May 31 – June 1
“How big, How blue, How beautiful…“
The words of Florence Welch says it all. Ladies & Gents, I introduce to you: The blue. The stunning, depth-defying, inexplicable hue of blue. That blue is something special, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s piercing to the heart, penetrating to the soul, and profound to the intellect, a world unknown and created purely through the magical hands of Mother Nature.
The morning of the last day in May, we followed the Jedi’s down the Smith River and out of the forest, until the Redwoods dwarfed and the trees began to change. We followed 199 to Grant’s Pass which took us out of the dusty California hills and into the evergreen splendor that is OREGON! It was a bittersweet moment as this would mark the halfway point of our trip. We couldn’t believe we were already done with Cali – the trip was FLYING by!
As we made our way into Oregon, a new forest emerged that was triptastic! Pointy and piney, a refreshingly new landscape that was easily one of my favorite parts of Oregon. I’m telling you, there’s something about the trees in Oregon! It’s something everyone has to see for themselves! We passed the Rogue River which is beautiful, sporting all kinds of river life activities like canoeing, kayaking, rafting, etc. We decided if we ever came back, we’d have to make it a stop, but we were back to our schedule and wanted to make it to the crater. We stopped along the way for a short, sweet hike to see the magnificent Mills Creek Falls & Barr Creek Falls. Beautiful, secluded, and overflowing with the quiet streams and ferocious roars of life, there is much to see here. We hiked a while along the Rogue River and found the Rogue River Gorge flushed with rushing water, seemingly in a hurry to get wherever it was going. We lulled and stilled in a tranquil silence, feeling the energy of our surroundings, calmed and consoled before carrying on.
We arrived to Mazama Village right before dusk, just in time for the mosquitos to make their debut – aka not the best time!!! We cruised the campground which was cliffside and COLD! There were huge chunks of frozen snow overriding many campsites, but we found one that was pretty clear of any snowmelt and privately tucked away with stacks on stacks of free firewood – Site 14 in Loop B, what a dream! We parked and began to unload, only to be immediately attacked by the evil dinosaur mosquitos seeping like leeches out of the growing darkness. It. was. HORRIBLE! We quickly covered every inch of our skin to the best of our ability and were lunatics about keeping the tent zipped shut so as to save ourselves from a night of terror. With all that free firewood, Bradley boy HAD to build a fire (which was actually a pretty amazing fire), and so to make me happy he hung a mosquito net from a tree (why did he have that? IDK) and we nestled together under the netting, safe from the mosquitos, and warm from the fire. I remember just giggling like kids, at the humor in life and also the beauty as we would be seeing CRATER LAKE in the morning!
We woke up the following morning to the mosquitos of death lurking outside our tent. We decided it would be a good idea to pack up and get the hell out of that campground, never to return, so that’s what we did, and in 20 minutes flat – a new record! We cruised up to the crater to check things out and – BAM! – That’s when it his us . . . . . . The blue. Brad almost drove into oncoming traffic (which he will deny) but it was a sight that slapped both of us silly. We were silenced. And you want to laugh, and you want to cry, you want to wrap yourself up in it and wear it and dance with it, and maybe even pocket it up and carry it with you like a special gem for good fortune . . . Deep & pure, calm & glassy, all-encompasing and deeply inspiring . . . The picturesque, Crater Lake:
The sheer cliffs dominate the violent volcanic past, taking what was once explosive destruction and morphing it into one of the most awe-striking locations on the planet. Authorized in May of 1902, Crater Lake National Park became an attraction of wonder and admiration as well as a classroom and laboratory of science, physics, and extraordinaire. At 1,943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest lake in the world. The water is fresh and clear as day, reflecting the blue skies within it’s deep mysterious basin and reflecting a hue so enchanting you stand completely bewildered and utterly bewitched. And that, my friends, is only scraping the surface of the 6 mile wide Crater Lake.
Thousands of years ago, Mount Mazama stood tall in all it’s seismic glory right where Crater Lake is now embodied. About 8,000 years ago, Mount Mazama exploded in a series of two eruptions over a span of about 48 hours that was so great it spewed ash and cinder over much of the Western US and even up into Canada. The eruption created a giant hole in the Earth some 4,000 feet deep (!!!), that filled with ash and soot and broken pieces of Earth from Mazama’s remains. Since then, the giant crater has been fed with snowmelt and rainfall, slowly but surely filling the emptiness and creating the magnificence that is Crater Lake. In the middle of the lake stands Wizard Island, which is actually the top of the immortal Mount Mazama. Literally, the top was blown off the volcano and settled in one piece in the center of the crater. Some kind of wizardry and witchcraft if you ask me, but it creates the perfect epicenter for the scene of the historical battle of Earth’s natural forces.
There’s a beautiful lodge that overlooks the lake and many caves that can be found on the perimeter of the crater. Unfortunately for my newfound spelunking self, we weren’t able to drive around the entire perimeter of the crater or get to the caves due to the amount of snow. Only about a third of the Rim Drive was open, so we were pretty limited in the amount of exploring that was available to us. I’d love to go back and see the rim in it’s entirety one day.
When we eventually decided to move along, we wandered into the Umpqua National Forest, just outside the park. Somewhere along the way we stumbled upon a dirty homeless hippy clan living in the depths near the hot springs that we were searching for and so desperately wanted to play in, but they were naked and bathing in them and chugging Rockstar energy drinks so we moved along pretty quickly. After that flop of an idea, we had no real direction and the afternoon was quickly approaching so we did what we do best and headed for the coast! We drove 2 1/2 hours along the Umpqua River – SO GORGEOUS & scenic! – and arrived to our impromptu destination, Sunset Bay State Park, at the most spectacular time! Twas a glorious, hazy, perfect & peaceful sunset over the Oregon coast, a most lovely introduction to our favorite state we visited on our trip. It was also the eve of Brad’s (real) 25th birthday, so we commemorated by chugging beers and dancing on the shore before retreating to our campground at Sunset Bay, site C8 – Home, sweet home for the next couple days.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, put Crater Lake on your bucket list! Check in with the park before going so you can make sure to hit all the parts we sadly missed, but it is an experience that must be felt by every human heart. Stay tuned for all our Oregon adventures!
xoxo, Tent Girl