Crater Lake National Park – February 4-5, 2012

My idea was to find somewhere in the West that actually had a decent amount of snow…  Crater Lake National Park was my destination…  Made a quick trip to to REI on Friday night and purchased a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes…  I debated at leaving Friday night to catch the Saturday morning light, but decided to get a few hours of sleep in my own bed… 7 hour drive give or take from the Bay Area, so I decided to leave at 400 am Saturday…  Needless to say with three speeding tickets to my name in the last 12 months, I needed to be extra careful…  Two out of the three tickets were photography related and trust me when I say that CA highway patrol could care less if you are trying to catch the fog lifting out of Yosemite Valley, I tried… However, the excitement makes it extremely difficult…  As I made my way north on the nickel (I-5), the clouds and light really started coming together as I passed through Redding…  Mt Shasta had some some really nice color… I was beginning to think that I may have missed a great opportunity of morning light at Crater Lake?  Needed to stay focused on driving just above the speed limit, but not too much over the speed limit…

On a sidenote (Subway plug), this blog may actually become a review of every Subway throughout the Western United States… If anyone else is a Subway fanatic or is passing through Medford, OR, I highly recommend the Subway…   It’s amazing!  I may have been delusional or starving, but a double chicken, vinegar, double mustard, jalapenos, and onions never tasted so good at 930 am… Well, at least since my last Subway sandwich :)

Anyway, I arrived at the park and there was definitely snow, not as much as usual; however, it was nice to have my snow gear on… Clouds were thinning out and winds were picking up, both not good for photographers…  I decided to snowshoe out to Discovery Point (1.5 miles or so) to scout for a spot for the Sunday morning sunrise…  I finally reached discovery point and watched snowboarders boarding from some “interesting” terrain around the lake…  I snowshoed up to one of the boarding points and it had a magnificent view of the lake…  This was it…  I was coming back to this spot tomorrow morning!
As I snowshoed back to parking lot, I realized that there were less and less people around…  Temperatures were dropping fast and winds were extremely gusty!  I arrived at the jeep (my tenement on wheels), prepping my bed in the back, charging camera batteries, and devouring beef jerky, protein bars, and Chobani yogurt (Chobani plug)…  Yes, I had a cooler packed with Chobani…  So where was I going to park the jeep for the night?  I decided to head to the Crater Lake Lodge parking lot…  Empty?  I had no idea it was closed for the winter…  I decided to park behind two other cars that were lined up in order to not get run over by a snow plow…  Needless to say this was by far the coldest night I have ever spent in the jeep!  I actually woke up three times to turn the heat on to warm the jeep for a few minutes…  After having enough of the cold in the jeep, I crawled out of my sleeping bag gathered my camera gear and snow shoes… It’s approximately 330 am Sunday morning…  The winds were calm and a nearly full moon illuminated the entire lake, no flashlight needed…  I began the 1.5 mile snowshoe journey out to Discovery Point…  The sky was a mix of clouds and stars, so I am beginning to think a blowout sunrise is a definite possibility…  After about a 30-45 minute snowshoe trek, I try my hand at shooting some stars without much luck…  The moon was still way too bright and my star shooting skills definitely need some work…  By 500 am the moon is below the horizon and I sit and wait for the sun….  By about 630 am the horizon is beginning to glow orange and then all of the sudden a pallet of oranges, pinks, and purples explode on  the horizon…

 

As I snowshoed back to the jeep and came upon an empty parking low, I realized I had the entire park to myself and quite possibly may have been the only person to witness such a beautiful and intense explosion of colors during sunrise…

 

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