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Published: October 10th 2012
We enjoyed a hearty breakfast using odds & ends from our rented kitchen to re-create my mother's recipe for coffee cake (see below), and we delivered two large slices to Stephen and Judy just in time for their own breakfast. After hugs and expressions of much gratitude for their graciousness, we departed Eugene and its emerging fall colors for Crater Lake National Park. The gorgeous three-hour drive along a two-lane highway, was bordered on both sides by the towering, dark green conifers of the Waldo Lake Wilderness and the other by the Willamette National Forest.
The drive into Crater Lake National Park from the north entrance was uninspiring, scrubby trees and infertile soil, the remnants of a volcanic eruption and lava flow nearly 8,000 years ago. But as we gradually ascended to 7,100 ft. elev. and approached the immense caldera that forms Crater Lake the topography became more scenic, featuring stately old-growth Douglas fir, hemlock, and the distinctive white bark pine.
The lake itself, six miles across at its widest point and 1,934 feet deep, was the most beautiful color of blue I have ever seen: sapphire-blue, with hues as magnificent as those of that precious gem. Although at
the end of the season, the historic park lodge was booked to capacity--and had been so since it opened in June. We enjoyed a charming room on the top floor, with a window seat, where I wrote much of this while sitting in the late afternoon sun on a cool, fall day.
The original lodge was constructed to resemble a European hunting lodge. The challenges posed by an abbreviated construction seasons, difficult access, long distances to deliver materials, and the heavy winter snows that strained half-completed structures explain the long time (1909 to 1915) needed to complete the lodge, expansions between 1922 and 1924, and difficulty in maintenance. For these reasons, the National Park Service considered demolishing it in 1984. But a statewide campaign raised $15 million to save the lodge and after six years of renovation, it reopened in 1995. The natural-gas-powered trolley cars used for park tours are from the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and were added by a Klamath Falls company to the park in 2010.
Feeling the effects of minor altitude fatigue, we elected the 33-mile, two-hour trolley tour around the rim of Crater Lake. Our tour guide, National Park Ranger Dave who has
lived in the park for the last seven years, regaled us with the "Top 10" reasons he loves Crater Lake. Among them: 7th deepest lake in the world (almost 2,000 feet deep); greatest volume of water; its depth and clarity account for its remarkable color. The clean, clear water results from the average 44 feet of annual snowfall rather than rivers that would be silt and debris. Secchi disk readings are 200 feet deep!
When the former mountain, Mount Mazama of 12,000 feet, erupted the collapse took only 2-3 hours, the lava flowed at 100 mph, and its residual ash has been found as far away as Greenland. Established in 1902, this is the fifth national park after Yellowstone (1872), Sequoia (Sept 1890), Yosemite (Oct 1890) and Mount Rainier (1899).
We did accomplish one hike: the 1.5-mile hike up Watchman Peak to watch the sunset (6:42 pm). The trail was steep but wide and smooth, ascending 420 feet to the lonely fire lookout still staffed by rangers during the fire season. The panoramic views were magnificent and included the Three Sisters mountain peaks where the forest fire described in one of my earlier posts has been burning since
September 9th. The haze of smoke enhanced the colors of the tranquil sunset.
Sweet potato coffee cake
The night before a sweet potato was boiled and mashed with about 1/4 cup plain Geek yogurt, then stored, covered in its pan in the refrigerator. The next morning the pan was heated over low heat while the other ingredients were assembled: 3/4 cup of almond milk was combined with one cup oatmeal and set aside. 1/2 cup sugar was creamed with 1/4 cup softened butter, then one egg and 2 yolks were added. The oatmeal and sweet potato mixtures and 1/4 cup chocolate chips were also added. One-and-a-half cup flour with 2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt were whisked, then folded into the wet ingredients until just blended. A 9 x 9 inch cake pan was oiled and sprinkled with a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. Slices of pear where laid on top of the sugar then the thick batter was dropped by spoonfuls on top and spread evenly over the pears without disturbing them. 1/2 cup brown sugar was mixed with 1/4 cup crystallized ginger and sprinkled on top. This was placed in a 375 degree oven
for 50 minutes. The baked coffee cake was cooled on a rack for 10 minutes before serving. Best freshly baked but also good the next day.
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