Day 18 – Driving

This morning wasn’t as cold as yesterday, I think it stayed in the 40s overnight.  I rolled out of the tent around seven and had everthing wrapped up and ready to roll by nine.  It was another 15 minutes before I got on the road as I had to stop and talk to a guy about my car as I walked out of the gas station.  I’ve only seen one other Solstice during my entire trip so far, but I’ve had lots of people stop and ask me how I like it and just to have a closer look:-)

Today was another driving day, planned from Crater Lake to Mountain Home, Idaho.  This was the longest planned day at almost 460 miles.  Eastern Oregon is mostly rural and there are not any direct routes east to west in the southern half of the state, which is where Crater Lake is located.  So it was a slow drive through Oregon, though the scenery was OK.

I stopped in Burns for lunch and had a look at the rest of today’s trip and checked tomorrows.  Tomorrow’s trip was longer than I remembered, so I decided to change things up a bit.  I decided to drive an extra 60 miles today and stop in Gooding, ID instead of Mountain Home.  This is 60 miles I don’t have to drive tomorrow and I also opted to stay in a motel tonight, which will save me about 2 hours in the morning, which is what it normally takes to break camp.  That will get me into West Yosemite earlier than planned, so I may be able to take a run through Grand Teton or a look at Old Faithful.  Time will tell.

Day 17

Monday was another driving day, this time from Eureka, CA up to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.  I got going a bit late as I felt like sleeping in, so I was on the road at 10 o’clock.

The drive north out of Eureka took me back through Redwood National Park and a number of California State Parks, also dedicated to Redwood preservation.

I pulled into Crater Lake NP around 4 o’clock and had planned on camping, but I thought I would run up to the Lodge just to see if they had any rooms available as I am getting a bit tired of sleeping in a tent and thought it would be cool as the lodge sits on the rim of the caldera, which offers an excellent view of the lake.

But the there was no room in the lodge, so I went down to the campground and found a site to my liking.  For the first time during the whole trip, I had to break out the bug spray as there were a few too many mosquitos.  I got settled in, made some dinner and then went and listened to Ranger Karen give a talk about Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh my! On the way back to my tent I happened to look up and noticed it was an absolutely clear night, the stars were amazing as the sky around hree is quite dark.  Then I crawled into my tent for the night.

I woke up this morning (Tuesday) about 5 o’clock and was freezing.  Last night the temperature had been in the mid 60s which is typicaly for Crater Lake, they say they have two seasons here; winter and August.  By the time I crawled out of my tent at 7 it was still freezing.  I didn’t feel like making breakfast in the cold, so I went to the camp restaurant and ate there and more importantly warmed up.  I rolled out of there about 8 and it was finally a decent temperature and seemed to be warming up.

My plan for the day was to take the scenic rim drive from the south side of the lake to the north side and catch the boat tour of the lake.  After that a hike up Scott Peak to view the entire park.  I got up to the north side of the lake shortly after 9 and secured the last ticket on the first boat out, which also included a two hour stop on Wizard Island.  From the parking lot it’s just over a mile hike, about 700 ft down the caldera wall to the boat dock. This wasn’t so bad, but of course the reverse is required to get out.

The tour started with about a half hour ride out to Wizard Island, with a few stops to point out some of the geology of the caldera.  Wizard Island is a cinder cone volcano within the lake and it rises about 700 ft above the water surface.  So that’s what I did, hiked all the way up, took some pictures, and after decending into the crater I hiked back up and then back to the boat launch.  That pretty much killed the two hours.  The other option was just to hike around the lake to a bay and look at some rocks, which didn’t sound too interesting.

On the way up the crater, I met a guy from St. Paul who teaches Earth Science at Humboldt Junior High.  He hadn’t been impressed with all of the ranger’s geology explanations, but oh well.  He did inform me why I had been so cold this morning – it was between 34 and 36 degrees!

After Wizard Island, there was about another hour on the boat with some more interesting information and great views.  Then it was time to climb out of the caldera.  It took about a half hour, which wasn’t too bad, but by this time it was already 2:30 and I was beat.  The Scott peak hike was five miles round trip and I decided that would have to wait for another visit.  Instead, I completed the rim drive loop and then drove out to an area called the Pinnacles.  The Pinnacles are another geological formation due to the volcanism in the area.  Basically, they are the remains of vertical lava tubes which have been exposed by the erosion of a river.  I snapped a couple pictures, but I was so tired I then took a nap in my car before heading back to camp.

Bottom line, another wonderful National Park!