Winter Views-- Crater Lake National Park: The Land of Fluff and Puff

July 20, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

First View of Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

I remember thinking to myself, Where’s all the snow?

I was soon to find out....

I drove up from Shasta and saw the snow packed peaks scattered around the horizon. The Cascades are a beautiful range and their conical shapes dotted the landscape at what seemed like regular intervals. The overall impression was, strangely enough, of Japan. And that impression would only get stronger as I approached Crater Lake from Chiloquin. 

The Flats before the Snow, Chiloquin, Oregon

The flat farmlands surrounding Chiloquin had several inches of hard snow, but nothing like the multiple feet of powder that I soon encountered after making a right turn on the approach to Crater Lake.  I soon climbed into a winter wonderland that began to look just like "Hokkaido". I said to myself in astonishment.

Crater Lake: Oregon's Mini-Hokkaido, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

When I saw the lake, and island, and all the snow(!) I was convinced that Crater Lake NP is a mini Hokkaido. Seriously. It was like I was experiencing deja vu in the wind blown snow. Akan-Mashu National Park in Hokkaido is a stunning landscape of three calder lakes. One of which, Lake Kusharo has an island in the middle. Just like Crater Lake! 

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I left Hokkaido for Maui many years ago because I was tired of shoveling snow. On the day I flew out, I actually threw away the winter clothes I was wearing— coat, hat, gloves— when I arrived at Chitose Airport before my departing flight. I was like, Never again! 🤣). But here I was. Back in the beautiful landscape of fluff n puff. Funny how things change and stay the same.

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There was no camping available in the park so I camped at an Oregon snow park-- basically a plowed parking lot adjacent to a snowmobile, cross country ski, and sledding area. Rustic in amenities, it was actually quite nice— vault toilets, very quiet, and there was even a warming hut where I could cook and eat out of the snow. The night’s low reached 5 degrees F, and I woke up in a frosted, ice box (note to self--  get a propane heater for the roof top tent before next winter).

Snow, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

I thought I would snowshoe and overnight in the backcountry, but I was afraid I would die so I decided on just a hike before dawn. I finally found all my winter clothes and got dressed in about 7 layers. Strapped snowshoes on my feet and set out into the great, cold unknown. 

Looking over the Wizard, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

About 100 meters into the snowshoe hike ( in the dark) I realized that I forgot my sunglasses. "Aah, I don’t need them," I thought to myself. "It’s dark and I’ll be back before the sun gets too high", I though. Silly me. I definitely needed them. Or goggles. The wind blown snow stung my eyes, and at times made it impossible to see as diamond dust shined in the light of my headlamp.

Morning Light, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

But because of this wind blown snow — and accompanying intensely cold and fierce wind— I was able to get these images.
on the way back. I think this one with the sunstar and tree is better than anything I did of the lake that cold, December morning. As long as you are alive, it is almost always worth it.

Tree of Life, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Aloha, 

Lee

 

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