Day 5 began as any other… with a trip to the loo.
I was somewhat perturbed though to find the stall was already occupied by a wee beastie. No idea what it was, but it was ‘kin huge!
Needless to say that was a bit disconcerting and put me off my stroke for the rest of the day.
Having perused the map we’d obtained, complete with the conveniently graded hikes and trails, we’d decided to head off to the east of the crater and hike up Mount Scott – the highest point in the park. The route to the mountain took us past a couple of view points and we were relieved to see the mist/smoke from the night before was no longer there. There was still a little haze in the air, but the views were nothing short of stunning.
Wizard Island from the east of the crater
Phantom Ship from Phantom Ship overlook
Despite the brief photo-stops we eventually arrived at the small car-park by the road which marked the trailhead for Mount Scott. It was just a few metres past the Cloudcap Overlook turning. The moon was still clearly visble in the sky and plainly was wanting to make the most of the clear skies.
A reluctant moon over the sign for the Cloudcap Overlook turning
The trail details claimed it was a 3hr round trip and the mountain was 2721m high, with an elevation gain from the trialhead of 381m. The Grouse, for comparison, is 1231m high, with an elevation gain from the start of 853m. So – we were going a lot higher, but we we starting a lot higher too – higher than the top of the Grouse in fact! The total climb was only about half that of the Grouse. Though a nice steady climb, this was no picnic and included a few slightly sketchy patches on loose pumice.
The road ahead – the ascent of Mount Scott
As we got higher, the view of the lake started to open up and became grander and grander.
Wizard Island from the slopes of Mount Scott
Despite being in full sun, some trees were making the most of it and standing proud… if a little hipster.
Eventually, after a couple more switch-backs we caught a glimpse of the fire lookout tower at the peak. This was still in use unlike the ones we’d visited in BC, and was bristling with technology and keep off signs.
First view of fire lookout at the top
From the ridge we could see down to the east and there were several plumes of smoke rising from the forest to indicate small fires alarmingly close to the crater.
Over to the east there were still some small fires to see. Oregon was not immune.
Once at the actual lookout there were a couple of brass discs cemented into the rock to mark the actual peak and the presence of USGS surveyors back in 1932.
USGS marker declaring the height to be 8938′ above sea level
US Coast & Geodetic Survey marker at the top. 1932
The views from the very top were stunning and needless to say I took many more photos than I’ll bore you with here! Click on this (or any of the other images) for a larger version.
Panorama of the jaw-dropping beauty of Crater Lake
After soaking up the energy and a pint or so of water, we headed back along the ridge where we saw a few alpine flowers including Indian Paintbrush.
The view back along the ridge towards the south
Indian paintbrush, or “Castilleja”
As we started our descent, I remembered to take a photo of the large pumice field we had crossed earlier. The picture definitely doesn’t do it justice, but this entire area was like a giant potting shed. I myself use vermiculite to start plant cuttings and it is definitely a very effective medium for new plants.
Pumice field on the SE flank of Mount Scott.
After regaining the car we headed back clockwise and stopped to see the lake at Cloudcap Overlook, and then headed back to Phantom Ship Overlook to take a “better” photo.
Phantom Ship from Phantom Ship Overlook
Just by the Overlook, we took the Pinnacles Road and headed to the very SE corner of the park to take a look at this weird phenomenon. Basically as the ash and soil eroded after the giant explosion of the Mazama volcano back in 5600BC these harder plumes of ash and rock were left as the softer material around them was washed and eroded away. Move on 7000 years or so, and you’re left with alien looking spires of volcanic material left on the sides of the deeply eroded creek canyon.
Mount Scott off to the north
We were starting to tire now, so we decided to stop off for another re-energising look at the lake from one of its many viewpoints and then head off for a short walk through the woods around the Steel Visitor Center (sic), named for William Gladstone Steel, U. S. Commissioner. According to Crater Lake Institute he was born in Stafford, Ohio in 1854. William Steel is regarded as the “Father of Crater Lake National Park.” Steel spent years lobbying and fighting for National Park status of Crater Lake. He served as the park’s second superintendent, pushed for development of Crater Lake, co-founded the Mazama’s mountaineering club, and did much to conserve the natural resources of Crater Lake National Park.
Another awesome view. Likely from Sun Notch
The walk through the wood was pleasant enough, and there was a little guide book to tell you in minute detail about the history of the park’s beginnings and how the design of each accommodation block had been planned just so. The trail was named “Lady of the Woods” after a half-finished sculpture that was the primary purpose for the trail being built. Earl Russell Bush was a doctor attending to the builders of the first rim roads back in the 1900s. In 1917 with the work largely finished, he found himself with nothing to do so started on this sculpture. Amazingly it is his first attempt at carving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really rather good (especially for a first attempt!) The thing is though… this is a National Park. If I were to do the same today I’d be hauled off for vandalism of a Federal Park! Just sayin’…
By now we were definitely flagging a bit, and so we headed back to camp and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and tried to figure out if our neighbours with Washington plates were “French French” or “Quebec French”. We were pretty sure it was the former, but our English reticence prevented us just asking.