September 30, 1863: Chaos Crags
[Today] King and I took a long walk around to the recent cones on the north of the main peak. It was a tedious walk to reach them, over rocks and ridges and slopes of soft volcanic sand, but more tedious to get over the cone itself. There are four of these cones, the highest over nine thousand feet, with its top red and burned. This is the one said to have been active in 1857. We examined but one of these—all have their bases blended, only their tops are distinct. This one was perhaps 8,500 feet, the top about two miles across in either way, and entirely of broken rocks, mostly loose, but here and there a pinnacle of rock two or three hundred feet above the main mass. These rocks are angular bowlders, of all sizes up to fifty feet or more in diameter, thrown together in the wildest confusion. Lassen’s Peak looks sharper from this side than any other, and views seen from among these pinnacles and rocks are some of the most picturesque imaginable. A series of photographs would be treasures indeed.
The place was of great scientific interest. These mountains have been thrust up from beneath, and the rocks crushed by the gigantic natural forces. In some places masses of rock two hundred feet high, or more, are all cracked and crushed into fragments, but the fragments are still in place. There were other points that made it especially interesting. Glaciers once streamed from Lassen’s Peak, down on every side. The rocks are furrowed and polished by them, canyons show their traces everywhere, but all have passed away….
[Having] finished our work at Lassen’s Peak… [we] made our preparations for leaving.