Friday, September 4, 2015
Umpqua Scenic Byway, Crater Lake National Park, Bend
It was 50 degrees when we got up, not too bad for first thing in
the morning, but it will be colder at Crater Lake due to its
elevation. The surface of the lake is 6,178 feet, and the crater
rim is much higher. So we'll keep our jackets handy, but we're not
prepared for weather much colder than 50. Also, there's a
possibility of thunderstorms this afternoon, and it might even
We left the motel at 8:45. There's a lot to see today, and Roseburg
isn't particularly close to Crater Lake, though it's about as close
as you're going to be able to spend the night. We headed east on
the delightful Umpqua Scenic Byway, also known as the “Highway of
Viewpoint, North Umpqua and Little
The highlight of the morning was Toketee Falls, reached via a .8-mile out-and-back hike
through old-growth forest to a two-stage, 120-foot waterfall
pouring through basalt cliffs, one of the prettiest waterfalls I've
ever seen. The hike was wonderful. In spite of being the Friday of
Labor Day Weekend, we had the falls all to ourselves.
Jana pauses on a hike to
Just past Diamond Lake, we turned from 138 into Crater Lake
National Park via the North Entrance. The temperature at this point
had fallen to 41 degrees. Brrr...
Just a few days earlier, the north entrance had been temporarily
closed due to forest fires, and we weren't sure as we left
Tennessee if we'd have to take a long alternate route to enter the
park or if the park would be open at all, but the fire crews had
been hard at work, and the north entrance was reopened. There were
still fire personnel working alongside the road as we went by and
evidence of recent burn, but we didn't witness any flames.
North Entrance to Crater
On the crater rim, we circled the lake in a clockwise direction, as
the majority of the pullouts are on the right, toward the lake. We
stopped at almost every opportunity, so I can't tell the exact
location where each photo was taken. The Rim Road is 33 miles long.
Stopping at the many viewpoints, it takes several hours. We were
pleasantly surprised that the park wasn't very busy today, at the
beginning of a holiday weekend, but Crater Lake is pretty remote,
and we're at the tail end of the tourist season, so that worked in
Cloudcap Overlook, with
literal cloudcap, Crater Lake
Mt. Scott in
Mt. Bailey and Mt.
Thielsen in background
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, 1,943 feet.
The lake is intensely blue due to its depth and clarity. There are
two islands in Crater Lake, Wizard Island and the much smaller
Phantom Ship. Phantom Ship is not as small as it looks, though. It
rises 163 feet above the surface of the lake.
About a third of the way around the Rim Drive, we detoured down a
six-mile side road to The Pinnacles, an area where 100-foot spires
jut out from the Sand Creek Canyon. These are old fumeroles
hardened by volcanic activity. As the surrounding ground has
eroded, The Pinnacles have remained. Well worth the short
At Sun Notch we hiked a ½-mile loop through mountain hemlock around
an open meadow to incredible views of Phantom Ship and the lake
itself. Snow flurries began as we started our hike. It was
beginning to look a lot like Christmas! For size comparison, check
out the real ship at the bottom left of the island in the photo
Phantom ship and
comparatively small boat
Tom and Jana at Sun
With the snow flurries and the temperature now in the mid 30s, we
were totally underdressed, so I almost skipped the last hike I had
planned today, to Watchman Overlook, a historic fire lookout. At
the last moment, I decided to go for it and practically ran up the
trail, it was so cold. The trail is 1.6 miles round trip, steep,
and totally worth the effort for the great view down upon Wizard
Island and the panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Trail to Watchman
I quickly warmed up on the hike uphill to Watchman Overlook, but on
the way down, it started snowing hard. I didn't think I was going
to be hiking through a blizzard in September! By the time I
returned to the car, the temperature had dropped to 30. It's a good
thing this was our last stop on the Rim Drive, because visibility
at Crater Lake quickly dropped to almost zero. It was a great day
at the national park!
We exited back through the Crater Lake North Entrance, turned east
on 138 and then north on 97 to the small but interesting little
town of Crescent, Oregon, where we stopped at the extraordinary
Mohawk Restaurant & Lounge, established in 1938.
Their dining room is filled with an unbelievable variety of
taxidermy mounts, many so rare that they would be illegal to
replace today. A lot of the carcasses came from donations, roadkill
brought to the Mohawk by local folks for the owners to preserve so
that others could enjoy.
The Mohawk, Crescent,
Buffalo, wolverine &
The Mohawk also has on display a collection of over 1,500 Jim Beam,
Ezra Brooks, Lionstone, and Avon bottles. Oh, and they serve food
too. We had clam chowder, chili, and a couple of beers, Deschutes
Fresh Squeezed IPA and Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale, both nice
summer ales, since it's still technically summer in spite of the
weather. The food was good, but it's hardly the reason for the
stop. As of this writing, the restaurant and all its contents are
for sale. I wish I knew the asking price. Some of those mounts have
to be worth a lot.
Also seen in Crescent,
Oregon - You need it, they got it
Pretty squatchy around
From Crescent we took 61 west a few miles to 46 north and then
east, also known as the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. We'd driven out
of the fog and snow immediately upon leaving Crater Lake, and now
we had only light rain and low-hanging clouds. The elevation here
was lower too, so now the temperature was closer to 50 again.
Because of the clouds, we didn't get the views of the
glacier-covered mountains of the Cascade Range we were hoping for,
but it was a nice drive anyway, even though deer were everywhere,
which made it kind of treacherous. Near the end of the drive, we
passed by Mt. Bachelor, a volcano/ski resort just outside of
Cascade Lakes Scenic
Byway - a bit cloudy today
Mt. Bachelor ski
Finally, nearing 8:00 p.m., we arrived at the Rodeway Inn in Bend,
Oregon, where we'll be staying three nights. Here we met up with my
brother Brian, who is midway into an adventure of his own. Brian,
recently retired at the ripe old age of 50, is 60-some days into a
100-day motorcycle trip around this great country. It was just by
happenstance that he and we were in the Pacific Northwest at the
same time, but it was by design that he met us in Bend, Oregon, for
this Labor Day Weekend. We thought tonight we'd walk to a brewpub
for dinner, but shortly after we met at the hotel, it started
pouring down rain, so we stayed in and had sandwiches and whiskey.
Glad we came prepared!
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