Friday, September 20, 2013

Mountains and Craters

I-5 through most of California is not the most scenic route. From the bottom of the San Joaquin Valley in the south all the way up to Redding in the north, this stretch of the I-5 is more than 450 miles of California's hot central valley. California is such a huge state! It has its charms from time to time, with acres of farmland and distant mountains along the east and west. But it's mostly a straight line with little to mark your progress except cows, rest stops, and a Starbucks every now and then.

Once you make it to Redding, the landscape changes quite a bit. You can see Mt. Shasta in the distance and the drive through the mountains by Shasta Lake is beautiful. Mt. Shasta itself is impressive and gives you something to look at while you fill up your gas tank in the small town of Weed.

Mt. Shasta
For us, Mt. Shasta is where we left I-5 and headed north up highway 97 toward Klamath Falls, OR. Eventually, this is where we'd set up camp (KOA - Klamath Falls), but first we made a quick (2.5 hr roundtrip) detour to see Crater Lake.

The drive from Klamath Falls to Crater Lake is very pretty. The highway goes alongside Upper Klamath Lake, through a few farms, and then up the side of a mountain; all of it green and the last part covered in pine trees. It's a beautiful drive which ends in a breathtaking view of Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is the result of the eruption of Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago, which left a 2,000 ft. caldera that filled with water from rain and snow. It's a very unique lake and the views from the rim of the caldera have no comparison. Definitely a trip worth taking.

We walked along the rim trail for a while, trying not to get our feet wet in the snow, which was melting in the warm weather, causing puddles and mud everywhere. We didn't stay long and went back to set up camp and eat a tasty dinner before settling in for the night.

One interesting bit about our trip up north was the noticeable change in sunrise and sunset. It was June so I was used to long, sunny days, but further north the days are even longer. So when we finished dinner and started preparing for bed around 9pm, it was still light outside. But Erinn and I just played some card games for a while and went to bed early.

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