Saturday, September 12, 2009

Crater Lake and the Upper Rogue River

I did mention yesterday that the lake was blue, did I not? I found this combination of colors irresistible as the light and shadows played over the early morning stillness. Yes, the fatigue of last night dissipated enough by this morning that we opted to make the hour's drive back up to the lake for just this view, just this wonderful morning light. I'm so glad we did!

This is the Phantom Ship rock once more, cast in the reflection of the still lake. I cannot describe just how beautiful the scene really was, with that incredible reflection all around the entire scene.

More plays of blue and reflections, with Mt. Theissen in the distance. At this point, we turned around and headed back down the mountain, but just these few views from the east side were well worth the drive. Besides, we had other places along the highway we wanted to explore.

This photo is actually from day one -- somehow it looks better to me today than it did late Friday night when I was so tired and bleary-eyed. This big rock with the green lichen or moss is spectacular, in a rather subtle kind of way.

Our next stop -- the same beautiful rapids I stopped to see last night, but in much better light. Today, we walked the length of the path and discovered the Rogue River Gorge. I saw a bit of it last night, but there was so much to learn here! These rapids are just above the falls that feed into the Gorge.

This is the video I shot Friday afternoon, and 'lost'. Sadly, even this cannot show the full scope of this beautiful spot. There was a tree to my left that I could not pan past, thus only the major part of the falls is shown. It's a little dark because of the time of day but better than a still photo, anyway.

Is this not gorgeous? This is beyond the waterfall, where the river flows through this deep, narrow gorge at the rate of 410,000 gallons per minute.

You can click on this photo enlarge, read what it has to say about this section of the river. None of this comes close to describing how it feels to be there, to hear it and see it.

Next, we stopped at the Natural Bridges, where the Rogue disappears into the rock and reappears a bit further, bursting right out of the rock after its underground journey. This photo is from a bridge just below where all this happens.

This is where the river charges out of the rock. Unfortunately, the light didn't allow the camera to pick up on the dark 'hole', but you get the idea. You can see it boiling out of nothing. It helps to click on the photo, enlarge it, so that the dark shadows open up a bit to show the rock.

I think this is just below the 'hole'. Spectacular whitewater!

Another sign to click on, get the real details of this site.

This photo is from way above, showing the lava flow and rocks that cover the 200 feet of hidden river channel. The river reappears just beyond this stretch of rock.

Another interpretive sign that explains it much better than I can!

Our last stop was Mill Creek Falls, although there was supposed to be another waterfall in the area as well, so I'm not sure if this is Mill Creek or the other. Whatever its name, it was spectacular and well worth the walk to find it. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't give much in the way of scale, but this was a huge waterfall barreling off the side of the cliff into the tiny Rogue below. Breathtaking to watch.

Quite a blow to our senses today, temperature wise. From the coolness of high elevations at Crater Lake, to 95 sweltering degrees in the lowlands between Shady Cove and the Smith River (and a passenger who didn't understand my disdain for AC), to a quick 30 degree temperature drop once we hit the western side of the Coastal mountains. In truth, I was a bit astonished at how quickly the temps dropped once we passed through the California inspection station and headed almost imperceptibly downhill. Ten degrees quickly, another 10 fairly quickly, until within 30 minutes we were at 60 really cool degrees. And fog, of course! For once, I was not unhappy to see it. And, while I love the mountains and rivers, it's always good to get back to that lovely ocean with the waves crashing into shore.

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