Fri 26th – More Redwoods, and Crater Lake

One more picture of the cabin in the woods, just because I can:

I started today with Howland Hill Road through Jedediah Forest.  Totally amazing.  I was in two minds whether I’d take the curvy slow road through the woods or the main road, but I’m so glad I bothered to take the scenic route.  You make your way through suburbia (very very small town suburbia) and then suddenly the road peters out into a narrow one lane track (with two way traffic!) through these amazing woods. Coastal Redwood trees that seem like they’re miles high, really green and lush.

Thankfully the road has lots of pullouts, and demands you drive slowly, because this is as wide as it gets along most of its length:

But what an amazing place to be!  It was really quiet, and unless a car was really close you couldn’t hear anyone else.  And you COULD hear birds, the wind in the trees, and some scuttling wildlife occasionally.  And of course that wonderful damp forest smell.  Really lovely. 

After that I headed for Grant’s Pass just over the border in Oregon, where the local camera store advised me that they don’t stock Olympus, and maybe I should try (the town) Bend.  All well and good, but Crater Lake is between here and there, so that first.  But before I even got there, there were wonderful views such as this – the road more or less follows it for a time.  I’m pretty sure it’s the Smith River.

I saw a sign at the side of the road pointing to a lookout over the Rogue River.  OK, I’m up for that!  And this is what I found:

The river itself runs through a really deep gorge and though you could see it pretty well, it was hard to take decent photos.  Apparently it runs through old lava tubes, some of which have collapsed over time, leaving the river in this really deep gorge.  Very pretty!

It was getting pretty late by the time I got to Crater Lake National Park.  I was actually worrying about it being dark by the time I got there, but I timed it perfectly for sunset.  I drove the East Rim – the longer route between the South (east) entry and North entry.  I was lucky I wasn’t a day later – they were closing it late this evening so bicycle riders could have it to themselves tomorrow.  The road in this park basically has a loop all the way around the crater, with a few entrances and exits going off it like spokes from a ring road.  The lake is the caldera of a volcano that over time has filled with rain and snow.  It has no flows out, only evaporation.  It’s still active (as are most of the volcanoes in this area, Mt St Helens isn’t far away).  But incredibly beautiful:

It finally got so dark (and foggy) that there was no way I could take more photos.  Plus: COLD!  The car reckoned it was 36F outside- just over 2C.  I’d believe it!

I again hadn’t booked any accommodation, so needed to get creative to find somewhere to sleep.  Everywhere in and around the park was either booked full or closed for the season (I’m encountering more and more of that as I go along).  So I headed north, I figured I’d find somewhere sooner or later.  I’ve been relying on hotels.com quite a bit to book accommodation, but being out in the boonies here there was no internet coverage.  So, driving it is until I either find a vacancy sign or an internet connection! I ended up finding a Marriott hotel in Bend – after another hour and a half on the road.  That was further than I really wanted to drive, but never mind.  It’s less that I need to do tomorrow.  Thankfully I don’t feel the need to backtrack like I did at Yosemite – it’d be a long way along a very boring road! 

One small fun bit along that road – I can totally see why people think there are UFOs.  The road leading to Bend is dead straight and slightly uphill. With only occasional traffic, cars coming the other direction (and those ahead of you, too) look like their lights are floating in the air and not moving!  VERY weird thing to see.