Home > Uncategorized > Day 55: My favorite place in the world….plus mosquitoes, and a close call

Day 55: My favorite place in the world….plus mosquitoes, and a close call

Location: near Crater Lake, OR

Miles Driven: ~260

Total Miles: 13,719

I’ve been spoiled by my stays in Northern California.  At Kevin’s in Santa Rosa, I had my own bed to sleep on, and same here at Mara’s in Redding.  We planned to go do a hike at the nearby Whiskeytown Recreation Area, and by 10:30 or so we were out there in the nice weather.  It was a 1.7 mile hike to Whiskeytown Falls.  Not a bad hike, but uphill, so got a little bit of exercise.  Also, it was enjoyable being out there with a group (Mara, her husband Andrew, and the kids – Jack, Emma, Gavin) on a hike, as opposed to just by myself.

Andrew, Mara, and Gavin (hitching a ride)

It was a great day to be outdoors.  Despite a temperature in the 90s, it was pleasant to walk in the cool woods.

Getting closer to the falls

It wasn’t too long before we arrived at the Whiskeytown Falls.  Very impressive.  The first waterfall I’ve seen on this entire trip, and it was better than I anticipated.

Mara and me near the top of the falls

Skilled hikers Jack and Emma

We were back home early in the afternoon, and I got my things together to start the journey north out of California.  Thanks to the family for all the food and goodies they sent with me, and thanks to Mara and Andrew for a great stay.

I headed north on I-5 towards Oregon.  I had not taken this route before, and it was one of the most memorable drives I’ve had on this trip.  Very scenic.  Part of the drive was on the Umpqua scenic highway.

Mount Shasta ahead

I linked up with Oregon Hwy 62 near Medford, OR, and headed northeast towards Crater Lake National Park.  As I mentioned before, Crater Lake is my favorite of the national parks (of the 20 or so I’ve seen so far since 2005).  In fact not only is it my favorite national park, I also consider it, after traveling on four separate continents, my favorite place in the world.

Getting closer to Crater Lake

The story of Crater Lake is pretty amazing.  The lake was formed after a volcano, Mount Mazama, collapsed on itself. Over the centuries, precipitation in the form of snow and rain fell into the crater that was left over from the explosion.  There are no underground sources of water, and so the water of the lake has few impurities in it and has retained the ink-blueish color for ages.

The Native Americans in the area, the Blackfeet, considered it sacred and purposefully did not tell white settlers about the place for fear they would disturb it.  The Blackfeet also said that the bluebird was gray before it dipped its wings into into the deep blue water.

And the story of how Crater Lake became a National Park is pretty fascinating in itself, thanks to the efforts of William Gladstone Steel.  From opb.org:

William Gladstone Steel is considered to be the “Father of Crater Lake” and was instrumental in preserving the Cascade Range Reserve.

He was born in 1854 in Ohio, where his parents ran an underground railroad stop. They eventually moved to Kansas and then to Portland, Oregon. It was in Kansas that Steel claims to have first read about Crater Lake in a newspaper used to wrap his lunch. Right then he vowed to see it — and 15 years later, he finally did.

So awestruck by what he saw, Steel made it his life’s mission to preserve the lake as a national park

If you saw this place, I think you can understand why Steel become so dedicated to preserving Crater Lake.  This was my third time at the park, and each visit never fails to disappoint.

I first stopped near the gift shop area to get a view from the southern side of the lake.  I just stood and marveled at it for minutes.

The water looks like a mirror

It was nearing 7PM at this point, so I wanted to go hike in my favorite area before it started getting dark.  I made my way north on Rim Drive, and stopped along the way to grab a shot:

good view of Wizard Island from the side

I found the spot near the side of the road I’ve parked before, and remembered quite well the area I had hiked up twice before.  The first time was back in 2005, and then I brought my parents down here from Portland in 2007 (and kudos to them for completing the hike I did not prepare them well for).

My way to the Northern Rim of Crater Lake

When I had first thought about this trip, in the very early stages of planning, one of my goals was to be taking pictures of the night sky along the rim of Crater Lake, and I already knew the perfect area for it (from my previous travels there).  The one thing I did not account for – the moon. Just a little bit of unlucky timing, as the moon was near full this day and just rising above the horizon as I arrived.  A full moon will wash out a lot of the stars in the sky.  But no worries, I can’t complain about the moon when I’m here in this beautiful area.  “Who knows,” I figured “maybe I can get some nice shots of the lake and moon.”  And definitely can’t argue with the clear skies I had.

The hike was more strenuous than I remembered.  The thin air up in the Cascades hit me hard, and you find yourself breathing heavy after walking 20 feet.  And this time I was hauling a backpack and my tripod, so a little extra ballast probably added a bit to the difficulty.  It was fun, though, being back on this walk I’ve done twice before.

Looking back towards the North

The climb continues up

It’s easy to get fooled as you climb up as there are a series of ridges you have to go over to get near the lake.  You think you see the final ridge ahead, but turns out the hike just goes further up.

And I turned my video on near one of the ridges to show everybody, and this is what happened. Warning, some of my language NSFW.

So beautiful.  I spent a good amount of time up there as the sun was going down.

Closeup of Wizard Island

full moon rising

I looked back towards the mountains and caught the sun going down.

The 93% full moon allowed for some dramatic effects.

Looking back North again

As it was getting darker out, I found myself not being bitten, but rather, attacked by mosquitoes.  I could not escape them, and despite wiping bug repellant on me before the hike, I had them all over me.  Lesson learned: keep my mosquito nets in my backpack.  I grabbed a few more shots of the lake before I couldn’t stand it any longer.

It was becoming increasingly frustrating, as I could not even hike down at a rapid pace without the mosquito swarm after me.  It seems they were all going for my head, too.  I found myself getting angry for the first time in a long time.

Snapped a picture of the trees and Venus in a free second away from the bugs

I hustled back to the car, killed a few more mosquitoes in there, and then began the drive to leave the lake area around 9PM.  It was an unsettling end to my visit, but a good visit, nevertheless.

This roadtrip almost came to a screeching halt about 30 minutes later, as I narrowly avoided a deer on Hwy 138.  I’m talking a matter of inches.  The deer appeared in my lane on this empty two-lane highway.  I couldn’t veer right as it would take me down a small embankment.  I veered the car left as I applied the brakes, and thankfully the deer turned right.  He did dart back to the left, but fortunately I had just passed him in enough time.  Ugh.  Real close call.

I was fairly shaken after that experience and had little desire to continue driving.  Fortunately, I was near an intersection of two highways (138 and 97) and there was a motel there.  I got a cheap room (their last one available), and crashed.

I couldn’t help but think – maybe the mosquitoes were there attacking me for a reason?  Chasing me off the rim so I could get in the car before I was too tired, and thus not affecting my reaction time when encountering the deer?

I probably think too much, but in any case, I am happy to be safe and have a car in good working order.  I guess one deer encounter in about 14,000 miles is rather lucky.


  1. The Mommie
    July 25, 2010 at 5:49 am

    I am so glad and thankful that you are ok. That you were not exhausted after your hike; nor too angry,annoyed and distracted by the mosquitoes to have them limit your reaction when you saw the deer. It shows how well you have prepared yourself physically and mentally for this adventure.

    ” Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable
    will .”……………Ghandhi

    Ghandhi also said: “The divine guidance often comes when the horizon is the darkest.”

    Thank you guardian angel!

  2. Colleen
    July 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    These pictures are phenomenal! Glad you got to adventure with Mara and her family — must have been nice to have some company again on your adventures.

  3. bea
    July 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Crater Lake. Must visit. Check.

  4. July 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    What an adventure! I like the one picture where the peaks are bright red from the sunset. Close call with the deer. May the aliens watch over you from now on.

    What’s the story behind the name of Wizard Island?

    • July 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      Ask and you shall receive. Click here for the “legend” of Crater Lake.

  5. Teresa
    December 21, 2010 at 1:40 am

    I grew up in Ashland, about 60 miles from Crater Lake. It’s my favorite spot in the world too, so I appreciate the beautiful photos. Thank you very much for posting them.

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