2010 Volvo XC60 Road Trip (part III)
July 06, 2010
Made it! But only after a nauseating, easterly romp from Mendocino on otherwise gorgeous Highway 20. It was a long haul day (about 450 miles), but if you've never seen Crater Lake in Southern Oregon, it truly is a sight to behold.
Unfortunately, my daughter thought she'd start to pass the time (over 8 hours) by reading a book in the back seat on this road. Bad idea, we know, and the reason for this amazingly crisp photo is that I'm in the Volvo while my wife is holding my daughter's hair back on the side of the road. Nice.
But once we reached Interstate-5, all was good and it was essentially a straight shot to the border.
Once we arrived at Crater Lake, the reports that there was snow on the ground in the summer held true. We overheard a local say that there are only two seasons in Crater Lake: Winter and August. The area gets over 500 inches of snow each year and some of the roads around the Rim drive were still closed.
Once the snow removal begins in earnest in May/June, the crews are happy if they can clear a quarter-mile of road with a 30-foot snow drift each day. A 30-foot wide x 30-foot tall x 1,320-foot long section of road amounts to almost 1.2 million cubic feet of snow.
But here's the reason Crater Lake is so special...(click on the image to expand)
The lake is the deepest in No. America at almost 2,000-feet deep, and so blue you'd swear your eyes are playing tricks on you. At 6-miles across, the lake was formed after the volcano that once was Mount Mazama fell in on itself (into its depleted magma pool that could no longer support the mountain) hundreds of thousands of years ago. What once was a 14,000-foot peak was swallowed up by the earth and now the highest point on the steep-sided rim is only 8,159 feet, or about a mile below the original height of the peak. I know, hard to imagine.
The small island in Crater Lake (Wizard Island) continued to erupt for some time, literally coating the basin of Mt. Mazama's caldera with lava that is believed to have sealed bottom, allowing it to be more water tight. With so much snow fall, it was only a matter of time (okay, a long time) before the caldera filled with water. There's no inlet nor outlet, so what water is in the lake is just snow melt and rain water. Supposedly, it's the cleanest water in North America, which is why you can't put a personal boat in it--that and there's really no safe place to enter the lake with the sides so steep. You can hike down to the water, though.
There's really only one place to stay at the Lake, but the recently refirbished, historic Lodge is exactly what you'd expect: cozy, friendly, the rooms are a little tight, but the view is spectacular.
The last fuel log showed a 546-mile run at 21.2 mpg, which seems to be pretty consistent. I will say that the advantages of the turbo in this altitude are obvious. Other vehicles struggle to get up the hills and the Volvo XC60 T6 doesn't care one bit.
Next stop, Sun River, OR.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 18,848 miles