“In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.” – Psalm 95:4.
Crater Lake captivated me as soon I caught my first glimpse of its perfect blue water. At a depth of almost 2,000 feet it is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest lake in the world. The tranquil glassy water is so still, clear and calm that staring down at the lake from the snow covered peaks above is entrancing. I constantly had to remind myself that what I was looking at wasn’t an illusion, making it all the more fascinating. Ryan and I had the unique opportunity to visit the park at the end of the winter season, when there was still close to ten feet of snow depth at the park. The quietness of the winter, the beauty of white snow capped mountains and crisp cool air added the magic I experienced at Crater Lake.
While visiting parks in the winter provides solace and a special way to experience natural wonders, it does limit the activities available to visitors. Since Ryan and I only had time for a day trip we rented snow shoes from the visitor center and hiked/snowshoed along the Rim Drive; a 33 mile road that circumnavigates the lake. By the time we visited the park in mid April, the park service had already started plowing the road in anticipation for the summer season. Therefore, the first mile or two of our hike was actually through an impressive canyon of snow pack. As we climbed out of the snow canyon and off of the road, we got to see park rangers operating the massive snow plows, which not surprisingly, fascinated Ryan. The downside of this was that the snow was piled so high making it impossible to see anything until we got on top of it. I hope to make it back to Crater Lake in the near future, I would love to do a winter backpacking trip around the entire lake and visit in the summer for camping, cycling and maybe even a quick swim!
Crater Lake was formed when Mount Mazma erupted, and imploded on itself, leaving a 5 mile wide and 1,943 feet deep caldera. Given the high elevation and large amount of snowfall each year the crater quickly filled with pure, fresh mountain water.