September 7th and 8th, 2011
I had added Crater Lake to my route as a bit of an after thought. It was conveniently on the way to Yosemite after cutting inland from Hwy 101. The riding was easy, warming as I went inland. I stopped at a mall hoping to find somewhere to get a hair cut (it had been over three months since my last one, and I was getting scruffy).
Must be the mental kind.
All the hair cut places were closed, or had hour plus waits, and I wasn’t in a waiting mood. As I went to the south and east I started to gain some altitude, but it didn’t cool off much.
I stopped at the enterance to get a picture of me and Blue
The plan, when I did the route, was just to loop around one side of the lake or the other, then continues south. That plan didn’t last long once I saw the lake itself.
I asked at the fee station and the ranger said there was lots of camping still available, on the south side of the lake. I was on the north side, so I had to ride around. Since it was getting late, and I was tired of full campgrounds, I didn’t stop to take a lot of pictures on the way around.
The ride seemed to me mostly up hill, and some pretty steep grades, but Curiosity handled it well. I found camping, set up the Nomad and dumped most of my stuff into it so the bike would be lighter the next day.
In the morning I spent some time reading the little newspaper I had been given when I entered the park, looking over what I wanted to do during the day. I settled on a boat tour of the lake, and the a new hiking trail to see a water fall.
The boat tour was first, mainly because they stop them for storms, and storms were expected in the afternoon. But since it took 45 minutes to get to the boat launch parking lot, and it’s a mile hike into the crater from there, the earliest I was allowed to get was noon.
Since that gave me almost three hours to get to the launch, I took my time riding around the lake.
At a rest area I met a couple motorcyclists and a couple bicyclists.
John and his wife (the bicyclists) life near Lake Tahoe and we traded emails with the thought of meeting again when I got that far. He also was nice enough to take a picture of me –
Curiosity looks good without all the bags. You can tell that I washed it back in Seattle.
Eventually I reached the parking lot for the boat tour, and realized I had left the lock for my coat back in camp. Not a big deal, I just had to bring the coat with me (I didn’t want to leave it on the bike unlocked, there’s nothing it is except some change but I don’t want it to wander off). Of course, there was that mile hike…
The Cleetwood Trail is the only way down to the lake, so if you wanted to swim (the water is around 60f for the first meter or so, then gets cold fast reaching about 38f at 10 meters) or fish (no license needed, no limits on your catch, no natural lures. The lake didn’t naturally have fish and was seeded before becoming a National Park) then this is the only option. Down is easy.
There’s the boat dock, just past the construction area. The construction is actually the boat dock, it failed in a storm over the winter and is being replaced. Crater lake can get some decent storms, and spring comes lake. If I had come here on the 4th of July weekend I would have needed skis.
There was a lot of jumping into the lake, but no one seemed to stay there very long.
This was the boat that left before mine. Mine wasn’t nearly as crowded, and after the 1pm boat the rest of the tours were cancelled. There are three of these tour boats, and one boat used by researchers in the lake. All the boats were dropped off my helicopter, since there was no way anyone was carrying them down that hiking trail. There is no road access, remember?
We hoped on the boat, met our captain and National Park Guide (the tour boats are managed through a private company), and took off for a two hour tour.
I took a hundred pictures of the lake on the tour, so you don’t get to see them all here. I do have a selection for your viewing pleasure.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the USA, and the clearest in the world with twice the clarity of Lake Tahoe (and holding the Genus World Record). This clarity is why is has such a vivid blue.
After the tour I had to hike back up to the parking lot. The ranger guide summed up the hike simply “1.1 miles down, and 11 miles up.” It had cooled off and clouded over, but I was still wishing I didn’t have my coat with. I didn’t wear it, but still had to carry it.
When I got to the top of the crater I had lunch and started to ride over to the trail I wanted to hike. When I get there, the temperature had dropped considerably, it was raining and I kept hearing thunder, so I decided to skip the hike. Honestly it wasn’t that hard to decide since I admit my legs were burning from the hike back up Cleetwood Trail.
Spending more time riding around the crater rim more wasn’t much of a hardship either.
I stopped at the visitor center to get passport stamps and a few more pictures.
Crater Lake is actually a Caldera, like Yellowstone. Wizard Hat island is a smaller cone that formed later. There are still hot vents on the bottom of the lake.
There is an all you can eat buffet at the campground I had for dinner, and turned in. I couldn’t stay here forever, since it gets cold, and had to move on.