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Klamath Falls was our base of operations for a couple of days, being about halfway between the Lava Beds and Crater Lake. We got very lucky with a good B&B here. Good rooms, good breakfast early in the morning, and beautiful surroundings. We were on a hill overlooking Upper Klamath Lake. This is the view from the deck.
Caution: this photo is very wide (there's a smaller version here).

Our hosts also have entertainment at dusk These deer come for the salt licks about ten feet from the deck. We saw as many as ten deer at once in this area, including four fawns.

From a sign near a popular turnoff in Crater Lake National Park:

Near Discovery Point a plodding mule stopped abruptly, a few feet short of the crater rim. Its astonished rider suddenly found himself on the brink of a natural wonder few had ever seen. At age 21, John Wesley Hillman had stumbled upon Crater Lake.

The day was June 22, 1853. Hillman had joined a party of goldseekers on a search for the fabled Lost Cabin Mine. They found no gold, but they knew they had discovered a scenic treasure. The prospectors erected a crude sign bearing their signatures, and named the majestic waters "Deep Blue Lake."

In the years that followed, the lake was rediscovered and renamed several times. An 1869 exploring party gave the lake its present name, and in 1902 Crater Lake became the nation's sixth national park.

This is the view that Hillman and his mule might have seen.
Caution: this photo is very wide (there's a smaller version here).

Crater Lake was not made by a meteor. It lies inside a caldera, or volcanic basin, that was formed when Mt. Mazama collapsed almost eight thousand years ago after an enormous eruption. The mountain had been 12,000 feet above sea level. Ten cubic miles of material were ejected. When the magma chamber was empty, it was no longer strong enough to support the weight of the mountain above it. So the summit collapsed, forming the basin we visited. Today the highest point that remains of Mt. Mazama is Cloudcap, 8070 feet above sea level.

The lake has no inlets or outlets. Its only source of water is rain and snow, and the only way water leaves is by evaporation and seepage. These processes are so well balanced that the fluctuations in lake level are less than 1% of its depth (1943 feet deep, the deepest in the US). The lake level has always been between
    6179 feet recorded in 1975, and
    6163 feet recorded in 1942.

Although people have lived in the area for thousands of years, Indians considered the lake to be sacred. They were forbidden to speak about it, or even to look at it. Therefore, it was unknown to white people until John Wesley Hillman stumbled on it while looking for gold.

The legend of the lake:

Long ago, two powerful spirits lived in the Crater Lake country, Llao and Skell. The spirit followers of Llao and Skell took the form of animals such as Deer, Fox, and Dove, who often played together on top of Llao Rock. But eventually, the groups began to quarrel, and war broke out.

The forces of Llao and Skell fought many battles. Skell was killed near the base of the mountain, and Llao's followers carried his heart up to Llao Rock for a celebration. However, Skell's clever followers stole the heart and restored it to the body, bringing Skell back to life.

During the last great battle, Llao was killed. Skell ordered that his body be cut up and thrown into the lake to be devoured by Crawfish and other monsters. The water creatures were loyal to Llao, but Skell tricked them by shouting, "Here are Skell's arms," as he tossed Llao's arms into the water. Immediately the creatures gobbled them up. In the same manner Llao's legs were devoured. But when Skell flung Llao's head into the lake, the water creatures recognized their master's face and would not touch it.

You can still see Llao's head, known today as Wizard Island. And his spirit still lives within Llao Rock. Sometimes when all seems quiet, Llao's restless spirit enters the lake and stirs up an angry gale.

The southern access road to the park passes Godfrey Glen, seen here from a roadside pulloff. The glen is extremely deep.
Caution: this photo is very tall (there's a smaller version here).

Munson Creek runs through Godfrey Glen to join Annie Creek, about 250 feet below the road here.

Godfrey Glen and Annie Falls.

Fossil fumarole, also at Godfrey Glen.
These strange formations are about 7700 years old, formed when the eruptions of Mt. Mazama were reaching their climax. Torrents of red-hot, gas-charged pumice poured down Mazama's slopes at speeds up to 100 MPH. On top of this came a flow of heavier rocks called scoria. These glowing avalanches flooded downslope for many miles, leaving deep deposits behind.
Temperatures may have been over 750° (400C). Plumes of vapors appeared, as gases escaped through vents called fumaroles. Minerals in the gases, combined with extreme heat, welded the sides of the fumaroles into slender cones. Since then, Annie Creek has eroded a canyon through the deposits, exposing the fossil fumaroles as pinnacles and columns.

Vidae Falls drop 100 feet.
Caution: this photo is very tall (there's a smaller version here).

Even if you just drive the Rim Road, the scenery is outstanding. But we got out for the short trail up to Sun Notch, and got our first view of Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is round, about six miles in diameter. The Watchman and Hillman Peak are seen behind Wizard Island.
Caution: this photo is very wide (there's a smaller version here).

Wizard Island, just left of center on the opposite side of the lake, is a small volcano within the larger volcano that was Mt. Mazama. Although it looks small in the setting of Crater Lake, the appearance is deceiving. The island rises 764 feet above the surface of the lake. It has a crater 300 feet across and 90 feet deep. Wizard island was formed long after the eruption that decapitated Mt. Mazama. The oldest trees on the island are about 800 years old, which indicates how long it has been above the surface.

Sun Notch also offers one of the park's best views of the Phantom Ship. This is actually a remnant of an ancient volcano called the Phantom Cone.
Unlike Wizard Island, which is made mostly of cinders erupted within the last few thousand years, the dense lavas of the Phantom Ship may be more than 400,000 years old - the oldest exposed rocks in the Crater Lake caldera. The ship consists of two overlapping lava flows.
Mt. Mazama, a much larger volcano, developed later and engulfed the Phantom Cone. After Mt. Mazama collapsed, Phantom Ship was exposed. It's part of a ridge that protrudes from the caldera wall. Most of that ridge is now submerged.
The second view is from Kerr Notch.

The Pinnacles are the same age as the Fossil Fumaroles near Godfrey Glen, and were formed in the same way. Many of them are hollow.

Mount Mazama was built up by successive eruptions of lava over many thousands of years. Some lavas oozed or poured from the volcano's top or sides. Some erupted as red-hot rocks that flooded down the slopes. Others exploded into the air and fell as cinders or globs.
You can see the variety of Mt. Mazama's lavas on the steep caldera wall. Pumice Castle, with its pink-brown "turrets," is the most eye-catching feature. It's made of layers of pumice and other rocks that welded together. These air fall deposits were buried and compacted by other lavas, then exposed when Mt. Mazama collapsed. A firm foundation of andesite lava has kept Pumice Castle intact, while surrounding pumice deposits have eroded away.

The Devil's Backbone is a large dike, formed when magma filled a crack in Mt. Mazama. It is more resistant to erosion than the material around it, so it stands out like a 1300-foot-high fin.

There are dozens of dormant volcanoes in the area. Southwest of the park are Union Peak and Castle Point; to the North, Mt. Thielsen is visible from many places around the Rim Drive. On a clearer day, the Three Sisters would also stand out better, just to the left of Mt. Thielsen. The Pumice Desert is between here and Mt. Thielsen, a remnant of Mt. Mazama's eruption.

Yes, that's a snowball, on the 17th of July. There was still enough snow pack in some places for snowball fights. Crater Lake gets an average 533 inches (13.5 meters) of snow every year, more than anywhere else in the Lower 48 states.

Because of strong, harsh, and nearly constant wind, many trees in the park are deformed and stunted. The consistent pressure bends trunks and branches so they grow away from the wind.
As the trunks thicken with age, they bury the bases of limbs on the windward sides. Buds on the windward side may also die. The combined result is the lopsided appearance typical of exposed trees at higher elevations.
Most of these trees are Whitebark Pines near Cloudcap. This is one of the few kinds of trees that can survive under these severe conditions.

Two animals commonly seen around Crater Lake are Clark's Nutcracker and the ground squirrel. This is not a chipmunk - chipmunks have stripes on their cheeks, too. These animals have become accustomed to handouts, to the point that they will fight for food put out by tourists. We're not supposed to feed them, though. The Nutcracker is important because it helps distribute the seeds of the Whitebark Pine.

Wildflowers in Crater Lake National Park.

on to Beaver Island

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