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!

 

 





Diamond Lake Oregon, neighbor to Crater Lake

24 08 2011

Had three days off in a row for the first time since June. This fell right in the midst of the annual Perseid meteor showers-I hoped to view. So rather than heading to one of my usual favorite overnight outdoor spots, I studied the map and decided to go somewhere new – Diamond Lake. But I didn’t realize I’d be a stone’s throw from Crater Lake National Park!

Diamond Lake is in south central Oregon, five hours distant from Portland. It lies beneath9,184 ft Mt. Thielsen to the east and 8,375 ft Mt. Bailey westward. To get there, head to Roseburg, Oregon, and then drive east on SR 138 all the way to Diamond Lake. It passes through the National Wild & Scenic North Umpqua River.

Along the way, you pass evidence of violent geologic events. SR 138 passes through layer after layer of ash fall, exposed when the road was cut. In many places, it’s 40 ft thick, and the forest above clings to its edge – falling away with each passing winter. So, my arrival was further delayed by numerous projects fixing the road. The area is in its infancy – in geologic terms. Even extinct Thielsen is less than 300,000 years old. Crater Lake was formed only 7,000 years ago.

Never having been to Diamond Lake, the campground named Thielsen View seemed tempting. But it was not to my liking at all. It was heavily forested, full of RVs, its campsites weren’t on the lake and worse, infested with biting mosquitoes! I decided to head for the main campground on the other side of the lake. Once there, at Diamond Lake Campground, I felt a bit better. Although large and a bit over provisioned for me, it offered lakeside sites, sun, and since it was more windy, only had a few biting bugs. I’m usually turned off by campgrounds with lots of facilities. But here, as it’s so busy, the place needed to be that way to handle the groups. Looking at my map, I realized it’s only 15 minutes from Crater Lake National Park.

And, it offered lakeside views of Mount Bailey, nice paddling, full-blooming wildflowers, and generously-sized campsites.

Mt. Thielson

With perfect weather, wonderful views and a lovely lake I didn’t have much to complain about! Only to figure out what to do the following day.

Having realized that I was so close to Crater Lake, I figured I just had to get down there tomorrow. But now, time to enjoy the late summer afternoon paddling around on Diamond Lake!

I headed up the north shore past myriad of campsites nestled along the lakeside. What a sight, to have two beautiful peaks in view! Little mentioned is that this lake is a no-wake zone. So although motorboats abound, there’s no noisy water skiing or wave runners to denigrate the peaceful setting. It’s a decent paddling spot.

Around a bend, I encountered Diamond Lake Resort. It reminded me a little bit of Old Forge, NY, a town in Adirondack State Park, where I first paddled a canoe.

Like the 1950’s

 

The resort has a hotel, restaurant, beach, cabins, and a marina filled with rental boats and sailboats. Kiddos played along the beach, building sand castles.

Along the outside of the marina, sea gulls gathered on a floating log boom.

Everything seemed so peaceful…all playing, enjoying the scenery.

 

 

With the sun setting behind Mount Bailey, I headed back.

I settled down to a campfire and feasted on fresh salad of mixed greens, plus garlic mashed potatoes, and grilled bratwurst. Much to my disappointment, it was a full moon evening, meaning the meteor showers were utterly bleached out by the moonlight!

I looked forward to checking out Crater Lake National Park in the morning!