Central Oregon (August 21-24, 2007)
Warning: there are a lot of photos on this page, paying homage as it does to Crater Lake, the crown jewel in Oregon's glittering array of geographical features.
We got up early to get a head start on our last day of sightseeing. Whilst on the way to Crater Lake, we found that Train Mountain was just up ahead, so we made a slight detour to see it.
Train Mountain: From a documentary we had seen, we knew it was a place where railway enthusiasts have formed a club and made a 7½″ gauge model railway with over 13 miles of track. We also knew it was a members only thing, but took the chance to visit anyway.
Yes, one could drive past. No, it wasn't open to the public (but it is on Sundays in summer!).
On the way back to Crater Lake National Park, we stopped at one of the picnic spots near Wood River.
The tree squirrels there were plentiful and very entertaining as they chased each other around trees and across the grass.
As we drove up towards the park, the ponderosa pines with their beautiful amber mottled trunks gave way to denser forests of the conifers I am more accustomed to in the Pacific north-west, such as spruce and fir.
Annie Creek has formed an impressive canyon over the years, washing away volcanic ash left from the eruption of Mt Mazama 7,000 years ago. You can see fumaroles (vertical channels created by escaping volcanic gases).
Aside from a little extra vegetation, there was no change in the scene from 100 years ago (pic taken circa 1910).
When we arrived at the lake, there was no wind and the weather was much warmer than I expected.
The view of Wizard Island from the south-west rim was breath-taking in the late morning light.
Some people took their lives into their own hands, just to be photographed at a lower vantage point!
The squirrels were quite plentiful and friendly, and well-fed.
Some people had brought sunflower seeds or grain for them.
We offered them our samurai peanuts.
The birds had also cottoned onto the idea of free food.
Many visitors to the lake had come from distant states, such as Wyoming, Michigan, New Jersey and even Prince Edward Island.
Others came from closer to home, such as Idaho, Arizona and Utah. There were quite a few with Crater Lake license plates.
Wizard Island is a cinder cone formed after the eruption of Mt Mazama. It was fascinating to look at, and I took lots of photos of it as we drove around the rim.
The crater, with Llao Rock in the distance.
Dock at Governors Bay. When the summer boat tours are operating, visitors may get off at Governers Bay and spend the day on the island.
Flats on the west side, with Llao Rock in the background.
View from the west rim. Fumarole Bay is in the foreground.
View from the west rim. Mt Scott in the east is the highest point in the park, at 8929 feet.
View from Watchman Overlook. Skell Channel separates Wizard Island from the rim.
View of Wizard Island from Watchman Overlook.
Looking at Wizard Island from that angle, I was reminded of another crater lake I had seen in Japan in 1984 - Lake Kutcharo, in Hokkaido. Here it is, with the aptly-named Nakajima (meaning "inside island") in the middle, seen from Bihoro Pass.
Watchman Peak, viewed from the south.
Mt Thielsen lies to the north of Crater Lake. Glaciers have carved away the rocks on its flanks, leaving the sharp spire. The sparsely treed area in the centre is the Pumice Desert.
Wizard Island, seen from Devil's Backbone.
North Junction. Llao Rock in the background was formed as part of the initial stages of the Mt Mazama eruption and is dated at around 7,700 years old.
We continued eastwards around the rim, whilst most people took the northern route to leave the park. With the sun in front of us, less traffic and Wizard Island no longer dominating the landscape, there was a different feeling on this side of the lake. We were, alas, also in a hurry now, and were not able to savour this side as we had the west rim.
Boats at Cleetwood Cove.
Mt Scott is a composite volcano that was formed about 420,000 years ago as part of the Mt Mazama volcanic complex.
Pumice Castle is made up of pumice and other rocks, and is kept in place by a foundation of lava.
View of Mt Thielsen from Pumice Castle Overlook.
View from Phantom Ship Overlook.
Phantom Ship consists of two overlapping dense lava flows from the Phantom Cone volcano, which preceded the formation of the much larger Mt Mazama. It is dated at over 400,000 years old.
And then we were back to the start. The Rim Village Cafe and Gift Shop had been recently renovated, and the parking is now around the back of it, leaving the front for sweeping views of the lake.
We retraced our journey along the west rim, enjoying the views of the lake without stopping this time, then drove speedily northwards via the picturesque North Umpqua River, to reach home not long after sundown.