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Published: August 7th 2012
Lava River Cave entrance
The night we stayed at La Pine, Oregon, it frosted over night. Walking around the campground in the morning was a treat. It had frosted heavily overnight, and the tummocky glass glittered with prisms, and crystals dropped from the swaying branches of the pines. After breakfast, we went back to the Lava River Cave, finishing our hike. The end of the cave grew increasingly low-ceilinged, so that to progress, we had to go to hands and knees. Even with that, we couldn't reach the end of the cave. A sign was up, prohibiting entry to the last portion. Returning through the chilly darkness to the sunlit world, we drove on down to Crater Lake National Park. A deer nearly ran into the road on the way there, surprising us terribly. The drive was beautiful, with crisp air and the scent of pine flowing in the open windows. A brief hike provided views of a clear stream and small fish.
That night, we stayed at Mazama campground at Crater Lake. The campground had only been partially cleared of snow, and it was difficult to get into our assigned site between a massive drift on one side, and the low branches of
pines on the other. Rascal was jubilant during our walk around the camp, jumping three feet straight up to ascend drifts, clambering up their sides, digging his snout into them. One of the other families in the campground had brought along their own pet - an african grey parrot, perched on a rock beside their truck as they unloaded. Little birds flickered amongst the trees, and Rascal stared hungrily up after a tiny squirrel, chittering on a high bough.
We hit the visitor center the next day, watching a video about the ordeal it takes to clear the loop road around the lake for summer visitors after the heavy winter snows. They have to remove drifts that average thirty feet high! The other film was about the designation of Crater Lake as a National Park. The man who proposed it was constantly rejected, until he finally asked why, and was told, by the man in charge of approving new parks, "If I say yes to you, and give Oregon a national park, I'll lose my excuse to every other politician who has some nice scenery in his neck of the woods."
Up by Crater Lake itself, very blue
Blue, blue, blue...
and very beautiful, reflecting the sky and surroundings like a mirror, we had a miniature snowball fight. The loop road around the lake was still closed, so we could only visit the one viewpoint. Leaving Crater Lake, we drove through ponderosa pine forests and snow. Off the mountain, we spotted a kingfisher. Gentle farmland decorated with cattle, coyotes, and deer occupied the rest of our day. We crossed back into California, and headed towards Lassen National Park.
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