Elk, Bears, Deer, Chipmunks, oh my!
I didn’t seen any of those except for the chipmunks. However, I was humbled by the fact that I was surrounded by these animals that consider Mazama their home! With the pine trees standing tall behind your back there was a stiff silence that demanded your presence and respect for this caldera reaching into the depths of our planet earth.
7,700 years ago Mt. Mazama volcano erupted so violently that the mountain collapsed creating the caldera – now the deepest lake in the United States. Crater lake is 1,943 feet deep and virtually pure, which is why the water is so blue.
Go here for more info on this fascinating natural landmark!
So, let’s get started with the ride. When I finally made it up to the south entrance I realized that I had to pay $15 to enter and park. Luckily there was an ATM at the camp store just next to the entrance and they sold a perfect long sleeved shirt to keep my arms from falling off. I was not expecting the sting of these low temperatures when I first stepped into the crisp air.
I asked the patrol about the best place to start the ride and they recommended the Visitor center. I did just that and was very happy to get that huge climb out of the way while my body was numb and my mind in shock because of the cold! Luckily my body warmed up fairly fast once I reached the first viewing of the lake. It was all worth it when I saw this:
And, who would have guessed that my request was granted by the one and only Eddie! Here is how the story goes.
I get to the turn off for East Rim road and notice that the road is actually a dirt road due to some construction. I was quite nervous about this because I didn’t know how long I would have to bear the dirt before finding concrete. I tried to ask some other tourists, but they weren’t quite sure. However, one guy encourage me by saying that the dirt looks fairly flat and he thought my tires could handle it. I hadn’t biked almost a third around the lake to turn back now, so I trekked up the dirt grade without much problem. And, after the first turn it was back to asphalt. Phew! So, I started to turn up my speed and would blow hot air into my hands as much as possible. Eventually we got to a construction stop with two nice workers holding us up with a stop sign. I scooted past all the cars to say hi and warm up in a small patch of sunlight. As I stated talking to the nice gentlemen we started laughing about how cold it was. Eddie was engulfed by about 5 layers and was still cold. I said that I was pretty sure my fingers were about to fall off. Eddie couldn’t believe that I had no gloves. “I’ll be right back” he said. Eddie returned with the most gorgeous worn and torn gloves my eyes had ever seen. He said he did not need them back. I couldn’t believe it. This was a very happy moment for me and my hands. “Eddie, you are my savior”, I said. At that point they got the radio call that we could follow the lead car through the dirt road construction site. I waved with my glove-protected hand goodbye and followed the long string of cars through the bumps of the road.
With another 20 miles to go, my spirits were high in the sky thanks to these gloves.
So, I tried to push through without much stopping. However, there were so many hills that you just had to embrace the diversity of speeds that your body and bike would allow for. Unsure of my exact location I was abruptly surprised when I finally made it to the car! I jumped in and headed right for rim village to fill up with some warm food and coffee! My body was still in a bit of shock from the low temperature, so the warm beverage was just what the doctor ordered.
I headed straight home and in exactly 8 hours arrived in Monterey still in my bike uniform and Crater Lake shirt!
It was hard to believe that I accomplished so much in just one day and I can’t wait for what my next bike adventure may be!
Thank you planet earth for your complexities and for the humans that created the wheel.