Day 98

Day 98 – mile 1818 to 1839 – Crater Lake Camp to Oregon Desert, But Don’t Rain On Us Camp:
A gloomy, but dry morning greeted us as we packed up our things and moved out of camp.  After using the store wifi for some more internet chores, we dropped off Alamo’s car at the trailhead and began the climb to the crater rim.
The trail eased us into it, first staying relatively flat, and even going downhill for a bit, before hitting us with the steep climb that I knew was inevitable.  Still, I think pretty much anyone in the world would say that that climb in particular is worth it for the spectacle at the top.
We crested the rim and were immediately surrounded by scores of tourists who were clever enough to find the road to the top.  At the Rim Village, we were firmly entrenched in the thick of it, beautiful people of all sizes giving us wide berth as they waddled around us like water around stones.  At least, that’s how I felt.  A short jaunt across the parking lot afforded us the fantastic scene that we had envisioned.  There it was, Crater Lake.  No ambiguity in that name, a lake in a crater.  There were some clouds in the sky, keeping the famously brilliant blue waters a more subdued, yet still vibrant hue, but the smoke of the previous days was nowhere to be seen as of yet to muck things up.  We joined the other tourist for a moment as we walked along the paved path, reading the informational signs and taking pictures every couple yards, convincing ourselves that this was the best view yet (panorama credit to Alamo).  Eventually, we made it to the lodge, which was way too fancy for us, looking for ice cream.  None to be had, so we backtracked through the village and got going on the Rim Trail.
The trail was steep, sandy, and packed with people as it skirted just around the jagged cliffs of the rim.  We hopped from one road pullout to the next, jealous of the comfortable looking RVs and delicious looking picnics of the real world folk, but mostly staring in awe at the scene we were immersed in.  Crater Lake is awesome!
As the predicted thunderstorm built up, we climbed up The Watchman, a small peak on the rim with a fire lookout on top.  As the first clap of thunder rumbled, we realized we weren’t going to the safest part of the park, but we kept climbing, wooed by the promise of the best views yet.  We got what we wanted in more ways than one, watching showers of rain pour down on the lake, but never threaten our dryness.  After a quick descent, safely back at the rim level now, we finished up our traverse of the rim, then hung a left and began our drop into the Oregon desert below.
We pushed on for a couple more miles, Alamo putting in a heroic effort to hold out until we found a good campsite.  Now, surrounded by strange, dry yet forested flatlands, we are cowboy camped and watching the thunderstorms flicker as they pass just east of our position.  Let’s hope that that’s where they stay.


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