When I was in fifth grade and learning about the states and capitols, I was assigned to write about two states–South Carolina and Oregon. I fell in love with pictures of Crater Lake National Park and have wanted to visit ever since. I finally fulfilled my wish on a long, weekend trip to Oregon.
Staying at an AirBnB in La Pine for its proximity to Mount Bachelor Ski Resort and Crater Lake, we had a decent drive. Waking up before the crack of dawn with one goal in mind–to catch the sunrise at the lake.
The drive was mostly dark, but as dawn approached, the wiry trees stood tall and cast shadows. I was surprised to see the road was marked by twigs or large branches instead of the plastic or metal poles you see on highway passes for plow trucks to hit. The snow levels have been depressing this year making it easy to drive up to the rim.
While approaching the lake, the sky started to brighten, and I was anxious we were going to miss the light dance on the snow-covered rim. Walking away from the other photographers crazy enough to endure the cold and early morning, we had perfect timing as we watched the light slowly brighten up the peaks until reaching Wizard Island and the water’s surface.
The park offers snowshoe trips and walks for its tourists, along with rentals for the gear you would need. However, being a little more adventurous, we already had plans.
After debating to do the entire 33-mile Rim Drive around the lake, we decided instead to backcountry ski for better views on some of the surrounding peaks around the lake. The Rim Drive can be done on backcountry skis but would be slower going than on cross-country skis. As we waited for the snow to soften, we toured flat terrain around the Visitor Center, enjoyed a cup of coffee, and then headed to Garfield Peak.
One of my first times backcountry skiing, I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the choice of doing it such a beautiful place. Winter wanes out the crowds in the park, so it really is you in nature. We saw one guy in the parking lot take off his backcountry skis and switch to his cross-country ones. The day prior, he completed the entire 33-mile road around the lake in one day and confirmed the low snow conditions we were afraid of hearing.
As we climbed, Applegate Peak taunted us. Apparently, the day’s objective could have included Applegate–there’s always next time. Applegate Peak made more sense to climb first before skiing down to the saddle, transitioning, and then climbing Garfield. The day was pretty darn near perfect regardless as we picnicked at the top of Garfield Peak overlooking Crater Lake and Wizard Island.
The cool breeze reminded us we were indeed visiting in the winter. After a few pictures and a well-deserved break, it was time to SKI!
Earning our turns, I couldn’t help being a little disappointed after getting back to the snow-covered road we skinned along on our way up. I didn’t realize we had skinned downhill on the way up, which left us to decide to shuffle along or transition back to touring mode. I chose to shuffle back to the car. As we packed up and headed back to La Pine, I couldn’t have been more thrilled with they day’s events.