Crater Lake is such an incredibly beautiful experience that is hard to beat. Your eyes and soul will be satisfied staring at the royal blue of that lake and you’ll find yourself telling everyone you know just how amazing that color is exactly. But, if you’re in the area you definitely don’t want to miss the Umpqua National forest. Follow scenic route 138 and you can spend a day or two marveling at least six really amazing waterfalls all just a short distance from each other. Neither of these falls get a lot of publicity so you might have them pretty much to yourself which to me is a huge plus after the crowds at Crater Lake. ( More on Crater Lake here: https://vikinggirladventures.com/2019/09/15/crater-lake/ )
We stopped at Clearwater Falls first. I couldn’t help but just sit for a while, letting the little droplets splash me, while I watched the water gushing over the top and playfully encircle and dance around the moss covered rocks.

The mosses, liverworts and hornworts (relatives of moss) at Clearwater falls are pretty exceptional in the fact that they can dry out completely and then come back to life when introduced to moisture again.
If you climb up to the top of the waterfall you’ll get to see this playground below.

The water is crystal clear and I could spend hours balancing over the many large logs zigzagging their way across.

The forest is worth a little hike too. Quiet and secluded.

Whitehorse falls is about 5 miles from Clearwater falls. It’s not impressive in height but it has a nice pool where you can swim and many logs to climb. The water here is also completely clear and so inviting.

You don’t have to climb any fences, there’s a nice deck you can walk up to to get a great view of this waterfall. I shouldn’t have either, but I like to get close and get my hands and feet wet.

This waterfall is right next to the parking lot and does not require any walking so it’s an easy stop for anyone.

A few things…
-first and most important, do not forget, bring deep woods mosquito repellent. Trust me you wont regret it!
-bring a picnic. There are picnic tables and restrooms and either location couldn’t be any prettier.
-As you follow route 138, Clearwater falls is by mile marker 69 and Whitehorse is only a few miles after it.

The Magic Whispers of an Old Tree

Redwoods National and State Park

Have you ever laid your hand on
the bark of a tree and in that moment felt it’s warmth?
Climbed up so high you got dizzy looking down?
Then sat on a steady branch keeping your arms wrapped around the trunk holding on tight?
And then, looking out at the forest, at the whole world from way up there…
You become
One with the trees
Listening to their sounds 
Deep in the woods 
The swaying, the cracking, the leaves in the wind.  You close your eyes and loosen your grip 
Tune in and there 
You hear it
The stories of long ago 
The scents of earth, the beams of light, the soulless finding refuge in the old, the strong, the trustful.  
Here is peace. 
Here is forever.
And here is always. Hiding deep inside you, deep inside the tree, deep inside this Earth. 

Ah… the Redwoods where my soul is happy.
The land of majestic gentle coastal giants that leave you in awe. These trees, some of the tallest in the world, are not only amazing to look at, they’re also masters of cleaning our environment! As a matter of fact, they sequester 3 times as much carbon as any other ecosystem.
Walking through this forest you easily forget you’re in the 21st century and submerge yourself in it’s intense history and the art of the shapes and stances of each tree, all so different and all so magnificent. You can’t help but feel the calmness and serenity there.

This forest was once over 2,000,000 acres. After decades of logging starting in the 1800’s over 90% of this forest was cut down. This stopped in 1968 when it was finally made into a national park. Today the Redwoods national and state park stand at only 133,000 acres. But luckily there’s still a lot to see and you can still go far into the forest. (For how to help see below.)

Big Tree is worth a stop…

As you’re driving through you’ll get to see stunning views of the ocean

A few things…
-bring food and water.
-wear comfortable clothes and shoes. (not flipflops like me!!) You’ll be climbing and walking a lot.
-take your time.
-and please, take out what you bring in. We, sadly, saw a lot of trash thrown carelessly by the side of the road.

If you’d like to help the Redwoods, then this is a great place to start https://www.savetheredwoods.org/

_ _ _
I’m not much for doing crowded touristy stuff especially in an area like this, but we decided to stop and visit Paul Bunyan (can’t miss him) to go for a tram ride and visit their store for souvenirs. Worth it? It was a nice experience, but not something I need to do more than once. I do want to go back to the Redwoods though many more times.

Crater Lake

A mesmerizing clear deep royal blue makes you stop in your tracks as you make it to the rim of this volcano and look into the lake. The stunning blue left me breathless… I had seen plenty of photos but none compared to the real thing. At almost 2000 feet deep Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America. There are no inlets, all the water comes from snow and rain, and there’s plenty of it there. The area receives about 500 inches of snow a year!

Because the lake only gets it’s water from rain and snow, nothing is carried into it like mineral deposits for example, which makes it one of the cleanest lakes in the world. Visitors can swim at a designated area only and if you do get ready to be cold! There was still snow in June. There’s also a short boat tour where they tell you a bit about how the lake was formed. Make reservations for this and be ready for a steep hike to the water.
A quick stop at the lodge afterwards will warm you up.

Crater Lake fills a caldera that was formed by the collapse of a volcano called Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago. The collapse devastated a huge area and spread ashes as far as Central Canada. It took between 700 to 1500 years for rain and snow to melt and create the lake we see today. The small island, called Wizards Island, within the caldera is created by a cinder cone.

Just rest your eyes on it, feel and absorb everything around you.

I’m a bit of a bird lover so I was really hoping to spot a Clark’s Nutcracker. You should never feed wildlife but I had read it was okay to share a few (raw) nuts with these guys.

I don’t let just anybody hold my hand but this guy insisted!

We entered the Crater Lake area from the south. I highly recommend stopping everywhere you can. You’ll get to see the Rogue river and learn more of the incredible history of the area.

These rocky spires below are a result of thousands of years of steam and ash erosion.

Stop and explore everywhere you can. You wont get disappointed.

Make sure you stop at Union Creek Historic District. A must try is the Huckleberry ice cream at the ice cream shop. And Beckie’s has tasty Huckleberry soda and a huge variety of homemade pie. The general store was almost out of bug spray. Make sure you bring your own.

A few suggestions…
– first and very importantly, do not forget this, bring deep woods mosquito repellent. We didn’t get bit by the lake, but everywhere we stopped prior to it, we were swarmed!
– bring food and drinks.
– be ready for cold weather. Snow in June.
– look here for camping https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/119140 it’s biking / walking distance from the small town and right on the creek. Or this one which is right next to the first https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/rogue-siskiyou/recarea/?recid=69828
– lodge and cabins at Union Creek https://www.unioncreekoregon.com/

The best way to end an adventurous day is sitting by the fire with some good tequila and telling stories until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore. Pack those bags, tent/RV and go!

Shh… Secrets…

Like a thick blanket
her words comfort me
on a chilly night
the secrets entrusted to me,
warm.

I found them! Secret Swing two and three. It was a fun adventure treasure hunting around La Jolla for these. I wonder if there are more… I found the single-rope swing first. The view from it is dreamy… mesmerizing and the constant rhythmic crashing of the waves is a gentle reminder to take the time to listen and unwind. I could spend a whole day there swinging back and forth, hanging from that palm tree, leaning back and looking up at the fronds for a few moments and then resting my eyes on the deep blue of the ocean.
This swing is a little hard to get to. Not only that, expect to get muddy. Really muddy. The rope under my feet in the picture below leads down to the water. Grab it and keep going (you’ll get muddier).

No secrets could be told on a swing like this because there’s only room for one so it’s a good time to quietly think of those secrets only you know… deep down. A moment alone is so rare in our non stop lives.
Are you good at keeping secrets? I try my best to never tell anyone anything, but just this once… okay second time (that is if you’ve read my first “Secret” post https://vikinggirladventures.com/2019/06/10/secrets/) I might give a hint or two as to where these can be found.

Secret Swing 3…

I found Swing 3 by accident as I was walking by the edge of the cliffs and happened to see something moving out of the corner of my eye. We found a little path and followed it to where it was. This one is more secluded and untouched than the other two. It’s hidden in a small groove of trees, but you can still see the ocean from it.

If you were to visit Sunny Jim’s cave in La Jolla, which is a fun experience, you could go out and around the building to the back and find a little path leading towards the La Jolla Shores beach. The view from this path is pretty amazing!

There you might see that bench in the picture below and those stairs, climb up… and then that opening in the bushes will appear. Something cool might be found at the end of that path.

You could follow the main path a little further and if you did, you’d see this bridge. You could look down and spot a path… between the trees, and find a rope that leads to a little treasure.

Above I mentioned following this rope all the way down to the shore. Below are a few photos from there close to sunset.
I did talk about getting muddy above, didn’t I? At least there’s a (muddy) ladder that helps a little.

A little mud is nothing when you get to see the (culprit) perfect little waterfall dripping softly and that view up close. The water is clear and beautiful, but there’s no sand so if you want to swim bring good water shoes.

Have fun hunting for secrets…

Bean Hollow Beach

There are so many incredible beaches to visit when driving up Pacific Coast Hwy. Choosing which to stop at is not exactly easy, but we decided to leave the beautiful sandy beaches alone this time and aim for the more rocky and different ones, and I’m glad we did, because Bean Hollow really stood out.

Appearing to be marching onto the shores of Bean Hollow from the depths of the ocean these cute green haired inhabitants makes you feel like you’re visiting another universe.

But what makes the beach really different is the Tafoni. Tafoni is a weathering of stone that creates the formations in the photos below. These windblown rocks have amazing patterns and holes and if you spend a little time staring at them you can find many different images in them, like dragons…

The tide pools are a lot of fun to explore. You can find sea urchins, crabs, anemones and small fish. If possible, try to time your visit during low tide.

The rocks can be pretty slippery, so wear good shoes or go barefoot.

This beach is about 20 minutes south of Half Moon Bay, and near Pescadero and it’s surrounding farmland where you’ll see rows after rows of artichoke. Be sure to stop in town for some fresh artichoke and artichoke bread.

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