Saturday, August 6, 2011

A hike to Crater Lake - wildflowers and monsoons

Friends from Flagstaff visited us over the weekend, and since all are avid hikers, I suggested we do the hike to Crater Lake, as wildflowers were likely to be peaking, and the trail - while high at its starting elevation - isn't particularly steep or strenuous.  It's about 11.5 miles RT.

Here are some photos from the hike:

A view of Engineer Mountain, as seen from Andrews Lake, where the trailhead for Crater Lake begins.  Monsoon storms were predicted, so we tried to get an early start.  

Cloud reflections in the lake - this is a 3-part vertically-oriented pano

Along the trail at one of the many vantage points of Engineer.  The wildflowers were incredible on this trip. Here, Orange Sneezeweed brightens up this open meadow section of the trail.

Higher up, a field of Elegant Death Camas (so named because they are very poisonous and many early settlers died from eating their roots), some purple daisies and Rosy Paintbrush make up the majority of wildflowers.

About 1/4 mile from the lake, a marshy field is filled with Elephant's Head flowers, which are members of the Snapdragon family.  

Crater Lake with Twilight Peak in the background.  Approximate elevation here is 11,300'.

The gang:  Radka (visiting from Slovakia), Eva, David and Wayne

Heading back, this is what the skies looked like about 30 min after we left the lake.  

Looking back along the trail, about 1 3/4 miles from the trailhead, as the trail leaves a wooded section...

...and this is what it looked like ahead.  

Taken about 3 min. before it started raining on us and the camera went bye-bye in the pack.  The rain started out as a light sprinkle, progressing to sleet and then hail that felt like getting hit with BB's.  There was lightning a few miles away, and thankfully by this time, we were in the final, forested switchback section of the trail.  We ended up running the last mile in the icy, cold rain, and probably not my preference after having just hiked 10 miles, but hey - it's an adventure!  I only slipped and fell in the mud once, and my trusty REI rain jacket at least protected my backpack and camera from getting soaked. 


  1. It is cool to see your hike, especially so well photographed. Engineer Mtn is known to me, but I've never been. Is it a 14-thousander?

  2. Bet you can't wait to get to the easel after this...what a great day! Bragging rights on the hike for sure.

  3. Looks like a day well spent. I see a couple of nice hiking trails -- you may want to add them to the list?

  4. We took a friend on that ride for her birthday a few years ago. It clouded up and then snowed on us (mid-Sept). We had to start a campfire to warm up as we had lunch. Such a gorgeous trail, though, it is worth it.

  5. Crater Lake is such a mystical place and you've captured that!

  6. Casey - thanks; I'm glad you enjoy the photos - I do the best I can with lighting conditions and hand-held shots on these hikes. Engineer is actually just a wee bit under 13K - ~12,900. Non-technical climb with some serious exposure, though.

    Hi Cindy - I got some most excellent photos for painting references, which is always a bonus on these hikes. Hiking in the San Juans during monsoon season is always adventure, for sure :).

    Dan - I scored many other photos I didn't post of great reference material. And, as always, I was thinking on the hike: "Dan would love this!"

  7. Hi LeAnn - thanks!

    Sarah - snow in Sept, huh? Probably not that common, but I can see it happening, especially at these elevations. It's definitely one of the more scenic trails in the area, for sure.

    Hi Page - thank you so much for dropping by and commenting :). I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. The high altitude lakes in the San Juans are really something else, aren't they? Never easy to get to, but well worth the time.


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...