These were the two full days we spent at Crater Lake National Park, very grateful to have a room in the lodge all three nights, with its fabulous views and location, and altitude to keep us above the mosquitoes. We took a bunch of short walks in the morning, and got to enjoy Vidae Falls without having to walk at all. In the afternoon we drove down to the pinnacles area and got to see neat volcanic rock formations that look like tree impersonations to me. But the highlight was of course Crater Lake itself. Our first true encounter was on the Sun Notch overlook trail, and the views took our breath away. Photos don't do justice to the incredible purity and vivid color of the deep, deep water.
The most memorable part of that first day was definitely doing the Ranger-led sunset hike up to the fire overlook at The Watchman peak. I had a prayer answered there, for just as the ranger was explaining the symbiotic relationship between the Whitebark Pink and the Clark's Nutcracker, one of them showed up! They're a high mountain bird I simply love, but have looked for in vain on every excursion in the mountains since I first saw them in 2002. Eight years later, and hope was fulfilled. =)
There were actually two wildfires burning during our visit to the park, and the fire tower was situated with a good view of the smaller one. We had come to watch the sunset, but our bigger blessing lay in the fact that it just happened to be nearly the time of the full moon, and the moon rose right before the sun set. I've seen many sunsets in my life, but few moonrises, so I took a gazillion pictures and savored every moment of this one. I stayed up there until the moon was high enough to cast its reflection on the lake, though it was challenge for my camera in the dimness (That's Wizard Island in the foreground).
Our second day we were out a little too late to see the sunrise itself, but blessed by a very still morning in which the lake cast beautiful reflections after dawn and later in the morning as well, when we repeated our visit to the Sun Notch overlook. (This shot isn't fancy, but I think it does best of all my attempts at capturing the surreal vividness of the water.)
The high point of our second day was definitely the boat ride on Crater Lake itself, after an extremely steep mile-long scramble down at the only place people can reach the water. It was a warmer day than we'd have liked, and smoke was spreading rapidly from the second (larger and growing) wildfire, but the experience was still a delight. Have to mention here one of my sources of enjoyment on this visit: Llao Rock. Pronounced differently than the gloomy mage in my Geren books, but spelled just the same. That was a treat! =D Also took too many photos of the unique Phantom Ship island, and savoring getting to ride completely around it, as well as hearing of its botanical diversity. Thanks to taking the latest boat ride of the day, the steep returning climb was mostly in shade and much more endurable. And thanks to the rising smoke, our second day was capped with a vivid horizon at sunset.