Crater Lake National Park 2010

(August 2010)

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Trip report

This past week we had a fun family trip down to Crater Lake National Park, seeing Diamond Lake, Newberry Crater National Monument, the Old McKenzie Highway and the cabin along the way.

The trip started out with us being cordially uninvited to the cabin by Molly (I’m still trying to figure out how she asked to join us on our “cabin time”, then uninvited us)!   We recovered by making the drive down to Diamond Lake in a day, setting up our Crater Lake “home base” at the Theilsen View Campground.  Based on our National Park tour earlier this summer, we thought it might be best to avoid the crowds and stay outside the park.  Our neighbors (the Yorks) kindly lent us their walled mosquito net canopy, which thankfully made the deserted campground bearable from the swarming mosquitos (I’m pretty sure it was deserted because of the blood sucking varmints).  Mt. Theilsen, for those of you who don’t know, is the most spectacular of Oregon’s Cascade summits, and watching the sunset on its volcanic pinnacle plug that evening was gorgeous!

The following morning we made the twenty minute drive to Crater Lake.  Elaine and I had spent part of our honeymoon at the park, and coming back for the first time in thirteen years (to the month) to show Sierra and Cooper gave Elaine and I a warm fuzzy “circle of life” kind of feeling.  Like thirteen years earlier, we hiked to the high point of the park (Mt. Scott), only this time with Sierra and Cooper leading the way!  At 8,929 feet above sea level, Mt. Scott is the tallest Cascade mountain Sierra and Cooper have yet climbed.  The views looking down into the caldera were fantastic, with the interplay between sunlight and clouds changing the lake water colors from everyday blue, to out-of-this-world, this can’t be real blue!  Back at our campsite later in the evening Sierra and Cooper had a great time splashing along the shores of Diamond Lake as bald eagles and osprey dove headlong into the water trying to catch fish.  Watching the nightly sunset show cast its alpenglow on Mt. Theilsen was the icing on the cake after a great day.

We were up at the crack of dawn the next morning to procure our first-come-first-serve Crater Lake boat tour with Wizard Island drop off tickets.  The old adage “the early-bird gets the worm” rang true yet again, with us being first in line and getting seats on the coveted morning boat.  The early-bird line up was unique, with the atmosphere bordering between a university lecture (several people shared their encyclopedic knowledge of all things volcanic, wildlife and central/southern Oregon related) and general admission rock concert (with everyone excited about “getting a ticket to the show”).  I enjoyed a “dig me” moment, setting up our portable kitchen (recently bought for pennies on the dollar at a REI used gear sale) and making a piping hot breakfast for Elaine, Sierra and Cooper while we waited for the ticket window to open.  The longing looks and “I should have thought of that” comments were priceless!

The boat ride and subsequent hike to the top of Wizard Island was the highlight of our visit to Crater Lake.  The rangers did a great job explaining the geological and human history of the lake, and seeing the surreal water up close was amazing.  Words can not begin to describe the depth of the blues.  Both Sierra and Cooper got a kick out of hiking down into the crater at the top of Wizard Island, “being in the center of a volcano inside of another volcano!”

Driving home by way of Newberry Crater National Monument (seeing neat obsidian flows and reminiscing about backcountry snowmobile access snowboarding days of yesteryear), the Old McKenzie Pass road (affording great views of the central Oregon Cascades), and cabin (where we spent the nights watching the Perseid meteor shower and the days doing absolutely nothing!) was a great way to end our Crater Lake trip!

Photos from the trip:  Click here for the gallery view, or here for a slideshow view.


Travel links

Trips from the last two years    Interactive travel map



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