If we had actually planned to go to Crater Lake, our stop there at the end of our trip would certainly have been the greatest disappointment of our trip. Luckily, it was just an afterthought, and considering my history with Crater Lake it wasn’t surprising that it turned out the way it did. I first tried to go to Crater Lake on my honeymoon with my first wife nearly 50 years ago. As we headed up the road we discovered that an early snow had closed the West Entrance. I have tried to go there several times since then, always with the same result. I long ago accepted the fact that I just wasn’t meant to see the lake.
This trip we were actually approaching the park from the East, and we had most of the day left, plenty of time to visit the park. Things were actually looking pretty good as we entered the eastern portion of the park. I was awed by the deep canyons leading up to the lake.
As we approached the lake, though, we smelled smoke, but we’d encountered smoke most of the way up from Tahoe. Then we encountered a signboard saying not to report a naturally occurring fire. Before long the smoke was so thick we started the air-conditioner, circulating the air in the car.
By the time we reached the top of the crater and were able to see the lake far below, we couldn’t — see it that is. It was completely obscured by the smoke And since the best-known asset of the lake is its clarity, there really wasn’t much to look at.
We certainly didn’t bother to drop down into the lake to see what it looked like from there or to take the boat that tours the lake.
We felt sorry for those people who had driven or flown hundreds of miles just to see the park, but I was determined to make the best of our side-trip and focus on what I could see: the jagged edges of the collapsed volcano,
firs and pines hung precariously on the edge of the volcano,
and twisted pines, reminiscent of the Bristlecone Pine we saw in California.
It obviously requires greats strength and endurance to survive on these wind-swept cliffs, especially with such a short growing season, but life has a way of enduring under the most demanding conditions.
Of course, some of us are merely visitors here, enjoying the beautiful views before flying off for the winter.
We drove a thousand miles to see Bristlecone Pine in Nevada that we never saw and drove hundreds of miles out of our way to see Crater lake and ended up seeing some magnificent trees that we didn’t even know existed. Life reveals itself in mysterious ways if you are open to what’s there.