Wild-West Road-Trip: Crater Lake

Wild-West Road-Trip: Crater Lake

Published: July 22nd, 2017

Crater Lake

If you had to make a list of merits that could justify why Crater Lake is a protected national park, there are plenty of facts to list:

  1. Deepest lake in North America
  2. Most naturally pure body of water in the world
  3. Supplied exclusively by rain and snow-melt
  4. Formed in a caldera nearly 8000 years ago
  5. Home to many native species that only live in or near the lake
  6. Sacred destination for tribes of first nations
  7. Geothermal activity present throughout the lake and surrounding region
  8. Clearest natural body of water

And, I’m sure that there are experts that could go on. For me, there’s one feature that stands out above the rest. It’s blue. It’s bluer than any other blue I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. It’s so blue, some people may have trouble believing that I did not boost the saturation in these images. I can’t even imagine a bluer blue. It’s as if I had no idea what it was until I saw this blue.

The weather was perfect. We started very early in the morning with a hike down the Cleetwood Cove trail. It’s about a mile long and is the equivalent of sixty-five flights of stairs. As we were switching back and forth, I was already wary of the way back up.

While we waited for the boat to board, I saw some swimmers jumping into the lake from the point. Later, I learned that the hight of the point was twenty feet above the water-level and that while the first few feet of water might be closer to seventy degrees, the temperature drops to about thirty-eight degrees at about five feet under. The ranger mentioned that it’ll take your breath away.

We boarded the boat after the children had been fitted with life-jackets. The captain gave us instructions about safety and introduced ranger Tommy. These ranger-led talks are the best source of information at the parks. I’m sure you could read much of what they say in books, but to hear it from someone who has spoken to the researchers and talked with descendants of tribal elders is a unique experience.

Our boat circled around the perimeter of the lake in a counter-clockwise fashion. We heard the legend of the origin of the lake and of Llao and Skell, their battle for the fate of the princess who lived in the village. It was fascinating, really.

We also heard about and saw examples of the different rock formations within the caldera and how they might fit into the true origins of the land. We saw waterfalls, islands that are older than the stories, pumice castles, and even into the edge of the abyss. At one point, it was revealed that the floor of the lake, which we could see, was actually hundreds of feet below the surface and that items that we might have dropped would be visible for minutes as they sunk to the bottom.

We saw ghost ships and gnarly trees that seem to live in impossible places.

By the time we were heading back to the dock, Evan and Owen were enjoying their new title of Junior Ranger. They’ve earned this honor at every park that we've visited on the trip, despite some elementary school boy humor inscribed into the pages of their ranger books.

I didn't mention this earlier, but I traded my camera backpack for a kid-carrier backpack for this morning and for this hike, specifically. Addy has been handling all of the hikes on her own, but sixty-five flights of stairs would have been too much. The choice was to hear her singing Moana in my ear or crying at my ankle.

That decision may have been easy, but the walk up the trail was not. I showed you what I packed into my camera bag on the first blog post of this series, so you know what’s in there. Addy felt considerably heavier. I was still able to cary my camera and three lenses in the storage area of the kid-carrier. That may have contributed to the weight, but whatever. A few lookouts later, and my obligatory selfie out in the bag, and we were ready to make our way to the lodge for a trolley tour.

Another ranger led our group around the rim of the crater and talked about the features of the park from her perspective. One of the things that she emphasized was that this was our inheritance, that each of us had been given these parks and that we might learn to appreciate them more by understanding their histories and the people who had fought to protect them. I just hope that our grandchildren have something to inherit during their own time.

It was a long and very full day. Each of us was exhausted by the time we got back to the campsite. Even I was asleep by nine o’clock. I feel like I go to sleep exhausted almost every day, but I feel rewarded at the thought of making all the effort to have seen what we saw and lived in the way we had. Oregon is such a beautiful place. Maybe some day…

Until next time, thanks for reading and for all your messages and comments. Readers like you make this blog worth while. Take care, friends:)

- Wayne

Post a Comment:

July 23rd, 2017 Ginger:

Dare I say - yet another favorite place?!??!!! LOVED all the pictures of the place but the ones with the Ranger and your kids were very special...AND you and Miss Addy, always a winner!


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