Well, this was a first. I've been to Crater Lake several times in my life, the most memorable up to now was the year my family camped here, and on the way from the bathroom to our campsite I ran into a mother bear and cub. A long detour later, I finally made it back to camp.
Today there were no bears in sight (except for the carved ones in the gift shop). But we did have an adventure of a different kind: hiking the trail from the rim down to the lakeshore. Our friends had never been to Crater Lake, and this was the perfect chance to get out of the smoke of the Sisters fires, and do some sightseeing and hiking.
What can I say but "Wow!" You know all those professional photos you see of Crater Lake, the ones with the impossible blue color? These were taken from this trail. You don't get the deep blue from the rim, unless conditions are perfect. But as you walk down the trail, the closer you get to the lake, the deeper the color becomes.
You also see... very clearly... how very pure the water is. There's one place on the rocky shore where people stand to jump into the water, and from that spot it looks like you're making a long leap down. But you're not: the water is so clear, you can't tell the surface from the bottom of the lake. A few times, this clarity fooled my digital camera, keeping it from finding the correct focus.
It's a tough walk back out, but the views are worth every single step.