Day Five: Thursday, May 24th, Crater Lake marches on…

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Treasures in the rainforest

Our first day without miles and miles to put undertread. Deep breath.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think today we entered the legendary realm of vacation, for real. All disasters have been quenched and quelled, and we’re doing nothing but enjoy ourselves.

Of course this means that emotions were somehow running high, and that the need to fill the void where disaster lives with garbage of our own making was quickly met. But by midday we are all upright, and having an unequivocally great day.

Whew.

I’ve been marveling at my surroundings ogle-eyed all day. Because it is painfully beautiful, yes. But one layer that my onion has over the rest of my party is that I was here six weeks ago. And six weeks is a very long time indeed for spring to work its magic.

Rachel landed this job at Crater Lake back in March. Once it was secured, the question of how to get there was raised. She could fly out, and live without a car for 6 months, but she kind of had enough of that last summer at Seagull, and thought if she were to be trapped in OR, she’d prefer to have wheels. Amen, sister. But let’s face it, that is a danged long drive. I’d have balked at doing it alone, and our fledgling had a few more newb human reasons for fear and trepidation.

Being the selfless mother that I am, I begrudgingly offered to drive out with her, and fly home. If I had to. If it would make her feel better. Anything to support her dreams.

We packed up during Holy Week (because if you could pick one week of the year to add a cross-country move to, Holy Week would definitely be the one), charged through Pascha, and drove (and camped) like mad through the wild western end of America.

img_20180524_091040_1.jpgIt was glorious.

And here I am again.

Much of the snow has melted. There is a shoulder on the road where a wall of snow once was. The bizarre lichen-dripping dead-looking Whomping-Willow-like trees that populate the hillsides here have sprouted leaves and filled out the already deep dark woods. The Ponderosas are (still) mythic, and make me wonder exactly how big the Redwoods and Sequoias might be that await us next week. The sun is looking less tentative (despite today’s predictions for all-day-rain–I love weathermen) and there are alien wildflowers and undershrubbery everywhere.

Also, I am wearing a T-shirt.

 

 

This morning, Rachel took us to Natural Bridge for a hike. I have not a single picture that does it even the slightest justice. But trust me, it is cool. The Rogue River here goes underground in several places, through old volcanic flumes–the longest a 250-foot lava tube–and then jets back out with impressive force. Just watching it disappear is mesmerizing.

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The local

From the fancy fenced and paved trail you get a good view of pretty much everything. But not everything. Rachel insisted we take the local fence-hopper’s trail on the other side of the river (this may have been the root of some of the aforementioned turmoil) that took us to the heart of the beast, above the main lava tube. All over the rockpools burble and boil with the spurting pressure from below seeping up through the cracks.

 

Very cool. And very worth the off-trail clandestine excursions.

On the way back to the car, our blonde tour guide hung a right at a fork in the trail. Apparently Natural Bridge wasn’t even what we were really here for.

Our true destination was an unnamed (or name-unknown) falls further down the Rogue.

Wow.

How many times do you think I can use gorgeous in one vacation? My money’s on a number way larger than anyone else is comfortable with. You can count if you really want…PANO_20180524_111921.jpgIt was gorgeous. An entire gorge coated in moss and lichen, water so frothed a picture doesn’t even let on that it’s water, a seeming rainforest hanging in mist. The rush of the Rogue was so intense that nearly everything else was drowned out. Everything but the piercing warble of the robin-sized American Dipper.

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Lunch for the famished

The dipper, we would later learn from excellent signage, lives in the cliffs along rushing rivers in the west. Yep. It swoops like a swallow or a swift, only really digs a good mist bath during it’s acrobatics. And apparently, it dines on all sorts of insects and invertebrates, including those below the surface. So while it looks like just any other songbird, it dives like an eagle. And trills like catbird on steroids. Pretty darned neat.

img_20180523_082050.jpgWe made it back to camp by dinner time, started a fire, proclaimed the rain predictions ludicrous, tore back the rain tarps, and secured a solid rain for the next hour whilst trying to cook brats. Sometimes you just leave the tarp up to ensure the rains don’t come. Sometimes you don’t.

Rachel is back home at the top of the volcano–the tears were minimal–and we’ve packed up everything that we can until morning. Nothing left to do but sleep and hope the next deluge waits until we’re on the road.

G’night from Crater Lake,
KJ


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