Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Crater Lake: One of Oregon's Crown Jewels

We are now in Medford, Oregon for a few days and this morning we drove the 70 some miles to Crater Lake National Park.  What a magnificent sight.  The first thing we noticed is the deep blue of the water.  So here is a little science lesson for you.  

The water in Crater Lake is extremely pure and so it allows the sunlight to penetrate deep into the water.  The longer wavelengths of light (the reds, yellows, oranges and greens) are absorbed  as they pass through the surface layers while leaving only the blue and violet wave lengths to be redirected back to the surface.  So what we are seeing is the violet and blue colors of the spectrum.   
But around the shallow edges of the lake we saw what we thought was an algae bloom, when in reality it is the green wavelengths being reflected back up. 

On the way to Crater Lake


On the way to Crater Lake we pulled off the highway to see the Rogue Gorge on the wild and scenic Rogue River.  This river transports over 400,000 gallons of water every minute and during the spring melt it is even more.   The noise while loud is very pleasing; something we'd all love to hear each night as we drop off to sleep.
As the eons have passed the Rogue River has eroded a canyon into the rocks below the forest floor.  This section of the canyon wall shows two openings.  The easiest one to see in the photo is at right center.  The opening is actually a lava tube that once carried molten rock during the geologic era when the pacific northwest was dotted with active volcanoes.  The other lava tube has partially collapsed, and you can see it towards the upper left hand corner of the photo.  

And the final portion of this little educational blog concerns "living stumps."

The stump in the foreground continued to live even after the tree was cut down.  The reason is that the root system of some trees become so intertwined that they graft together and continue to provide nourishment to the tree stump even after the tree has been cut down.  Notice how bark has grown over the top of the stump where it was cut off. 

Now back to Crater Lake

One of the things we have enjoyed in the larger national parks is having a meal in the ambiance of the dining rooms in the old lodges.
The dining room in the lodge at Crater Lake is small and very charming.  It is obvious that it has undergone a renovation in recent years with new windows and comfortable chairs and tables.  The food was excellent and the service was very good.

The view outside of our dining room window.
Most of the first floor walls inside of the lodge are covered in pine bark slabs of Douglas Fir.  A warm and inviting look. 
The lodge

This old and gnarled pine tree stubbornly clings to the rim of Crater Lake.  

 Wizard Island is a smaller extinct volcano within Crater Lake.

One last view through the trees. 

Some interesting facts:

Crater Lake is 6 miles wide at the widest point and 4.5 miles at the narrowest.  It holds 1,953 trillion gallons of water and at the deepest point it is 1,943 feet deep. Winters in the park are long and snowy with an average of 44 feet of snow falling at Park Headquarters. 
Elevation at the lodge is about 7100 feet.  

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