Once upon a time almost 8,000 years ago, 12,000' Mt. Mazama blew its lid, emptying its magma chamber, causing its top to collapse. As volcanic activity lessened, the remaining caldera began to fill with water from rain and snow. On average 533 inches of snow fall annually. The result is the deepest lake in the United States which always has an amazing shade of blue. Because the water contains no river sediment, it is extremely clear. You can see a pie plate floating 150 feet below the surface. The water level has remained more or less constant since the lake was created. Some water is lost to evaporation and there is a slight level change depending on how much precipitation falls, but the constant water level is maintained by the rate of seepage from the very bottom of the lake. Scientists have tested numerous streams around Crater Lake to see if they contain any of this water, but so far they have not figured out exactly where is all goes. It's Mother Nature's perfect creation.
We feel very lucky to be here. The season for visitors is very short and the road that circles the caldera is often socked in with snow until mid-July. And some snow has already fallen here. Forest fires added to the visitor's challenge and the North Entrance has been closed until fairly recently. The rangers told us that the smoke was so thick, you could hardy see the lake. The road around the lake was built in the 1930's and is in great need of repair. We could only drive half of it today and will return tomorrow Saturday, when the road crew has left to see the rest. The air is clear, the sun is bright and this is the warmest day we have enjoyed in quite a while.
We planned to camp at a nearby state park, but it is already closed for the season. Every time we relocate, we read carefully to make sure that the next spot we want to visit is still open and there is really a place to stay. So, we are enjoying the hospitality of the local Native Americans boondocking at the Kla-Mo-Ya casino on the rez. There are signs in the parking lot welcoming RV'ers and we will have dinner in their restaurant to compensate them for our free night's stay. Archeologists have discovered a cave full of sandals made of woven sagebrush covered with layers of Mt. Mazama's ash which suggest that these native people have been here a long, long time.