Mazama Yamma Mama!
Wizard Island in Crater Lake, formed by a secondary eruption
Ahh...I could sing the praises of the southern cascades till they erode away...which won't
be for a long time in this volcanic and tectonicaly active region. I have the softest spot
in my cycling heart for these mountains, the first mountains i ever crossed, at McKenzie
Pass (surely an ambitious debut!!) The Oregon cascades are warmer and friendlier appearing
than their snow and glacier capped brethren in Washington. They are also narrower: more like
a ridge, but for all that, more like i think mountains should be.
Or should be if they didn't blow their stacks, as these peaks are prone to do. Mazama blew its
stack thousands of years ago in a blast and spectacle that must have put Mt. St Helens to
shame; native American legends in the region still tell stories of the smoke, fire and noise.
In the caldera formed crater lake; whose waters are so pure that even fish can't live here;
or so say the park rangers. There is a road that loops around the entire caldera; even a road
race for the sadists in all of us. The waters here are blue and the sky clear; but under
other skies the waters can be a steel grey, and in the small bays a bluish green.
You can walk down to the water's edge and take a boat tour. I have been told it is quite
impressive because, looking down from our perch, we underestimate just how high those rock
walls are (2000 feet!). The boat snoops around Wizard Island, and phantom ship; and you feel
the lake breezes as well. You can see the sharp winds on the waters surface from far above.
Often invisible in the lake mists, this small volcanic feature is called Phantom Ship.
Where does the water of crater lake go? There is no outlet, but geologists believe the waters
seep into the fractured rocks below and feed the headwaters of the Rogue River, which flows to
the Oregon Coast at Gold Beach.