Mount Mazama amassed over a 400,000 year period as a part of the Cascade Range volcanic arc. Somewhere around 7,700 years ago, the top of the volcano collapsed inward, creating a 655 meter deep caldera. A lake partly fills this caldera, a lake untouched by river water ingress; a lake comprised over hundreds of years solely of melting snowfall and rain; a lake hidden at the top of the world, nestled in the bowed head of a once eruptive volcano. It’s pristine tranquility belies its violent origin, and that, I think, is the most staggering knowledge of all as I look out at the purest blue waters: how duality exists in every living thing and non, how closely entwined are struggle and peace.

Bill first showed me Crater Lake seven years ago. I carried the joy of my daughter inside of me, and I stood breathless before this natural marvel. I remember with giddy delight discovering snow even in July. We made a video on Bill’s iPhone—he had purchased one, the first one ever there was, in Medford that weekend—for our daughter. We spoke about wanting to show this place to her one day. We spoke to her, the girl we did not yet fully know, the Katie of the future. It was a promise to show her all the beauty the world offers.



Above: pregnant with baby Kate
Below: Seven years later, there are two of them!





Looking out at Wizard Island


Katie worked on various activities to earn a Junior Ranger badge and pin.




We loved this National Park program, and we cannot wait for opportunities to earn more!


I am making a funny face because I am picking seeds out of my teeth with my tongue, but I love Katie’s diligence in this picture. After lunch, we worked on her Junior Ranger activity booklet. She needed to complete a certain number of pages in order to earn her pin.


Eric enjoyed his booklet, too, but his age did not qualify him for the program. He could write his name on his own, though!



We cobbled together lunch from my “car store” that we packed even before leaving Temecula. We had Clif bars and Go-Go Squeeze and some fruity bunnies and trail mixes. Came in handy!


SNOW! While Katie wanted to work on her Junior Ranger activities, Eric and I got into a legit snowball fight. He laughed so much! Later, Katie joined us…and what did we play? Any guesses? That’s right: we acted out several scenes from Frozen. Of course. We’re on a mountain. With snow.


Balance beam


Eric commented on the view as we wound back down the mountain. Snow and lava rock is a stunning combination. We had listened to a ranger talk and learned about some of the special geography of the area, and so we got to review what we learned here.

We happened to make this trip on our way out of Ashland and onward to northern Oregon. From here, we would pit-stop in Eugene for a single evening and then continue on the next day to Portland for a few days. Crater Lake happened to be one of my go-to visualizations during natural childbirth with my children. I remember summoning its serenity during my labor for Katie just a few months after seeing it for the first time. To bring my children, along with my husband, here this summer was surreal, special, and full-circle all at once. I will never tire of adventuring with these three!