Sunday, September 25, 2016

Oregon-California Vacation: September 18-24, 2016

Panorama of Crater Lake
With being home all of 3-1/2 months Dan was becoming restless so we took a road trip north. Our first stop was three days in Ashland to hang out and see a couple of plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We saw "Roe" a play about the pre and post events surrounding the Roe v. Wade decision. We also saw "Vietgone" a play about Vietnamese refugee immigrants and their lives subsequent to their arrival in the US in 1975. Both were fabulous and provided a lot to think about.

Pumice Castle (orange shape on right wall) Overlook 
After 3 days of relative luxury, we headed to Crater Lake just as the weather was cooling. Crater Lake was stunning especially with a sky of angry clouds. Our first day, we hiked up Watchman's Overlook Trail to get a view of Crater Lake from above. Crater Lake at 1943 feet (592 meters) is the deepest lake in the US. It is the 9th deepest in the world. It is also one of the clearest lakes in the world filled only by snow melt and rain. Before it was a lake, it was 12,000 foot Mt Mazama. The island in the middle, Wizard Island, is actually a cinder cone.

Crater Lake rests inside a caldera formed about 7,700 years ago when Mt. Mazama collapsed following a major eruption. Later eruptions formed Wizard Island. The eruption of Mt. Mazama is thought to have been the largest eruption in North America in the last 640,000 years.

As the afternoon progressed, the weather became wilder, darker, and colder especially at the Phantom Ship overlook. Phantom Ship is made of 400,000 year old erosion-resistant lava. It looks small from the overlook, but it is about the same height as a 16-story building.

 Phantom Ship

On our second day in Crater Lake we had snow. Most of the trees and mountain peaks were beautifully dusted with fresh snow. We hiked most of the easy trails sometimes in sun and sometimes with snow.
Sun Notch Overlook Trail 

Phantom Ship from the Sun Notch Overlook
Wizard Island shrouded by low clouds
The Pinnacles Trail is at a lower elevation than the rim drive around the lake which meant that it was significantly warmer and we had some sun. The pinnacles were created as the ash flow that filled this valley eroded away.
Pinnacles Overlook and Trail

The Plaikni Falls Trail is along the same road as the Pinnacles Trail. The source of the water is snow melt. It was beginning to snow again as we got back to the car.

After freezing our butts off for 2 days, we spent our third day exploring the lower elevations, Ft Klamath and Chiloquin, south of Crater Lake. We never saw the sun, but it was warmer.

We left Oregon and their clouds behind and returned to sunny California with a side trip to Lava Beds National Monument where there were no clouds. We explored lava-tube caves, hiked to the top of a cinder cone ranger fire lookout station, and visited Petroglyph Point with its petroglyphs created between 2,000-4,000 years ago by the area's native peoples.

Several hundred thousand years ago Lake Modoc covered the Klamath-Tulelake Basin. Magma that rose through a crack or fault in the earth's surface erupted explosively when it hit the waters of Lake Modoc. The exploded material fell back into the lake creating a soft volcanic tuff island that is now known as Petroglyph Point. This site is also central to a Modoc Creation Story.

The artists who made these petroglyphs would have journeyed to the island in canoes. The level of the ancient lake is visible on the wall of this now stranded island. The water eventually receded far beyond this former island, and subsequent visitors have painted the petroglyphs, shot at them, and/or scratched their own names into this wall. There are even a few Japanese characters etched into the rock as this site is very near the Tule Lake Internment Camp. The Park Service has a fence along the wall to provide some minimal protection.

It was good to go, but also nice to return home.