Finally got out to get a Milky Way shot – taken on the Cave Loop Road in Lava Beds National Monument near the Catacombs Cave entrance! 🙂
Although not technically adjacent to the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Diamond Lake is a short drive north of the northern most section of the road and is in the shadow of two volcanic peaks – Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey. It resides within the Umpqua National Forest in Douglas County, Oregon just to the north of Crater Lake National Park. Glaciers covered much of the area starting with the Great Ice Age over 1 million years ago. At one time, the landscape that is now occupied by Diamond Lake was a giant ice field! As the glaciers eventually started to melt and recede, the shallow lake was left behind. I came across a National Park Service publication that directly speaks to the geology of the Diamond Lake area. For a detailed analysis of this special place, visit here!
We decided to make the road trip up to Diamond Lake because I had read that there was an 11.5-mile bike trail that circumnavigated the shores of the lake. I was getting itchy to get back on the bike for an extended ride and the reviews of the trail were all positive. The trail, known as the John Dellenback Trail, is paved and is considered a multi-use trail for hikers, bikers and, in the winter, cross-country skiers. Part of the trail winds through the national forest service campground on the east side of the lake with the remaining sections traversing through forest and along the lake affording excellent views of the two volcanic peaks that rise above the lake.
We started our ride from the amphitheater parking lot at the Diamond Lake Campground operated by the national forest. I chose a clockwise route that would take us around the south end of the lake first. At the south end of the lake is a great little picnic area called the South Shore Picnic Area. After our ride, we drove to this spot and had a snack before getting back on the road to Lava Beds NM.
We rode to about the half-way point of the trail of the western shore and stopped for a snack. Our impromptu rest area had an awesome view of Mt. Thielsen across the lake.
I read an interesting fact in the NPS publication that I referenced above. Mt. Thielsen is also referred to as “the lightening rod of the Cascades” due to the frequency of lightening strikes that it endures. This results in the formation of fulgurites – a glass-like substance that is created when silica sand and rock are fused together as a result of a lightening strike. Wow! I’ve never heard of that! Apparently most of the fulgurites formed on Mt Thielsen are within the top 10 feet of the summit – so get hiking all you fulgurite seekers!! There is a trailhead for Mt. Thielsen accessible from Rt. 138 east of Diamond Lake! Maybe next time…
After leaving our rest stop, we rode through a pretty cool fir/pine forest with masses of fireweed growing in the understory of the sparsely spaced trees.
There’s a nice little beach area on the north end of the lake but since we were not prepared for swimming we did not stop. The trail climbs a bit on the east side rising high above the lake before descending once again to the campground area.
As we got back into the north end of the campground, I spotted these ducks lazing around on this log. Too cute! Worth posting again!
This concludes my tour of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway! There is much, much more to see and do along this “All-American Road” so I encourage you to explore the website and create your own journey!
I’ll get back to my Volcanic Legacy Byway tour next time, but could not resist this quick posting of a family of ducks taking it easy on a log in Diamond Lake! 🙂
This mule deer decided to hang out in our campsite the other day totally oblivious to our presence. There was something at the base of the Western Juniper tree that seemed very tasty to him!
The view from our campsite in Lava Beds National Monument shows how stark the landscape is here. Last night, the full moon was rising just to the right of the above photo behind one of the cinder cones to the south of us. It was a blustery evening. The tree branches in the foreground show that with their blurry twigs blowing in the wind!
I was in heaven when we came upon an area in the northern part of Big Sur where loads and loads of pelicans congregate! We spent quite a bit of time hiking along the cliffs here and watching these fascinating birds!
On our second day trip to Crater Lake a week later, the weather was considerably different. There was a heat advisory in effect and the sky was very hazy with lots of thunderstorms moving through the Cascades. Unfortunately, we did not get an early start to the day and ended up hiking during the heat of the day.
We had a small mishap with the Airstream trailer when we were trying to leave in the morning that delayed our departure. Funny now – but not so much at the time! As we were packing up the truck for our day trip, my husband inadvertently locked the trailer door with the keys inside 😦 We do have a couple of spare sets and this should not have been a problem. We did need to get back inside before we left for the day to double-check things and we wanted to leave the door unlocked anyway in case of an emergency given the fire warnings in the area. So, we grabbed the spare set out of the truck and tried to unlock the door. For those who do not own an Airstream, it is worth mentioning that the Airstream doors have 2 locks – a top lock and a bottom lock for extra security (I’m guessing for traveling down the road). We “thought” we were using the key for the top lock, which is the mechanism that can inadvertently get locked by accident, but the lock seemed jammed and the key was not working.
I won’t go into details on how we got into the trailer but it was not an easy feat! Once we unlocked the door from the inside, we realized there was nothing wrong with the lock. We were simply not using the proper key! How embarrassing! Why we did not test other keys in the set remains a mystery to us both! With the extra time involved in finally getting the door unlocked, we did not arrive in Crater Lake until after noon. We had planned on hiking the highest peak in the park – Mount Scott – and then completing the entire Rim Drive afterwards.
So even though it was very hot when we got to the park, we did not alter our plans. Mount Scott is accessed via the trailhead on the East Rim Drive. This is a narrow, winding road with many steep drop-offs – not for the faint of heart! Just past the trailhead parking area, there is a picnic area and we stopped off there first to eat lunch. Mount Scott is a 4.5-mile out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of over 1,200 feet. Carrying plenty of water, we persevered up the steep trail – taking breaks often to drink and rest from the heat in the shade of the trees along the trail. The predominant tree species here at this altitude are Mountain Hemlock and Whitebark Pine.
The trail climbs moderately through the hemlock forest before starting a number of steeper switchbacks that lead to the ridgeline along the summit. With views of Crater Lake and the Cascades in the distance, it was an awesome experience even with the hazy skies.
We watched thunder clouds in the distance throughout our hike, hoping to get to the summit and back without encountering any lightening and thunder! Luckily, they stayed off in the distance while we were hiking.
The fire tower at the summit is a very dilapidated building that was obviously not in use anymore. Unlike the fully restored CCC fire tower at Lava Beds NM, this one is very much in need of a facelift. The awful condition of many park service buildings and structures is sad. I see it throughout the country and wish that we had more funding and human resources for projects to restore the many buildings that need repair.
As we started our descent from the summit, I thought the ridgeline part of the trail was pretty cool. It dropped off fairly steeply on either side – making for a great photograph!
After our hike, we continued on the East Rim Drive and stopped at the Cleetwood Cove trailhead. This is the only trail in the park that takes you to the lake itself. It is a steep 1-mile descent to the shoreline. We opted not to do this hike on this trip but did grab a photograph from the top of the trail.
We drove on to the junction with the West Rim Drive and stopped at several turn-outs along this side of the lake before heading south towards home. We noticed signs for the Rim Trail that runs along the west ridge of the crater and decided that we would be back to tackle that trail next!
The next leg of our journey exploring the entire Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway took us to the amazing Crater Lake National Park. We picked up the byway in Fort Klamath and traveled Route 62 to the turn off for Crater Lake. The byway circumnavigates Crater Lake via the West Rim and East Rim Drive.
Our return to Crater Lake was bittersweet. The first time we visited the park was in 2014 on our road trip from Vermont to pick up our “new to us” Airstream travel trailer. We purchased the trailer from a private seller in Eugene, Oregon and our first day on the road with the trailer had us cruising the West Rim Drive around Crater Lake. We did not linger in the park on this visit – only pulling into overlooks along the way that would accommodate the truck and trailer (at a length of 45′ overall). I was excited to return and explore the park more closely. We have visited Crater Lake twice in two weeks since it is only a 2 hour drive from our current location.
On Route 62 heading towards Crater Lake, there’s a scenic vista turn-out with an interpretive display. Looking at the photograph below, imagine an enormous, snow-capped mountain rising up into the sky from the far vista that would take up almost the entire skyline. That would have been Mount Mazama – the volcanic peak that erupted 7,700 years ago and ultimately collapsed – forming what is now Crater Lake.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States at 1,943 feet. There are no streams flowing into or out of the lake. The water level is totally maintained by rain, winter snow melt (averaging 528 inches per year) and evaporation. Arguably one of the most outstanding features of the lake is its deep, blue color. Three factors contribute to this remarkable hue – the depth of the lake, its purity and the effects of solar radiation.
My goal on our first day trip to Crater Lake was to hike Garfield Peak. One of the taller peaks in the park at 8,061 feet , it rises up right along the rim of the crater and offers some outstanding views of the lake during the moderately challenging hike to the summit. It’s a 3.6-mile out-and-back with an elevation climb of just over 1,000 feet – short but steep! 🙂 The trailhead starts just past the Crater Lake Lodge at the Rim Village area of the park. The biggest challenge on the hike was dealing with the wind! We kept having to hold onto our sun hats along the trail so they did not get blown down to the lake! They would not have been retrievable!
There were so many wildflowers blooming along the trail including my favorites – Indian Paintbrush and Penstemon. Also, some phlox, stonecrop, columbine and balsamroot…a very good flower day!!
Near the top there are still some areas of snow – it was a record snowfall this year and Crater Lake experienced some very late spring snows as well. Parts of the Rim Drive and many trails never opened up until mid-June.
The views of the lake from the summit were spectacular! We hung out a bit and had a snack before starting our descent.
We had some nice views of the surrounding forests on our descent from the summit.
After a day’s adventure on the trail, we were looking at a 2-hour drive back to our “home for the summer” so we popped in to the Mazama Village cafe for a couple of coffees to go. As I waited in line to make my order, I noticed some very nice-looking food being delivered to patrons who were seated. Might be a good spot to have a meal next time. 🙂
Tomorrow I’ll share our second day trip to Crater Lake! 🙂
Mystical fog rainbow appeared along the coast of Point Reyes National Seashore as the fog was lifting. I just know there must be a pot of gold out there! 🙂
In between more lengthy posts, I’ve decided on a new strategy that will allow me to share more photographs regularly without a lot of time devoted to prose! I’ll be posting random, whimsical photographs both old and new.
The Smoothstem Blazing Star is providing much need color in Lava Beds National Monument right now – blooming along roadsides and along hiking trails. I liked this photo because of the “bug” who appears to be hanging on for dear life! 🙂