Despite not having nearly as long of a drive in front of us today (a mere 4 hours instead of yesterday’s 11…), we wanted to get up and out early so we could be sure we could get a campsite. With the delightful view of the pines and blue skies, we packed up and hit the road with our trusty breakfast of GoGurts — so easy to eat while driving!
With only a quick stop to refill our coolers with ice, Ally was a champ with today’s driving. I’m sure it helped that Mt. Shasta was a fun companion to have and look at for virtually all of the drive.
Relatedly, we drove on this stretch of highway back in 2014 — go read about it here — and Shasta Lake is looking so much healthier now than it did back then. The water level has risen back up to a respectable level, and the drought seems to be a thing of the past.
After a couple hours of off-highway driving, we were into Oregon. Although we had been through the state before, it’s always a bit surprising to see just how green everything is! (Also, the lack of sales tax is a nice bonus.) Although only one day in, we were both craving some fresh food — produce or otherwise — so we had our eyes open for a roadside stand. Seeing a sign for an “organic market,” we pulled in and had a look. Well, perhaps “market” was a bit ambitious for them, as all that was available was two potatoes and an onion.
We got back on the road and, soon, we were at Crater Lake National Park — another new one for us!
No reservation, no problem. Despite not having a spot reserved, we had no issue securing a site.
After setting up Turtle (our name for our tent), we devised a game plan by reviewing the park’s map and weekly newspaper. With a plan of attack in mind, we got back in the truck and headed to the Rim.
The lake is simply breathtaking. Its color and size are both awe-inspiring — the vivid shades of blue are remarkable and no doubt due in part to the fact that it is fed only by rainwater (no river or other water source flows into the lake), while the lake is also the deepest lake in North America. Though the name might lead some to believe the lake was formed by a meteor, it is actually the remaining “caldera” of a volcano (Mount Mazama) that collapsed 7,700 years ago.
Construction on the “West Rim Drive” derailed our day’s hiking plans, so we just decided to drive around the whole lake and explore. (Apparently the “East Rim Drive” opened just last week, due to snow making it impassable.) Every so often there was another turnout that offered a new stunning view of the lake — and it’s centerpiece attraction “Wizard Lake,” a smaller cone created after the original caldera formed.
After a while, we decided snacks and hydration were a must.
We finished our trek around the 33 mile rim and went back to the campground to make dinner. During our meal, though, Ally (our resident meteorologist) noticed ominous clouds approaching — though perhaps the audible thunder helped her notice.
We finished eating, packed up, and got in Bullseye right as the rain began to fall. Not knowing how long the storm would last (there was no cell service at camp), we discussed possibly heading up to the Rim to watch the storm. Verdict? Hail Yes! No, literally, our drive up was interrupted by marble-sized hail!!!
Once to the top, Ally began our three weeks of ukulele lessons; the tuning alone took nearly an hour to figure out. Hopefully we get better quick! Lol.
Once the sun had set (and the rain had subsided), we headed back to camp — only to find our tent living up to its name. Turtle was surround by, and floating atop, about two inches of water. (Full Disclosure: During dinner, we had joked about how the tent was in a bit of a “depression” on our site, but took no steps to address. Well, lesson learned. This is, fortunately, the first time such an incident has happened.)
After moving the tent, and discovering that everything inside was actually dry, we headed to bed. Tomorrow will stay in the park (no driving, yay!) and plan to hike the highest point in the park!
Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA to Crater Lake National Park, OR – 263 miles (4.5 hours)
-Ally and Patrick