Dear readers, I must apologise for the tardiness of our blogging this past year. No entries since May! Terrible, terrible. But I do promise that we have renewed our National Parks Pass and have still been visiting the parks. This past year we visited Crater Lake, Redwoods and Muir Woods National Monument. I also did another trip to Yosemite in October with my good friend, Sarah Twigg. I intend to blog a post for each of these trips. For now, here is a summary of our trip to Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon...
In comparison to many other national parks in the Western States, Crater Lake is not a large park. But do not be fooled by its size. The geological anomaly that these federal lands protect is large in beauty and intrigue as it reveals to its visitors the natural world’s formative powers. The massive volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama approximately 8000 years ago was the precursor to the lake’s creation. From this terrifying and fiery beginning, the most tranquil of lakes now sits in the bottom of the resultant caldera, its waters fed by rain and snow melt.
Alex and I visited Crater Lake National Park this past summer. We camped three nights in the popular Mazama Campground, which is situated four miles from Crater Lake itself. (Crater Lake Lodge is the only accommodation that is lake-side). On our first night we arrived just before sunset, the drive from San Francisco being a lengthy one. Even though it was late July, there was still snow on the ground at our designated campsite when we pitched our tent. The snow served as a handy ice-box for our recently purchased growler of Oregon microbrew beer.
The next morning after coffee for Alex and tea for me, we drove to the lake with the purpose of completing the Rim Drive, a 33-mile road that circumnavigates the lip of the crater. Although we had seen photographs of the lake before our visit, we were pleasantly surprised upon reaching the first vista point of the Rim Drive from which the crater and its lake were revealed. The lake’s waters are intensely, stunningly blue. Emerald, sapphire, royal – none of these terms are adequate to describe the blueness of the lake. Its waters are simply the perfect shade of blue.
The lake is also extraordinarily calm, allowing stunning reflections of the caldera and other nearby land masses to form upon the lake’s waters. The reflections change from impressionist to realist shapes at different times of the day. Pine pollen had settled on some parts of the lake prior to our visit. Such sediments would usually sink quickly in such a large body of water, but because Crater Lake is so calm, the yellow swirls of pollen sit atop the water for some time.
We drove along the Rim Drive stopping at numerous vista points, each providing another angle from which to view the lake. There is only one point along the Rim Drive at which visitors can hike down to the water’s edge. We parked our car at the trail head and walked the one mile down. While sitting on the rocks at the lake’s shore, we watched three boys diving into the lake repeatedly, despite the frigid temperatures of the snow melt water.
Two land masses break the surface of Crater Lake - the Phantom Ship and Wizard Island. Wizard Island is a cinder cone - a type of mini volcano - that was formed by the eruptions that occurred subsequent to the creation of the crater caused by the explosion of Mount Mazama. The Phantom Ship is a piece of ancient rock that was exposed when Mount Mazama blew apart. It is called thus, because in wild weather the rock, which slightly resembles a ship in shape, disappears from view.
The next day we took a hike up nearby Mount Scott, which is also within the boundaries of Crater Lake National Park. We were told that there was a 360 degree view of Southern Oregon from the mountain’s summit. We were not disappointed. We could see the full circle of Crater Lake, as well as the surrounding mountain ranges and alpine meadows. A herd of deer were grazing in the alpine meadows at the foot of Mount Scott that were not visible from below.
We ate our lunch of cheese sandwiches at the summit, satisfied with our accomplishment and marveling at the glorious view. As the wind ruffled our hair, from our lofty perch at the top of the mountain, we both felt blessed and free.