Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crater Lake ... and the trip home

It was with mixed feelings that we left the coast and headed inland once again. The beauty of the sea had been tempered by fog and wind. But, as soon as we got a few thousand yards from the coast, the weather was summertime hot again in an instant!

Seeing the big trees in the Coast Range is always a joy, though. We were determined to get to our next stop, Cyndi's brother's home in Prospect, before nightfall. Nonetheless, we still made time for a couple of quick stops. We took a very short hike in the big trees, up a verdant creek, to see Oregon's highest waterfall.

It was already turning darker, and the mosquitoes kept us moving toward our goal.

Cyndi's brother works at Crater Lake National Park, and the morning after our arrival he took us to an overlook near the park lodge. I'd never seen this particular vantage before, and the deep blue of the water was stunning!

Far below my perch on the rim, the steep sides of this volcanic crater plunged quickly out of sight into the bottomless blue depths.

Inside the lodge, I was fascinated by this stairway and wall which showcased bark as the facing material, rather than peeled logs or sawn beams. The grand public spaces of our National Park Lodges are always worth investigating.

Next, for the afternoon's adventure, we set out to see a place in the park I had never seen before, called The Needles. Here they are on the far side of a canyon.

Seen closer, they are eroded spires of volcanic ash and tuff, fused into fantastical shapes.

The interpretive sign explained that these were the fumarole vents long ago, and the hot gasses and mineral-rich steam fused them solid.

As the surrounding material eroded away, only the hardened core remains standing today.

On our way out of the park, we left via the South Entrance, and headed across the vast sagebrush desert, homeward.

We went across the Upper Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

After a long day of driving, we stopped at sunset and pitched our tent in the sagebrush.

As the curtain of darkness dropped, we ate some dinner and fell asleep to the sound of coyotes. It would be a short drive home in the morning after a good night's sleep under a clear, starry sky.

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