Blog

Crater Lake–Regenerating in a Pristine Blue Oasis with My Daughter

Crater Lake from Scott Mountain

Crater Lake from Scott Mountain

Last August, I flew to Oregon to meet my daughter Carolyn who had been working at the Andrews Experimental Forest all summer.  First we rafted on the Rogue River and then we went up to Crater Lake.  this image was taken from the summit of Scott Mountain.  For a long time, I have wanted to go to Crater Lake and see the incredibly blue water which gets its color because the lake is so deep and also at a high altitude. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and was formed after a 12,000 foot tall volcano erupted and collapsed 7700 years ago. There is a 655 m deep caldera, which formed after a land collision after a volcanic eruption of the ancient Mount Mazama Volcano.  All the water comes from rain or snowfall, since no rivers flow in or out of this lake.

Phantom Ship Island 

Phantom Ship Island 

The image above was taken from the summit of the Garfield trail.  When I saw the edge of the lake and the tiny Phantom Ship Island cut out from the blue water, it was almost electric.  The rock this tiny island is made from is andesite and dates to 400,000 years ago.

Carolyn at the Summit of Scott Mounain

Carolyn at the Summit of Scott Mounain

Another trail that offers exceptional views, and from which you can see the entire lake, is the trail to Scott Mountain.  This is the trail the first image in this blog was taken from too.

Crater Lake from the Garfield Trail

Crater Lake from the Garfield Trail

Along this trail we saw pines, fireweed, and small plants that found a way to survive in this park that has an average snowfall of 533 inches per year.  In 2016, Crater Lake broke its snowfall record with close to 197 inches of snow.  Yet, in the summer the subalpine climate is very dry due to the summer influence of the North Pacific High.  

Growing in the Cracks

Growing in the Cracks

The rocks in Crater Lake are Igneous and were formed by the solidification of magma from the caldera-forming eruption of Mount Mazama.  Most is porphyritic andesite, a volcanic rock that is high in ferro-magnesian minerals as can be seen in the image above.  

Twisted Stump and Heart

Twisted Stump and Heart

The way the stump of the tree is so twisted and growing into the steep, rocky hillside shows the difficult conditions trees and plants have to endure to survive here.

Towering Conglomerate Peak

Towering Conglomerate Peak

The cliffs are composed of volcanic conglomerate and lava streams.  Most are lava, but some, like the impressive monolith above, are of conglomerate.

Pool Above the Gorge

Pool Above the Gorge

The gorge is fascinating and the Rogue River actually disappears underground into a 250 foot lava tube and then reappears further down the river.

Old Growth Hemlock Bark

Old Growth Hemlock Bark

Western Hemlocks in the Pacific Northwest forests are typically between 350 and 750 years old.   Old growth trees are important for storing organic material and nutrients that they recycle back into the ecosystems.  The lichen, fungi, and mosses that grow on these trees create habitat fro many insects and small mammals.  The soil around the trees store huge amounts of water.  The bark of these ancient trees in fascinating and a record of the endurance. 

Pearsony Falls

Pearsony Falls

We also visited a few waterfalls in the area, and marveled at the dappled light on the cascades and  moss-covered rocks.  We were going to stop at the trail to Mill Creek Falls and the Avenue of the Boulders, but the parking lot was completely full. Instead we drove a short distance and had this lovely waterfall all to ourselves,.

Stream Before Tokee Falls

Stream Before Tokee Falls

When we got to Tokee Falls, I was so impressed by the water cascading in sheets from through the basalt cliff.  It was very dramatic as the water plummeted to a small pool below.  I used a very slow shutter speed and a filter to smooth out the water so the lines would parallel those of the rock face.

Tokee Falls Dream

Tokee Falls Dream