Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Crater Lake National Park, OR

Portland is a truly wonderful place for weekend getaways. There is a multitude of options - you can take a quick drive west to the coast - Cannon Beach or Seaside and relax by the beach. Then there is Astoria that has the beach and some history around the early explorers. An hours drive to the east will take you to Mt Hood, which has the prettiest wildflowers all around it in spring. The Columbia river gorge area around there has innumerable trails and waterfalls, providing many excellent Saturday morning hiking opportunities. South of Portland, driving along the interstate highway you will find many small towns with something interesting to see or do.. and if nothing, then the magnificent Pacific Coast to admire.

One such trip was to Crater Lake National Park. Crater lake is a caldera formed more than 7000 years ago, after the volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama. Interestingly though it has been dormant ever since, geologists expect it to 'awaken' sometime.Volcanic ash from the last eruption has been found as far as Alberta Canada, 1000 miles to the north. Water from rains and snow filled the caldera to form the 2000 ft deep lake, the deepest in the United States. Other than wizard island, a small island in the lake formed by subsequent volcanic activity, there are one or two others that lie submerged.

There are as many as 50 mammal species in the park, the most abundant being the ground squirrels. There are several amphibians and reptiles as well. The trees are coniferous, with ponderosa pines, lodgepole pines, mountain hemlocks and white bark pines. There are also western and mountain hemlocks and many firs.


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