Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mount Scott and Garfield Peak

Dinner is just something you do before dessert. And dessert is so enjoyable, (mocha chocolate chip ice cream, in particular) one helping is just not enough, especially after skimping on dinner to leave extra room for ice cream, pie, and/or cake. So, invariably, I find myself standing in the dessert line several times to indulge my inner  candy monster.  

Sounds like a dare!
The same principle holds true in hiking: If you like hiking to the top of a mountain with fantastic views, then two mountains will be twice the fun! And three mountains would be thrice the pleasure, and four times would be frice the joy. At least  that's how the logic went after a few beers the night before.

Sometimes beer is involved here, too
At the 5:30 AM alarm clock cuss-out, doubts about this venture crept into my pre-coffee mind. But fortunately, I really didn't wake up or become alert until I was halfway on the drive to Crater Lake National Park; by that time I was committed to the hike.

Mount Scott
Crater Lake was formed when the Mount Mazama blew its top with the resultant crater becoming the Crater Lake bowl. Mount Scott is just off the lake's rim and is a mountain in its own right as opposed to the lakeside peaks which are just high points on the jagged rim.  A 2.5 mile trail climbs the 1,100 feet to the top of  the 8,929 foot high cone, which happens to be the highest point in Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake, from Mount Scott
As relentless as a teenager arguing with her parents, the trail headed uphill, switchbacking to and fro up Mount Scott. The views gradually evolved and Crater Lake was the star of the show. From anywhere else in the park, Crater Lake is "just" a lake but Mt. Scott provides a view of the volcano aspect of the lake and one can readily see the truncated remains of Mount Mazama.

This is an edgy trail, literally
Eventually, the trail tops out and provides a relatively level walk on Scott's rim before ending at the actual summit and lookout. The Pole Creek Fire to north was dumping a prodigious amount of smoke into the air and while the views south and east were occluded, the skies were fresh and smoke free in the park. Despite the haze, the views nonetheless were impressive.

Up, up, up on the Garfield Peak Trail

After descending from Mount Scott, a short drive on the rim road brought me to Rim Village, lunch, and an after-lunch start on the Garfield Peak Trail. Similar to Mount Scott, the climb up to the top of Garfiled is short and sweet, gaining 950 feet in less than 2 miles.  

Castle Crest
The Garfield Peak Trail is a lot more scenic than the Mount Scott Trail, in my humble opinion. The trail is raw and edgy, hugging Crater Lake's rim as it sashays to and fro on rugged Castle Crest. The crest sports lots of rock towers, pinnacles, turrets, and a good old-fashioned avalanche slope or two. And always, the views of Crater Lake and its amazing blue waters astound.

Crater Lake, from Garfield Peak
It was a pleasant relief to stroll out onto the flat and sandy summit of Garfield Peak and admire the birds-eye view of Crater Lake with pointy Mount Thielsen looming beyond the lake's opposite rim. It was getting to be late afternoon and from the west, a very pronounced storm system was arriving.  

Crater Lake and a change in the weather
Since I am somewhat averse to being struck by the predicted lightning, I departed the summit in a hurry. Since it was getting dark, and my legs were tired, and because of the lightning, it was decided to end the hiking at a mere two peaks. It's not very often  I pass up an extra helping of dessert.

For more pictures of this outing, please visit the Flickr album.

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