Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crater Lake National Park

We left Greg & Melanie’s house on a typically “Portland” type of morning – misty, foggy and cool. Despite the weather, we were determined to see some of the Oregon coast, so we headed west from the city toward Newport. Although it rained the entire way, for some reason we were convinced it would just stop once we closer to the shoreline. Not so much… We hit hwy 101 and passed through some nice little beach towns (or as nice as they can seem through rain & fog), and eventually made it to Newport. The weather didn’t seem as if it was going to let up, so after grabbing a quick lunch, we decided to abandon our coast tour, and drive back toward Hwy 5, so we could more quickly make our way toward Crater Lake, NP, our next destination.

We arrived at Crater Lake in what was almost a complete whiteout. The rain, fog, and elevation provided about 100ft of visibility, and we were just happy to make it through the winding roads and cliff-edged dropoffs of the road through the park to a campground for the night. Since it was still raining pretty hard, we made some quick sandwiches for dinner while sitting in the back tailgate of the car, and contemplated who would be the one to put the tent up in the rain. In the end, we decided to put our extensive planning to the test, and sleep in the car. Yes, folks… we slept in our car! Luckily the campsite had a bear box, so we were able to put our cooler, food boxes, etc. in there and free up some room in the back. Everything else went in the front seats, and we blew up the air mattress on top of our clothes boxes. After Chris engineered some rain-proof window covers which allowed some air in so we didn’t suffocate ourselves, we actually ended up having a very comfortable sleep.

We woke up the next morning to clearing skies, and much warmer temperatures and set out to finally see this lake we had heard so much about. We stopped at the ranger station to ask about some hikes and then headed out for the “rim drive” which encircles the lake. Crater lake is actually the caldera of a huge volcano that collapsed when Mt. Mazama erupted over 7000 years ago. It is the deepest lake in the US, and one of the deepest in the world. In addition to that, its water is the bluest blue you could ever imagine. It puts a clear blue sky to shame. We stopped at a few overlooks on the drive, then did a 1.5 mile hike down from the rim to the water’s edge. The water was, if possible, even more blue once you were close to it. We rested a bit, had a snack, gave dirty looks to a family feeding some chipmunks, and then made the 1.5 mile hike back up to the rim.

After a few more stops at lookout points, we had a late lunch, then set out for our big hike of the day, a 5-miler to the top of 8900 ft. Mt. Scott, the highest point in the park, which promised amazing aerial views of the lake. The fairly strenuous hike up the mountain definitely delivered. From the top of the mountain you could see the entire lake, and its contrast against its surroundings… just awesome. We got some great pictures, enjoyed the hike down, finished our drive, and headed back to camp. The day turned out to be beautiful, we saw some gorgeous scenery, had a great dinner, and a campfire – just perfect. Check out the pics.

Today we are driving south toward California and Redwood Nat’l Park where we’ll spend the next few days.


Greg&Melanie said...

Another great update Team!

WOW! We're jealous, we've been in Oregon for almost 5 years and we still haven't gotten to Crater Lake. But your pics make it feel like we have been there.

Keep the good times rolling kids!

Greg & Melanie

Anonymous said...

Single greatest photo comment ever...Not Working. Sums it up better than anything else. Glad the trip is going so well.