Along the flow I walk and stop
Through the thin trees at my campsite the sun rose reddish-orange through a haze. Not having to pack up and such I had a leisurely morning but there was still going to be a full day of riding so by late morning I set off. It was about five miles to the park entrance – uphill but seemed so simple without the load. After getting into the park (a US$5 fee for an individual) the next interesting thing you cross is the Pumice Desert. The ground all reddish brown with only a few widely dispersed trees. It was like a Martian landscape.
The morning was still misty and over the layered green hills it seemed to be flowing upwards. In fact it looked more like smoke than fog, or perhaps a mixture. Fourteen miles latter I reached the north rim of the crater and had my first view of Crater Lake and Wizard Island. The crater was filled with mists and while it was quite magical and one could see around the entire crater, it was as if I was looking through gauze. The legendarily penetrating blue of the lake was obscured in the mists. I figured it’d burn off in the now fairly high sun as I rode around the crater.
I set off on the narrow winding road that at times the edge went right to a drop off. But the cars were all driving slow and I had no problems on the loop. I stopped at all the overlooks and the fog was indeed burning off, but a haze remained. When I looked down into the endless forests at one point I saw what looked like plums of smoke threading up. Later on I talked to a guy sitting on an overlook with a walky-talky and binoculars and there were indeed wildfires going on. So this haze was only going to clear so much.
The rim loop around Crater Lake dives down between the arms and climbs back up again over and over again. It was a hard ride even unloaded and occasionally my thoughts turned toward the fact that’d I’d be riding up to the east rim tomorrow. Not the hardest climbing on the loop, but plenty of steep especially fully loaded.
As the day wore on the sun began to set behind the crater and light up the water. It had cleared as much as it was going to and there were now some glimpses of the startlingly blue lake. On the north side of the crater is the one path down to the water where people swim and there are boat tours – if you are willing to do the two mile, very steep climb. Equivalent to 53 flights of stairs they noted and difficult for some in the altitude. This was the most crowded part of the loop but it was too late in the day for me to attempt the trail.
From that point I was behind the crater for a spell then one last longish climb, a short descent and I had closed the loop. It was then fourteen miles almost entirely downhill back to camp. This had been a wonderful ride and there was so much beauty and I testing sights. It was hard for sure but one of the highlights of the tour.
through the haze of wildfires,
the penetratingly blue lake