Day 87

Saturday, August 20, 2005Crater Lake NP, OR
Miles: 10327Follow the geese south

Today we woke up alarmingly early. This means that the sun had not yet risen. Uck. We had a long drive to Crater Lake though, so we pushed on through and managed to get to Crater Lake in time to get a campsite at the first come, first served campground. Wahoo! We took the Umpqua Scenic Byway and stopped at the Colliding Rivers, where two rivers meet head on. This is probably really cool when they're both high, like in May, but in August, they're both pretty tiny, so they met in more of a pool than a collision. Ah well.

The first campsite we checked into appeared to be occupied, so we went back to the check in kiosk and got another one. This one was empty, so we settled in for some lunch before heading out to marvel at Crater Lake. We put all of our food in the provided bear locker, though this was apparently too hard for the other campers in the campground, as they just left their food and dishes out all over their site. Some of them even used their bear lockers as shelves for their stoves. Oy. At least if people were attacked by bears in the night, it wouldn't be us.

We drove around the lake, stopping to marvel at the views and the amazingly blue color of the water. The water is so clear and clean that it has this sort of deep azure color that turns turquoise on the very edges where the shore is visible. It's quite amazing. It's also cool to think about the huge mountain that once stood there. There were people in the area at the time, and the explosion, which had the force of 100 Mt. St. Helens, must have been terrifying. Especially since you were a Native American 7700 years ago and had no idea what seismic activity was. Eeep, pissed off gods!

We tried to get on the boat that cruises around the lake, but we had no luck, as all the tickets sell out in the first few hours of the day. Bummer. We continued our trek around the lake and stopped at several more viewpoints, including the Phantom Ship. The Phantom Ship is part of a larger rock structure that is cut off by water and looks like a big pirate ship, or would if it were foggy and not a bright, clear day. We also went on a little hike through the wildflower meadows and checked out the hillside viewing deck. Here we learned that Crater Lake has the best visibility of any lake, with a Secchi disk visible at up to 144 feet. Ceridwen's mother, a water quality person at an NH lake, was very jealous, as her lake never has that kind of visibility. Or clarity, or whatever you water quality people call it.

Since we were feeling hot for the first time in a week, we also noticed that we were feeling grimy and gritty. This feeling was not helped by the fact that our campsite was covered in a layer of the finest dirt ever and it pretty much got on everything. We had to wash our feet before we even contemplated bed.