Monday, September 28, 2009

37-2009 Crater Lake and the Land of Umpqua, Oregon


Crater Lake and the land of Umpqua.

Campground.  The Last Resort.  $130/7D Full hookups. Wi-fi available and lots of National Forest scenery.  Including a river pool for swimming and cooling off during the hot summers.

I’m dedicating this issue to a good friend Ione Black who hasn’t been able to read my reports all summer long.  Hopefully Ashley (her teenage granddaughter) has gotten her online to view my stories and pictures. Or maybe to the local library where she can log in herself and view them.

From Reedsport on the Oregon Coast I’m heading inland on hwy 38.  There are covered bridges, lots and lots of waterfalls and lush forests filled with Douglas Fir in the County of Douglas where I, Douglas will be staying for about a week.  I feel sooooo at home.    

Even drove a short distance on hwy 5 which appears to be the only major highway running through Oregon.  It was fairly heavy traffic for the short distance I was on it, but doable.

I then entered what’s called the Land of Umpqua, a native Indian name meaning “ferry me across” or “across the river” as the pioneers would holler out to the Indians, Umpqua, Umpqua, calling to be ferried across the river in their canoes.  Or it could mean “full tummy”.  Our historians must have been asleep in class when they were deciphering the local language.

In any case, here I am in what I would call the heart of Oregon.  A heavily forested land of mountains and hills, rivers teaming with salmon this time of year and fly fishermen everywhere.

My main goal is to get to Crater Lake, so on my second day in the area, I’ve driven the 60+ miles along beautifully paved country roads (though the locals do call 138 a highway).  It’s called a working forest as there are workers cutting timber, maintaining many hydro dams throughout the area and of course lots of campers, hikers and hunters fill the area as well.

Along the way I have a choice to stop and see a half dozen waterfalls and unusual rock outcroppings.  I’m even seeing sand dunes where the roadway has cut through them.  Imagine sand dunes over 150-200 miles inland all covered in thick forests of Douglas Fir, Hemlock and Cedar.

I finally reach the entrance to Crater Lake, $10 to enter per vehicle.  It’s a bummer being single sometimes as I end up paying full price for one person.  I had written a geography report in junior high oh so many years ago about Crater Lake.  And ever since then have wanted to see the place in person.

The entrance is a landscape of pine forests that begin to open up to what at first appears to be alpine meadows, but upon a closer look are mostly barren fields filled with the potash from the extinct volcanoes.  Light wisps of grass growing through the potash.   The road climbs until I reach the first viewing area of the Crater itself.  How exciting to climb up the sandy gravel side of the crater and get my first glimpse of the lake.

The rim of the crater is a shear edge straight down to the lake below and the famous Wizard Island off to one side surrounded by the deepest blue water I’ve ever seen.  I’ve reached another one of those places one just has to see before they die.  It’s the deepest freshwater lake in north America at 1,943 feet which creates the deep blue color.  It’s also considered the cleanest lake in the world.

The crater gets 44 feet of snow each year (528 inches!) and the West, North and East entrances are closed as early as October and the east entrance often doesn’t open until July.  The park is open 24 hours a day year round.  The lakes level is maintained by snow and rain runoff.  No rivers run in or out of the lake.

A boat tour is available for a few months in summer, with a steep decent down the side of the crater on foot.  Less than one percent of the 500,000 visitors ever get down to the lake itself.

Well as I mentioned I’m in the Land of Umpqua and a strange land it is.  I have met some of the campers staying here and some are on the fringe of reality if you ask me.  It all started with the gal next door being overly concerned about the smoke from the forest fires.  After talking to her for a day or so it seems the fires a part of a vast conspiracy (to smoke us out?)  not really sure.  Then today, her and her husband started to talk about the elite people like the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilt’s and Rothchilds and how they are trying to control the masses to their own will.  Like through vaccination shots.  Said she’d never take a flue shot again.  “You know they are even going to stop you along the highways and if you haven’t taken the shot you’ll have to have a band put on your wrist“.  Ekkk!  Even mentioned that the contrails produced by planes have been for years “seeding” the atmosphere with zinc and mercury, criss-crossing the land.  How the military is working directly for the financial houses of the world again to control the masses.

It’s all a bit too much for me to say the least.  Many of the campers actually work in the forest.  At least that’s what I’ve been told.  Working on all those hydro dams and lumber cutting etc. But who knows what they’re really doing in those deep dark forests… hmmmmm  They come and go all hours of the day and evening.

The next day I decided to continue to explore this Land of Umpqua.  This region was occupied by the Southern Molaila, Cow Creek, Yoncalla, Kalapuya and Umpqua Tribes.  What a mouthful and speaking of mouths, each tribe spoke a different language.  Now just think about it for a minute.  Here in a couple thousand acres of land there were at least 5 tribes speaking different languages.  Now suppose the North American continent was as populated as this small area.  How many languages were spoken and what were the real numbers of native Indians in the country before Columbus “discovered” this land.  These tribes were in the area for at least 8,000 years.

I found the Medicine Creek Rock site by browsing the brochures on the local area and forests.  In amongst all the water falls, hiking trails and rivers is this small site with a few pictographs.  These are considered spiritual sites.  This one was off of a forest road, with the tiniest sign indicating where the trail began.  I never saw another vehicle come along this small country road that was at one point a single lane heading up into the mountains.  One of those silent places.  No outside noise, just the occasional bird chirping and the snap of a twig off in the distance.

Nice to be able to hike a well maintained switchback trail through tall forests of old growth pines.  There’s an openness about it because of the huge trees, leaving the ground free of small shrubs and trees like a park yet shaded by the huge trees.  The rock art was heavily disguised by green lichen growing over much of the art.  All of it contained on this huge bolder that had at one time rolled down the side of the mountain, now it’s flat side leaning over creating a shelter of sorts.

Another day of getting in touch with nature.  The airs still smokey from the fires in the area, but it is a reminder that nature grows, builds and lightning burns and a whole new cycle begins again.

The weekend brought lots of fun at the campground.  A pot luck dinner with BBQ chicken and ribs and lots of side dishes.  Mets many of the weekend campers getting away into the country for the weekend.  The campground even had set up an outdoor movie with popcorn and jungle juice.  How cool is that?

Worth getting out there and exploring.  Hope you have the chance real soon.  

and of course more pictures on my Picasa website.

No comments: