I would be guilty of a very grievous sin if I never mentioned Crater Lake in this nature series. It is Oregon's crown jewel, its pride and joy, and its only national park. Every Oregonian has been there, right? You have been there, haven't you? No! Oh my! Let's fix that right away and maintain your good standing before the state expels you and takes away your license plate! (Just kidding.)
Crater Lake gleams like a blue sapphire among the green pine forests of the Cascade Mountains. Like any gem, it must be viewed from all angles to be fully appreciated. Setting is also important to help bring out the beauty of a jewel, and glistening white snow is the perfect setting for deep blue water. My favorite time of year to visit the lake is in winter and spring while the snow is still deep. I try to be there on a sunny day with puffy clouds.
Crater Lake is more than a pretty volcanic pond. Thousands of years ago, Mt. Mazama blew it's top straight up forming a crater almost 4000 feet deep surrounded by a complete rim. Rain and snow has filled 1943 feet of that hole. Depending on whether you measure maximum or average depth, Crater Lake is anywhere from the third to tenth deepest lake in the world. It is the deepest in the United States.
What gives the lake its deep blue color? Actually, nothing. The water is extremely clear. The lake consistently has clarity readings in the range of 80 to 110 feet. Park rangers work hard to maintain the cleanliness of the water enabling its natural red filter to tint the lake blue. Combine this with reflection from a blue sky and the result is stunning.
To travel around this 5 to 6 mile diameter lake requires a walk, ride, or ski of 33 miles. Starting at Rim Village on the south (6 o'clock) the tourist travels in a clockwise direction towards Watchman Overlook at 9 o'clock, then to Cleetwood Cove near 12 o'clock. At the cove you can take a boat tour of the lake and Wizard Island. You can even go for a swim! At 3 o'clock you can hike the 2 mile trail to Mt. Scott, the highest point in the park at 8929 feet. This is a wonderful place from which to watch sunsets. Finally, the circuit is considered complete at the Park Headquarters at the bottom of the rim.
There are many little spots tucked into Crater Lake National Park. If you avoid the crowds and tour buses on the weekends, you can find a quiet place to contemplate God's handiwork.
In addition to Mt. Scott, Cloudcap is a great place to view sunsets, and sunrises. Because Mount Mazama has turned itself inside out and filled with water, out of the ordinary perspectives are possible. By thinking in opposite directions, the inside wall of the rim affords a unique opportunity to see early morning colors.
Standing at Watchman's Overlook, or where the north entrace road joins the rim road, you can see the sunset colors splash themselves on the east side of the lake.
Near the south entrance is Annie Creek with camping and hiking along the pumice gorge. Near the park headquarters is a delightful little walk through the trees with a little stream and flowers. At 9 o'clock is a steep trail to The Watchman where you can get a 360 degree view of the lake and surroundings.
Now I will share with you a secret that lies partially hidden in the southeast slopes of the park—Plaikni Falls. A fairly easy mile hike through the woods brings you to a meadow at the base of the falls. With all the snow this winter, Plaikni should put on quite the display as soon as the east rim road is open. I have never seen heavy traffic here, so if you want a quiet meditation nook, this is it.
Whatever little spot you find, we must admit that it is the vast lake itself surrounded by rim walls of rock that is the major feature of the park. Like a giant blue baby bed, the vastness has a feeling of protection. It is a unique place to experience a unique combination of God's attributes—beauty and security. Sin's reaction in the presence of God's beauty is ugly, but the strength of God is always beautiful, never ugly, never forceful.
Sing unto the LORD, all the earth;
shew forth from day to day his salvation.
Declare his glory among the heathen;
his marvellous works among all nations.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised:
he also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the people are idols:
but the LORD made the heavens.
Glory and honour are in his presence;
strength and gladness are in his place.
Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people,
give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name:
bring an offering, and come before him:
worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Fear before him, all the earth:
the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
(1 Chronicles 16:23-30)
by Ed Lyons, 5/19/17