Crater Lake was a surprise to both JoAnne and I. Even though we had seen pictures, what we experienced surpassed our expectations in so many ways.
- We did not realize that it was located at the top of a mountain. By the time we reached the lake, the landscape stretched downward for miles in all directions. We later learned that Crater Lake was formed by the collapse of a huge mountain in the Cascade chain, Mt. Mazama, which was originally taller than Mt. Rainer, the tallest today.
- We did not realize that one of the most rigorous hikes we would take on our vacation would be from the rim down to the boat ride on Crater Lake and back to the car. All the sides of the lake are still precipitous cliffs. The boat ride is located at one of the most “hikeable” spots. But the trail down takes a half hour and contains multiple switchbacks.
- We were surprised by a hot day, even at the high altitudes. By the time we reached the boat, the captain assured us that the ride was “air-conditioned.” He was referring to the refreshing breeze off the cool water created by the movement of the power boat. JoAnne was missing her sun hat which she had left behind in anticipation of the breeze.
- The variety of the formations of rock surrounding the lake was more than we expected. One formation looked like a castle perched on the mountainside. Another is called the “phantom ship.” It is an island created from a very old lava upflow. Some spots contained interesting geological formations. One had misty waterfalls tumbling into the clear lake. Then there is Wizard island, the extinct volcano on one side.
- The shear immensity of the lake was a real shock. Our mental picture was of a body of water a mile or so across. What we encountered was gem of a lake six miles across. Then the guides tell you that this lake perched at the top of the world is the 7th deepest in the world at about 1900 feet deep. The facts are staggering.
- The height of the cliffs surrounding the lake was unexpected too. In some places the mountains rose a couple thousand feet above the lake. Everywhere, they were too steep for climbing without technical equipment. We were told the lake only filled about half the pit created when the mountain collapsed.
- Most of all, we were amazed at the color. The deep blue of the lake is inspiring, shocking, intriguing, almost haunting. It was the bluest lake we had ever seen. We learned why when we learned that Crater Lake is the clearest lake in the whole world. That fact combined with its depth results in its mind-boggling jewel blue.