Crater Lake, Oregon

29 08 2011

I awoke refreshed and looking forward to exploring something new! The sun shone brightly upon Mount Bailey across Diamond Lake. It’s home to Mount Bailey Snowcats. They take skiers up via snowcat for some incredible powder sans crowds. Looks like some of the slopes offer sweet challenging terrain!

After a couple cups of coffee I fixed some oats, berries and banana and took a lakeside walk with my breakfast. I happened upon a sun-splashed spot where a tiny creek entered the lake. It was full of wildflowers. In fact, the campground had wildflowers everywhere! But this spot was abuzz with bugs, hummingbirds, bees, crickets, bumble bees, honey bees and birds. I just sat quietly and watched as a performance took place. Hummingbirds with electric green feathers and a few with fiery red splashes darted about…some catching a rest in tiny spots in between branches.

I found this butterfly who hadn’t warmed up to the day yet, clinging to some growth.

Along my walk, I discovered something else. Something I typically disdain at campgrounds…SHOWERS.

But this being a “destination” campground for Crater-Lake bound camper-tourists, I gave it a pass, and in fact, I participated…so prior to my drive up to Crater Lake, I took a hot shower! Well, that was a nice way to start the day. Heck, it was included in the fee.

Back at camp I admired my newly festooned kayak – I’d just re-rigged the deck lines/bungees and like the new yellow color. Much better than the original black!

OK. Time to head over to Crater Lake National Park. The road was right behind my camping spot. The drive up to the rim passes evidence of its violent past. There’s a desert where pyroclastic flows landed, plus random boulders strewn about. The pyroclastic flows careered down the mountain at a hundred mph, and since they were boiling hot, killed everything. But these left behind such hard earth that almost no plant life can take hold. The boulders were hurled out of the mountain still molten, and cooled where they landed. Today, only a few trees grow.

Up and up the road climbs, and Mts. Thielsen, Bailey, and further north, Diamond Peak dominate. Snow appears, eight-foot deep in places. And then I catch a glimpse of the rim!

It’s many miles across. It’s 1,000 ft down. The water, indigo blue. Impossibly wide, yet still, it doesn’t seem nearly as big as it really is.

Wizard Island in view.

It’s over 20 miles around. Yet, something about the 1,000 ft elevation above the lake makes it seem smaller. There’s an island down there, which seems teensy, it’s called Ship Island. It is in fact 16 stories tall. And I see what looks like a little speedboat. Yet, when seen through my binoculars, I see about 50 people on board! It’s no small speedboat. It is me, looking down from an impossibly high view!

The rim road, which circles the lake, is dotted with cars from all 50 states and Canada. On the southern end lie Crater Lake Lodge and Visitor Center. A great spot for refreshment is the patio overlooking the lake, with its wonderful rocking chairs. The interior walls of the lodge’s great room are covered with bark.

Outside, the pathways are teeming with tourists of all stripes and nationalities. It’s truly a national park!


It’s a beautiful day. I can see all the way to Mt. Shasta, at over 14,000 ft, in northern California. Also in view to the south is Oregon’s Mt. McLoughlin, at 9,500 ft. I’d heard of it, but didn’t know where it is!

Just looking around, you cannot but be awed at the fact that everything in view is a result of the convergence of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. And, so young, as most of these volcanoes are less than 500,000 yrs old!

I see an interesting viewing area built into the side of the rim…right down below me…I cannot help but think about some old James Bond movie…some evil guy’s hideaway or something.

Well, it was time to head back. Other than the rim drive and short hikes, not much to do at Crater Lake. I guess that’s why it took me so long to go there!



Waldo Lake Friday! Paddling in a Sea of Stars

10 09 2010

What better place to hold an end of summer Labor Day weekend kayak camping trip than Waldo Lake! It is one place guaranteed to provide a crowd-free experience! I scheduled three days for my PaddleNW Meetup group and 10 guests participated.

We weren’t disappointed. Friday Laura, myself, and Tim banged out an early departure from Portland to secure the group’s spot. I knew of a pretty peninsula with an easy landing beach that had another campsite one-minute walk away. If we could score that spot, all 10 of us could easily camp and share a single kitchen.

The drive went 100% smoothly for once! No traffic jams nor accidents. The three of us arrived about 2:00. That left plenty of time to pack the kayaks and enjoy a nice day on Waldo Lake.

The forecast was for Friday to be the warmest day followed by a sunny chillier day Saturday and then cloudy/even more cold Sunday. We were motivated to enjoy all we could Friday.

The waters at Waldo are a blue, sometimes purple blue I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s one of the four most pure lakes in the world. Those lakes are Baikal (Russia), Crater Lake (Oregon), Tahoe (California) and Waldo. Waldo doesn’t have any incoming streams. The water comes from snowmelt and underground springs.

We packed up the boats at the Shadow Bay boat launch, and then headed out onto the lake. This was to become the best Waldo Lake weekend ever!

The campsite I had in mind is on a peninsula just south of Rhododendron Island, with a beach landing. Plus it’s got a 2nd site steps away. As the leader of this trip I was a bit concerned that one of my sites would already be taken – and then we’d need to occupy separate sites where paddling between them would be required for shared meals.

As Tim, Laura and I grew closer to my preferred site, I witnessed paddlers approaching on the other side of the peninsula so I sprinted to go ashore before they did! My concerns were unfounded – these were merely day paddlers! That meant we were to get both sites – perfect!

The peninsula site is spread out with a “kitchen” consisting of a flat log suspended above

two “couch” logs – so cooking equipment can be spread out all along its length.

With the spot secured we set about making it our weekend base camp and then waited for the rest of our party. Jessie, April, and Joel made it without incident. Francis and Michael went off to the further south end of the lake and took quite a while to find us…

Joe Yuska arrived much later at night. It was so clear and still he told us we really should paddle by starlight…we did, and it was so dark and still, the lake reflected the sky – and you’d think you were paddling in a sea of stars!