Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Captivating Crater...

When you first come upon Crater Lake in southern Oregon, the intensity of the colors is what immediately pulls you in. Then, you marvel at the sheer size of this body of water formed when a volcano exploded and left nothing but a crater. Inside the lake lies a smaller cinder cone called Wizard’s Island because its shape was thought to resemble a wizard’s hat. The intense blue lake seems to magically appear, a welcome relief from traveling through dusty, hot badlands –type terrain. There are glorious yellow wildflowers lining the roadsides and numerous evergreen forests surrounding the lake, but there are also desolate pumice fields that are devoid of much vegetation. It is an interesting contrast. We were delighted to find that our campground had electricity—a first for us since staying in the national parks and our site was very spacious. As we generally do, we try and get a feel for the parks by driving through them first then deciding what points of interest to focus on during subsequent days. We did this with Crater Lake. We went to the park’s two visitor centers, talked to the staff and decided what hikes we wanted to do, etc. We also visited the lodge at Crater Lake. It was charming. Built in the early 1900’s, it had been paneled in crosscut timber and whole trees had been used for supporting beams. There was a lovely, but physically challenging hike from the lodge so we did that and climbed up to the rim of the caldera for a breathtaking view of the lake. I also got some great pictures of the little chipmunks which were everywhere. We also took a guided hike with park ranger Don Clark, a delightful man who taught us much about the area as we hiked up to an old fire lookout post for a spectacular view of the sunset. Of course, he and David laughed about their last names, and the photo we took that evening on the trail with “Lewis & Clark.” The next day we boarded one of the boats for a lake tour. It was a good way to get a different perspective on the formation of this lake and see the variety of volcanic creations. Unfortunately, the day was windy, the waves fairly large and several of the passengers got very wet! The hike down to the boat dock was not bad and took us maybe 15-20 minutes, coming back up was a different matter altogether. It probably took an hour and 15 minutes and it was straight up hill—it was not for the ‘faint of heart’ and I mean that literally! Happily, we had laundry facilities at the general store so I was able to catch up on laundry, since the volcanic dust seemed to cling to everything. While temperatures were warm in the upper 70’s during the day they fell at night and we definitely enjoyed our campfires. Mornings were quite chilly, but the day warmed quickly as the sun came up. Layering your clothing is very much the way to go when you are in higher elevations as I have now learned by experience. We stayed in Crater Lake for four days and David and I both felt this was one of our favorite parks (of course it seems like we’ve said this no matter where we go!) Crater Lake is a very different park experience, but I found it to have raw beauty that is absolutely captivating and makes me want to plan a return visit in the near future.

No comments:

Post a Comment