The last big thing we did was visit Crater Lake. This is the deepest lake in the United States; it fills the caldera of another old volcano, and is the definition of blue. My grandfather as young unmarried adventurer from Chicago was one of the laborers who built the original road around the rim of the crater, completed in 1918.
In 2010 we arrived in the parking lot in three cars, cousins pouring out with shy grins after years of missing each other. The tallest boy stood back-to-back with his uncle to compare heights, and the two little girls and a couple of boy cousins followed suit. The 11 yr-old boys linked up and became a happy world unto themselves, jumping in sync on snow shelves until they broke , and quickly getting separated from the rest of the group so that as we were setting off on a walk we had to take 15 minutes to hunt for them.
We were disappointed to find all but one trail still closed for snow; the one open trail was steep to the dock at water’s edge. Everyone from the six year-old little bit of a girl to the stiffening grandma me tripped down the switchbacks along the inside of the old volcano’s top.
By the path and in cracks at eye-level this flower grew. As soon as I saw Pippin again, later that day, she got out her wildflower books and we found out that it is Rock Penstemon.
All along the path to the shore, which was about a mile’s walk, I was thinking about how much longer it would take me later to tromp back up the grade. That’s the problem with hikes that start with a descent.
At the boat launch, one of my Grandsons from the East got permission from his father to swim in the lake, whose sides slope steeply down to the almost 2,000 ft. depth at bottom. He stripped down to his undershorts and plunged in, only to exit within seconds, the water was so icy. But back in he went, and swam a few strokes to make it official. The chance of a lifetime!
As expected, the hike back up was slow and rigorous. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other and tried not to think of whether I was the last in the line, or to care. I was prepared for a long haul–or wishing someone could haul me up!
Then suddenly, perhaps half way ? son Pathfinder was alongside, and somehow we got on the subject of a book he is reading, and were talking about greed and how it differs from covetousness, and in no time, having meaningful and philosophical matters take my attention, I was surprised to find myself back on level ground and at the car.
Within a few minutes our carload was on the road south and out of Oregon, full of comfortably tired people who were mulling over the events of the last week, and the satisfactions of being part of a big and loving family.