Number 109

I walked up the sandy slope of the six-mile wide caldera wondering what that famous shade of blue would look like in person. When I reached the top of the rock wall, I found it to be as blue as every photograph I’ve seen. And now I can cross Number 109 from my list, “See Crater Lake.” 

It’s been a while since I’ve really talked about why I’m doing all this, what this blog is about, and why at thirty-two I decided to leave everything and spend a major chunk of my savings travelling around America. The past fourteen months have been all about one thing, crossing as much from my life list as possible. 

I started a Life List when I was about twenty and spent year after year doing nothing but adding to it. After a while, the list just made me feel anxious and guilty. It was a constant reminder that I was wasting my youth. It took years to finally get fed up enough to do something about it. 

Even though the words “Life List” are in this blog’s title, it’s easy to forget that this isn’t just a backpacking blog. Not everything on my list involves backpacking, but most of it does, and I’m still young and healthy enough to do these things now. I mean, Number 34, “Find the exact point where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet and eat a burrito in each state,” I can do that when I’m old. 

It is always satisfying to cross something off the list. I guess I’m a collector of sorts, although I’ve never understood the compulsion some people have to collect related trinkets to put on shelves. I collect experiences. They don’t clutter attics, closets, or basements, and to me, are more rewarding than a shelf full of troll dolls, bobble heads, or NKOTB trading cards... That's right, NKOTB. 

This latest addition to my collection formed when the Mount Mazama volcano, erupted 7,700 years ago. The eruption ejected 12 cubic miles of magma and left a hollow cavity underground that collapsed into a bowl shape. Over time, the crater filled with nearly 5 trillion gallons of water, up to 1,900 feet deep, solely from rain and snowmelt. 

Since there are no tributaries, rivers, or streams, flowing into the crater, the water is some of the purest and clearest in North America. The water is so clear, in fact, that you can look down into it and see 144 feet below the surface. 

After walking around on the steep walls of the caldera, I hiked to Garfield Peak for a better view. I almost left after that, to go to my next destination, but then I remembered that I wasn't in a hurry. I sat by the lake, made dinner, read my book, wrote in my journal, and waited for sunset. It was worth the wait. And it was a great reminder that I have undoubtedly made up for any wasted youth.

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A Backpacker's Life List by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.