I arrived too late for the Crater Lake snow experience and too early for the Crater Lake summer experience, but my experience was juuust right.
There is still double overhead snow at the lake. The gift shop with absurdly over priced future landfill emblazoned with “Crater Lake” is of course open. As is the, packed with whining kids, “Take Your Facebook Photo” scenic overlook 100 yards away.
For the truly hardcore four miles of the West Rim had been plowed. A mile can be driven then three can be hiked on the closed road to another overlook.
Dark clouds rolled in about the same time as I did. Looking at the steel colored sky I debated going for the 3 mile hike. Three miles in, three back. At my city commute clip I can cover a mile in about 20 minutes. That’s a solid 2 hours. I drove hundreds of miles to get there. I have a water proof coat. I know I don’t melt – I’ve tested that. Going for it.
Walking along the road gave me new awe of the topography. I mean it is amazing driving by it. But to get to walk it, to all the details in the rock formations up close. To be there so small beneath their looming height…
Cruising along watching the clouds change, peeking at the lake through openings in the trees you’d never get to see having to drive, contemplating the changing rock formations…. was that thunder?
There aren’t Harley’s tearing up the silence here the way they do in downtown Santa Cruz. That was probably thunder. But it’s faint and far away. Onward.
Ok, THAT was thunder. The clouds are not messing around now. Turning around.
Every time I thought maybe it’s not so bad, I could just go for it the sky rumbled like a dog’s warning growl.
It got quiet as I came to an opening in the trees to the lake. Mine were the only footprints in the snow. I stood still on the edge. Listening to the birds chirp as they flitted among the treetops below me. An occasional puff of wind toyed with my hair. And I think I could hear the snow melting. There was a quiet crackle similar to the sound ice cubes make when you drop them in water.
I stood there between the stillness of the lake and the brewing clouds in the sky for I don’t know how long.
Then a flash of lightening across the lake. Very cool and I’m outta here!
The thunder growled at my heels as booked it down the road. A brisk hike fueled by primordial triggers in bracing cool air. That gets the blood moving and cobwebs out of the head!
Since you couldn’t be there here are some pictures that in no way do the experience justice.