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Bumpass's Hell

Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park, copyright Kurt Repanshek
Kurt Repanshek
Thursday, August 14, 2014

A key highlight of a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park is the short hike to Bumpass Hell. The area took its name from Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, a hunter/cowboy/prospector who is said to have discovered the area in 1864 while looking for stray cattle. As the story goes, Bumpass broke through the thin crust and burned his foot on his first visit. When he returned to camp and the others asked him where he had been, he reportedly replied,"Boys, I have been in Hell."

Well, a newspaper editor heard of the tale, and asked Bumpass to take him to the site. Bumpass again broke through the crust, but supposedly burned his leg so badly that it had to be amputated. This time he was said to have remarked that, "The descent to Hell is easy."

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