It was a proud moment checking Crater Lake off my bucket list. The experience was more incredible than I had imagined. My first glimpse seeing the giant bowl filled with fog so thick you could barely see across the lake was majestic. Love at first site!
Part of my desire to keep discovering and exploring is that giddy feeling you get experiencing a place for the first time. It’s like Christmas morning growing up feeling intoxicated with excitement and anticipation. Those feelings continually building while you patiently wait for others to wake before the celebration and gift exchange begins. For me, experiencing Crater Lake was exactly this!
The best part, hands down, of our Crater Lake visit was the day trip to Wizard Island. We booked a three hour trip that included a guided boat tour to the island, a few hours exploring the island and ends with 45 min guided tour on the way back. A geologist’s dream come true. It was fascinating learning about the rock wall formations, even thought I didn’t quite understand the depth of what we were looking at. Photos of Crater Lake cannot do justice to the magnitude of the deep crater walls or having a taste of the purest of waters.
This trip was more physically challenging than I had expected, but definitely worth the pain that followed days after. Our day began with a hot camp breakfast and packed lunches for the trip. We thought we nailed our arrive time until we hit the construction. We were only 2 miles from the parking lot but had to wait 20 mins for the road construction pilot car in order to cross. Let me tell you the added stress hearing twin 10 year old boys complaining every minute that we will miss the boat. Honestly I didn’t think we’d make it in time either.
We parked, bolted for the trail and literally ran the 1.1 mile, 700 feet steep descent to the dock on the Cleetwood Trail. We made it to the boat landing at the very minute the boat was scheduled to leave. We were greeted by seated passenger glaring at us as we boarded. I sat down exhausted with shaking legs and fogged over glasses that were so bad I couldn’t see. I was panting like a dog and dripping in sweat. Yes, I was quite the hot mess. I commented how intense the run was and received no sympathy from the other passengers. Instead I was greeted with snarky comments, ‘We drove through the same construction and still managed to arrive on time’. I thought we should have at least gotten a high five for making it down to the dock in 15 mins. Come on people. :)
Once we docked on Wizard Island the Ranger went through protocol and explained if we hear a blow horn to return immediately back to the dock. The sounds horn means we need to depart the island as soon as possible which typically happens when there is a rapid change in weather. Lucky us we were able to experience first hand later that afternoon.
There are two hikes on the Wizard Island, one with intense switchbacks to the crater summit of 6,933 feet while the other trail meanders from the dock and is great for swimming. If you rush you could do both. We opted to hike to the summit. The terrain starts with a sharp spiky rock trail and slowly changes to small narrow rocks with a steep drop. Did you know, Wizard Island is a volcanic cinder cone that could erupt any day!
As the day went on, the weather started to quickly shift. Clouds rolled in a matter of minutes. The boat arrived and we piled in for the second half of the tour. As we listened to the ranger describe further the wall formations, a crack of thunder and bolt of lightening struck overhead. Immediately we raced back to the dock and the tour was abruptly over. Once we pulled up to the dock the sky poured buckets of water. The 700 foot accent to the rim got a lot more interesting. Then the hail started. It’s so strange only an hour before the sun was shining bright that I was starting to burn from sweating all the sunscreen off.
When we arrive at the top of the rim the giant crater was filled with fog like the day we arrived.
We experienced full circle the wonders of Crater Lake. Till next time!