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17 May 2013

Crater Lake, Oregon: Not, in fact, formed by a meteorite hitting the top of a mountain!

Annotated Log Style

Friday, May 10th
9pm. After a weary work day for both of us, Sara and I met in downtown Oakland to catch the Coast Starlight [a 34 hour train route from Los Angeles to Seattle] at Jack London Square. As we boarded, the Coach Attendant directed us to assigned seats on the second floor of the Klamath Falls car. Our initial concerns that we'd be exhausted after the overnight ride eased upon reclining into our wide, soft chairs. It didn't take long before the gentle train rhythms lulled us to sleep!

Saturday, May 11th
6:30am. Awoken by a peaceful sunrise on the train near the CA/OR border.
7:45am. Early arrival in Klamath Falls.
8:30am. Bridget arrives. Coffee and bagels at a The Daily Bagel. Halfway decent for west coast bagels! On the way to Crater Lake we stop at some "viewpoints" where the waterfalls were just barely viewable and meet a family of roadtrippers who title us "City Girls," much to everyone's offense.
10:30am. Arrive at Crater Lakes's Rim Village where Beth and Trevor are waiting.

11:30am. During a descent down a relatively steep snowy slope, Sara and I decided to do some tricks: I basically do a summersault towards a rock and sara drops her massive water bottle into a more massive crevasse. We both survive and Trevor descends into the crevasse to retrieve the water bottle. We avoid crevasses/schisms/holes/pits/abysses for the rest of the weekend.

Trevor in the crevasse
On the return hike we mostly stuck to the road, which was was perfectly plowed next to 10+ feet of snow. Crater Lake is the third snowiest place in the U.S., receiving 483 inches (40 feet) of snow annually! It's a miracle the roads are plowed at all.

The interesting part: Crater Lake is a caldera lake, which formed when Mount Mazana erupted and collapsed on itself. It's the deepest lake in the U.S. and the 9th deepest lake in the world. For the hydrology nerds: the only inflow and outflow to the lake are precipitation and evaporation, resulting in a 250 year residence time. Compare that to ~ 6 years for Lake Ontario and only a few months for San Francisco Bay - that's old water! Wizard Island (pictured below) is one of many cones that have erupted since the major eruption. It's the only one that reaches above the water surface. And last but not least, a view of the spectacular lake!

~3pm. Return to cars and have lunch on a log overlooking the lake.
4pm. Arrive at Umpqua Hot Springs where we encounter large groups of free spirits who seem to be living at the hot springs. Although we found a nice campsite next to a beautiful river (see below), we decided to leave after a long-term-camper/panhandler asked us for money so he could buy cigarettes (I swear I'll only buy cigarettes!).

~6pm. We set up camp at Toketee Lake Campground and cooked up some pesto pasta and veggies for dinner. Beth treated us to some Korean sweets that she'd transported herself after her worldly travels.

Sunday, May 12th
8:30am. Rise and shine! Bridget spread the breakfast table with delicious muffins and bananas. Did you know that bananas naturally break into thirds, lengthwise? Fascinating.
11am. Start hiking up towards Diamond Peak. Hike around on a dirt trail until we reach snowpack.

Mount Diamond
1pm. Lunch-on-a-log followed by more snow hiking.

The lunch log.
~3pm? Return to cars and drive to Diamond Lake. Clouds of mosquito-like-buzzing insects surround us and swarm into the car. We sprinted towards the lake where it was windy and bugless. Bridget does her trademark dip in the freezing lake and we make friends with a fisherman on the dock. I sneakily hinted that we were interested in going for a ride in his boat, but he was oblivious to our hinting (or I'm terrible at hinting) and points us to the boat rental shop. At this point we parted ways, with Beth and Trevor heading north towards Chemult where Trevor was catching the train back to the Bay. Bridget, Sara, and I laid out on the bobbing docks and enjoyed the warm sunny weather for a little while longer.

Enjoying the sunny day on a bouncy dock, far away form the hoards of buzzing flies.
In La Pine we stopped at a diner to order milkshakes (which had been the topic of many hiking conversations). The milkshakes came in mason jars and we tried almost every flavor on the menu thanks to a convenient mistake by our server.
8pm.  We arrive at Bridget's beautiful house in Sun River where we pack our things, eat some rice cakes, and snuggle with amazingly comfy Costco blankets on the couch.

Monday, May 13th
12am. Still awake, thinking about having to return to Oakland and brooding how to move somewhere safer as soon as possible.
3am. Alarm. Empty the toilet bowls. Did you know that if you dump a bucket of water in a toilet it will empty completely? Fascinating, especially at 3am. Apparently the iron-heavy water leaves stains...
4:30am. At the Redmond Airport
5:30am. En route to San Francisco

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