At the top of priority list when deciding where we wanted to move to was Epic Landscapes that could be reached easily. We wanted to be inspired to venture out in the pursuit of the Adventure / Camp Life that had somehow eluded us in Central Texas. A sweet job offer and Portland's proximity to both mountains and the ocean sealed the deal. While transitioning to a new town as adults has had it's share of challenges, the move to the Pacific Northwest has provided us with ample heart-stopping moments where we are bowled over with natural beauty and endless opportunities to get out there and explore.
Starting in the Spring, I created a goal to get out there and camp at least once a month. The June camping trip to Crater Lake National Park was short on time but long on incredible views and challenging hikes. This weekend trip was just the answer to resetting our internal compass toward the life we have always dreamed of.
Now the deepest lake in the US, the Crater Lake caldera was once a fiery and extremely active Volcano know as Mount Mazama. Having blown her top and forming a crater around 7,700 years ago, it filled up with snow and rain over many moons and is now one of the deepest and clearest fresh water bodies in the world. Crater Lake is large enough to contain an island, Wizard Island (!) to be specific, formed by the still active volcano flows.
After a 4 hour drive south from Portland through varying forests, my husband Nate, our good buddy Phil and I arrived at the park. Setting up camp was surprisingly painless and the park relatively empty despite only being open to campers several months out of the year. We got a sweet spot with crazy views, few neighbors and the soothing sounds of waterfalls far below. Oh and let's not forget the enormous mule deer that sauntered through 'our' camp.
I'm definitely not regretting the new painstaking camp check-list Nate and I have adhered to which has made packing and unpacking a cinch ( having a buddy along helps to fill in the gaps though). Basically, everything is kept together and grouped into big bins for easy loading in and out. A special mention goes to Phil's pre-marinated foil packets of easy eats goodness. This last one though so simple (kind of a duh moment for me) is seriously a camping revelation. No more mucking around with seasonings, chopping in the dark, the inevitable mouth of dirt or sand, bugs and best of all it's lightening fast. Seriously, if you can, prepare the dinner meals ahead of time in the comfort of your own kitchen where you're less likely to forget anything important and you have all of the tools at the ready. Believe me, nobody wants to spend time or money buying forgotten salt. You won't regret it and you'll have way more time to whittle your marshmallow roasting sticks.
Tents up, inaugural beers chugged, sandwiches thrown down gullets and we were off to hike. The primary fun out at Crater Lake involves incredible views, wildlife, waterfalls, wildflowers and my personal favorite swimming.
Over the 2 days we hiked many miles of the Crater Rim taking in as much as we could. Each stop along the many miles of road circumnavigating the crater rim offer breath taking views.
Our final and most difficult hike of the trip was the Cleetwood Cove Trail. A strenuous 1.1 mile hike down the rim. Cleetwood Cove is the only lake shore access in the entire park and I was NOT going to miss it. As you descend the trail, the caldera really shows itself for just how large it really is. The water a blue like I've never seen before takes on nuanced gradient dependent on water depth. The geology of the inner rim becomes more apparent. You truly feel small in the best way possible.
Once at the lake shore, you turn around a bend to find hoards of people huddling and laying around on rocks in a way that reminded me of seals or sea lions. Hot, dusty and determined we stripped down and braced ourselves for the shock of cold water.
And cold it was! Well earned relief on a hot Oregon day!
The experience of being in this ancient wonder surrounded by strangers immersed in the cold cold water was magical and it's really lovely to look out around and think about a whole lot of nothing. Sometimes I feel like the best reward for a weekend of full on physical activity is the stillness it brings my neurotic brain.
I couldn't have asked for better scenery or company on this quick and dirty journey. I look forward to many more and hope you join along with me!
Coming Up next month City Life | Amaranth Farms and Camp Life | Big Sur