Crater Lake Part 4

image Geology (and a little History)

Before Mount Mazama completely collapsed, the fiery eruptions bursting from its sides formed many volcanic cones. Mount Scott is the largest of these. (park plaque)

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As Mount Mazama repeatedly erupted for over a half million years, pumice and other lavas welded together at high temperatures. These deposits were then buried and compacted by subsequent lava flows and finally exposed when Mount Mazama completely collapsed. Pumice Castle rock formation is an example. (park plaque)

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Another volcanic cone engulfed in the ever growing Mount Mazama volcano resembles a ghostly ship.

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This particular cone was an underground vent that not only contributed to Mazama’s collapse but also contributed to Mazama’s mountain building. It is over 400,000-years-old and the oldest rock in Crater Lake. (park plaque)


Let’s pause here for a little history…

Discovery Point is so named

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because on June 12, 1853 John Wesley Hillman

image npshistory.com

and his gold mining expedition reached this very point and discovered

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an incomprehensible lake that they named, Deep Blue Lake.

Two years later William Gladstone Steel visited this area which was still being used by the local native tribes for hunting, gathering, and spiritual purposes.

image historichotels.org

He spent the next 17 years naming Wizard Island, Skell Head, and Llao Rock, campaigning for preserving the lake as a national park, and christening the area with the preferred name Crater Lake. Until then the lake was known as Giiwaas, Blue Lake, Lake Majesty, and Deep Blue Lake. On May 22, 1902, Crater Lake became the 6th National Park. (Oswald, Michael Joseph.  “Crater Lake – Oregon”.  Your Guide to the National Parks.  White Law, WI: Stone Road, 2012.  539.  Print.)


So….

Mount Mazama grew into a peak of 12,000 feet because of over 400,000 years of repeated volcanic eruptions and the formation and receding of glaciers. It blew some 7,700 years ago during its most violent eruption. It fell as new vents emptied the magma chamber, leaving behind a deep caldera. Centuries of rain and snow filled the basin.  Today, precipitation, evaporation, and seepage create a balance maintaining a constant lake level. Since no streams run into Crater Lake, very little sediment clouds its pristine waters. (park brochure)

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But don’t be fooled. Mount Mazama is not an extinct volcano. Wizard Island is a cone that erupted as the lake began to fill.

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Will it erupt again?

image park brochure

Crater Lake Part 3

image Giiwaas

According to the Klamath (descendants of the Makalak) Indian legend, Crater Lake evolved from a dispute between Skell, the spirit chief of the above-world

image Skell is the rock to the left.

and Llao, the spirit chief of the below-world.

image Llao is the middle peak.

Once upon a time, Llao visited the above-world and fell in love with Skell’s daughter. He promised her eternal life if she would agree to live with him in his mountain in the below-world.

When she refused, an angry Llao rushed up through an opening in his mountain and hurled fire down onto her above-world people. Her father, Skell, retaliated and both sides hurled red hot rocks back and forth. The earth trembled and created fiery landslides forcing the above-world people to flee to Klamath Lake.

imageabove map courtesy of travelbywaysandgetaways.com

Then, 2 holy men offered to sacrifice themselves by jumping into the pit of fire on top of Llao’s mountain. Inspired by their bravery, Skell gathered his strength and drove Llao back to the below-world.

At sunrise the next morning, Llao’s mountain was gone, having fallen in on him. Only a large hole remained. Rains came and filled the hole with waters, creating a lake called Giiwaas meaning, “a most sacred place.” (story from plaque in park)


The discovery of 75 sagebrush sandals buried beneath a layer of ash suggests that the Makalak Indians most likely witnessed the eruption of Mount Mazama.

image park brochure

Crater Lake Part 2

image Fire!

We wind our way along the southern rim, pulling over at every viewpoint.

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The views are still spectacular but the campfire smells continue. We arrive at the Steel Visitor Center/Park Headquarters on the southern rim. I find out that a 5 mile stretch of the western rim is closed due to a 3-day-old wildfire. As of today, only 10% is contained. Jeff and I decide to drive through until we are stopped.

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We make it past Rim Village to Discovery Point.

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The over-look parking lot is filled with fire trucks, other important looking vehicles, other rubber-neckers and…

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So, we turn around and retrace our steps. We now have time to revisit our favorite views.

Crater Lake Part 1

image DEEP BLUE LAKE

Crater Lake is the belly of a volcano that erupted some 7,700 years ago. The deep basin, that used to be the peak of Mount Mazama, then filled with centuries of rain and snow to produce the deepest lake in the United States. (park brochure)

As we approach the north entrance to the National Park, we drive 9 more miles to reach the rim.

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The entire western side of the drive consists of charred forests, the result of a controlled burn in 2015 to contain a wildfire.

Suddenly the pine forests end and we encounter the pumice desert.

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Finally we get our first breath-taking view of the lake in the morning mist!

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The cone-shaped land mass in the center is called Wizard’s Island.

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From the northern rim we begin our drive eastward so that all of the viewing pull-offs are an easy right turn.

The next pictures are from Cleetwood Cove, named after the boat used in 1886 to determine the lake’s depth. Led by Clarence Dutton of the U. S. Geological Survey, the Cleetwood Expedition used a simple wooden sounding device to lower a section of pipe attached to piano wire. They calculated the depth to be 1,996 feet. Today’s sonar equipment records the depth as 1,943 feet, a mere 53 feet difference! (park brochure)

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As we approach the southern rim of Crater Lake we continually smell a giant campfire, feel a burning in our eyes, and see a smoky cast out on parts of the lake.

In the following picture, the rock in the forefront is Skell Head and the smoky mist in the background forms a veil around Wizard Island.

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We make a pit stop and I find some interesting views that are not water.

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