I have seen many lakes – from the breathtaking Tshangu lake in Sikkim (India) near Chinese border to the amazing Pangong lake in Leh near Ladakh in the Himalayas, Dal lake, named as the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir,” the finger lakes in Buffalo (New York) and many more.
None could elicit as speechless a response from me as the one I visited last week. None could inspire me to share my ethereal experience of being mesmerized by its view.
I have been looking for words to describe the beauty of Crater Lake ever since I set my eyes on this spectacular marvel of nature but words seem to fall apart…should I say exquisite…magnificient or a spiritual delight?
When I looked at it, the first word that came to my mind was WOW! Its pristine glory, its tranquility and its wondrous aura captivated me beyond words. I stood rooted to the ground, frozen, not by the gusty winds and sleet that welcomed us but by its celestial beauty.
“Crater Lake must be seen to be appreciated properly,” said Thomas J. Williams, former superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, “photographs simply cannot depict the majesty of the lake in its setting, the depth of the blue.”
The words of Author, Jack London that I happened to read at the Visitor center at Park Headquarters really resonate with me, “I thought I had gazed upon everything beautiful in nature as I have spent my years traveling thousands of miles to visit the beauty spots of the earth, but I have reached the climax. Never again can I gaze upon the beauty spots of the earth and enjoy them as being the finest thing I have ever seen. Crater Lake is above them above them all.”
Created out of fire, lava and smoke, this unique lake took many years to come to its present form. A caldera was formed when Mount Mazama (a volcano in south-central Oregon) collapsed. Lava eruptions created a central platform, Wizard island and Merriam Cone. Eventually the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and form a lake.
We watched a 22-minute film about the park’s violent past and its present grandeur. It is shown at the Steel Visitor Center at Park Headquarters.
We drove around the east rim of the lake the day we arrived (many thanks to our amiable hostess who told us) because it was to be closed to vehicular traffic the next day for repairs. Rim drive, which was built in 1930s, is a 33-mile road that encircles Crater Lake. It offers ‘dramatic views’ of the lake and the park’s volcanic scenery.
Sun and mist played hide and seek and erased the deep blue color of the lake. Sunsets in the park are said to be amazing but we couldn’t savor them. A hushed desire to go again simmers within my heart.
Undeterred by sleet and rain, we hiked to Sun Notch to view The Phantom Ship, an island in the lake, that seems to be sailing away. From easy walks to challenging hikes, Crater National Park, which was established in 1902 has something for everyone – boat tours, trolley tours, camping, fishing, sky gazing, sunsets, wildlife viewing, food and dining in Crater Lake Lodge and even swimming in the ice-cold water of the lake!
We couldn’t enjoy all the activities due to early snow and bad weather on the day we chose to visit but the memories that we carried are permanently etched on our minds.
The drive through the park was a little scary but very beautiful, with thick forest on both sides of the road. We were caught unawares by a sudden snowfall when we decided to drive to Annie’s Restaurant for dinner and had to return empty stomach! But there were no regrets because we had had a sumptuous lunch at the Lodge restaurant and could drive through the thick snow on the slippery road.
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