Even though I have been to Crater Lake and remember how blue it was, it still surprises me every time you see this thing in person and experience first hand just how blue Crater Lake is. I had a full day of excitement but sometimes it’s nice just to be back in the woods again.
I slept in since I wanted to have breakfast before heading up to the lake. I heard a crew of hikers pack up and leave at 4 am. They wanted to go up to see sunrise on the lake. That would have been nice. But I slept until 6:30 then packed up and headed to the store. I knew the laundry opened at 7 am so I was hoping both the store and restaurant would, too.
As I was walking up, I saw a couple also heading that direction. They were walking normal speed, but I had hiker hobble and was shuffling like an old man up there. The store indeed opened at 7 so I walked over to the restaurant but it looked dark inside. But alas, the door said they were open. The couple were in there waiting for a table, so I sat with them. I first met them in the middle of the Sierras and have seen them a day or two every week or two since then.
I had a buffalo meat egg scramble with hash browns and toast. It was good, but I was still hungry afterwards, so I hit the store for a Danish and some beef sticks for the next few days. Since I had already packed up, I headed straight up to the lake. It took just over an hour to get there and when I got to the gift shop, several of the hikers from the store were already there. They rode the 9 am shuttle up to the rim. I still think it’s important to try to hike every step from Mexico to Canada whenever possible. I am likely to have fire closures ahead, but I’ll think about those if and when they happen.
The snack bar at the rim village was horribly overpriced, so I decided to walk down to the lodge and check out their restaurant. The menu looked good and was reasonably priced, but they did not open for lunch until 11:30 and it was only 11:00. Wait and eat or move on? Wait and eat. I had fettuccine Alfredo with peppers, mushrooms, hazelnuts, and artichoke hearts. It was excellent. I had blueberry cobbler afterwards.
Now back to the snack bar to get my pack, the battery I left charging, and top off the fountain coke. Never throw away your cup. It was 12 miles to the next water, a cache, so I loaded up with three liters since it was sunny and hot. I headed out at about 12:45, Coke in hand.
The rim trail near the rim village was crowded, but after each climb, there were less and less people. After a few miles I saw only one or two people every half mile. The trail went about a third of the way around the lake and by the north end I saw only southbound thru hikers heading in.
The rim trail itself was pretty rugged with lots of steep climbs of fifty to one hundred feet. It was well shaded in most sections and the views just never stopped. A few times the trail ducked behind a peak for a quarter or half a mile. But the rest of the time it was front and center to the lake. I made many stops to just sit and look out at the views. Wizard island in the middle really looks different from the various angles we walked around it and it was neat being high enough to see down into its cone.
After eight miles or so,.it was time for the trail to turn away from the rim and get back to the business of heading for Canada. The open plain soon turned to thin pine woods. The water cache was a few miles ahead and with the heat I drank more than I expected, so I needed to top off two of my bottles. It was now about 6 and there was a campsite 9 miles away. It would be a long day, but the terrain here was gentle and nearly all downhill.
About halfway to the campsite, I came across three southbounders. We had a good talk, and they told me there was another water cache just before the campsite. Great, I didn’t need to fill up at the previous one. They asked lots of questions about what to expect in northern California. They also confirmed that Washington was going to be alot tougher than Oregon. Super.
I never made the campsite, but decided to stop about three miles shy and rest up a little and not have to roll into camp at dark. Having an hour to cook in light is sometimes nice. I cooked some rice and ate a burrito. I was surprised I was not full, so I had one of the beef sticks, too. The appetite is definitely at peak right now. Only 62 miles until I can buy some more food.