Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crater Lake, Oregon - WOW!

On our way to Crater Lake we viewed the Cascade Mountains in the background.

Once we entered the park, we saw this beautiful gorge with Annie Creek running through it.  The rock formations were formed about 7,700 years ago when Mt. Mazama erupted.  Red hot pumice (volcanic rock from solidified lava) poured down the mountain slopes at speeds of 100 mph.  On top of this came a flow of heavier rock called scoria (darker brown or red in color), which flooded down slope for miles leaving deep deposits in their wake. 

Temperatures in the deposits exceeded 750 degrees and vaporized everything in its path. Plumes of vapors appeared, and as gasses escaped through the rocks they formed vents called fumaroles.  The minerals in the gasses along with the extreme heat welded the sides of the fumaroles into the shape of slender cones.  Over time, water erosion through the canyon removed the deposits exposing the fossil fumaroles as pinnacles and columns. 

Our first view of Crater Lake.   How awesome is that!!!!

Mt. Mazama was a 12,000 foot volcano that erupted with such force that its molten rock (magma)chamber emptied and the mountain could not support itself.  The mountain collapsed forming a deep caldera (volcanic cauldron) where the upper part of the mountain used to be. 

The deep basin filled with centuries of rain and snowfall.  No streams run into the lake, so there is very little sediment or clouding.

Precipitation, balanced with evaporation and seepage, keeps the lake level consistent.

Crater Lake is 6 miles across and 1,943 feet at its deepest point.  It is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world.

It holds 4.9 trillion gallons of water.

William Gladstone Steel first saw Crater Lake in 1885 and campaigned to protect it.
He fought for 17 years to make the Crater Lake area a national park.  Ranchers, farmers, and entrepreneurs wanted to keep the land open for their uses. In 1900, President Teddy Roosevelt, sent an emissary west to look at the area and report back to him.  The emissary said the land was a national treasure and should be preserved.  In 1902, the President convinced Congress to declare it a national park and 183,000 acres were preserved. Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt!

There is a 33 mile drive around the rim of Crater Lake with many viewpoints.  We were able to drive the West Rim and part of the East Rim but could not make the entire trip because some areas were still closed due to snow.
This was an off road to a picnic area where we thought we would stop for lunch.  Guess not!
This is the road in the park. Notice the tall, thin poles on each side of the road? They have several reflection bands on them in graduated sections. These are what the snow plow drivers use to make sure they stay on the road as they clear them. It is to keep them from driving off the edge into a ravine or hitting the rocks of the canyon walls. Doesn't look too difficult in this picture but when you are driving up on the rim along Crater Lake, and the snow is higher than the plow, it has to be a very dangerous and scary job.

Just to give you an idea...........Crater Lake receives an average of 44 feet of snow per year and this picture was taken in July. 
There was still a good deal of snow left when we were there.

Our second day at Crater Lake we decided to take a scenic boat trip on the water.  There is only one access down to the lake and it involves hiking down a 11 percent grade, approximately 770 feet, to the water's edge.  The park has all kinds of warnings that people should not try the trip if they have any health problems, or are not used to an extreme climb.  They also recommend you bring along a jacket, plenty of water, and bug spray. 
Starting our descent.....a view from the top.

The boat and dock below where we will take our ride.

Getting closer.  Notice how clear and beautiful the water is.

We made it down to the boat.

There were many people who hiked the switchback trail just to get down to the water and swim and fish in it.  The temperature of the water was 45 degrees at the surface and only 38 degrees from 100 feet below all the way to the bottom of the lake.
The volcanic rock has lots of grottoes along the water line.

The lava rock is almost flaky looking and can be treacherous. 

A distance shot with the lava beds reflecting off the water.

Because it was a lava flow that cooled as it flowed downward, the rock formations are often layered.

Whole chunks of rock are missing where the rock collapsed in a landslide.

This area shows lava as it was extruded from the volcano and flowed down the sides of the caldera. 

Some areas still had snow extending down to the water's edge.

This stump is called the 'old man'.  It is 33 feet tall and floats erect in the lake and can move several miles each day.  The tree has been there for years and has never rotted or tipped over. 

The water in Crater Lake is cleaner than the water that comes from your faucet at home.  Testing has shown that a disk can be dropped 140 feet and still be seen in the water.

Because the sun's rays can penetrate so far into the water, other colors of the spectrum are absorbed but the blue wavelengths are scattered and seen by the human eye.

The water here was 35 feet deep and clear as crystal.  Isn't it beautiful.
This is Wizard Island.  It is a cinder cone that erupted out of the lake about 7,300 years ago.  One of the boat trips allow you to disembark and explore the island for several hours.

It looks a lot bigger from the rim.

This rock formation is called the Phantom Ship.  Depending on your location, the angle of the sun, and the presence or absence of clouds, you may not be able to see it. 

Above is the Pumice Castle.  It is a layer of orange rock that has eroded into the shape of a castle. 

 Crater Lake National Park has 90 miles of hiking trails but there is no hiking or climbing inside the caldera because the walls are dangerously steep and unstable.  The one exception is the Cleetwood Cove Trail down to the lake shore.  Oh yes, I didn't finish our boat trip, did I.....

The boat ride lasted two hours and then we started the hike back up the trail to the parking lot.  They told people to plan an hour for the hike up and stop and rest often.  Did I tell you there were no rails on the side as we climbed?  Also, there was little shade because it was a canyon wall.......and very little breeze, either.  Well, the captain took off with me trailing behind and we had to stop a few times while I gasped for breath.  Some of the other hikers passed us by (I could tell that bothered the captain) but ultimately we caught up with and passed most of them.  We did see one lady who collapsed on the trail as we hiked past.  They had to bring down a park ranger with medical equipment to help her.  And there was an ambulance we saw waiting at the top of the climb.

It was also interesting how few people carried water or bug spray.  And the mosquitoes were vicious and attacking.  I was carrying a bottle of  'Off'  with me and we offered it to several of the hikers who were really in distress.  They were very grateful.

We made it back to the top in one piece and we did it in 30 minutes! 

While we were in the area we took several other hikes and visited the town of Klamath Lake.

This is the Williamson River alongside our RV park.

Remember the other blogs where we showed pictures of the moss on trees and rocks?  Well, actually its called lichen and is an organism composed of a fungus and an algae. Lichen are very beneficial to nature and they only have one enemy......air pollution.  One of the nicest things about this part of the country is the beautiful clean air and water.   

We also made some great new Canadian friends while we stayed near Crater Lake.  This is Marc and Jocelyn Beeger and they are from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  We had a great time getting to know each other over a few drinks in the evenings.

Also took a hike with the pups along the Rogue River in the Umpjua National Forest. 

This river is well named because it has very turbulent water.

This area is a natural bridge where the river flows under lava rock and then re-emerges further downstream.

Large rock formations are slowly being eroded by the water flow.

The water cascades over beds of rock.

Some areas look more peaceful and have a rock ledge that you can walk out on for several feet.  Then the water drops off deeply and there is a dangerous undertow involved.

We also found a little critter that someone told us was called a banana slug.  Isn't it cute (ugh).  They grow them big out West.

This is a view of the town of Klamath Falls.

And this is Upper Klamath Lake outside the town.

Another view of the beautiful lake with white-capped Mt McCullough in the distance.

That's it from central Oregon.  We are heading to Bend, Oregon, to check out the high altitude desert and several state parks with hiking trails.  They also have a few neat breweries, too.  Peace!

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