Mount Charleston

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My daughter and I, have spent every weekend for the past year hiking, either in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or around Mt. Shasta, in northern California. We moved to Las Vegas in August, and we are searching for new favorite places. This past weekend we started to explore Mount Charleston. Mount Charleston is part of the Spring Mountain Range, and Toiyabe National Forest. Charleston Peak, at 11,916 feet (3,632 m), is the highest mountain in the Spring Mountains. Mount Charleston is located about 35 miles NW of Las Vegas. It’s a refreshing, green, alpine heaven. Last weekend when the temperatures peaked at 109 in Las Vegas, it was 30 degrees cooler there! Only an hour away. One hour, and several thousand feet of elevation that is. 

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The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The winding roads that takes you there, climbs steadily up, up, up. It was fairly easy to drive all the way to the campgrounds without a 4×4. My daughter had begged me for an adventure, so tent camping it was. She LOVES that. She loves setting up the tent, and create a cool spot for the night. She likes decorating the outside with natural material that she finds, pine cones, rocks etc. My hope was to get us a campsite at Fletcher View Campground, based on reviews at trip advisor, and trails I found at AllTrails app. When we got there all the sites were full. You can’t make reservations in advance from July through September, due to monsoon season. It’s first come first serve only. The gentleman who served as a camp host, approach the car as I drove in to Fletcher View, and asked how he could assist us. I said that we were looking for a tent campsite. He informed us that all of the sites on the whole  mountain (several campgrounds) were taken. (In my head I started to think of a plan B, since we were already packed and VERY ready for an adventure.) He offered us a map, and pointed out a couple places for dispersed camping. Areas where we could camp by ourselves, without an organized campground. He gave us a map, and as I looked at it, I thought that if I had driven my old truck, it would of been a no-brainer, but risking to go on those roads with my Impala..no. 

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I decided to drive by the other campsites, one by one, just in case. My second choice of campground, after Fletcher view, was Hilltop, so I started our search by driving up there. I was not alone. There was a long line of vehicles doing the same thing as I did. All sites were booked. As I drive around Hilltop for the second time, I notice that one of the double sites only have single occupancy. I see a young couple on the right side, but no-one on the left side of this double site. I take a chance and pull over on the side of the narrow road. I approach them and ask if they are expecting company, explaining that all sites are booked. This was on the very top of the hill, at perhaps the best spot of them all. We were so lucky! They were not expecting company, they just got the only site they were able to get, and sold me the other site. I was thrilled, and my daughter very happy. I was almost prepared to drive down the mountain and do something completely different. (Like going to Sedona, or Grand Canyon.) It was great to be able to unload all our things, and put up the tent. 

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My highlight of the whole trip was that my daughter needed to go places to take pictures. Both with the camera that I got her for her birthday, and with mine. She begged me to hike up on different hills, and climb down in narrow canyons. It was a blast! She on the other hand said, that her best thing was toasting marshmallows by the campfire at night. 

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It was chilly in the evening, and it felt great to put on a jacket, and long pants (compared to shorts and t-shirt, the usual summer outfit in our area.)

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The whole trip was a big adventure, and I am so happy that we did it. I would consider myself an experienced camper, and I feel that my skills are solid. Still it feels extremely good when everything just works out. Not a big thing, but in a way a big thing. I want my daughter to see, and experience, that there is not a limit to what’s possible. She wants an adventure? Well, she has to make it happen, and put in the work along with the fun. Which she happily did. I feel that there’s no limit to learning opportunities when you bring a child out in nature; handling a knife, gaining knowledge about poisonous plants and animals, learning about local flora and fauna, safety, wilderness survival skills, where to find water, planning ahead, leave no trace in nature, sharing with others, being respectful etc. etc.  

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My daughter took this picture of me and Gretchen, while playing around with my camera. I haven’t seen the ones she took with her own camera yet.

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Tent camping at Mount Charleston (NV,) was a 5-star experience in my book. Nature does something to my soul, and I know my daughter feels the same way. I feel so blessed that we share this.

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I hope you enjoyed the photos, and maybe feel inspired to visit yourself? If camping is your thing, do you have a favorite camping spot? That you find yourself returning to time after time again? 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

Lassen Volcanic National Park

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Last weekend we visited one of my favorite places in the whole world, Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park is located in northern California. For us locals it’s the perfect day/weekend trip. It’s a wonderful place to visit all year round, but the main highway through the park is closed around 9 months every year, due to massive amounts of snow.  The highway is closed now.

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We parked at the south-west entrance, outside Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. There was a lot of snow, but not the most snow I’ve seen here. I’ve seen the snow reach far above the house.

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We rented snowshoes at Redding Sports ltd, before heading up to the park. I did a lot of snowshoeing growing up, but I haven’t done it in several years. It was the very first time for my daughter.

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Traffic jam at Hwy 89! We started our hike right behind the visitor center, and we did see some people in the beginning. After Sulphur Works we saw very few people.

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Sulphur Works; Lassen Volcanic National Park’s most easily accessed hydrothermal area. It features boiling mudpots and steam vents. It smells a little, but not too bad right now. The smell is worse spring/summer. If you want to visit during winter, you park at the Southwest entrance (like we did,) and hike (preferably with snowshoes, or skies,) about one mile to the north to see them. During summer you can drive all the way, taking Hwy 89 (that takes you through the whole park.)

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This is what the restrooms closest to Sulphur Works looks like now. I thought it was funny, so I had to take a picture.

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I would of gladly carried my snowboard on my back, if I knew there was going to be so much powder on the sides. Next time..

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It looked just perfect, and it itched in me to ride in that beautiful snow.

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It was a gorgeous day. The weather was perfect, around 28 degrees and sunny, most of the time.

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It was warm, warmer than it looks. I was very happy that I’d dressed us in layers. The exercise made us happily loose several of them, on the way up.

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We took our sweet time, and stopped many, many times. We ate a lot of homemade chocolate-energy bars, that we made the day before. My daughter had fun, but she did some complaining, and needed a little encouragement from time to time. If you ever tried snowshoeing, you know how strenuous it can be. We did not follow the road the whole way, we tried some deeper snow as well.

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Despite the occasional complaining, she did beg me to buy her snowshoes of her own, before the day was over. I see that as a success! I highly encourage her to enjoy outdoor sports that interest her. If it’s something I love doing, it’s all the better 🙂

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We hiked a total of 3.7 miles, with the snowshoes.

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With views like this you don’t want to turn around.

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The higher up we climbed, the fewer people we saw.

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There was some though. Do you see the skiers at the bottom in this photo? We turned around about here, but they continued up.

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It was a wonderful, wonderful day. It’s two days later now, and I still feel it in my body. I love that feeling! (My face burns a little as well, even though we used 50SPF. The sun reflecting in the snow is very strong.) Given the choice I’d rather be back there right now, instead of in the valley, we’re supposed to get more rain here today..

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There’s a network of trails through the park, through forests, and around several lakes. It connects with the Pacific Crest Trail in the north. It’s a magical area for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, photography, wildlife viewing, exploring, birdwatching, meditation, camping, swimming, canoeing, anything your imagination can come up with. … it’s difficult for ones imagination to have a limit here.

I hope you enjoyed the visit!

Love,

Ms Zen