Crater Lake 2024

11 Mar 2024 1:49 PM | Anonymous


The only thing we were certain of this year was that 27 people signed up for the Crater Lake trip, and that Friday was going to be sunny and warm, with little wind.  The road to the rim was posted as closed due to the ten feet of snow received earlier in the week, but the report had not been updated since Wednesday.  I find the Pumice Desert off the North Entrance to be magical in good conditions, so planned a ski there Friday, on the way to the Prospect Hotel.  22 people signed up to join me, so I recruited John Fertig, Louise Brown, and Gary Elnan to help me manage such a large group, knowing that we'd naturally split up into two groups.


We stayed together until we veered off the road and into the trees for a quick lunch.  Then the lead group took off across the Pumice Desert, while the more sane group skied a wide circle through the near side of the desert.  Both groups were naturally attracted to photo ops with Mt. Thielsen.



After a bit of a Happy Hour and a great dinner Friday night, the road to the rim was still not open.  I conferred with John and agreed the best option was to park at the Park HQ, verify the gate was still closed, and then ski up the East Rim road.  John would lead the more adventurous skiers down off the road on the Crater Peak trail.  I was "optimistic" that the gate would be open that afternoon, and wanted to return to HQ by 3:00 pm.  Fortunately, I was joined by several others, including my carpooling duo.  And sure enough, a ranger was clearing the stop sign when we got back to the cars around 2:30, and assured us the gate would open in about 15 minutes!  We were about the third car through the gate, and drove straight past the closed Rim Cafe, and around into the Lodge parking lot.  Kirsten put on her snowshoes, while Lori, Sharlene, and I put on our skis.  The sun peaked through only occasionally, but at least the cloud ceiling was high enough for a clear view of the lake.  The wind had gusts up to 43mph and was biting cold; Kirsten thought the water looked angry!


Everyone was excited to see the lake.  Some thought they could dash to the rim without putting on skis or snowshoes, but that typically led to thigh-deep post holing and a tumble.  Regardless, the wind was so cold on bare fingers when taking photos, that we only lasted a few minutes before returning to the car.  And, of course, it was worth it!

A few chose their own path, deciding to ski part way up the PCT.  Although they were protected in the trees, that made the snow more fluffy and deep.  They had to put skins on their skis to get up the steeper slopes.  But the tragedy was they did not know the gate opened to the rim of the lake!  Still they had fun, carving out a smiley face on a bulge of snow for their private viewing!


We split into two groups: one to Snowshoe with a Ranger, and one to ski Silent Creek with John Fertig (again!) leading.  Silent Creek was a new trail for the club, so John was setting a possible new route for future trips.  It is mostly a flat trail from Three Lakes SnoPark down to Diamond Lake and about 2.5 miles one way.

The ten people that followed me to the Park HQ drove through a fresh 6" of snow.  In fact, the gate to the rim was open when we arrived, but closed before we left on the snowshoe adventure.  We met Ranger Dave Grimes In the hallway of the HQ building, marveling at the amount of snow over the doorway!

Ranger Grimes was explaining how trees survive the heavy snow load.  He pointed to John Stephenson, who was the tallest person in our group, and challenged him to wrestle a nearby tree to the ground (actually, to the top of the snow, which was 11 feet above ground).  Unfortunately, Ranger Grimes chose a tree that was just a wee bit too big, as even the both of them could not accomplish the challenge!  But no matter; we got the point and had fun!  We also snowshoed by the old Supervisors building, which is now used in the summer by visiting researchers doing research on the lake.  Ranger Grimes explained to us that the $30 surcharge for a CL license plate goes to an endowment that funds these researchers.  We all decided we would go get a CL license plate next time our registrations came due!


The Central Oregon Nordic Club, PO Box 744, Bend, OR 97709, is chapter of the Oregon Nordic Club, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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