The temperature at the trail head was about 40 degrees and a cold breeze ruffled the grass as we mentally prepared to summit Mt. Harkness. Mt. Harkness is part of the perimeter of the volcanic rim of mountains in the Cascade Range.Beyond This perimeter the Sierra Nevada Range begins. The trail climbs through forest and an open woodland to an active fire lookout. The hike begins in a red fir forest and climbs an ancient shield volcano. The trail switchbacks and then gradually steepens before opening up to the first open woodland carpeted in silver leaf lupine. The trail then switchbacks through large boulders and opens up to another grand meadow filled with silver lupine and offers views of Mt. Lassen and Juniper Lake below. The last part of the trail ascends this lupine meadow which is the old side of the cinder cone volcano that formed on the shield volcano called Mt. Harkness. It was very cold on this open stretch today-about 35 degrees and a brisk wind blew to add to the chill. It was an absolutely splendid view but large clouds and mist roiled overhead. On the summit we were invited into the fire tower for a lesson on fire spotting by Lorenzo. He demonstrated the use of the large compass in spotting and locating fires. Lorenzo is quite a character and fits the image of an old mountain man perfectly. He has spent his life since 1970 as a mountain man working on trails and then serving in many positions with the Forest Service before his present job in the fire tower. He spends 10 days at a stretch in the tower. He was reading Homer's ODYSSEY and other classics. He is quite a philosopher himself. It was a real treat and great entertainment. Also it was wonderfully warm inside as the wind howled through the rickety 1930's structure-a real step back in time. When it was over we had traveled 4.2 miles and 1250 vertical feet. The elevation at the top was 8046. We had a tasty lunch at the Old Mill Cafe in Westwood. Hamburgers and salad followed by homemade apple pie ala mode.

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