Go to Crater Lake, just not in Wintertime.
It was winter and I decided to take a long drive for three days through Northern California and Southern Oregon. My inspiration: I wanted to see Crater Lake National Park.
Specifically, the lake itself. It's formed in the remnants of Mount Mazama, which erupted 7700 years ago, creating in it's destruction a massive crater approximately six miles across.
Depending on who you ask, Crater Lake is eighth deepest lake in the world at 1943 feet, or the third deepest if you measure by average depth, which for Crater Lake is 1148 feet.
No rivers flow in or out of the lake, it is completely filled by rain and snowfall. And every 250 years, the water has completely replaced itself through evaporation.
It's supposed to be incredibly blue and clear, and I had to see it.
So up the Pacific Coast I went. A drive worth taking in and of itself.
Through the coastal Redwood Forests in Northern California I went. As ironic as it is to place a "Big Tree" sign in the middle of a forest with the biggest trees in the world, I have to say that they are truly indescribable, and pictures do them no justice.
There is no size reference in this photo, but old-growth redwoods can grow up to be over 200 feet tall and 16-20 feet in diameter.
Centuries of the same moist climate that allows Redwoods to grow so large (all that rain and snow from the Cascade Mountain Range that makes Oregon so luscious and green) eventually filled the empty volcano crater and formed Crater Lake.
I camped in the forest. Mistake one: I didn't bring my own firewood. Redwood doesn't burn, I couldn't make a fire because of that and spent the night freezing in my tent, annoyed at my ignorance.
I crossed over the border into Oregon, and thats when the snow made its first appearance. I hadn't anticipated this, although anybody with common sense can tell you that there will be snow in the mountains during the wintertime.
I thought I could handle a little snow. Mistake two.
The banks of snow in the park were at times at least 15 feet or higher. I couldn't see off the road, and even when I climbed on top of my SUV, the snow was taller than me in places.
Right around here is when I had to turn around. The snow closed all entrances to the lake and I was unable to go further. However, I was so amazed by the height and amount of the snow around me that I wasn't that disappointed.
Turns out that all my research had been focused on facts about the Lake, and not traveling details. Mistake three.
In conclusion: I didn't get to see Crater Lake, and it's still on my list. I would recommend that everybody who is capable drive up the Pacific Coast and see the Redwoods, and also to check out the mountains in Oregon.
One day, I'll get to see Crater Lake. Until then I'll enjoy the journey, even if I didn't make it to my intended destination.