Actually, before we got to Smith Rock, we made a substantial detour to Crater Lake National Park, but felt it warrants a post all to itself. I never got a chance to go while living in Portland, my own fault of course.  We were really lucky when our couchsurfer host told us that despite the snow the roads were totally paved and he’d just been up a few days ago.  It’s a magnificently deep lake and one of the treasures of Oregon I was always told. (Kiernan)

Somewhere halfway between Medford and Smith Rock we saw signs for the park, but had also been warned that the North Rim would be closed until mid-May. We took a chance on the south rim and was surprised to see little pockets of snow next to the road… then absolutely shocked to find ploughed walls of snow about 2 meters high by the time we got to the rim. Well, we could not go all the way down to Crater Lake, but there is a visitor center and rim walkway from which you can see the lake and the valley it rests in!

The snow on the far bank looks like it's floating on top of the water. The Lake isn't entirely iced over though.
The snow on the far bank looks like it’s floating on top of the water. The Lake isn’t entirely iced over though.

This was the very first time in my whole life that I saw packed snow that thickly… or any other snow than just fluffy flurries in the rain like we did in Knoxville. As soon as there was even a tiny bit of space to pull over, Kiernan let me off to stomp & play in the snow. 🙂 I got my hands thoroughly stiff with cold trying to roll snow balls & make a snow angel. It was awe-some! Kiernan got just as playful and mischievous with his snow balls (show off!) 🙂

Getting ready to chuck a snowball at Kiernan
Getting ready to chuck a snowball at Kiernan
Super cold, but worth it!
Super cold, but worth it!

Despite the snow melting onto the road we never hit any ice & could drive all the way to the rim – luckily. The view over Crater Lake was awe-inspiring; the air is so clear and clean up there, and the icy snow looked pure enough to eat. So we did! We scooped up some snow white snow (hehe…) and had a chew at it until we could swallow the frigid water.  It wasn’t very cold, and there was an eerie silence to the snowy landscape.  The best part is the lake itself inside the old volcanoes’ caldera.  A gorgeous hue of blue you don’t normally see in nature, covered in a blanket of snow around the edges.  It felt pretty amazing that we made it all the way up there on the motorcycle despite 7 feet of snow around us.

Snowy forest

We only hung around for another half hour gazing out over the lake & snowed-in trees before shooting for the highway again taking the Umqua scenic highway out towards smith rock with a giddy south african behind me still excited about finally getting to see real snow.

-M & K