Saturday, February 28, 2009

To the Rim of the Crater

We returned yesterday from a wonderful three day getaway to the Crater Lake region of Oregon. Our goals were to visit our friends, Smitty and Shawn, who recently moved to that area, as well as explore Crater Lake National Park. On Tuesday night, after I returned from a late shift at work, we set off toward the OR border. We camped in the back of our Explorer and set off again bright and early on Wednesday morning. The drive north was beautiful, especially along the Smith River. There were waterfalls everywhere!

We had a great time visiting with Smitty and Shawn (and of course Latte and Panda, too). Our wish for enough snow to ski on was granted, and we had a great afternoon of cross country skiing up, up, up, and then back doooowwwwn. We picnicked in the sunshine, on the snow, and later skiied around the headwaters of the Wood River.

On Friday, we said our goodbyes to our wonderful hosts and headed toward the national park. Lots of snow had fallen at the park the previous day, and it turned out that the road to the crater's rim was closed. We were so disappointed to not see the "crater lake" of Crater Lake National Park! As we walked through the exhibits in the visitor center, a voice called out to Mike. Sounds unlikely, but it turned out that a coworker from our time in Colorado was working there, and he gave us some great advice about a trail that would lead us to the rim. We strapped on our snowshoes and plowed through sparkly snow, about 900 vertical feet (over about a mile) up to the rim of the crater. It was steep terrain, and I started to get a bit scared of tumbling down the mountainside, but we eventually summited the rim and were greeted by a panoramic vista of the deep blue waters of Crater Lake. Mountains in the distance, ice covered rock formations nearby, and there we were, completely alone to soak in the view. It turned out to be a blessing that the road was closed, because otherwise we would have had to share the view and the solitude with bunches of other visitors! We both agreed that it was our best snowshoeing adventure EVER.

The drive felt longer on the way home than on the way there, but luckily we made it before darkness fell. Now we're counting down the days and watching as the boxes pile up in our living room...on Thursday we'll begin the drive toward Georgia!

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