As can be seen in the photos, an early morning tour of the Lassen Peak Highway during the summer wildfire season certainly is a surreal experience. I had just entered the Klamath National Forest when the extreme wildfire season of 2020 first broke out and at the first sign of smoke, my travel plan shifted into evacuation mode. The pine forests were dry as a bone because of severe drought related to man made climate change and it was easy to see the potential of the landscape turning into a tinder box. I have been through major forest fires in the past, so I knew the importance of getting away from danger was at the forefront. Of course, getting out of the way of firefighters was necessary too, especially since I was so deep in the woods. I decided to route the final leg of the journey out of state through Lassen Volcanic National Park just to make the trip worth remembering, but because of the thick smoke it was a somber memoir at best.
What normally would have been a picture perfect morning for capturing landscape images at Emerald Lake had turned into a gloomy smoke filled vision that day. Emerald Lake is a Lassen Peak Highway roadside attraction that is easy to access and this small body of water actually does have a green hue on a sunny day. The tip of Lassen Peak can be seen from the alpine forest along the shoreline, so when the skies are clear this spot is like a dream come true for an aspiring landscape artist. Emerald Lake is located next to Bumpass Hell and Lake Helen on the way to Lassen Peak, so this is a great section of road to set aside for an all day excursion. Be sure to pack a camera or an artist palette for the drive, because all it takes is one look to get the urge to bring the memories back home!
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