Back on the trail, we meandered over rolling hills through the forest. Crossing several creeks, we appreciated how plentiful water is today, knowing how scarce it would be on the hot, dry Hat Creek Rim tomorrow.
Just after lunch we passed a swampy tree-lined pond, and then Twin Lakes, deep blue lakes ringed by lush green meadows and surrounded by trees. Day hikers suddenly appeared, carrying nothing but small water bottles, and we wondered where the closest trailhead was; obviously nearby.
After spending the morning in deep tree cover, I caught my breath when I again caught sight of Lassen, across a lush meadow. At such close range, the mountain is imposing, completely dominating the landscape.
Leaving Lassen Volcanic National Park, we began descending through brushy manzanita, then back into forest. Former roads or firebreaks of cleared trees crossed the trail at frequent, regular intervals. Reaching a large creek, I noticed that many of the river rocks were actually porous, bubbly volcanic rocks, worn smooth over time. Not long after we passed the river we found a flat, soft bed on pine needles and stopped for the night.