Crater Lake

Vera Smirnova 0 Comments

Oregon road trip, day 2:  Crater Lake

After checking out of our hotel in the morning, guess where we went? Of course, we went on a quest for a good cup of espresso! I looked up coffee shops in Klamath Falls on Google Maps and found four places. However, to my great surprise, three of them were closed, despite it being a Sunday! So there weren't many choices, and we ended up going to Brevada Brewhouse. Luckily, it was a hit from the first shot! Both the espresso and cappuccino were brewed just right, the outside sitting was cozy and shaded, the baristas were very friendly, we enjoyed the breakfast sandwiches and fruit bowl, and we ended up buying a pound of freshly roasted coffee beans to bring home.

Charged and cheered up with aromatic beverages, we headed to Crater Lake. We remembered our first time on Crater Lake, five years ago. It was during a Christmas trip to our friends' house in Oregon. That gloomy December day we drove all the way up to the vista point only to discover that area was covered in such a thick layer of fog that we could barely see the road, let alone the lake. We had no choice but to simply believe it was there, since we couldn’t verify its existence despite it being right in front of us...

This time, the weather forecast was favorable with its "partly cloudy" promise. However, the morning sky was not "partly" but fully covered with clouds. "Ok", we thought, "It will clear up while we are driving there". Up to the lake we drove. It started to rain. We tried to be optimistic: "At least there is no hail, just rain!". In a couple of minutes we noticed small hail bouncing off the road. I bet all of us thought: "At least there is no snow" but no one said it out loud. Who knows what would have happened...

We parked at the visitor center, pulled out our umbrellas and rain jackets and tried to see the lake. We could make out something down there... After we started to joke about a possible lucky third time (maybe some five years in the future), the rain stopped, the fog lifted, the skies  cleared and voila! - there it was in all its beauty!

It looks so serene and calm, it’s hard to believe that 7700 years ago there was no lake, but rather a 12,000-foot-high Mazama mountain, a sacred place for the local tribe of Makalak people. The Makalak legend, passed orally to Klamath people - descendants of Makalaks, tells the story of the great battle between Llao, spirit of mountain and Skell, spirit of the “above world”. Of course, a beautiful girl was involved in the story! Llao, who occasionally appeared in flames on top of the mountain, fell in love with Makalak chief’s daughter, but she refused to live with him in the mountain. He became angry and wanted to destroy the whole tribe.  Skell decided to defend people and went to battle Llao. This huge battle lasted for a while and Makalak decided that they have to help The Spirit Of Above to win and protect its children. So  two brave men offered to sacrifice themselves by jumping into the flaming opening on top of the mountain. Skell gained strength by their bravery and defeated Llao back underground. When the skies cleared the next day, the great mountain was gone. It had fallen in on Llao. All that remained was a large hole. Skell was mourning the brave men who helped him, as well as people in the village who did not manage to escape and rain brought his tears from the sky to fill the hole with purest  and clearest holy water. This is how Crater Lake was created.

Oh, what a beautiful and sad legend!

Indeed, after the volcano exploded, over centuries crater was filled with water from rains,  thawing snow and nearby creeks, creating what is now considered one of Oregon’s greatest marvels: Crater Lake. It is the deepest lake in the US, with a depth of 1943 feet or 592 meters.

Around the lake goes a 33-miles Scenic Rim drive with many parking spots on scattered overlooks with lake and mountain views and a lively wildlife: busy chipmunks, stacking their food supplies, birds and many more.

And we are going down the hill and up north for our next planned stop: camping on Lava Lake in Deschutes National Forest where we will spend the next two days.

©Vera Smirnova

Read more: Days 3 and 4

How it all started:  Read Day 1