Oregon was one of the states that we were really looking forward to. We pulled up to our campground around dusk after a scenic ride through beautiful winding mountain roads coming from Lake Tahoe. Our campsite was nestled right next to Diamond Lake. We set up camp and cooked our first meal as the sun was setting over the gigantic snow capped mountain that lives across the clear blue lake. Our neighbors informed us that we just missed a hailstorm and the temperature would be a record low that night, dropping below 40. We broke out our wool blanket and heavy socks in preparation for the chilly mountain air.
The following morning we woke up in clouds of heavy fog. Being the optimistic people that we are we headed to Crater Lake. Needless to say we couldn’t see five feet in front of us, let alone the beautiful unbelievably blue lake. So we headed north for some waterfalls and of course we weren’t disappointed. The green of Oregon’s forests with raging blue clean water is an unmatchable combo. Umpqua National Forest was a great area to explore. With four waterfalls and hot springs all within a 20 mile stretch it wasn’t hard to fill our entire day in the lush green forest.
The next day we headed to Crater Lake. Instead of writing about our experience at this incredible lake, I’d like to tell our personal favorite story of how the Lake came to be. We came across this story while reading “Your Guide to the National Parks.”
Mount Mazama had a cataclysmic eruption about 8,000 years ago. This cataclysmic eruption caused the mountain to collapse into itself forming a massive caldera.
The Makala Indians tell the story of an epic battle between Llao, Chief of the Below World and Skell, Chief of the Above World. Llao on one of his visits to Mount Mazama fell in love with one of the villagers. Llao promised the pretty young villager enteral life if she would come and live with him below Mount Mazama. The girl refused Llao’s offer which enraged the Chief of the Below World. Llao took his rage out on the village and started to destroy everything in sight. Skell, Chief of the Above World, seeing this from standing atop Mount Shasta decided to help the villagers. The epic battle between Llao and Skell ended in fiery destruction. Skell finally drove Llao back into the underworld through Mount Mazama where the battle took place all night. The next morning Mount Mazama was gone and all that was left was a gigantic gaping hole to the underworld. The following months after the epic battle was filled with torrential downpour which filled the void and created Crater Lake.
I didn’t think any other national park would impress me the way Glacier did until I got to Grand Teton. The Grand Teton mountain range is so surreal looking. With it’s rugged outline, snowy passes and lakes that surround it, it was near impossible to look away from.
Jess and I met a cool kiwi in Zion. He had a 1969 Ford Econoline Camper Van and I couldn’t resist asking him to check out the inside. After having a few beers together that night we exchanged contact information and parted ways. We were fortunate enough to cross paths again in Grand Teton. Dan had some friends with him, a kiwi couple - Jen and Lloyd, two genuinely nice and cool humans. We shared a campsite together, after hiking all day we’d sit around the fire and laugh all night. It was nice to hang with like minded people and exchange laughs and stories with people from across the world. I hope that we may meet again, friends. I also hope I find myself gazing up at the Tetons again sooner than later.
Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park in the US. It was also the first National Park in the world and
for good reasons. With it’s thermal pools, wildlife, steam vents, mud pots, hot springs and geysers, Yellowstone is a very unique place. Rush hour in Yellowstone is caused by wildlife, there are over ten thousand thermal features and 500 of which are geysers. You feel
as if you are on a battlefield with steam vents, bubbling water and geyers shooting hot water up into the air all around you.
My brother and I played a game when we were young called “lava.” We would pretend the entire living room was filled with lava and we couldn’t touch the ground or we would die. So we would hop from one couch to another, over to the table, climb onto the chair and rock the chair backwards into a beanbag chair and so on. When the 5 of us were checking out the geyser basins that
was the first thing that popped into my head. With signs of death and warning of 200 degree water, it felt like real life “lava.” Heading east for the first time this trip > to the Badlands!