Yesterday was the best weather in a while, it would be the best day to visit Crater Lake, 80 miles, 1.5 hours away, to walk a little, take some pics, yet most of the trails and roads at Crater Lake remain snowed in. Instead, having enjoyed Lower Table Rock so much that I chose to visit its brother: Upper Table Rock.
Of the two, Upper Table is rated as a moderate hike whereas Lower Table is rated Easy. I would reverse those designations. Upper is a steady slope up 745 feet in 1.2 miles to the plateau at top, where you can hike between one and three miles on paths, through fields of flowers and black volcanic rock, whereas Lower Trail is 774 feet in 1.3 miles up, but alternates steep inclines with flatter sections. The steepness challenged me more. Then again, I have been hiking every day, so perhaps I have become a tad stronger by week’s end.
Whereas the trail up at Lower Table had progressed through six climes of varying flowers, the way up at Upper Table rock was dominated by shades of purple. Possibly because, the trail was open and sunny until more wooded sections brought greater variety. including a few Red Bells.
Of the two, I prefer Upper Table, because it is larger, less disturbed, and less trampled than Lower Table. Recently, an article lamented the hordes of sight-seers crushing the flower bloom in the deserts further south. The consequences of heavy foot traffic were apparent at Upper Table Rock. The earth becomes compacted and barren on the trail – that is true of every trail. The area immediately around the trail at Upper Rock had been taken over by grasses and plants which can withstand foot traffic. Further away from the trail, native species prosper and also, small plants on the trail, protected from feet by sheltering rocks. People wandered off trail at Upper Table, visibly thinning the bloom near the entrance to the plateau. Further on, the fields were more lush.
The good weather brought many people out to see the annual spring bloom. When I addressed one man coming down as I was going up, “beautiful day.” He replied, “Yes, it is: six months sober today.” I met a couple from Wisconsin, full-timing in an RV. We shared favorite spots and recommendations with each other. A large group from New York having a picnic near the cliffs took an interest in me and offered a beer. And a local family conversed with me for over two miles. The child was pointing out her finds: a cougar track, elk tracks, snake holes, and fur left from a meal of squirrel. All in all, it was a wonderful day, but what I thought about afterwards was six-months sober.
The views are of Lower Table Rock and Mount McLoughlin.