Happy Throw Yourself into Nature Tuesday!
Have you explored the deepest lake in the United States? Have you swam in a crater lake that housed a volcano inside of a volcano? I have! Those are just two of Crater Lake's unique environmental qualities. The vibrant blue water wrapped in steep mountains silenced me mid-sentence and stopped me in my tracks.
Staring deep into the sapphire water, I understood why natives traveled to the lake for spirit quests. They peered into its depths when they needed answers to difficult problems, or direction, searching the clearest lake in the world for clarity, makes sense. Scientists have recorded 142 feet visibility. Compare that to the lake average of 16 feet. Crater Lake is sustained by rain water and snow melt. The absurd clarity is attributed to the fact that there are no in or outlets.
I didn't realize that you were allowed to enter such a pristine lake. I found a one mile switchback trail that descends 700 feet to the water. At the end of trail, just past the boat dock (dedicated to the tour boat that runs a general tour for $35 and a visit to Wizard island for $54) is a rock formation that the ranger told me I could cliff dive 30 feet from! You better believe my shoes were coming off, phone set aside, for this fully clothed plunge into perfection... A really icy perfection (that's me taking the plunge in the pic below). While the experience was breath-taking, physiologically it really did take my breath, it was COLD! Bubbles surrounded me like a blanket of tiny blemish-free crystals reflecting and refracting light. A few other hikers were quick to join me in the water. Cliff diving was the clear highlight of my Crater Lake experience. I was bouncing off the walls with child-like enthusiasm for hours afterwards.
There's a 30 mile scenic drive that circumnavigates the lake and the 2,000 foot mountains surrounding it. I highly recommend this route (it's seasonal, so make sure the snow has melted). Sop up the views. Stop for lunch and break out camping chairs or a hammock (I just bought this new hammock that I love!!) in a quiet overlook. Take care to pack all the food and water you'll need. The only amenities in the park is an overpriced cafe on the west side of the lake that runs short hours. Mazama Village is a few miles ou