Posted by: GeekHiker | September 21, 2007

Oregon Trip Day 3: Crater Lake

Last night’s sleep was a bit of a struggle, sometimes because of the train whistle in the distance (which, while waking me up, was also comforting in an old-fashioned sort of way), and sometimes because my nose kept getting cold.

Tonight, as I write this sitting by the campfire, I’ve already put my baklava in the tent. The schnoz will stay warm tonight, dammit.

I left Lake Siskiyou this morning at about 8:30, only thirty minutes later than I’d hoped to. This is the one area where, as a tenter, I get jealous of the big RV’s: in the morning, I’ve got to make breakfast, then take down the tent and stuff it all in the truck. They make breakfast, turn on the engine, and leave.

Not that I’m thinking about getting some giant RV or anything. But as I headed north out of Weed on the two lane Highway 97, the idea of a teardrop trailer started sounding more and more appealing.

At least I got a nice sunrise picture:

Day 03 - Sunrise Over Lake Siskiyou

Sunrise over Lake Siskiyou.

It was nice to finally get off of the interstate, although admittedly I-5 through northern California is one of the more scenic stretches of our federal highway system one could hope for.

But there’s something about a two lane road, something smaller and more intimate, that appeals to me. I suppose that’s true for most people, at least when they’re not traveling just to get to a destination.

Total confession though: they’re much more appealing to me now than when I drove a 90 horsepower ’88 Corolla. Having the power to pass someone without being terrified is quite nice, thank you very much.

Circling around the north side of Mt. Shasta, the landscape changes dramatically. Moving into the rain shadow of the mountains, the thick forests suddenly disappear, replaced by the comparatively barren volcanic landscape that dominates eastern Oregon.

Day 03 - Freight Train

Fright train passing through the flat Butte Valley.

Mt. Shasta itself has been a near-constant companion for this part of the journey. I saw it as I drove out, viewed its glacier covered northern side this morning, and saw it far off in the distance from Crater Lake this afternoon.

Day 03 - Mt. Shasta & Flowers

Mt. Shasta’s glacier-covered north side.

Passing the California border, the two states have clearly different ways of welcoming it’s visitors, from California’s bare metal sign:

Day 03 - CA Welcome Sign

To Oregon’s slightly-more-elaborate sculpture:

Day 03 - Oregon Welcome Sign

Funny. I hate to admit it, but Oregon is a darn-sight more welcoming to it’s visitors. Exclamation point and everything. Heh.

Driving through Klamath Lake (where I sorely wanted to stop, as the town looked awful nice), I saw my first and only bald eagle on the trip, casually perched on a post next to the lake.

I headed northward, veering off onto Highway 62 and finally ending up entering Crater Lake National Park at about 12:30. By the time I had gotten a site and gotten my tent set up (yeah, that unhook-it-at-the-campsite and you’re done thing is starting to sound nicer and nicer) it was almost 2:00!

Finally, I drove up to the rim and saw my first view of Crater Lake itself.

Day 03 - CL - 1st View Photomerge

Panoramic first view of Crater Lake.

I did the touristy thing today, taking the 33 mile rim drive around Crater Lake and stopping at every single stop. Unfortunately, the boats out to Wizard Island had stopped for the season earlier in the week, so I missed out on that experience by only a few days. Darn, guess I’ll have to come back.

Crater Lake has a color that has to be seen to be believed. I’ve traveled quite a bit in the west, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it, not even Tahoe.

Day 03 - Crater Lake Blue

Deep blue waters and steep sides of Crater Lake.

Unfortunately, my late arrival precluded any significant hiking, though I did make the short jaunt up to the top of The Watchman. The fire look out there is currently being restored, but the view alone is amazing.

Day 03 - CL Panorama 2

View from The Watchman, looking towards Hillman Peak.

The clouds in the picture, for those of you curious, are part of a controlled burn. Unfortunately, this left my view towards Eastern Oregon completely obscured.

Part of the appeal of making all the stops is that the NPS has set up informational signs at each of the stops covering the geology, history, and mythology surrounding the lake.

Day 03 - Crater Lake Geology

Geologic layer-cake of Mt. Mazama.

The picture above, for example, has a signboard that told me that the pinkish-orange structure in the middle is the Pumice Castle. The rock was shot up into the air by an eruption of the old volcano (Mt. Mazama), landed on the side, was covered by lava from later eruptions, then exposed again when the volcano blew its top and created Crater Lake.

Maybe I’m just geeky, but I think that’s fascinating. Of course, the fact that I find just about anything interesting necessitated a very slow drive around the lake.

Fortunately, I made it back to camp before sundown, and took the rest of last night’s dinner and stir-fried it. This turned out much better than last nights attempted kabobs:

Day 03 - Teriyaki Dinner

The second attempt.

My only mistake was adding the pineapple too soon, which burnt and left charcoal bits mixed in. Oh, well, I never claimed to be a great chef.

Tomorrow it’s off to Portland and a few days in a hotel.

So far, the trip has been quite good. I called into work yesterday to see how things were going, and I have the feeling that my co-worker is quite frazzled. Sadly, she tends to try to make one feel a bit guilty, so I don’t think I’ll be calling in again. Yeah, I’m taking off over a week, but it’s still far less than the total time I’ve got banked, so I don’t see any reason to feel guilty about it, eh?

I may dial in from Portland, though. I’m not completely heartless.

In Portland I will be meeting my traveling companion for the rest of the trip. This being only the second time that I’ve met a fellow blogger, I’m somewhat nervous about it, even though the situation is radically different than my previous experience. Of course, both of us are the shy geeky type, so we’ll see if conversation even ensues for the first hour or so.

I find myself wishing I could stay longer here at Crater Lake. It’s one of the most difficult things I have with traveling: on the one hand, I want to see and explore as many places as possible; on the other, I love to stay in a place and get to know it really well. So, with Crater Lake, I find myself wishing I could be here for a few days, hike more of the trails, see more of the park. Yet, I have to move on: hotel reservations await in Portland.

So, tomorrow, off to Portland I go for that hotel room and (thankfully for those around me, I’m sure) a shower! (Don’t worry, I mostly just smell of campfire smoke. 🙂 )



  1. I’m a bit envious of your travels… makes me want to take off on my own little venture… thanks for the inspiration. 😉

  2. This post makes me want to go to Oregon. Shifting Oregon to the top of my list. And I’m taking you with me in capacity of “camp chef.” My pics would have been of PB & Banana sandwiches or oatmeal. He he he.

  3. Love these pictures!! So beautiful!! And actually one of my favorite things about camping is not showering. I always say, “I love being dirty!” My friends find me odd. 🙂

  4. Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful blue lakes int he world and you pictures capture it perfectly. I’m not much of a camper but your picture of the sunrise over Lake Siskiyou might change my opinion.

    Too bad about the Wizard Island boat though.

    Can’t wait to see where you go next and the pictures you take.

  5. I forgot to ask… is swimming allowed (or is it even the right temperature) in Crater Lake? From the looks of those photos, I wanna jump right in. If you tell me swimming is allowed, I am booking a flight… LOL.

  6. Your sunrise pic is fantastic.

    Apparently I have been to Crater Lake, at least that’s what the dad says, but I do not remember. I guess that means I’ll need to go sometime. 🙂

  7. a life uncommon – I hope you get out there soon. I’ve still got some time banked, need a travel partner?

    charlotte – sounds like a plan; there’s still much in Oregon I have left to see and do (like rafting the Rogue River!).

    *kb* – Thanks. I don’t find it odd at all.

    Homer-Dog – Lake Siskiyou might be a good fit, especially in summer when all of the services are open. Very lux.

    charlotte – yes, swimming is allowed. According to the park newspaper, average surface temperature in summer is 59 degrees, 37 degrees in winter. I think the average lake temperature is something like 42 degrees. Have fun!

    just a girl – thanks for the compliment. I only got the one partial day there, so I’m certainly open to going back.

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