On Friday Hannah and I spent the day exploring Crater Lake in south-central Oregon! It's such a beautiful place, and I feel so blessed to have been able to visit. Crater lake is a caldera lake located on top of a collapsed volcano (Mount Mazama). At almost 2,000 feet it's the deepest lake in the United States! Pretty cool, huh?
Hannah and I ended up driving around the entire lake in one day! We had perfect weather, so we wanted to take advantage of the chance to see everything, just in case it rained Saturday. We started at the visitors center and park headquarters before heading along East Rim Drive. Our first big stop was Sun Notch trail, which was an easy half mile hike to see Phantom Ship Island. The Lake actually has two islands in it, Wizard Island and Phantom Ship. Wizard Island is the bigger of the two and you can actually visit it via boat during the summer months (I was too cheap to do it, but I kind of wish I had). I thought Phantom Ship was way cooler--it's basically formed from dramatic rock pillars, and earns its name from the fact that it looks a little like a ghost ship!
After seeing Phantom Ship from a few different overlooks we went to Pinnacles Overlook, which was a little ways off of East Rim Drive. The pinnacles are impressive 100 foot tall stone spires, which mark the locations where hot steam and volcanic gas rose from ash deposits. The surrounding canyon walls have eroded away, leaving the hardened spires. It was definitely worth the little detour! From there we continued along East Rim Driver, where we stopped at a bunch of the different overlooks. It might seem silly to keep looking at the same lake over and over again, but I thought it was really amazing to see how much the lake changes from every angle. Since we arrived in the morning, it was also nice to see how the light changes as the sun rose up over the lake.
Our big adventure was the Cleetwood Cove Trail. It's the only trail that goes to the water of the lake, and it's a "strenuous" 1.1 miles down into the caldera. Going down was pretty easy, and we saw so many pretty views of the lake as we got closer! At the bottom we found the boat launch, where tours of the lake leave from. A little bit past that was a large rock, where people were swimming (in 40 degree water... yikes!), fishing, and just relaxing in the sun. There was also a neat little "fishing hut", which I'm officially slightly obsessed with (sidenote: Hannah, we need a fishing hut in our future lives. just sayin'). We probably sat down there for about twenty minutes, enjoying the sun and watching a couple "take the plunge", which was simultaneously hysterical and impressive. It was so relaxing and beautiful! Before going back to the top we touched the lake (that's like, a thing, right?) and then started the hike up, which, for the record, was not all roses and pretty pictures. That stuff is hard, man! But we totally made it. With lots of breaks, of course.
From Cleetwood Cove we drove along West Rim Drive, which took us close to Wizard Island. I didn't think it was quite as impressive as the smaller Phantom Ship, but it was really pretty! After spending our day trekking around the lake Hannah and I returned to our cabin, where we cooked a tasty dinner (sweet potatoes, Alfredo, and fresh green beans, all in a microwave! Awww yeah.), drank some wine, and fell asleep. We got up early the next morning to check out and get breakfast across the street, at Beckys, which is apparently famous for pie and cinnamon buns. We got a plate of eggs and hash browns and a cinnamon bun to share, and I swear the cinnamon bun was the size of my face! I didn't get a picture with my camera, but it seriously lasted us all day. On the drive home we ended up stopping in Eugene to check out University of Oregon (including the world famous track!). We also grabbed coffee at the Wandering Goat Coffee Co. which, despite it's uber hipster vibe, was pretty good. Trying to get into a college game at U of O is definitely on my to-do list! Since Emory didn't have D1 sports (or football), that's an experience I'm majorly lacking in.
I don't think I'll ever forget standing on the rim of a collapsed volcano, looking into the perfectly blue lake and at the perfectly blue sky. Seeing things like Crater Lake is so inspiring, and makes me so excited about the education/career track I'm currently on. With grad school starting super soon it's good to have some extra shots of motivation like that. The trip also made me realize that, while I miss Atlanta, I'm really starting to love this crazy state! Thanks for having us, Oregon. We're starting to really like you.