Crater Lake Finale

Twisted and tangled dead tree on the rim of Crater Lake

We embarked on our final day trip to Crater Lake this past week before leaving the Northern California area. For some reason, the dead tree trunks with their twisted roots and branches kept catching my eye along the trail! We hiked part of the Rim Trail which intersected with the Watchman Peak Trail and climbed to the historic lookout on the summit.

Our hike ended up being a 7.5-mile roundtrip affair with stunning views of the lake the entire way. It always amazes me how uncrowded the trails are even though the visitor center area and turn-outs are so congested! We experienced substantial solitude for most of the hike – very relaxing and peaceful!

More dead tree stumps!! Ha!
Climbing higher towards the peak!

As we started to gain in elevation, I noticed this very discreet little native bleeding heart – Dicentra formosa – along the side of the trail – so sweet and delicate!!

Dicentra formosa – Pacific Bleeding Heart

When we reached the junction with the Watchman Peak Trail, we started to wind our way up the steep slope via a series of switchbacks.

The junction of the Watchman Peak Trail and the Rim Trail

I snapped these two pictures on our descent which is why it appears Jim is heading in the wrong direction to reach the summit! 🙂

One of the several switchbacks

The historic lookout is perched right on top of the rocky summit. The Watchman Observation Station was built during the early 1930’s and operated as a fire lookout and educational site for a time. As with many of the early park structures, the construction incorporated the use of native materials and emphasized simplicity in design. I wish it was open to the public but unfortunately it is not accessible.

This is where we hit the crowds! We found a quiet corner on the summit to eat our snack and I took some photographs before we decided we better start back. It was getting late in the day and we had 3.5+ miles to go to return to the truck!

Final ascent…view of Mt. Scott in the distance

From the summit:

Watchman Observation Station

Jim decided since the sign said NPS Personnel Only that it meant I could go around the barriers and sneak a peak inside the building. He kept egging me on – see what I have to contend with?! 🙂

Wide-angle shot
Looking north towards Mt. Theilsen in the far distance
Grand views of the lake from the peak!! Looking at Wizard Island…

When I do an out and back hike, I always marvel at the different views you get – going in the opposite direction you notice other details with the change in perspective!

The lake views going downhill just took my breath away!

We finished the day with a gourmet snack consisting of smoked gouda cheese, rice crackers and grapes – while sitting on a nice spot overlooking the lake. Thanks Crater Lake for the memories we’ve made this summer!!

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