Thursday, September 8, 2011

Crater Lake Backpacking and Beyond Pt 1

Amy and I set out on a Crater Lake Adventure with our friend Sarah. She had never been to Crater Lake and we had never actually seen the lake as our snowshoe adventure there was quite cloudy.

We took the scenic and beautiful route east from Salem over Santiam Pass. Bless Sarah for bringing a load of new books from the school library she works at. It was a nice drive and great to see the lake for the first time!

After taking in the lake, we drove to the park headquarters for a camping permit. We decided our first choice of camping was to hike in a half mile to Lightning Springs. The permit was free with our $10 park entry fee! This is truly the way to camp at Crater Lake :-).

Amy did a great job hiking the half mile to the campsite. We set up the tent and she went "down for a nap" very briefly. We hung a bear line for our food which is always a challenge to find just the right branch and to throw the little bag over it. Lightning springs was a little meadow with a spring.

When Amy emerged from her "nap" we hiked back out to the lake and up to a watchtower. The wildfires to the west of us were burning strong. Wizard Island was in all it's glory. We saw some deer on the way up as well.

Amy was being a bit of a "slacker" and wanted to ride in the backpack, so the 2.5 miles up at altitude was a bit more of a challenge, but oh so worth it!

The watchtower was full of people wanting to see the sunset, but we found a quiet corner. The crowd looked on as we made our Grizz BBQ Bowl dinner of dehydrated beef and snap peas with BBQ sauce and sweet potato fries. It was fun to have such an audience to cook in front of! Many thanks to Sarah of for her amazing recipes!

The BBQ bowl was a hit with all and we enjoyed watching the sunset from the watchtower. Amy liked climbing up and down the tower dodging tourists. The sunset was quite spectacular.

We did end up hiking back to camp in a bit of darkness, but were able to find our way. Unfortunately, since she did not really nap and had such a long day, Amy was reluctant to do much peeing in the woods and had two accidents during the night. We made the best of it as these things happen.

After a mostly restful night sleep, we woke up and retrieved our bear bag to cook a delicious meal of Apple Pie Pudding and our coffee, tea, and warm juice. Amy helped me filter some water as well and we prepared our minds, spirits, and bodies for the Sunday adventure...


  1. Hi, I enjoyed your entry on camping at Lightning Spring. I'm exploring this as a possible camping destination and I'd like to ask you where you began your hike from (where you left your vehicle). I thought it was a 4.2 mile hike but I'm curious whether one can hike their gear in from the Lightning Spring picnic area along the road?
    Thank you.

    1. Hey-
      You can get the free permit and leave your car at the picnic area there. The campsite is only a half mile West of the road but you can continue to the PCT and camp there as well. The PCT was closed in this section due to wildfires when we were there and our objective really was to camp and hang out on the rim anyway :-). I couldn't believe we could even get close to doing this on a holiday weekend. I don't think people realize how easy an option it is.

    2. Thanks! I'm gonna give that a shot. I procrastinated too long and every Mazama campsite is booked for all of June! I've been meaning to backpack more anyhow.