Monday, June 27, 2016

The Wild and Scenic Rogue River

Western Oregon is one of my favorite places on this planet. I cannot get enough of the lush greenery, raging rivers, abundant waterfalls, and hiking trails that wind through magical ancient forests. When we selected Prospect, Oregon, as the place we would stay for our Crater Lake visit, I had no idea we would be in the midst of such majestic beauty. Prospect is located on the Rogue River, known for its salmon runs, whitewater rafting, and rugged scenery and is one of the original eight rivers named in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.  Beginning near Crater Lake, the river flows about 215 miles in a generally westward direction from the Cascade Mountain Range to the Pacific Ocean.

From our RV Park, we were practically walking distance to the Rogue, and nearly everywhere we turned, we saw the river crashing through gorges, spilling over rocks, tumbling out of lava tubes, and swirling in ancient black rock lava beds, all surrounded by lush and beautiful trees, ferns, flowers, and moss. Hiking trails winding throughout the area allowed us to see and experience the river in even more detail. As often happens, our short visit here gave us just a taste of what the area is all about, and has been added to our list of places to come back to for an extended visit sometime in the future. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Crater Lake National Park

One of the rewards of living life on the road is finding ourselves in proximity to this country’s glorious National Parks. Sometimes they just happen to be “on the way” to somewhere we are headed; other times we only have to tweak our route just slightly to build in a visit. Such was the case with Crater Lake National Park. While it wasn’t on the most direct route to our eventual stopping place in Maine (come July), it was close enough to where we were staying in Redcrest, California that it was a short one day drive in more or less the right direction. We had planned a two night stay in Prospect Oregon, forty miles southwest of Crater Lake, then decided to extend it by one more day in order to take in more of the surrounding area.

Crater Lake was formed by a massive volcanic eruption 7700 years ago which left a deep basin in the place where a mountain peak once stood. Centuries of rain and snow filled the basin, forming a deep blue lake whose waters are of unmatched color and clarity. It is the deepest lake in the United States, measuring 1943 feet at the deepest point, and holds 4.9 trillion gallons of water. The great depths of this lake, and the fact that there are no streams or rivers feeding it, combine to create the deep beautiful blue color Crater Lake is so famous for.

As luck would have it, our visit coincided with a not so unusual mid-June snowstorm. It is typical for June weather here to alternate between sunny warm days, rain, and snow. (The week before and the week after we were there, were warm and sunny). Timing is everything…still, we were able to visit the park briefly before it started snowing and the lake became obscured by clouds. We will try to schedule a return visit later in the summer next time! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Redwood National Park

Of all the times we’ve come to Northern California, and stayed in Weott and Redcrest (which are in the heart of redwood country), this is the first time we actually made the trip further north to visit the Redwood National Park. We opted to visit the portion of the park that’s in the town of Orick, about 80-miles north of where we were staying, and home to one of three Visitors Centers in the park. We picked up a map and a couple of brochures and covered as much ground as possible over about five hours.

Stepping into the forest is like stepping back in time with old-growth trees that are centuries old, some even over 1000 years old. 133,000 acres of state and national parks comprised of temperate rain forests along the coast of Northern California all reside within Del Norte and Humboldt Counties. These parks protect 45% of all the remaining coast redwood old-growth forests, home to the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth.

It is hard to fathom that nearly 90% of the original old-growth forest was destroyed after many decades of unrestricted clear-cut logging (in 1850 redwood forest covered more than 2,000,000 acres of the California coast). I can’t understand how anyone could be in the presence of such majesty and have any desire other than to preserve and protect. Thanks to the serious efforts towards conservation began in the 1920’s by the Save-The-Redwoods League, and the eventual establishment of the National Park in 1968, we are able to bear witness to these gentle giants in what’s left of their natural environment. Here are some pictures from our much too short visit.