We got underway on historic coastal Highway 101. Traveling south from Warrenton we passed Haystack Rock,
and stopped at the breathtaking Manzanita overlook...
and a lighthouse at Cape Meares.
Crater Lake had not been mentioned as a destination when we left, but somewhere before reaching Lincoln City my son suggested going to Crater Lake.
Why not? So we left the coast and headed inland. It was a long tedious drive. If memory serves me right we left the coast about 2. I know we got to Crater Lake just prior to the sun going down. You'll be able to see that in the video.
Crater Lake resulted from the volcanic explosion of what is named Mount Mazama. The elevation of the caldera rim forming the ridge above the top shore of the lake is between 7000 and 8000 feet above sea level. The depth of the lake itself is in excess of 1900 feet allowing it to be designated the second deepest lake in the western hemisphere.
Today the lake sits atop the mountain at an elevation between 7000 and 8000 feet. But at one time the mountain was approximately 12,000 feet high. That's almost a mile higher than at present reaching over two miles into the sky.
When the volcano subsided it had caused nearly a mile of the mountain to disappear from the top leaving it little more than half its original height. In doing so it also scattered ash over an area of eight states, and three Canadian provinces choking the sky and covering the earth in a grey gauze of ash.
Having taken place about 7,000 years ago it is reasonable to expect the event was witnessed by human eyes. I wonder what went through the minds of those watching as the top of the mountain began screaming and fire from inside the earth turned the night sky hellish. Did they fall into a fearful sleep waking to find the ash had turned the soothing blue skies and luxuriant green earth a deathly grey?
Did they have any information warning them of the impending cataclysm? Were their shamans aware the world would be changing? How did they communicate it if they were aware?
During the preceding 7000 years the planet and resulting climate change allowed the earth to emerge from a covering of snow and ice. The inexorable process of melting away the massive glaciers covering most of the land continued. Click here for a timeline of the last 100,000 years prepared by NOAA
The land emerged degree by degree out from under an almost entirely glaciated landscape as the last ice age receded. This was already taking place about 7000 years before Mount Mazama caved in on itself according to this Wikipedia report.
Today the lake has the appearance of a swatch of blue sky laid down allowing some some of the mountain underneath to poke through. It truly is this blue; the color of a chicory blossom, a turquoise stone, the sky.
Below is Crater Lake. The island in the photograph is named Wizard Island. It is the result of volcanic activity which took place after the major eruption caused the top 5000 feet to fall into itself. Subsequent volcanic activity helped seal off the bottom of the caldera making the retention of water and the lake possible. (That's how I understand the way this happened. I could be wrong. Check it out for yourself, it's a fascinating history.)
The National Parks Service has produced an informative brochure on the geological history of the area and the formation of the lake. Go ahead and read it.
The impact of the volcano's eruption on the
environment was immense and sudden. The entire world was already on the cusp of exiting an uncomfortable period of glaciation which had lasted the previous 100,000 years up to about 12,000 years ago. It was, like today, a time of climate change with an impact of unknown, but immense proportions.
The sudden removal of the top 5000 feet of Mount Mazama created a unique geological feature which has come to be named the Pumice Desert.
The desert owes its existence to the demise of the mountain. You will find a fascinating reconstruction of the geological history leading up to the last major explosion of Mount Mazama at Wikipedia click here.
I'm left wondering if the ongoing change in the climate during the earth's emergence from the last ice age may have had any bearing on the eruption of the mountain 7000 years or so ago. I haven't found any support for that idea. But climate change certainly was going on at that time.
An insightful scientific discussion of the end of the last ice age is to be found at the Scientific American in an article titled "What Thawed The Last Ice Age" by David Biello.
The article doesn't mention any causative involvement with volcanoes. But it is an interesting and informative read I found while looking for info on Crater Lake.
My son and I arrived right at the beginning of the sunset. It was accidentally perfect timing. The sky was bright powder blue and dusted with pink and tangerine, but slowly turning dark.
I snapped a lot of pictures in the few moments before darkness took the colors away. Many of them are in the video.
This little chipmunk we found here the next morning having breakfast.
Photography and text (C) 2014 by David H. Roche
All information in the linked material belongs to those who provided the material.
a Clear Running Water state of mind