Lassen Volcanic Park continues to be the hidden gem enjoyed by the Outdoor Afro community. For the second year in a row, we partnered with National Park Service staff to lead a snow shoe walk among in the park’s beautiful red fir forest and for the second year in a row, we had a blast!
When we first arrived, Rangers Chris and Caitlin greeted us and explained the history of snow shoeing, including their use in Native American culture.
After all of us were fitted with our snow shoes, we made our decent in the wilderness where we learned about how the forest’s inhabitants survive in the winter and what humans can learn from them.
For example, Ranger Chris talked about the incredible memories of Steller Jays and Clarks Nutcrackers, who can store their food in several places throughout the season and remember where to find to find it when they return in the winter. All of us felt a sense of awe and warmth learning that we were in the park during the time that Black Bears were giving birth in their dens. In addition, we learned about the Sierra Nevada Snow Shoe hare, which changes its fur from brown to white to camouflage itself in the winter and relies on its large feet to keep from sinking in the deep snow.
There were so many memorable moments during the one and half hours that we all spent together, including shared stories, supporting hands, jokes and a few graceful falls. While the wind picked up from time to time, we were energized and warmed by each other and gave and received smiles throughout the hike.
One aspect that I will never forget is the enthusiasm of Al, an Outdoor Afro from Tracey. While we were on the snow shoe, he saw a large hill in the distance that he wanted to ascend. While some of us wanted to conserve our energy for the return trek back to the visitor center, Al led a small delegation to the top of that peak. By the look on his face, you can tell he enjoyed that little jaunt!
Before we returned to the visitor center, the Rangers showed us some snow caves that had been dug by some of the school groups that had visited Lassen Volcanic Park. Snow caves are equal parts tunnel and holes dug in the snow for shelter and warmth. Here’s our adventurous Al again checking out the wintry accommodations
For me, the most surprising lesson learned was that Lassen Park, despite being one of the oldest parks in the country is also one of least visited. I encourage more people to take advantage of all the park has to offer. First, on the drive to Lassen, you are treated with an absolutely breathtaking view of Mount Shasta. Moreover, the park offers so much in terms of activity. In addition to snow shoeing, we enjoyed the cross country skiing, sledding and the beautiful and information filled visitor center. Not only were we impressed by the beauty of the forest, we also admired all of the volcanic peaks surrounding the visitor center including Brokeoff Volcano and Prospect Peak. The Rangers invited our group back during the summer for the Lassen Dark Sky festival which will include nightly constellation tours and stargazing. Its just one of the many great reasons to visit the park during any season.
Thanks so much to the Lassen Volcanic Park staff for preserving this sacred space. And special thanks to all of the Outdoor Afros who made this trip so enjoyable!