of this beautiful country for the first time, by myself! The route up was about 3 miles and there were a creek that paralleled the path most of the way creating a number of spectacular waterfalls/rapids.
The hike up was pretty uneventful bird wise but you tend to forget all about everything other than the majestic beauty all around you! The top of this particular trail ended in this gorgeous meadow, which is where I stopped and had a quick snack.
By the time I had come back down the mountain it was getting towards dinner time. Today was my first non-driving day and I took advantage and went back to my campsite and just relaxed around a fire and started looking at some of the pictures from the previous days. I explored a little more of the park the next day and then headed towards the coast … more tomorrow!!!