As if the Rim Drive wasn't enough, we got super excited and went on a ranger-led hike listed in the brochure: a sunset hike to Watchman's Peak.
Since we were embarrassed about our abilities (or lack thereof) to breathe in the thin air, we left a little before the ranger-led group. The hike climbed to more than 7,000 feet, which is awful thin in my lungs' book. It didn't take us long, though it was steep. Once we got to the top, we knew why this hike was so popular, despite its difficult nature.
Here, looking south toward Klamath Falls. We believe the shadow of that giant mountain in the right center of the photo is Mount Shasta.
A look at the parking lot from above (and with a little zoom, otherwise you wouldn't be able to tell it was a parking lot full of cars).
Watchman's Peak (which houses a small building that's still used to spot wildfires in the forest) offers great views of Crater Lake and the Cascade Mountain range to the west. As we were patiently (and coldly) waiting for sunset, the moon was rising from the other direction.
A misty look to the northwest: some Cascade foothills in the near-sunset light.
As the sun sets, a pinkish hue rises beyond a glassy Crater Lake and lights the moon. It was incredible.
The colors were intoxicating, and photos do an awful job of portraying them. But I love the look of the mountain silhouettes against the vibrant oranges.
If I could paint, I would paint this. This is what met us after we hiked back down and stood in the parking lot, not wanting to leave, but really wanting to crank up the heat in the car.
Also, this. The moonlight reflected in Crater Lake. If it looks like a painting in the photo, it's because it looked like a painting in person. Overwhelming.
Next up: getting stranded and burnt crispy on the volcano.
P.S. If you click the pictures, they pop up bigger. I realize these are kind of small, and they might be best viewed by clicking.