Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day Two: Stranded

On the next day, we got up suuuuper early and bought two of the last three tickets available for the early boat ride. That's right, a boat ride around Crater Lake. For $38, you get a boat tour on the way to Wizard Island, the famous little volcano island in the middle of Crater Lake. You can choose to stay on Wizard Island for three hours and hike, or continue on with the tour of the lake. Boooooring. We stayed on the island.

But first, you must hike down this steep, dusty trail to Cleetwood Cove, which is 700 feet down to the lakeshore. It's small and rocky there, but it's nice to sit there along the super blue water.

Then we hopped on the boat, and got schooled on some Crater Lake knowledge. That I probably couldn't recite because I was too worried about being enamored with the blue-ness of the lake (I was convinced it HAD to look less blue when you get up close -- not true) and sweating from intense heat.

We were told it was going to be COLD. And it was chilly that morning, but there were no clouds, and the sun was a-shining. Needless to say, we quickly stripped off our outer layers before we even got to Wizard Island.

So we got to Wizard Island, which was awesome. They dropped us off and basically said there's no way to contact them at all unless it's an emergency and we broke this glass case to get a key to get into a locker which had a radio in it. Serious stuff.

But we decided we were going to hike to the top of the volcano, and were equipped with water and lunch for the summit. Here's a view on the way up.

And the thin air got to us, so it took awhile. But eventually, we summitted, and here's the crater of a volcano!

OK, so it's difficult to tell it's a crater. But it was and it was deep and big. But the view from the top was amazing! Here we are, tired but happy.

Fumerole Bay. It's apparently a good place to swim, though I wasn't swimming in the 50-degree water. Some did though. I just enjoyed how beautiful the water was. Take that, tropical islands. I'll take a volcano-turned-lake-upon-massive-explosion any day. It's only fed by rain and snowmelt (it snowed there not long after we left! EEK!), so it's unreal clean.

When it came time for the boat to pick us up, we all met on the dock, waiting. The sun was warm (OK, hot) and the water was cool. We used up all our water, and I was ready for the rest of the lake tour, hike back to the top of the caldera and a yummy, campfire dinner.

The view from the dock, where about 50 people were gathered. My camera is mere inches above that famous blue water.

But. But, but, but. The boat was supposed to return at 1:30. We sat. 1:30 came and went. Then 1:45. Then 2:00. Then I became readily aware that my skin was baking like it hadn't baked before. We were a lot closer to the sun than I was used to. And the boat was nowhere. In fact, no boat had lapped the lake since we had been there. The natives were restless. And a little concerned that we would be stranded.

Around 3:00, a boat magically appeared, and everyone was excited. My skin was hot, I was thirsty and hunger was attempting to set in. We had only brought enough to stay until 1:30!

So the park ranger hops off the boat, and everyone was excited to get back on. But. They were having technical difficulties with one of their three boats (though we're still questioning how one of the other boats couldn't pick us up), and couldn't get us and had no way of communicating that. Awesome.

But. There were four dudes toting fishing poles on the other side of the island. They had planned to stay twice as long as the rest of us so they could fish (fish aren't native to the lake, obviously, since there's no actual water source running into the lake). Unfortunately, we had to wait for them to hike from the other side of the island, since they wouldn't be taking another tour out that day. We also didn't get to finish the lake tour, but we didn't care. 

Once those fishermen got back, we were ready to go, and not looking forward to the rather steep and difficult hike we were faced with to get to our car.

Luckily, we took our hiking shoes off once we got back to the cove, and cooled off our feet before we attempted the hike. Here's the water up close.

That's a family of swimmers. The dad was French, and very so. Thick French accent, counting in French and an innate ability to get naked just about anywhere. Apparently he didn't feel the need to wear his swim "trunks" (more like underwear) under his shorts -- he just stripped down right there with people around. Thank goodness he wrapped a sweatshirt around his waist, though it was far from modest.

The boat that rescued us from the volcano island.

During this time, a major headache (most likely brought upon lack of water and too much sun) set in for me. The hike up was nearly unbearable, and I was never so happy to chug down the Gatorade we were smart to bring on the trip. Despite being stranded, it was a gorgeous experience, and a fun story in the least. 

Also, I have a nice souvenir from the adventure. Peeling sunburn. I've never peeled this much before. As I've never had sunburn like this before. Had we KNOWN it was going to be as hot as Hades on the lake (we were informed high of 50), I would have known to wear sunscreen and I would have known that my sweatshirt would most certainly not be protecting my arms. Ugh.

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