Monday, June 25, 2007

Crater Lake is Blue

Crater Lake is like this CRAZY indescribable blue. you can't imagine. Everything we read in advance bigged up the place and the view you'd encounter when you first reached the rim of the caldera and looked at the lake for the first time. Well it's all true. It really is BLUE!! And so clear - you almost feel like you can see deep into the water (it does have visibility of up to 130ft!). Crater Lake was created so they say by the collapse of Mt Mazama. Mt Mazama was this Daddy-O of volcanos/mountains that reigned the region some 6800 years ago. It blew it's top a few times then one day all the magma underneath ran out and there was a big empty air pocket underneath that couldn't support the mountains weight so it collapsed in on itself - hence a big crater. After a few more mini eruptions; one of which left the island in the middle called Wizard Island, (because it looks like a wizards hat, silly!) it sealed itself. And so with no water sources in, and no water outlets it just filled itself with snow and rain water and hey presto - you have yourself a lake. Then some guy came along with a wicked imagination and thought up the name Crater Lake!

There's a 33 mile road around the rim of the lake (which is approx on average 1000ft above the surface of the lake). Due to snow about 1/2 the road is still closed (on the 26th June!!). Still we still saw some incredible views and after watching a short video at the visitor centre about their snow clearing efforts we have infinate respect for the snow clearing teams (they start clearing in April, with drifts up to 60ft deep!!!) It takes them 4 months to completely clear the 33 mile road! We did manage to do a short hike to the top of Garfield Peak (which the ranger had said was still closed due to snow, but there was us and a fair handful of other hardy souls that trekked through snow to reach the 'summit'). Of course more spectacular views from that vantage point at just over 8000ft. (surface of lake is at 6100ft)

And this is just a little plaque summing up some of the accomplishments of the CCC. And not everyone knows about these folks - they were the Civilian Conservation Corps. Set up by Franklin D Roosevelt within days after his election in 1933 it was during the great depression in the USA and something like 25% of the working population was unemployed. The CCC was set up to put young men to good use around the country builing things, working on roads and trails etc. AMAZING organisation. During our travels we've come across SO MANY instances where the CCC have left their mark - from old fashioned picnic tables and toilet block buildings, trails, bridges, ranger building and housing, campgrounds etc in national parks and state parks from Alabama to here. Just amazing - one of our 'big respects' goes out to these people. The CCC was disbanded come WWII when the country put it's resources, money and men to war efforts, but that have left such an inspiring legacy behind. (the campground we stayed in at the bottom of the Grand Canyon was an old CCC camp, the ampitheatre at Zion National Park where we listened to an evening ranger programme was built by them - just so much good work.)

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