Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The end of August brought a much-needed vacation for us. We had been looking forward to this trip all summer long (kinda dumb to wish the summer away like that, but it was worth it!). Before meeting up with the rest of the Grebe clan in Sunriver, Clint and I decided to take a couple days to drive up and camp around Crater Lake. Neither of us had ever been before, and I had heard it was really beautiful...now I know that's an understatement.
The blue-ness of this lake is ridiculous...it's hard to capture even with a good camera.
That white stuff around the rim is snow! Apparently they were still using snow plows up here at the end of July! After doing much reading (I had 12 hours to kill on the way up) on the subject, I found that August is really the best time to go. The rest of the year most of the roads are closed due to snow, and when they aren't closed the lake is covered in clouds. In September, the cool weather starts to come back, and in October the snow starts all over again.
This is our campsite. Due to both of our "let's just wing it" attitudes, this night of camping was not planned out very well...at all. When we got to Crater Lake, we drove up to the rim first to get a look at the lake before it got dark. Then, we went to the cafe/gift shop and ate an over-priced salad and sandwich, and bought our typical tourist souvenirs. The campsite we had in mind was in Crater Lake park, called Lost Creek. My reading had led me to believe that this was a less-used campsite, because it was more primitive...WRONG. After a 20 minute drive to Lost Creek, we discovered it was completely full. Our other option was to head back to the park entrance to the Mazama campground. This is the one we weren't too crazy about staying at, because it was the more "touristy" option...there was a gas station, store, restaurant, lots of people, etc...not our idea of fun camping. Anyway, we drove into the parking lot annnnddd....it was full. Great. Now we had maybe a half hour of daylight left and we had no idea where we were going to sleep. Apparently you aren't allowed to sleep in your car on the side of the road anywhere in the park, either...which the girl at the counter pointed out. She wasn't too helpful. She told us that we could "probably" park at the entrance of a certain trail head, because the rangers "usually" don't check there. Yeah, that sounds real great. We debated for a while whether to just go back South to Klamath Falls and try to find something there, or just head up to the Bend area early and not get to explore the lake the next day. Ultimately we decided to head back the way we came, not willing to give up a day of hiking around the lake. We drove 17 miles south to the town of Ft. Klamath...til we passed up this place. We saw what looked like a couple RVs and a little store rush past. We both saw it at the same time, and decided we'd better turn around and check it out. Hallelujah, it was a camping spot! On top of that, we were the only tent campers, and we got to sleep on nice, soft, grass!!! We got eaten alive by mosquitoes while setting up our stuff, but it was all worth it. Turns out. this spot was even nicer and more secluded than any of the campsites at Crater Lake.
The next day, we ate breakfast at a tiny little general store in Ft. Klamath. They had a sign for hot, fresh doughnuts, so we couldn't pass it up. We were the only people in the store, except for the owner and her grandkids, who she had put to work. It almost felt like we were intruding a little :-) After that we headed back to Crater Lake. Our first hike was Annie Creek, which you can see below.
The next hike we went on was to a recently discovered waterfall. I don't remember the name of it, as it was some odd indian name...but it was really pretty. There were these crazy blue butterflies everywhere around the waterfall, I don't know why. They didn't seem real.
The last place we went to was The Pinnacles. They are volcanic formations called "fossil fumeroles", and are basically towers of cemented ash. Pretty cool!
We drove around the lake on our way out of the park. We stopped at nearly every overlook along the way to take pictures, so my photos became a little redundant :-)
This mountain below is called "Sharp Peak".
Stay tuned...the rest of our trip is coming soon.