Using cross country skis or snowshoes, one can experience Crater Lake’s winter wilderness
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
February 02, 2004
by LEE JUILLERAT
Ooooow, the moods.
On a snowy, blustery day when the sound of the wind brushing through trees echoes like a chorus of groans, and when wispy fog offers only taunting, teasing views of the lake and Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park is truly a mystical and mystical place.
Happily, it doesn’t require a long trek from the Rim Village parking area to experience a sense of Crater Lake’s winter wilderness.
In a prolonged winter season when most park roads, including Rim Drive, are clogged and closed by snow, the best ways to travel into the park’s quickly remote winter wilderness is on cross country skis or snowshoes.
Winter at Crater Lake is a season of unpredictable discoveries. While the road to the rim may be sunny, it’s not uncommon to find the rim a whirling maelstrom of chilling winds and snow, and lake-shrouding fog along the lake’s edge.
The wind, fog and snow often combine to create tantalizing sights. Prevailing winds layer snow at unusual angles. On some slopes, the lee facing side can be mushy soft and waist deep, causing skiers and snowshoers to wallow in powdery quicksand.
But, on the opposite edge, the surface is often glazed, iced and compacted.
Textures of snow are often radically different. Some is pure powder, some has the consistency popcorn. Other times, or other places, the snow may be fractured like slivers of shave ice or bloated like pieces of styrofoam.
Even the trees – towering ponderosa pines, tipsy-topped hemlocks and gnarly whitebark pines – evoke different moods in winter. Wind-blasted snow plastered on tree bark creates dramatic and irregular patterns, highlighting the quilt-like surface.
Along the rim, especially at “The Corrals,” the overlook beneath The Watchman, wind-blasted trees transform into “snow ghosts” as layer upon layer of fallen and blown snow is frozen into place, like giant heapings of vanilla ice cream.
A different sort of beauty is created in areas with less dense accumulations, where traces of snow fast-freeze on limbs, branches, cones and needles.
Dramatic and subtle shifts in the weather continually create a kaleidoscope of patterns, sounds and sights. And because heavy snows immediately transforms the park into a wilderness just steps away from its few snow-cleared roads, wintry Crater Lake is a landscape of many moods.