Ever since my best friend Erin left the Midwest for the vibrant West coast, I was dying to visit her new hometown Portland, Oregon. So one quick five hour flight and 2 Bloody Mary’s later, I found myself reunited with my gal in a rental car headed for the city center. It was a rainy evening true Portland-style… and a few cold brews at a local hole in the wall where I met some soon-to-be friends and embarrassing performances in pinball capped the night. We had an early morning to follow.
Erin and I gassed up our new wheels
(creatively named “black car”) and set out for our 5+ hour road trip to Crater Lake 230 miles due South. A Lion King soundtrack kept the ride smooth, along with the ever-changing scenery and countless rainbows guiding our way. When we arrived to our adorable one-room cabin tucked beneath towering trees in the middle of nowhere, I knew we were in for an adventure. We had traveled from a bustling city to a snowy escape, and I couldn’t have been happier.
We decided to check out the Crater Lake
National Park itself, thinking the brief appearance of sun would last us the afternoon.
After driving a mere ten minutes deeper into the woods, the sun turned into a full-out whiteout of blizzard. ‘Black car’ did its best to navigate us through evergreens resembling giants from a Dr. Seuss book and snow banks at least 15 feet high. Wow.. There was obviously nothing to see once we reached the park, so we planned for our snow-shoe the next day and began the drive back towards our cabin with the gas tank reading Empty. Woops.
I am happy to report we survived the return
trip by turning our car into a luge and skidding down the mountain on Neutral. (Great job, Erin). Since we still had a few hours until darkness trapped us in our cabin for the night, we decided to rent some cheap snow shoes and gear up
for a lovely hike in the nearby trails. The shoes were a fail (not enough snow) but the trek was gorgeous and caught us by surprise. We trekked a few hours without another sole in sight and discovered cascading waterfalls, rocky gorges,
moss-covered trees, and fresh piles of glittering snow. We warmed our toes and snow gear by the fire while we made fresh salad and sipped red wine to conclude our adventurous day in the wilderness. The cabin was cozy and warm; we were only slightly nervous about being killed by an axe-murderer in the night.
The next morning we filled up on Cheerios and headed back towards Crater Lake. I was less-than-optimistic we would see the beautiful lake itself (it is the United States’ deepest lake at 594 meters; and the ninth deepest in the world) which is a striking deep blue abyss surrounded
by the sharp caldera. We knew we had to hike over six miles uphill to get to the top and see the lake, and we knew there was a blizzard and about 3 feet of snow every step of the way.
Our creaky snow-shoes and willingness to prevail carried us step by strenuous step up the mountain, winding back and
forth and switching off who led the footprints for the other. We were dying of exhaustion after about 3 hours straight, and were unsure of how close we had come to the top (note: bring a map if you do this). Running low on water and blood circulation, we knew we had reached the top, but had to descend before waiting out the storm to try to catch a view of the lake. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to return in a different season. I swear this was one of the hardest workouts of my life, so when we made it down alive and saw another human, we were more than proud of ourselves and our glorious feat.
Our time in Crater Lake was short and sweet. We drove back to Portland that night and were congratulated on our journey with more stunning views and rainbows decorating the sky.
For the Photos from this Crater Lake trip, visit the Photos Page and click "Oregon".