We are about 12 hours too late showing up to Crater Lake this morning. We were here May 1st and there was still 20 feet or more of snow. Today there is already a foot of snow, snow plows busy at work, and cars getting stuck in the snow. This time we are able to see clearly across the crater between cloud coverage and snow drifts. We are over 5000 feet in elevation and the temperature is 24 degrees.
The north entrance road and east rim drive are closed. We brave part of the west rim, but the snow is getting taller and the trail is not marked – not even the one by the visitor center. We are not the only people at the park today and we share in the excitement of being able to see parts of this amazing place and learn about its history and attempt at a Guinness world record – if they had a floating log category.
We know we are in a race against winter – fast enough to see its beauty and stay ahead of road closures. We take a detour to Lava Beds National Monument. This seems to be a trip of volcanoes past and present. This park is covered in places to explore and we get distracted at the wildlife refuge outside the park full of migrating birds. The weather is great as long as the wind doesn’t blow.
We are able to hike some less challenging caves – no helmet or knee pads required, before dark. We have our headlamps with us, but some caves are closed to protect the bats and we don’t have enough time to see them all today even though we want to. We will make dinner by the visitor center to help block the wind. Caleb did the driving today, but when he saw a sign for elk crossing and the snowstorm ahead he let me behind the wheel.
It was a neat storm to watch from the passenger seat as the snow comes at your face, but as the driver you are making sure you’re on your side of the road. We thought we might stop at a rest stop, but a semi was having a hard time finding the turn that was covered in snow and soon enough the weather cleared up and we were able to make it to Castle Crags state park.