August 9, 2005

Looking Down Into the Sky

While I’m posting newsy stuff over at Instapundit I thought I’d post something else over here.

Take a look at this picture.

Looking Down Into the Sky.jpg

That blue stuff there at the top looks like sky, but it isn't. It’s water. The camera is pointed down, not up.

Crater Lake 2.jpg

This is Crater Lake in Central Oregon, where my wife I went a couple of weekends ago. I should have posted the photos then when they were fresh, but I didn’t get around to it for whatever reason.

Crater Lake 3.jpg

The rim of the lake is 9,000 feet above sea level. The surface of the water is 7,000 feet above sea level. That means those cliffs are 2,000 feet high. And the water is 2,000 feet deep. There is no inflow or outflow. All the water is rain water. And it’s the clearest water on the face of the Earth. (That powdery stuff you see near the shore is tree pollen.)

Crater Lake 1.jpg

The lake fills the volcanic crater (actually, the proper term is caldera) of what was once the enormous Mount Mazama before the mountain literally collapsed into the earth during a volcanic eruption. A new younger volcano, Wizard Island, rises above the surface.

When the U.S. government started minting new quarters, one new design for each of the 50 states, I figured the Oregon Trail would be our claim to fame. Instead they chose the scene you see here. Take a look at the spare change in your pocket (if you’re an American) and you may find it.

Underwater Cliff.jpg

The rim of the lake is so steep there is only one trail down to a tiny ledge near the surface. When you stand on that ledge and look down into the water, the sheer cliff resumes almost immediately and plunges into the depths. Looking straight down into the water from here can actually provoke a fear of heights. I don’t know anywhere else in the world where that’s possible.

Underwater Rock.jpg

The water is ice cold and mostly lifeless. Nevertheless, some people like to dive here (with a wet suit, of course) so they can look at the geology. Some like to lay on their backs underwater at night and look at the stars in absolute stillness and silence.

Sixty Feet Under.jpg

Here is the one place I found where I could actually see the bottom. Those rocks are sixty feet under the water. I assure you they are bigger than they appear.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 9, 2005 1:51 PM
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