"Oh my gosh, look!"
"This view just never gets old"
These were repeated statements our entire stay in Crater Lake. We did nearly half of all the hiking trails offered so we had the pleasure of seeing the lake from all angles and viewpoints, from the shoreline and water all the way to the highest point in the park. It was definitely a favorite stop on our trip so far.
Before we got to Crater Lake, however, we trekked through the monstrous trees in the Redwoods via the Avenue of Giants and Bull Creek Trail - near our campsite in Albee Campground. The trees were ginormous and I still think about their immense strength and endurance to grow so massively - it is inspiring.
(Pics from Day 16 - 18)
On Day 19, we exited California and entered Oregon. We drove along the coast via the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Byway – super beautiful, super windy.
We made it to Roseburg and spent the night in a hotel parking lot....we may or may not have grabbed food + drink from the continental breakfast the next morning... :)
Day 20 was spent enjoying the hike to Toketee Falls and lunch at Umpqua Hot Springs (natural hot springs and free!). The roads were rough getting there, but worth every bump!
We finished the day arriving at Crater Lake National Park (Mazama Campground). There we discovered they had free hot showers at our fingertips, which felt amazing as the temps dropped to the 30s that night.
We woke up around 8am with anticipation of a couple short hikes and a trip around the lake - but it was roughly 40 degrees, windy and rainy. Not the most ideal conditions to hang outside for hours. In addition to the storm passing through, the low-hanging clouds made it difficult to see the full views. We decided not to waste our energy on the hikes since they were both pretty strenuous. Instead, we drove around the lake and captured the mystic views.
The afternoon was spent at the lodge where we attempted to use wifi and data but neither worked. Our time was not wasted, however, because a ranger chat happened right in front of where we sat. We learned so many amazing facts about the lake that, at this point, we have yet to really see! You ready for this?
*Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S.
*It was formed from the volcanic eruption of Mt. Mazama (eruption and destruction was 12x the size of Mount St. Helen's)
*The insanely blue color exists partly because of how clear the water is, but mainly due to the way the color rays reflect to our eyes.
*Because of the way the lake was formed, no fish exist naturally, but there are 2 species of fish that live there now. An original fan and avid protector of the lake carried buckets of fish to the lake with hopes of it becoming a protected park for visitors to enjoy. You can fish without a license and can keep anything you catch.
*The rangers swoop their water bottles right into the lake and drink straight from it. No filter needed.
Fun, right? We were more anxious than ever to actually see this beauty beyond the clouds. We were hopeful to experience it a whole new way with the clear forcast for tomorrow.
That night after making burrito bowls, we watched the sunset at Sun Notch. The sky was vibrant!
Today was our first hiking day at Crater Lake. We got fueled up from our oatmeal and french press coffee then headed to the lowest point in the park (next to being on the water) via Cleetwood Cove trail (1.8 miles).
Next hike? Mt. Scott (4.2 miles). This took us to the tallest point in the entire park and the views were fabulous.
We finished the day of hikes with Plaikni Falls (2 miles). On the way to the trail head, Connor's shoes flew off the roof (I failed my job of reminding him they were up there), so we reversed and I ran to their rescue. All good, everybody. Nothing to see here...
When we arrived at the trail head and exited the vehicle, the mosquitoes greeted us. SO. MANY. EVERY. WHERE. I may be a bit dramatic but mosquitoes LOVE me and choose my bod to bite over most other humans I am around. My bod also reacts to them by swelling, so I was about to do all I could to keep them away. We sprayed ourselves silly with bug spray and while everyone looked "clear", Connor continued to inform me that many were still landing right on me - my legs, back, arms, head, butt, you name it.
My solution? I hiked the entire trail (luckily it was only a mile) with my arms constantly swatting and swinging around my front and back bod - disrupting as many little squitoes as possible. (so sorry we don't have any pictures of that) :)
We snapped a few pics of the falls and then literally ran all the way back to the car because those squitoes were on a mission. That was likely the fastest mile I have run in a long time.
We celebrated a full day of hikes and surviving the mosquitos with dark chocolate, peanut butter and banana s'mores.
We had planned to start the day with a slow morning at camp - yoga, breakfast, coffee - but the mosquitoes were still so bad! Instead, we went to lodge patio instead (mosquito-free) and hung out, uploaded pics and people-watched. The weather was the best yet - sunny and 60 degrees. We packed up lunches and headed to the trail head for Garfield Peak (3.4 miles).
The views were so stinkin' gorgeous the whole way up. We ate at the top and Facetimed fam and friends (best service in the whole park) then headed back to squeeze in one more hike. The Watchman (1.7 miles) was very much snow covered and we created our own path a bit trying to navigate the footprints of others. Gorgeous views again. It was so fun to see the lake from all views, and the views truly never got old.
We made dinner that night at a picnic area near the Cloudcap Overlook (pasta, peppers, onions, red sauce, and sausage) then watched the sunset at the overlook.
You didn't think we forgot s'mores, did you? We had dessert with a view using our pocket rocket.
Sun went down. We headed to hot showers and climbed into bed
We said our goodbyes to Crater Lake. It was such a stunning place. That majestic blue will be missed but the mosquitoes? Not so much.
We made breakfast on the way to Bend. OR then stocked up on gas and groceries at Costco. Connor and I spent the rest of the day at Backporch Coffee Roasters in Bend. Their Nitro Cold Brew is perfection. We worked the whole day on Vibe Up, editing pics, writing blog posts, etc.
We were the last two lingering before close and the baristas gifted us everything left on their pastry shelves. The guy carried over roughly 10 different pastries bagged up - banana bread, scones, bagels, ocean rolls, the works! Was it obvious we live in our car and are on a serious budget? We didn't care and were so darn grateful. YUM!
What's next for us? Bend, Mt. Hood, Portland, and Seattle. Stay tuned!