Nature Notes

Volume VI No. 2 - July, 1933

The Lake And Moods Of May
By David LeC. Evans, Ranger-Naturalist

March, it is said, comes in like a lion and departs like a lamb, but at Crater this year it has continued like the proverbial lion until the last few days of may. These last few days have brought out the fact that nowhere can spring be more glorious than up here above the snowline.

This combination of perdition and heaven, climatically speaking, has revealed the lake in two very distinctive moods. The numerous unfortunates who arrived before this return of spring were lucky to see the lake at all, for as it snowed and rained, banks of vapor and cloud were whipped down into the huge caldron, hiding from view the then turbulent waters of the lake. Let us consider the description of this phase sufficient, despite its briefness. It is the stormy and disappointing mood.

On the other had, those fortunate who have been viewing the lake during this last week of May, have departed with a picture never to be forgotten. Standing on the top of a fifteen foot snowbank, they gaze, in the brilliant sunlight, into a gigantic blue mirror, set in sloping frame of glistening white, spotted with tints of green, red and brown. There are two Wizard Islands, a duo of Hillman Peaks, massive Llao Rock stands majestically, capped with a white, musing over its reflection in the blue waters at its base. Not a breath of air stirs, and all is silence except for the distant 'swish' of sliding snow. Only on such a day could Joaquin Miller have called this the "Silent Sea".

As interesting as the lake, itself, are the snowbanks at the water's edge and their reflections. It takes little imagination to see that the base of Dutton Cliff a series of very ornate arrows, unfortunately, not pointing towards true north but due east.....


A perfect butterfly of the swallow tail variety, perfect in every detail, spends the entire day, floating easterly below Cloudcap, but is ever stationary.....

Our Wineglass of the eastern end of the lake stand erect, and then "bottoms up" on the blue-clothed table.....

For a person of geological mind, the imagination runs rife. A great creature of the Mesozoic period is seen flying south, an Ichthyosaur (what a name!) with a triangular head and great expanse of wing.

A gigantic fish of ancient vintage (Paleozoic) pursues friend Pterosaur, but can never cut down that constant gap that separates them.....

The ornate arrows suggest the early Indian visitors to Crater Lake, as does the upper half of a war shield of very intricate and detailed design.

In conclusion, such stillness leas to that common question, "What, the lake is never coated over with ice? How very strange," Invariably the answer is concluded "- - - but occasionally there is a slush ice." We could give as the reason for this lack of ice two factors: (1) In a deep lake the later at the surface, as it approaches the freezing point become heavier and sinks. The warmer water beneath rises and this continuous vertical circulation assists in preventing the formation of ice at the surface; and (2) the ever present winter storms keep the surface in such a state of agitation, that ice cannot form. This last week in may has made the latter pint a strong one, for during this cold week, still weather, a definite slush ice has been observed on the surface, in the early morning.

Red Snow
By E. L. Clark, Ranger Naturalist

The blood-red snow fields of the Arctic, the red snow storms of tradition, and the red snows of the high Cordillera have made their appearance at Crater Lake.

On July 3 pink splotches on the snow covering the pumice flat in front of the Lodge. July 5 similar areas were noted on the snow partially blanketing the lava flows near the Witch's Pool on Wizard Island. July 8 the phenomena was noted on the high slopes of Castle Crest, the western portion of Garfield Peak.

Scraping away the upper portions of these pink splotches, one finds the coloration intensified. A great abundance of tiny red spheres will be fond as the coloring matter when examined under a high magnification. These red spherical masses are algae, known to scientists as Protococcus nivalis, meaning earliest snow-dwelling plant.

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