“First There Is A Mountain Then There Is No Mountain, Then There Is.”

Crater Lake In Summer | Photo by theatlasheart.com

Are you old enough or schooled in the music of the 1960s enough to recognize these words? They begin a 1968 song by the recording artist Donovan (actually Donovan Leitch). You might be wondering what this musical reference has to do with this column, so I will not make you wait for the answer. The song mentions a mountain that is there and then it’s not. Just listen.

That should sound familiar. Here in Oregon there was a mountain that is no more. It was called Mt. Manzama and it is now a giant hole in the ground that contains water and we call it Crater Lake.

Mt. Mazama Painting
Painting Of Mt. Manama Eruption | Image by oregonencyclopedia.org

This story begins about 7,700 years ago when Mt. Mazama was a 12,000 ft. mountain towering over the southern Oregon landscape. According to CraterLakeInstitute.com the eruption began by “blowing out about 50 km3 (12 mi.3) of magma as pyroclastic materials (mostly rhyodacite pumice and fine ash) in at most a few days. The volcanic ash covered parts of the northwestern states to as far as central Canada. Rare particles of Mazama ash have been found in ancient ice from Greenland.The airfall pumice and ash covered a total surface area of more than 2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 mi2) at least 1 mm (fraction of an inch) thick, and no less than 13,000 km2 (5,000 mi2) more than 15 cm (6 in) thick. A volume of 42-54 km3 (10-13 mi3) of the mountaintop disappeared.”

Caldera Formtion
Eruption That Formed The Caldera | Image by geo.auth.gr

That eruption produced the large caldera which is now partially filled with fresh water and is listed as the deepest lake in the United States at 1,949 feet. The deepest lake in the world is Lake Beikal in southern Russia with a depth measured at 5,387 feet. When Mt. Mazama erupted, the magma chamber partly emptied, the mountain collapsed inward, then the caldera collected water over the years. There have been other previous eruptions over many years, but the one that created Crater Lake was the greatest and last one.

Crater Lake Lodge
Crater Lake Lodge | Photo by l.pinlmg.com

Now we have Crater Lake National Park which is visited by people from not only Oregon, but from all over the world. It is also the site of Crater Lake Lodge which was built in 1915. According to CraterLakeLodges.com “.. the historic Crater Lake Lodge welcomes you with a boldly stated fireplace in the Great Hall. Following extensive renovations in 1995, the lodge also offers an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1920s and immerses visitors in its rustic charm. Each room provides the ideal hotel standards of privacy in the heart of Crater Lake national Park.The lodge is open seasonally from late-May until mid-October.”

Crater Lake Skiing
Crater Lake Ski Route Map | image by ski mountaineer.com

In addition, the winter season provides a perfect location for cross-country skiing around the caldera. According to CraterLakeInstitute.com “For those desiring a a winter backcountry adventure in a spectacular setting, skiing around Crater Lake on the unplowed Rim Drive is an unforgettable experience. The trip is thirty miles long and typically requires three or four days, longer on snowshoes. Although a trip in either direction is possible, most people start at Rim Village and and proceed clockwise around the lake to Park Headquarters, with a net loss of 700 feet of elevation. For groups with only one car, the Raven Trail offers a connection between Park Headquarters and Rim Village.”

Crater Lake In Winter
Crater Lake In Winter | Photo by earthporm.com

After reading about it now I’m sure that, especially if you haven’t visited Crater Lake yet, you will want to take the time to go to see it for yourself.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Tim Chuey is a Member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association and has been Awarded Seals of Approval for television weathercasting from both organizations.

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