We were originally scheduled for 1 night at Crater Lake National Park on our way to Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, a case of the plague had been tracked down to the campground we had reservations at and it was going to be closed down for several days, including when we were supposed to be there. Making it the second national park we were going to have to miss from our trip. This time around though we were able to change our reservations and add another night camping, turning a very fast 1 night layover into a 2 night stay with a full day of exploring the park.
After getting to the park, checking in at the camp ground and finding our spot we set up camp. This was the fourth time we had done this over our road trip and we had it down pat. After a fast set up we headed back to check out the very small village and pick up a couple staples for dinner. Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed so we weren’t able to pick up a Junior Ranger Book or come up with a game plan for the next day. So instead we returned to the campsite for dinner and bed.
The next morning we headed out to the visitor’s center first thing to discuss some hiking options with them and of course to pick up the ever important Junior Ranger book. We decided to hike up Garfield Peak, which is a hike that leaves from the Crater Lake Lodge and goes up to the top of Garfield Peak, providing great views along the way and especially at the top. My Sidekick did great. She hiked the whole way up on her own! The plan was then to have a snack and I would carry her down; but there was a little too much wind for that. So we hiked down until we found a good snack spot and then loaded her up and headed down the rest of the hill. – I’m not what one might call ‘in shape’, but I did an okay job carrying her so we could do long her hikes; and was happy to do so. But slinging a 60 pound pack with a 4 year old in it up on my 5’-3” frame shoulders is one of the least graceful things acts to be witnessed; so it’s better done in a quiet secluded area anyhow. Much better than at the top of a scenic peak with bystanders.
After our hike we were on a mission to finish our Junior Ranger book! So we went back to the car to make a quick lunch and then went to the visitor’s center for a Junior Ranger activity. My Sidekick made a post card of everything she had just seen on our perfect hike! We then went back to the campsite for a little rest and to work on the rest of the Junior Ranger book – this is very important work we had to do! Before dinner we stopped back by the visitor center so my Sidekick could be sworn in as a Junior Ranger for the 5th time this summer.
For dinner we decided on a lodge picnic – If you have ever visited a national park then you have seen and know about the beautiful historic lodges they are known for. They really are part of the visit. And if you have ever stayed in the lodge you know the best part is hanging out in the great room after a day of fresh air and hiking. That’s largely something that has to be given up when camping instead of staying at the lodge. The other thing that you sacrifice, if you are camping as a means of traveling, is dinner in the lodge restaurant. Well this was going to be our last national park stop for the trip and I was really craving a little bit of that lodge-ness. So we made our dinner at the campsite; packed it in containers and went up to the lodge. We found a cozy spot with two oversized chairs facing out a huge window overlooking an amazing view. It was perfect. We ordered drinks and had our picnic dinner and after dinner someone even got ice cream for being such a good hiker. It was a perfect piece of lodge life.
After a wonderful dinner and dessert we headed back to the campsite for bed. All was well in the world!
We bundled up head to toe and buried ourselves back in our sleeping bags for the night. On the previous night I had slept horribly because I was cold, but my Sidekick made it through the night like a champ. I wasn’t worried about our second night; thinking that after a full day of our tent sitting in the sun it would have collected enough heat to get us through the night. That was until 4:00 am when someone was tapping on my sleeping bag because she was cold. From buried deep within my sleeping bag I instructed her to get back in her sleeping bag and that she would be okay. (Not an award winning parenting moment). Then at 6:00 am the tap was back and this time I let her in. And in case you are asking yourself, “No, I do not have a two person sleeping bag”. I have a one person cocoon style sleeping bag. At least we were zipped in so tight I didn’t have to worry about us not fitting on my narrow one person cot. For the next 3 hours my cot and sleeping bag were apparently built for 2 people. The fact that neither of us were very warm in our separate sleeping bags partially made up for the complete discomfort I felt during those three hours.
After my Sidekick decided to join the rest of the world at 9:00 am we got up, had a hot breakfast, and packed up our site for the last night. We then headed south to a hotel and 100 degree temperatures. I had was pretty sure I would be looking back on that cool weather longingly in the very near future. Not the sleeping bag made for two part, but the weather!