Monday, September 27, 2010 Sunny and 72 in the park, 95 in Medford, OR
"Five miles wide and ringed by cliffs almost 2,000 feet high, Crater Lake rests in the shattered remnants of a volcano called Mount Mazama, which erupted and collapsed into itself 7,700 years ago. Later eruptions formed Wizard Island and other volcanic features, now hidden under the lake. Crater Lake filled with rain and melted snow. At 1,943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the deepest in the world."
All the facts may explain how Crater Lake was formed, but it does nothing to prepare you for what you see when you first look over the rim and see the blue, blue water, a blue bluer than any other I've ever seen. The explanation is that the red band of light is absorbed in the water first, then the yellow with only the blue band making it to the depths of the lake. It is truly breath-taking.
We entered the park from the north, driving past an expansive mountain slope strewn with pumice Its barrenness was eerie as if something had wiped its surface completely clean.
Entering at that point, we were halfway around the rim drive. The ranger suggested that we travel clockwise to access the overlooks without crossing traffic. To accomplish this we drove counter clockwise to the Visitor Center which was---do you what to guess?---closed. But the nearby Sinnott Memorial Overlook building was open. Inside the park's geologic history is explained through videos and interpretative panels. The outside deck is the most popular place to view the lake. This morning six middle school groups were taking ranger walks so the competition for space at the overlook was stiff. The kids were very polite and seemed as awed as we.
Next we began the rim drive, and at the first overlook we saw Wizard Island. It is a cinder-cone volcano named for its resemblance to a sorcerer's pointed hat located in the western portion of the lake. It erupted out of the lake 7,300 years ago, and has a 90 foot deep crater in its summit. At its foot is a small pool of very greenish turquoise water.
Across the lake is Pumice Castle. A layer of orange pumice rock has been eroded into the shape of a medieval castle. Nestled in a cove nearby is the Phantom Ship. From above it resembles a small pirate ship, yet it really is as tall as a 16-story building. Its erosion-resistant rock is the oldest exposed rock in the caldera. At our next stop, the Sun Notch Trail, we had the closest and best view of that rocky ship.
Lastly we stopped in a densely forested area of the park away from the lake and gazed up at Videa Falls. It is a spring-fed creek that tumbles over a glacier-carved cliff and drops 100+ feet over a series of ledges. It was a beautiful spot, but with so much open space and rock, it almost seemed out of place.
My ankle, though still badly swollen, held up to what walking we did. We had planned to hike several trails, but we only walked the Sun Notch Trail since none of the others had a lake view.
Tonight we are in Medford, OR. Phil made an appointment to have the oil changed and the tires rotated on the Enclave since we are over 6,000 miles into our trip. After that we will be visiting with my cousin, Patty, in Ashland. It's been quite a few years since we've seen each other so it'll be good to get caught up on what's been happening.
TODAY'S ROUTE: From La Pine, OR, US 97S to OR 138 to, around and through Crater Lake NP to OR 62S to I 5S to Medford, OR