I was going through my computer the other day, cleaning it out, and organizing files in preparation for getting back into some academic reading next month, and I found some old photos from a volcano lake, called Crater Lake. To the Klamath people, Crater Lake (giiwas) is a sacred place, and the lake bed formed when Mount Kazama erupted and thereby collapsed, filling deeply with water--an event the Klamath witnessed. Klamath ancestors have passed these experiences down through the complex dynamics of the oral story, history, and tradition. If you do visit the lake, be respectful of that space.
I remember the air smelling excellent and crisp in Oregon when I was there two years ago. Mom’s blog posts about all of the beautiful hikes they’ve been on (and all the fantastic photos they’ve taken) inspired me to write this here.
I went to Crater Lake in the summer—mid-June. Since I had only heard about Crater Lake maybe 2-5 months before I went there, I had no real expectations for it. Besides, I was pretty busy that summer, finishing my undergrad degree and visiting people. It was a hectic time in my life. I was always feeling stressed. I often wonder how much of that stress sits in my body, and what that means for me now. Although I can’t say for sure, I think I am a pretty adaptable person, but ending a degree and moving into the sort-of unknown of “is where I am going where I am going to be going?” was a lot for me. I will always be a supporter of seeing someone’s feelings as still valid. Looking back on that transition now, I had been feeling some way about the significant changes that I was experiencing. Graduate school is very stressful. And while I wholly recommend it to anyone wanting to do it (because yes, amazing!!), I also think it is also imperative to learn yourself along the way. And while I am satisfied and confident with my decisions, as they are my own and I am learning, I also feel like I need to regenerate some health or energy.
Looking through these old photos has been a vital experience for me now, I think. Then, I had Khaleesi-blonde hair, graduate school was a real mystery, and I was in the middle of moving hundreds of kilometers. I have grown a lot since then, I've now moved across the country for the first time, and maybe I've reverted a little bit too; yet, it seems like I had more energy two years ago than I do now. At least, that's how it feels. I hadn’t returned to a lot of my digital albums in a long time, after going through a tough and complicated breakup. I tried to make art out of some of the beautiful photos I have from that time, and it ended up becoming a project that explored melancholy. So, whenever I return to these photos, I feel like I am trying to undo some of that sadness, in a way.
The lake was excellent to visit in the summer months (May-August). One of my fondest memories was swimming in the deep, dark blue water. The hike down to the water was relatively easy; yet, the hike back up was pretty exhausting. The trailhead for the swimmable portion of the lake is well sign-posted around the lake's infamous rim drive. Once there, you must walk down and then back up a gravel path carved into the side of the caldera. There are plenty of opportunities to view this spectacular spot everywhere in the National Park, but the closer you get to the water the larger you realize the lake is, and the deeper and darker the blue colour of the water appears. Crater Lake is the seventh deepest lake in the world and the deepest in the U.S., and the eerie saturated blue tells all and no one. But the lake that formed from the volcanic eruption is deep. After a while of swimming, I opened my eyes under the water and stared into the dark, dark blue and lost a part of my heart or something. I only did that once and then pretty well stayed out of the water after that. Surrounding Crater Lake, a large number of giant boulders sit. People sit on these boulders and jump in the water from there; as well, cliff jumping was happening while I was there. While I enjoyed the cold swim, I chose not to partake in the jumping.
Kids will love Crater Lake National Park, as it boasts lots of friendly and fun and cool things to do. Campsites offer daily children's activities like skits, scavenger hunts, movie and trivia nights, and so on. I found the campgrounds a little quieter than I was used to (not complaining) and enjoyed watching movies with other people later in the evenings after my camp fire had gone out.
Luckily, you can view the sun setting on the lake at any time of the year. At any one of the pit stops along the caldera's rim, you can see the spectacular sight as the sun sets seemingly behind and then under the collapsed volcano.
For a visit to the park during a fall month like October, you would probably have to dress quite warm and remember to pack extra socks. If you're planning a visit in the summer months, still pack for the cold. Even in June, the evenings were very chilly, and the wind could pick up the minute the sun went down. Although I was in my bathing suit for most of the trip, I was thanking my lucky stars that I had packed sweaters to layer.
My name is Tasha Guenther. I currently live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada while I finish my PhD in Cultural Studies with a concentration in digital cultures at McMaster University. I enjoy writing short stories and non-fiction pieces for grade school children.
Alongside my learning, studying, and thinking about digital platforms and critical theory, I really appreciate long conversations with close friends, reading poetry, and taking photos of my cat. Learn more about me here or connect with me on my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.