Crater Lake. That's all that was running through our minds while trying to fall asleep last night. I truly felt that overwhelming level of excitement you feel as a kid on Christmas eve. As I tossed and turned I got to thinking about just how epic the milky way will look over the crater and I finally dozed off.
When we woke up we instantly got to packing the car and were back on the road. This National park has been on the top of our list of places to visit for the past 5 or 6 years and in just a few hours we would finally be able to see it!
About two hours into our drive a massive bridge appeared out of the forest road we were driving on and right away we knew we had to stop to get some epic quadcopter footage. As I flew the drone out towards the bridge we finally got to see just how high it was and we got the bright idea to fly the drone under the bridge. I was a bit nervous at first but built up the courage and dove the drone under one of the arches getting some interesting footage. After that confidence booster I did a few fly arounds of Jake walking on the bridge and then packed up and we were on our way again. Hopefully we can get a short video of the drone footage out within a few days of our return so keep a look out on our instagram @fstopseattle.
After about three and a half hours we finally reached the southern park entrance and quickly made our way up to the rim of the caldera. The 20 mile road that runs across the rim gives tourists an awe inspiring view of the park in all directions and as you can imagine there was no shortage of good angles to shoot from. It took us about 20 minutes but we finally found a location that we both liked and set up 4 time lapses. While our cameras were running we started to think about where we would able to camp for the night so once the cameras wrapped up we headed to a visitor center to ask a park worker.
Jake jumped out of the car at our first stop and went up to ask a park worker if we would be able to camp along the ridge of the lake. The worker then took a second to think and lazily said "yeah I don't see why not." Im not really sure why it would take a park worker a second to think about that so needless to say we weren't impressed and headed down to another park hub where I got out and asked a different worker if we could indeed camp along the ridge. I was also given a slow and lazy response of "Yeah I think that should be ok." At that point we gave up asking and decided to just camp at one of the other designated areas. Here's a little fun fact for anyone else going to visit and camp at the lake. You are in fact NOT allowed to camp along the ridge line unless you have a camping permit. So a big thank you goes out to our two fine park employees.
As night time crept in we set up a couple of time lapses at the northern end of the lake looking southwest over the lake to capture the sun going down behind the western most peak. Once those wrapped up we cooked our hearty dinner of Hungry Man Soup and by the time we finished up the stars were out in full force. We started up two time lapses of the milky way and then used our other full frame camera to shoot some long exposure selfies for instagram and our own amusement.
At around midnight we wrapped everything up and headed out to a "camp site" (parking lot for trail hikers) near the northern entrance of the park. When we got there I realized that I had left my pillow on the top of the car when we were packing up.. smooth move.. Having a pillow is must while camping just ask Jake, he is currently using a folded up towel. I quickly hopped back into the subaru and headed 10 miles back to where we were. The whole drive back I was panicking that someone had driven over it but lucky for me no one had! I grabbed my pillow and headed back to get some shut eye.
Text By: James Whelan
Photos By: Jake Magraw