What a day. All kinds of things to note, hopefully I will capture some of them before I give in to fatigue. 12 hours door to door, 430 miles, a lot of twisty challenging miles, a lot of long straight boring miles, a ton of heat and sun, and the best lake views EVER.
Up at our usual time this morning, we wrapped and left Happy Camp efficiently – we are pretty practised at this by now. The first hour took us north over a big, forested mountain through some very windy roads to Cave Junction, where we had another good diner breakfast.
We then turned eastwards, and rode via a variety of routes through Grants Pass and Gold Hill to Crater Lake. Miles and miles of straight roads and forest was a pleasant change from the challenging twisty roads of the previous few days.
Arriving at the visitor centre for Crater Lake gave us a chance to learn a bit about it before we actually saw the lake for the first time. ABout 7700 years ago, Mount Mazama, an active volcano, erupted spectacularly, pretty much emptying the whole mountain of lava and volcanic matter. Emptied, the mountain – which was about 12,000 feet high – collapsed in a dramatic fashion in a 24 hour period, hollowing out the crater which now forms the lake. The collapse dropped the mountain peak by a whole mile, and subsequent smaller eruptions sealed the floor.
The lake is an amazing blue colour- photos don’t do it justice. The deepest lake in the US, the water is almost 600 meters deep. Incredibly, there is no flow of water into or out of the caldera – the only water comes from rain and snow. Evaporation empties the lake at the same rate as it fills from rainfall/snow, and it takes about 250 years to replace all the water through this cycle.
Anyway, we toured the western rim of the lake, and stopped often to explore and take pictures. The rim is approximately 5 miles in diameter, but the colours and rock make it hard to really comprehend the scale of it. It reminded me a bit of the Grand Canyon – the brain just does not make sense of what you are seeing. The pictures look like we have been photoshopped on to them, so unreal is the scenery.
If you are reading this and have not seen this amazing natural phenomenon, make sure you add it to your bucket list. And if you have seen it before, I am very glad to be a member of the same club.
Oregon is known for lots of things, and one of those that I discovered today was very straight roads. I think the civil engineers who planned this state only had a ruler and a pencil, because the roads we took today were ridiculously long and straight. I could almost have left the bikes cruise control on, and gone to sleep for half an hour at a time.
It was a very long day, and we got to Portland about 19:15 this evening. We are staying in a very trendy hotel – the Radisson Red. Lena and I stayed in one in Cape Town over New Year – and this one is similarly cool. I am, of course, 30 years too old to be in this place, but am enjoying it nonetheless.
Last day tomorrow, with a 3 hour run back to Seattle. I will have my laptop, and I should be able to get my pictures into the blog. Time to sleep……