CRATER LAKE — Adventure on the Oregon Coast abounds, but for those recreation-seekers willing to drive a bit further inland there’s a slew of winter fun to be had.
A popular summertime destination, Crater Lake is worth the winter trip just to see it coated in white.
The park has massive walls of snow that serve as barriers when visitors drive through the entrance to Oregon’s only national park.
More than 7,000 years ago Mount Mazama volcano erupted. The crater left behind filled with rain and snowmelt, creating the beloved park we have today.
I’ve been to Crater Lake before in the summer, but in the winter it’s completely transformed, unrecognizable from the sunny, tourist-filled place I’d been to before.
This story is not about the breathtaking moment of seeing the lake for the first time. It was actually too snowy to even see down below. Instead it’s about the trials and tribulations of a second-time cross country skier.
I decided to test my skills cross country skiing, opting out of the slow, arduous activity that is snowshoeing.
Leaving the parking lot, skiers glided past the ambling snowshoers headed to a separate, more-jarring trail.
The trail I chose was a 10-mile round trip route which led to the edge of a drop-off. The purpose of this trail wasn’t to get to the lake, but rather to enjoy the pristine landscape in solitude. Or in my case with a couple friends.
The snow was wet when we first started out, causing it to stick to the bottom of the ridged skis.
Gliding up the sloping trail required me to frequently stop and scrape the bottom of my skis to avoid sticking to the snow and moving like molasses.
My trip something like this:
Glide, slog, scrape, glide …
The scraping required a certain type of deft maneuvering that I was incapable of doing without falling over.
On one particular scraping occasion, I attempted to scrape my ski while balancing on one leg and bending the other in a contortion previously not in my repertoire.
I fell, landing on my pole and leaving my backside with a generous bruise.
Eventually I got the whole scraping thing down and at that point it was time to turn back.
The five minutes of effortless flying down the track made all the uphill stopping and scraping worth it.
I squatted down, tucked my poles into my armpits and flew forward.
Despite the falling snow which blinded me to the point of closing my eyes, it was thrilling.
When I was finally able to open my snow-crusted eyelids, fresh powder was on the ground, adding a light layer to the already snow-capped trees.
The fresh snow made for a quicker journey back. The stopping and scraping was substantially less.
Eventually my journey ended, leaving me cold, tired and ready for a nap. But I’d do it all again just to fly downhill.