Crater Lake Circumnavigation

April 22-24, 1994

At 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 22, Jean Ridone and I (Bill Montgomery) put on our skis and enormous packs and began the 32-mile circumnavigation of Crater Lake. The ranger we checked in with had recommended that we ski counterclockwise around the Lake, because the road from the lodge to the Watchman had already been plowed. Both Jean and I had already skied that section many times, so we followed the ranger’s advice and started on the steepest section first. Fortunately, the weather was ideal — partly sunny, warm but not hot. Our first day was mostly climbing up (about 1000 ft. net elevation gain). Not until the end of the day did we actually begin to see the Lake, but even the non-Lake vistas were beautiful. (One thing I realized at the end of the trip is that there isn’t a clearcut anywhere in sight of the Lake.) We set up camp near Cloudcap, in sight of Mt. Scott and with a tremendous view of the Lake. Our tough first day was rewarded with a beautiful sunset and then a full moon that cast a magical light on the Lake. Wizard Island looked particularly ghostly.

Saturday was much easier — mostly downhill or level — but so much of the road had melted out that we were taking our skis off every 10 or 20 minutes. The snowpack was a mere 55 inches, compared with a whopping 200 plus at the same time last year. But we couldn’t complain because we had more mild, partly sunny weather … until the end of the day when the expected snowstorm finally arrived. I found us a very well protected campsite under some huge firs and we managed to make ourselves cozy despite the sudden winter conditions. We had the gourmet highlight of the trip that evening when my chicken noodle soup pot slid into the needle-covered snow. We rescued what we could, reheated it and had chicken needle soup, which was marvelously aromatic and flavorful.

Sunday morning we awoke to about four inches of new snow. The storm was gone, but the sun had not yet broken through the morning greyness. We decided to postpone breakfast until we’d skied a while, hoping that the sun would soon break through. Fortunately it did, and it stayed out for the rest of our trip. When we reached the road there was just enough snow to ski back most of the way, but unfortunately Jean’s skis seemed to stick no matter what wax he put on. So he walked and I skied. We reached the lodge at about 2:00 p.m., whereupon I skied down through the woods to the headquarters to get my car. We were both so proud of ourselves, since neither of us had done this trip before. Jean had an extra excuse to be proud — he was about to be 73! Pretty good for a youngster!

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