2015-08-10 - Northwest Road Trip - Crater Lake - Part I
The drive to Crater Lake National Park was longer than expected. Halfway there and sleepy, I took a break on the side of the highway before continuing. Crater Lake exists in a remote place, fairly far from any sizeable town. Shortly before arriving at the entrance, I saw a fox run across the road. Shortly after, a young deer, as small as a large dog ran in to the trees followed by its parent. Those served as testament to the lack of traffic in these parts. Not many people visit Crater Lake, partially due to its accessibility and remoteness but it is a great National Park and a truly special place. With the construction of new and improvement of existing services, I think the number of visitors can only grow. We entered through the northern entrance and drove through the foggy woods before arriving at the Lake itself. It was a sight to behold, a vast expanse of water, 7000-8000 feet high and 5-6 miles across. Crater Lake is a closed system. No rivers or streams flow in or out. The evaporation and precipitation balance each other out.
Formed 7700 years ago from the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama, it is still an active volcanic spot. Clear signs of this include the island within formed from volcanic activity that you can visit via a ranger-led ferry ride. In the legends of the Klamath people, they tell of an epic battle between the gods Skell and Llao. In their conflict, Mount Mazama was destroyed and Crater Lake was formed. Through their story-telling traditions, they may have passed down tales of the actual observance of the event.
We realized that the foggy air was partially due to fires in the area. This definitely negatively impacted the views. You could see from photos how blue and clear the lake is during better weather. Tired and cold, we chose to stay in the park overnight instead of the extra hour of travel time out and back in without guarantee of getting a spot in the campgrounds. We parked near a bathroom in the Rim Village area between the visitor center and lodge, hiding when park rangers drove by. It wasn't the best night's sleep but I've endured worse. There is certainly something special about sleeping at 8000 feet elevation within such a magical place.