Crater Lake

Tuesday, July 17, 2007: This morning I started by walking over to the Annie's Creek Trail (way over in the camping area). The trail itself runs along the canyon that Annie's Creek has created. It's a loop that runs both along the top and, after some up or down, along the stream, crossing it three times. It was a pleasant walk. The brochure was decent, but I thought they had missed out on a couple of things they should mention (e.g., why is the hillside bare in some places). I also thought it would benefit by being more particular. That said, stop #10 was supposed to be Dipper and there was a Dipper there! Actually, it had been moving with me since stop #8. Farther along the trail was another Dipper carrying food. Then a begging youngster appeared!

After I finished Annie's Creek Trail (1.7 miles, 200' vertical), I birded my way back through the Mazama complex. A Mountain Bluebird flew up and landed on the roof of the store. Can't complain about that! Then I heard some chickadees and friends. Besides the Mountain Chickadees and a couple of Red-breasted Nuthatches, I found Audubon's and Hermit Warblers (Hermit was new for the trip).

Since the supply of Diet Coke at the store was inadequate, I headed out of the park for supplies. I did some birding and took some photos on the way back. I made two main birding stops. The one at Crooked Creek Fish Hatchery was quite productive, with Orange-crowned Warbler being new for the trip. As I returned to the main road a pair of Western Tanagers flew across. They didn't go far, so I got a second look. Finally, the creek flows into some nearby fields that contained a large flock of White-faced Ibises. It was a birdy little stop.

I found some Belding's Ground-Squirrels on my way to my second stop. After trying to photograph them, I headed for the Wood River day use area of the Winema National Forest. It is supposed to have sapsuckers. I didn't have any luck with any of them, nor could I find any sign on the trees. Maybe I needed to walk a different trail.

I had decided today was clothes-washing day, and that was next on the agenda. Since only two washing machines were available (a third was broken), it could have been a problem. However, except for one women who was waiting for the dryer to finish, no one else seemed interested in washing clothes (in comparison, Canyon in Yellowstone has a big laundry and it is well-used).

Once that was done, it was time to circle Crater Lake, taking pictures on the way. They recommend 3 hours, I took almost 4. I got to put my superwide 10-22mm lens to work trying to get the whole lake in one shot. I didn't manage it, but sometimes could get all you could see of the lake in a single shot. I didn't restrict myself to the 10-22, I also used a medium zoom (17-85) and long tele (100-400). The latter is sometimes surprisingly useful for landscapes.

One interesting sighting on my circle route was a Fox somewhat clock-wise of Pumice Castle. It wasn't the normal pattern for either Gray or Red Fox. My reading of the Princeton mammal book is that it is probably a Red Fox. I'll try to find out more about it tomorrow.

It was 5pm when I arrived back at the Watchman trailhead. It's a short trail, 1.5 miles with a 419' elevation gain. What it does is give you a more complete view of the lake. Since it was short, it didn't take long. I was back to the car in about 45 minutes, including photo time at the top.

It's amazing to me how much I've done in less than 24 hours at Crater Lake. As I write this, I'm taking a brief rest. I'm making one last trip out today, for dinner at the lodge.

Before dinner, I walked along the crater's edge a bit. I haven't mentioned just how intense the deep blue color of Crater Lake is. It's even more intense late in the day, when it almost hurts your eyes. It's that intense.

Dinner at the lodge was expensive, but good. I'll also eat there tomorrow night.

Mazama Cabins, Crater Lake NP, OR