Blog California

Chasing bears is dumb

November 18, 2021

My kids hate hiking. Because I am a mean mom, I often take them hiking anyway. Over the years, I have become an expert at diverting all of their questions about where we’re going and what we’re doing and for some reason they haven’t caught on enough to just put their feet down and refuse to go anywhere with me. I’ll say vague things like, “We’ll be doing a little bit of walking” or “I’m not sure how long the walk is, maybe a mile?” even though AllTrails is a thing and they really should know by now that every single trail in America is documented according to number of miles and total elevation gain. Even so, I could never get these kids to go hiking with me if I actually told them we were going hiking.

Hiking is one of the Robins kids’ least favorite activities.

In my defense, we walked like 10 miles a day five days in a row at Disneyland and no one complained, so it’s not like a short hike is actual kid torture or anything. Though I will admit that it’s not all short hikes. Last summer, we drove up to Mount Lassen and I was all, “Hey kids, guess what we’re climbing up this mountain now.” They were pissed. But four hours later even they had to admit it was pretty cool to be standing on top of a volcano.

Look at this skinny little kid standing on the summit of an active volcano.

Lassen National Park is one of my favorite places in the world. When I was a kid it always had a kind of “eek” factor, on account of the fact that the whole place is volcanically active. In fact, the last time the volcano erupted really wasn’t that long ago — in 1914 there was a phreatic eruption near the summit (a steam eruption, which is sort of like what happens to an egg when you put it in the microwave) and in 1915 there was some actual lava flow, followed by a violent eruption that destroyed the landscape up to about 3 3/4 miles to the northeast. So this is an active volcano, and I remember being a kid climbing it thinking it would explode at any minute and kill us all. 

This was just over 100 years ago, which in geologic time was practically yesterday. (Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.)

Of course, I thought the same thing about beaches in Eureka because there were “tsunami hazard zone” signs all over the place. Also, I watched too much Ripley’s Believe it or Not and I was also very sure I would be killed by a swarm of killer bees or spontaneous human combustion, so it’s not like I was an especially rational kid.

Lassen Park is probably the nation’s most underrated national park. Besides the volcano itself, it’s got volcanic gas vents, boiling pools, bubbling mud pots, and bears. In fact a few years ago on the Devil’s Kitchen trail I followed a bear with my camera before I was like, “Wait only idiots follow bears with their cameras.” Don’t ever do that, it’s dumb. I did get a cool photo of a bear though.

In my defense, I’ve cropped this photo. I wasn’t actually as close to this bear as it looks like I was.

Anyway, Lassen National Park. You should totally go. Even if you have to lie to your hiking-hating children.