Three digit temperatures in Arkansas during July set me thinking about cooler places I’ve visited in other summers. Once in mid-June, we made a day trip from our campground near Bend, Oregon, to Crater Lake National Park. Shortly after entering the North Entrance Station, open only in summertime, we started seeing snow-covered slopes sparkling white under a blue sky and bright sunshine. We followed the National Scenic Trail around the perimeter of Crater Lake, stopping often to gaze at the still lake with waters of an intense blue that startles the senses.
Information at the Rim Village Visitor Center told us that Crater Lake is actually a caldera (a Spanish word for caldron) six miles wide in some places and with a maximum depth of over 1900 feet. Thirty-three miles or paved roadway circles the lake’s rim, allowing summer visitors to view the deep, but incredibly transparent, body of water from many vantage points. However in June, the road around half of what appeared to be a perfectly round lake was still not cleared from winter’s snowfall. In an aerial photo we observed that the boundaries of the deepest lake in the United States—ranking ninth in the world for maximum depth lakes—and we noted a ragged shoreline. The mirror-like water reflects a circle of cliffs fringed with hemlock, fir, and pine. Shifting sunlight continuously changes the subtle colors of the rim shaped millions of years ago by fiery lava from an erupting volcano. When the ash settled, clear clean snowmelt filled the bowl-like caldron. Amazingly, no rivers or streams enter or leave the lake, yet evaporation and seepage of each year’s rain and average fifty-foot snowfall keeps the water level constant.
Wizard Island, a steep-sided cone shape, rises from the blue waters and covers approximately one square mile of Crater Lake’s surface. The island formed on a lava flow platform while the caldera filled with water, believed to have been 7,200 years ago. Today, firs sparsely grow up its symmetrical slopes. Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only access to the waters of Crater Lake. From a dock about 700 feet below the trailhead, a ranger-led boat tour leaves several times daily during the summer months. The tour is the only public access to Wizard Island. Today in mid-summer, Cleetwood Cove Trail is open. Most other trails around the lake and within the park are still covered by one to three feet of snow.
When we visited in June, snow plows had not cleared the roadway past Rim Village Visitor Center. We snapped a leash on Spot and hiked down the snow covered road. When we reached what we estimated to be the viewing point for
Phantom Rock, the remains of a dike in the oldest part of the caldera wall, we left the road and hiked to the rim of Crater Lake. Snow came up to my knees. For some reason, snow and sand both stimulate Spot, and I had to hand over his leash to Lee’s stronger hands. I don’t know who enjoyed the trek more—Spot who frolicked in the snow in summer sunshine—or the two—well, three—of us who stood in awe overlooking the Phantom Ship as it appeared to float in Crater Lake’s pristine water.
I’m already cooler just remembering that beautiful day in Oregon.
Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com