Crater Lake National Park & first Bend ride

Back on the national park trail we left Medford & headed north towards Crater Lake. Driving through a few small towns there were a few extra flags out lining the main streets & many firework stalls as well – as you’d expect on July 4. More scenic driving continued along rivers (the Rogue – another great name) & beside forests – a brief interlude was stopping to see a natural bridge. This one was a little different to the ones we had grown used to in Utah – made out of an old lava tube. The outer of the flowing lava cooled & solidified while the molten lava kept flowing, leaving a tube that the river now runs through since the lava has long since stopped running. With the river running so high, the river didn’t disappear completely (all that water couldn’t fit down the tube) – but you could see where the water was coming out of the tube with quite some force. A different interesting little diversion.

River exiting the tube

Ordinarily, the river would flow completely underground here

We hit the snow line at about 1500m as we continued towards Crater Lake. It got thicker & thicker & at the Visitor Center, it was two to three metres high in parts. With an above average 16m of snowfall last winter & a late spring, it was still very white & only one hiking trail was open (& that only for the long weekend). Crater Lake is actually in a caldera of an old volacano that collapsed on itself. I was expecting the lake to be beautiful, but this was something else – perhaps the most jaw-droppingly amazing thing we’ve seen yet on our little drive. With water only entering the lake as rain or snow & no rivers or streams exiting the caldera, the water is brilliantly blue. With the shelter of the caldera rim as well, there was no wind to cause even a ripple on the surface. Add to that the clear sunny day & the snow around the rim – the sum was something fantastic. Here are a few pictures – more here.

With a bit more driving on Valerie’s part we eventually got to Bend late afternoon. After settling in to the motel, I couldn’t resist getting straight out & hitting a trail in what is one of the top MTB towns in the States. As it was getting late & there were fireworks to go to later, I found the Mrazek trail on Garmin Connect. It was close to town & as an out-and-back I could make it last as long as I wanted – fitted the bill nicely.

It was a great introduction & a lot of fun. Mostly a (very) gentle climb on a nice wide dirt trail (bit of a shock to be back riding in dust after the previous snowy rides!). There was one section that had a few switchbacks that were markedly steeper & there were some technical rocky step-ups to negotiate; but I dug deep into the recesses of my riding brain & remembered all I’d learnt in Colorado & Utah & cleared them all. I continued steaming up the trail in a high gear until I figured I had better turn around at seven o’clock.

As I expected all the way up, going down was neat. I don’t think I realised how twisty it was as I was climbing, but I quickly found that I couldn’t go as fast as I’d imagined I would. Still, not having to pedal as much is always good; although I did spend quite a bit of time in the big chainring – it’s not often that happens for me on singletrack. My short little evening ride turned out to be 24km – but it didn’t take long, so there was enough time to get home, shower, grab a meal & then find a good place to watch the July 4 fireworks.

Launched from a small hill just east of the center of town, the show didn’t start until ten o’clock. After a rather monotonous first five minutes (it wasn’t bad, just all the same sort of firework), a bit of variety was finally introduced & it turned out to be a really good display. At over twenty minutes, it was also quite long for a Bend-sized town. Finishing with a flourish it was well worth having headed out to see them – plus we got to sift around various street parties with fireworks going off all over the place.

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