Sunday, September 04, 2005

Pacific Crest Hike: Epilogue

I woke up the next morning in the comfort of a hotel bed. There was a dampness at the end of my right big toe and it was quite sore. The nail was discolored as well. I wondered whether a blister formed under the nail. There was a black spot at the base of my other big toe nail, but it didn't hurt so I ignored it. Although I hadn't mentioned it much earlier, my bronchial cough was nearly constant now. These factors along with our sore muscles and tired bodies convinced as that coming to Diamond Lake was a smart move. Our daughter, the MiniSnab, would be disappointed that we weren't going to spend another week in the Sky Lakes Wilderness to the south, but she would survive.

We showered again, went to breakfast, rested for a bit, then packed our backpacks. We had three hours to kill before our ride showed up, so we washed clothes at the laundromat, ate some lunch, and walked around waiting for the MiniSnab and Aunt Schvester to show up. We ate lunch and checked out all the watercraft, etc. The gals showed up and we made a short trip to the store, then I drove on out. It turned out that the MiniSnab was not overly keen on a weeklong hike with her parents, so that was a relief.

We entered the northern side of Crater Lake National Park, paid our $10 and headed on in. The road to the rim of the crater closely paralleled our planned Pacific Crest Trail route. The Lodgepole Desert Dust Circus turned into Les Champs d'Enfer (the plains of Hell). As we entered the Pumice Desert (the official name for Les Champs d'Enfer), the blast zone of Mt. Mazama after it collapsed into Crater Lake, the trees gradually turned into a bare pumice field. After the water-poor first 40 miles, we had no regrets about finishing the last 17 with no water and no shade. Good call to drive it in an air-conditioned vehicle instead.

We reached the rim road and found the first turnout to view the lake. Since I was driving, I saw the lake only in glimpses at first, but its sheer size was distracting. We parked the car and got our first view of this truly wondrous place. The deepness of blue in the waters was something I'd seen hundreds of times in pictures and yet it still hit me like a tons of bricks. It was no wonder that this was a sacred place of the Klamath Indians.

We eventually continued on to the Mazama Village Store for a potty break then onward to the town of Fort Klamath to check in to our hotel. We were soon out of the forest and into the golden grasslands north of Klamath Lake. We found our hotel, the Aspen Inn, and checked in. The people that run the place were friendly and full of information about the area. In fact, they gave us a guide to the region which they participated in creating. We found our room, unloaded our food into the refrigerator (no restaurants for miles), and settled in for the day. The grounds of the Inn were nice and green. The water source for the Fort Klamath area is an artesian well and the water table runs just over a foot under the surface. I found out during an after dinner walk that free-flowing water going into roadside ditches is a haven for mosquitoes. I noticed I was getting bitten, but not until the MiniSnab informed me of several on each leg did I realize that the walk was over for me. I slathered on a think layer of Bullfrog sunscreen which the skeeters apparently thought was sugar plum pudding. That raised my visible mosquito bite total for the trip to probably 30 or so. I was not amused.

We headed back to the Park the next day to view the wonders of the area. We bought crap at the visitor's center, watched a ranger explain the features and forms of the Crater Lake area, and gawked at the number of people and the places they came from. Many languages bubbled forth as we passed different groups of people. License plates showed that this was truly a national park. I found my attention eaten up by the vastness of the crater, the unexpected largeness of Wizard Island, the distant details of the crater walls, silhouettes of trees against that brilliant dark blue, and the shorelines transitioning from gray rock, to gray water, then tropical green, then teal, finally to blue. I took many pictures, but pictures are not the same as wrapping your eyes around the vastness of the place.

Digression: I've always found that places with great views always create a quiet place inside me that draws me to just stay and look; to let my mind wander out and touch every rock, tree, and cliff and to perhaps zoom over the areas like a bird of prey, but instead of mice of chipmunks, my prey is beauty, detail, and evidence of the story of the place. Always there is the pull back to where I belong among people. A voice asking where to go next or a fly landing on the forehead is the trigger that does it. End of Digression.

In addition to the Visitor's Center and the view from there, there were other attractions around the lake. The Annie Creek canyon carves its way through a formation of gray, soft ash forming steep walls. Along these walls are places where hot steam and water (called fumaroles) pushed their way to the surface some time in the past. The rock around the fumaroles fused and became harder than the surrounding ash deposits. As the creek eroded the ash, the harder rock around the fumaroles remained leaving pinnacles that look like open-air stalagmites. There is a place in the park called, The Pinnacles, where this can be seen in great detail. There are other mysteries in the park such as The Phantom Ship and the Crater Lake lodge that I will leave to the gentle reader to discover.

We headed back to Fort Klamath and checked out the Historical Museum. A Civil War reenactment was going on at the time. The museum itself was small and most of the items within were civil war uniforms and weaponry. Fort Klamath was found during the Civil War and 2,000 troops were stationed there. Obviously, there were wartime implications to the deployment. The guy running the general store said outright that he sympathized with the South and that the war was not about slavery, but about state's rights (like the right to keep slavery legal). Funny, I didn't see any Southern states defending state's rights on marijuana or the right-to-die initiatives...but I digress...again. Since we are Americans, the side that won, we opted to buy as little as possible from this guy.

After our second night at Aspen Inn, we loaded up, thanked the owners for their hospitality and good will, and headed north on Highway 97 through Bend and Madras. We stopped at the Warm Springs Indian museum since Aunt Schvester hadn't been there before. I saved a few bucks on admission by hanging out with the guy running the museum that day. I didn't catch his name, but he had some perspectives on how things are at the reservation that I hadn't thought about before. Some of the living conditions there are pretty bad. I am not a big gambler, but it reinforced the fact that the cash flow brought in through casinos is important to changing this situation.

We drove on home from there and settled back in to our lives at home. Each night I took off my socks and I would see more fluid where my toe touched. It was also becoming red around the nail, so I went to the doctor for that and my bronchitis. He confirmed that the toe was infected and that I could lose both my big toenails. He prescribed antibiotics (OmniCef) that were used for both the toe and the bronchitis. The toe healed up quickly, but the bronchitis took a while longer. It might have been viral, so the antibiotics wouldn't have helped.

Ladybug and I are both excited about the prospect of getting out into the wilderness again both on shorter weekend trips or on a better-planned longer trip. We learned a lot about what we needed (more salty food and bread) and what we didn't need (3 million pounds of trail mix). We will definitely fit our plans to our physical condition better so we can enjoy more and grunt less. We also thank you for sharing a bit of our lives as we embarked on this adventure.


thehim said...

Very cool, Don.

I would've never imagined to see Confederacy sympathizers in Oregon. Weird.

Pandabonium said...

Thank you for sharing that adventure. Crater lake is incredibly beautiful. I can relate to your experience of absorbing every detail as you stood in awe of nature until some small thing pulled you back into the ... hmm...matrix?

Get well soon so we can tune in for further adventures.

Don Snabulus said...

I just reread the post. Yeesh! Sorry about the grammatical errors. I will fix those shortly.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Nah, don't bother fixing it. You're just showing how well you're starting to fit into internet society. You're not a real cyber-human unless you write with the grammer and spelling of a 3rd grader. has been ages since I've been to Crater Lake.

The Moody Minstrel said...



Sorry, I do not want to become just another brick in the firewall.

ladybug said...

It was fun-a-bun-i-ful! There was also alot of interesting places/things to visit/do during the winter. If we had the vehicle, and maybe some cross-country skiing gear, I think I'd be heading out that way.

Saw some pics from the 1940's or so on the Lodge wall, had ski people going around the drive around Crater Lake in winter (the road is closed, so only way in is by foot).

They probably wouldn't let you do that now.

Seymour said...


Seymour said...

You know, I was kind of wondering what percent of a modern day Oregonian's body is made up from the ejected mass of the Crater Lake Explosion.

I figure a good amount of the soil in South-Eastern, Eastern Oregon and a good chuck of Idaho is probably the remnants of the explosion.

Just wondering.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Some people are certainly more full of dirt than others, I'd say.