Our explorations through Oregon
06.05.2017 - 07.05.2017
Ryan and I arrived in Oregon on Saturday, May 6. Per a recommendation from Shira, who you will soon meet, we started listening to “The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey” by Rinker Buck. The description in Audible summarizes it as “an epic account of traveling the entire 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules – which hasn’t been done in a century – that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country.” Ryan and I were instantly intrigued and plan to listen to the full 16 hours, 41 minutes by the end of our trip.
I reserved a tent site at the Crater Lake Resort prior to leaving Maine and we were yet again the only people not staying in a RV. Similar to our Kansas camping experience, the owners insisted it was going to be "too cold" and that we should ditch the tent for a cabin instead. These people obviously didn't know they were dealing with two true Mainers!
Sunday morning, we enjoyed our fresh fruit from California (cherries, strawberries, and clementines) prior to making the short drive down the road to Crater Lake National Park. The temperature got down into the 20s the night before but there were no more signs of winter where we were lodging. The landscape was a different story as soon as we crossed into the park. What started out as scattered patches of frozen precipitation on the ground quickly turned into snow banks alongside the road. The height of the banks grew higher and higher the closer we got to the lake. By the time we reached the visitor's center, the street had turned into a trench surrounded by 14-foot walls of white. This was certainly unexpected, especially since I was proudly planning hikes for us to conquer that day. Only the south entrance was accessible, and from there we were restricted to Rim Village since the remainder of the roads and most of the hiking trails were closed until summer. We watched a short video about the history of Crater Lake and soon learned that it averages 43 feet of snowfall annually. Despite this fact, the last time the lake froze over was 1949. Established as a National Park in 1902, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States with a depth of 1,943 feet. The 4.5 to 6-mile-wide body of water rests inside a caldera formed 7,700 years ago when a 12,000-foot-tall volcano collapsed following a major eruption. It is considered to be the cleanest and clearest large body of water in the world and is completely fed by rain and snow with no connection to any rivers or streams.
Ryan and I were extremely glad we made the trip. After talking to one of the park rangers, he suggested a short hike atop the 14-foot banks packed with snow for a different vantage point of the lake. Those views, and the one from Sinnott Memorial Overlook, were absolutely breathtaking. I will forever remember the bright blue water that trumped the sapphire-colored sky on this sunny day in May. It was America the beautiful at its finest.
Because our visit to Crater Lake was shorter than anticipated, Ryan and I decided to start the trek north a day early. There was no cell phone service so I had to use a real atlas to navigate us out of the park (thanks, Mom!) We drove for several hours Sunday afternoon before serendipitously finding a resting spot in Coburg, Oregon. Ryan and I pitched our tent at Armitage Park Campground on the last available camp site. Thank goodness this random place right off the interstate worked out because we were both “hangry”, it was getting late, and the thought of driving another 2 hours to the next closest campground was unbearable. We settled in and soon became acquainted with a fellow tent-goer and plant biologist named Colin. A California native in his early 20s, Colin had just landed a new job in the area and was camping out prior to house-hunting over the next few days. We hung out by the fire and talked travel. He endorsed a brewery in Portland, Oregon by the name of Base Camp. I bet you can guess where the next chapter of our story takes us…