Warning Signs

Last month I went hiking in Hell–a.k.a. Lassen Volcano Park in California.

Lassen boasts four different types of volcanoes and all of the hellish landscape you can hope for. You get a Cinder Cone–a narrow hiking path up a small mountain made of nothing but black cinder (and two valiant small trees).

You get a Boiling Lake which (you guessed it!) is actually boiling. The Tiffany blue water bubbles merrily, as does the growing mud pits at the edge of the lake. It reeks of sulfur (as Hell does, from what I’m told). And bless your heart if you stray off the path: If the boiling mud don’t get you then the acidic water will.

Which brings me to my favorite warning sign of all time:


Graphic artists around the world are trained in the international language of warning signs and symbols. Standards committees must approve these before they get posted on their stakes. And whoever designed this one has my lasting admiration: It manages to be both clear and dramatic. No mere skirt on a ball-head figure here to signal I’m allowed to potty. Oh, no! This fascinating fellow lets me know I. Am About. To Die.

I admired the volcano park. I was impressed by what I saw. And I never have to go back there again.