Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Caldera from the Boat

It's 700 feet from the top of the rim of the caldera to the elevation of the lake. The hike is close to a mile with gorgeous views around every switchback in the trail.

We had heard about the opportunities for swimming and fishing at the boat dock but didn't carry equipment down with us. Still, it was fun to watch the jumpers while we waited for our boat. (And you know the boys were plotting a plan for their next visit that would include swim trunks!).

The Umpqua carries 50 passengers along with the Captain and the Park Ranger. (I got a little worried when I saw the Captain putting on his heavy coat and hat!).

Seeing the rim from the water was amazing. It's up close and personal. I took many pics, but can't post them all here.
Maybe you remember those ridges I posted in the Ruby Mountains? Well, turns out they are called Shark Fins and are created by lava flows. Our Ranger shared excellent information, history and stories for the whole 2 hour trip.

My Hetchy friends will know that I was very curious not only about how they got those boats into the water but also where they were stored for the winter. (With 50 - 60 FEET of snow annually!). Mystery solved at Wizard Island where we saw several Boat Houses for a safe winter. Oh, and the boats arrived via helicopter!

From the West Rim road a tiny speck in the water on the far side of the lake is known as the Phantom Ship. It's a couple hundred yards from the East Rim and in a location with shallow water on the shore side and a drop off into deep deep water in the front. The change in color of the water from shallow to deep was marked and dramatic but hard to photograph!

Yet another amazing feature is the castle on the east rim.

To be honest, the wind and the waves breaking over us were not so much fun at the beginning of our trip. But our Captain was skilled and knew directions and speeds to run to avoid the worst of the waves. In the end, it was a fabulous trip and we had a blast!

One last camp fire and yummy s'mores ended our last adventure of the summer of 2011. (Umm, wonder what the Super Nephews are planning for next year?!?).

Crater Lake Awesomeness

We arrived at Crater National Park late afternoon and soon found our site in Mazama Campground. The excellent plan we made to set up camp and have some food before driving out to the lake worked out very well. You can see from the smiles that all were happy and excited to finally be there!

A glitch developed when we tried to hike up to the Watchman Tower though. More snow and this time I wasn't about to cross the trail closed sign!

So instead of hiking, we hung out at the Watchmen overlook to watch the sun set on the lake. The sun created amazing colors on the mountains in our view to the east.

This cool flower was growing on the rocky hills.

Between the parking lot and the overlook is this crazy tree. It looks like a 'watchman' to me! And maybe not a very happy one either.

When he wasn't entertaining tourists from other countries, G spent some serious time reading the interpret signs and soaking in the grander of the lake.

It was a bit chilly overnight but not too bad for the kids in the tent. After a breakfast and hot chocolate we drove back into the lake for our boat ride.

Another group shot before our hike down the caldera to the boat launch. (That's our navigator behind the map).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lassen National Park 2011

School has started and it's the second day of fall all ready, 'bout time to post pictures from our fabulous Oregon road trip.

After my quick visit to Lassen last fall I was pretty sure Sister and the Super Nephews would love it there too.

We stayed overnight on Highway 99 to get an early start into Lassen; several hikes were planned!

The Visitors Center is a great place to get oriented for a day in the Park. G loved the Richtor Scale that measured how hard he jumped as if he was an earthquake! Next up was a stop at Sulphur Springs. Yep, it smells just like sulphur.

From my previous recon trip I knew the place to have lunch was the picnic area at Helen Lake. Scratch that plan, Lake Helen was still frozen over and the picnic area was closed!

Back to the cars for plan B.......

.......Bumpass Hell!

A quick parking lot lunch and we were very shortly in for another surprise. OK, yes, there was a sign about treacherous conditions, but there were tons of people returning on the trail so we headed out. It's maybe 1 1/2 miles out to Bumpass Hell, usually an easy hike. Not that day, 2/3 of the trail was still under snow. Luckily it was squishy and not too slippery. Still, keeping an eye on two boys on a snowy trail across a steep canyon, well, you get the picture! I was a wreck and they had a blast!

Bumpass Hell lived up to it's name and I did hear a couple comments from visitors about the proverbial 'snowball in hell'.

The hot springs area is 16 acres. The main section is accessible by a raised board walk. Weirdly right in the middle was a lovely pool of fresh water from the snow run off.

We saw this flowering evergreen scrub in several places, but I couldn't identify it. Maybe somebody out there can. Or G can save it as a question for his natural history hero, John Muir Laws.

Here's a closer look....

Probably no need to mention that G has never seen a big rock he didn't want to climb?

Returning to the car, the trail didn't seem quit so harrowing, but I was happy it was a short drive to our camp at Burney Falls.