Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cragsglow south of Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic

Lassen Volcanic National Park's landscape has been a stage for glowing rocks during several episodes in its geological past.  According to an interpretive panel along the Devastated Area Trail, glowing lava rock was ejected from the crater of  Lassen Peak during the most recent eruptions (1914-1917) of this plug dome volcano. Rolled-down rocks—hot to touch—were captured by photographer Benjamin F. Loomis during that time.

The photo above captures the north-facing side of Chaos Crags during sunset, seen from Manzanita Lake on Sunday, September 1, 2013. This cold-rock glow, let's call it cragsglow, is the Lassen Volcanic version of alpenglow (after the German word Alpengl├╝hen). The avalanche slopes of Chaos Crags are accessible via a half-day hike along Chaos Crags Trail to Chaos Crater, which takes you to a close-up experience with this wild rockfall terrain. Manzanita Lake is a somewhat safer place to view Chaos Crags; although this very lake is said to have been formed by damming Manzanita Creek after a cataclysmic rock avalanche that happened about 300 years ago. Lassen Volcanic visitors certainly will pay respect to the unstable slopes of the Chaos Crags plug dome volcanoes, which will let loose again in future. Naturally illuminated during the evening of a peaceful day, they make a spectacular backdrop.

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