Friday, September 11, 2009

Crater Lake

The first thing that hits your senses is the color. There's nothing subtle about it in the least. It reaches right up, smacks you in the face and knocks your socks off. And no matter how long you look at it, that sense of incredulity never seems to waver. This is the quintessential view as you reach the visitor's center from the south entrance. Indescribably, impossibly, blue. It's the deepest lake in the US and the 7th deepest lake in the world, and all that depth does some fancy light refracting to produce this color.

We found it difficult to tear ourselves away from almost every place we stopped. The road around the lake is supposed to be 33 miles, and since it took us about 5 hours to make the circuit you can see we spent more time stopping and gawking and taking photos and playing tourist than we spent driving. By far.

This is also from the visitor's center area, looking to the opposite side of the lake with one of the tour boats that slowly circle the lake. I'm astonished at how many people take this boat, because the only way to get on one is to hike over a mile down a steep trail, and of course, back up. That trail is also the only place where one can actually get to the lakeshore. We did not make the attempt. Old folks. Lazy.

I thought there was some slight chance that I would remember where all these photos were taken, but apparently not. It's been a looooooong day and I'm pooped, brain on serious malfunction.

I'm not in love with most of my photos from this day -- you wouldn't think it would be all that difficult to take fabulous photos of such a fabulous place, would you. Still, the color and reflections are there, always. We really lucked out with the weather -- clear, sunny, wonderfully warm. Didn't quite crack 80, according to the temperature sensor in my car, but it was warm and perfect, a great escape for coastal people who don't get warm very often.

I seemed to spend a great deal of the day trying to photograph that pointy mountain in the distance. I've flown over that peak many times, flying from Phoenix to Eugene, never knew its name. I now know that its name is Mt. Theissen, but that's all I know about it. I love the pointiness of it. There are, by the way, expansive views in all directions other than the lake, from the Rim Road. Not overly photogenic, but incredibly beautiful to see. At one viewpoint, we could even see Mt. Shasta in the distance, way down in California. Mountains everywhere - in layers, pointy mountains, rolling mountains, other lakes, and big valleys. Beautiful.

I also spent a lot of time trying to capture this light on the lake. As you can see, at this point we were on the east side looking into the sun, so while that light was lovely to look at, the camera had serious problems dealing with all the light. In the center of the photo is a rock outcropping called Phantom Ship, because from a distance it does look like a ship. It also looks something like a castle, to me.

Another view of the Phantom Ship, using the telephoto.

When we passed this en route to the park this morning I only got a quick glimpse that sent my heart right into my throat. On the way out of the park, I had to stop. This is literally right off the highway, and it's unbelievably beautiful. This, my friends, is the Upper Rogue River. Heartstopping. From here it tumbles into a big lake with a huge dam, travels around 185 miles and meets the ocean in Gold Beach, 25 miles from home.

There's a long walkway along the river here and this raucous waterfall is a bit mind-boggling. I shot a video -- or at least, thought I did. Can't seem to find it now that everything is downloaded. As you can see, it's a wild riot of tumbling water coming from all directions. So beautiful. Breathtaking. I would have walked the rest of the way down the viewing area, but we'd planned to return to the park in the morning so I thought I'd catch it then. Not so sure we are going to do that, now. Alas. We're both really tired -- but we'll see how we feel in the morning. Since I'm driving, I may stage a mutiny and drive back this far, if not all the way to the lake.

We are in the sweet little town of Shady Cove, about an hour from the Park entrance. My room is lovely, the owners wonderful. If you're ever up this way and need an affordable place to stay, I highly recommend the Maple Leaf Motel.

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