After a spectacular first day at Crater Lake National Park, I couldn't wait to return. Lucky us, the following morning dawned clear and sunny once again.
|Obligatory entrance sign photo|
My hubby and I stayed at the Union Creek Resort about 20 miles west of Crater Lake. Driving to the park that morning, I made him stop for an obligatory entrance sign shot. Of course, he would have nothing to do with being in the photo, but I had no problem hamming it up. :)
|Another lovely day!|
Yep, the lake was just as blue and beautiful as when we left it yesterday. Conditions were a bit windier, however, so no great reflections. Good thing I took a zillion reflection photos yesterday!
|Snow flocked trees|
Instead traveling on skis, today I decided to rent snowshoes and give that a try. I figured I'd be more stable on my feet traversing the monster snowdrifts. However, I soon discovered snowshoeing is a lot of work. And you don't go as fast. Every time a skier slid by I felt pangs of jealously watching their effortless gliding.
But Roger was happy, as I kept up with him much better. As a matter of fact, he was much faster than me. (Blame it on the monster backpack full of photo gear that I was carrying.....he had only a small load)
|I'm on snowshoes today|
We decided to follow West Rim Drive again, but this time go farther. Roger and I blasted by the first mile and a half, only stopping to take photos at the scenic overlooks.
|Large snow roller|
The day was warm, and due to the higher temps, we noticed the newly-fallen snow was no longer light and fluffy. It was turning heavy and wet. We came across a few steep slopes with snow rollers at the bottom. These snow rollers are formed when snow gets so wet and heavy that gravity kicks in and a chunk of snow gets moved down a slope, rolling into a ball as it slides.
|Sunbursts were out in force|
We trudged by huge snowdrift area number one, and stopped to admire Mother Nature's handiwork. And I couldn't resist grabbing a couple of sunburst images.
|Huge drift formed a canyon|
By late morning, we passed yesterday's turn-around point, and delved into new territory. It wasn't long before we encountered monster snowdrift number two. It was in an area where the road is perched on the side of a steep cliff. Huge drifts formed against the tall rocky slope. The very top of the drifts were almost pointed, leaving little area to walk on snowshoes. The slopes below were really steep, so Roger and I opted to trek through a small canyon formed between the drifts and uphill side of the road.
|Clear skies meant great views|
We passed through a clearing, and oh the views were grand indeed! The skies were clear as a bell and we could see for miles. The adjacent snow-topped spires of Union Peak and Mt. McLoughlin rose out of the forested foothills.
|Tromped down trail|
Rounding a bend, we glimpsed ahead to a view of Watchman Peak. My goal for today was to hopefully hike up to a fire lookout tower on top. But when I actually saw the peak for the first time, I realized that would be a long, steep climb. Hmmm.....maybe we'd just hike around it instead?
|Snowy trees made for amazing scenery|
After a quick trailside lunch of cliff bars and apples, it was back on our snowshoes, breaking trail through the heavy snow. By now most of the people we saw were on skis, and to be courteous, we didn't want to tromp through their ski track. There wasn't yet a snowshoe trail established, so we had to make our own. Let me tell you, it was a good cardio workout!
|Knocking snow clumps off the bottom of my snowshoes :(|
My el cheapo rental snowshoes didn't do so well in the heavy sticky snow. I kept getting huge icy clumps of snow balled up on the bottoms. I didn't need any more weight on my feet, so it necessitated lots of stops to knock the extra baggage off. Very annoying, to say the least.
|White frosted mountain|
Roger and I had agreed on 2:30 as our turn-around. It was nearing our designated time, when we met a couple coming from the opposite direction. They told us of an amazing overlook just 20 minutes further down the trail. Although he was tiring fast, my hubby knew that I really wanted to see it, so he told me to go on ahead without him.
|Cool ice patterns on this tree|
With Roger resting in a lovely forested glen full of frosty trees, I took off through the snow, hell-bent on reaching the next viewpoint. I trekked through a mostly barren slope, with just a few stunted trees coated in a thick layer of rime ice. The trees were really cool, and made for some excellent photo subjects. I could've spend an hour just photographing them. But I knew Roger was waiting, and didn't linger.
|Watchman Overlook pan-o-rama (click to enlarge)|
Coming up on the overlook, I got hit with a huge blast of icy wind. I quickly threw on my jacket and hat. But then I grabbed for my camera, because the above panorama is what greeted me. Oh yeah! The best viewpoint yet. Click on the above photo to get the full effect.
|Wizard Island close-up|
Wizard Island was front and center. The lake spread out from both sides, shining bright blue. Mount Scott rose from the opposite shore. So amazing! Totally worth traveling the extra distance.
|Open views from the road|
I quickly shot off a bunch of images, and then hot-footed it back to where Roger was waiting. He'd passed the time taking photos of the lovely flocked trees. Although I tried not to burn a lot of time with my side trip, when I reunited with my hubby it was way past our turn-around time. And we still had a 3.5 mile return trip to the car.
|More lake glimpses|
So there wasn't a lot of photo taking on the trek back. And we tried not to take too many breaks. Both Roger and I were beginning to tire, boots now rubbing our feet, and muscles starting to complain.
But I did stop for a few shots of the lovely sparkling snow. Huge ice crystals had formed overnight on the snow's surface and they glistened like diamonds in the sun. Truly a magical sight! Sadly, photos just didn't do it justice.
|Enjoying late afternoon light on the lake|
We took a final break about a mile from the trailhead, sitting on a portion of rock wall uncovered from the snow. Such a grand view! The late afternoon light illuminated the lake's steep rim beautifully. I handed my camera to a couple who happened to be walking by and asked them to take a photo. Turned out to be one of my favorites from the trip.
|My reward for the day!|
We reached the car, footsore, tired and hungry. Although I run and ski, snowshoeing made my legs sore in totally new places. I decided I like skiing much better, and will use my telemark skis and climbing skins next time I visit. Oh yes, there will be a next time! Probably not until winter 2015, though. But maybe it will be a better snow year (although I can't complain about the timing of this trip).
My gps read a grand total of 8.5 miles traveled for the day. After such a long trek, Roger and I enjoyed a hearty meal at the wonderful restaurant where we stayed. And I rewarded myself with a huge slice of their famous pie. A perfect end to a perfect trip!
Sharing with: Weekly Top Shot. and Our World Tuesday.