Subject: Re: Dear Vratislav.........
Dear Amelia,

You wrote:

>I am Amelia Hesson, I am new to this list but not to travel and I know some
>people on this list! I am going to Sequoia National Park AND Kings Canyon as
>well as Lassen, Crater Lake, Oregon Coast, Redwood National Park and The
>Avenue of the Giants.

I've been to Crater Lake and the Redwood Parks. I don't know when you're going, but be careful to dress warmly at night --especially in Crater Lake. Wear good hiking shoes for the Redwood Forests (sandals beg for sprained ankles). I best remember Crater Lake because it was so -- massive. It's so much to take in just in one viewing. If you make it on a sunny day, the water is a mirror of the sky, if not a deeper blue. Imagine the sky at dusk as the sun sinks below the horizon and the sky has that navy blue band along the top, while orange and yellow remnants tinge the bottom? Think about the thin band in between those colors -- it's a deep green-blue, a color that you don't think you'll see replicated anywhere. Well, Crater Lake certainly does its best to do just that.

The crater itself is so deep and wide - you feel like you are just looking at a circular mountain chain. Near all of the observation points (mainly around the visitor's center), you can easily see the volcanic cones covered in trees actually in the lake. There is a group of islands called the Phantom Ship I believe, because sometimes they seem to just appear out of nowhere and disappear just as easily. There is a lookout tower that is a short hike above the area with parking for cars, which is well worth the 10-15 minutes it takes to walk to pumice trail. From that vantage point, you can see the surrounding mountain chains, in Oregon, as well as California -- including peaks like Mt. Shasta (if I remember correctly). There is a map showing you all of these things up there.

Also, drive around the rim. There is a road that takes you on a scenic tour of the entire mountain crater, with different perspectives of the lake. You can see some pretty interesting animals, flowers and trees, as well as how the volcanic explosion shaped the geography of the area. If you are planning on doing some camping, you can camp at Crater Lake as well. Just be prepared for super-cold weather at night. I'm from South Carolina, so anything below fifty-five seems really cold, but I can assure you, the wind that zooms across the mountain continually will have you jumping into a warm sleeping bag or pulling a warm coat around your body and head.

The Redwoods are nothing short of spectacular. If you could get a panoramic camera of some sort for those, it would be neat to see how much of their height you can capture. You can easily see their girth with a regular camera, but I know I would have loved to have had my Advantix there, just so I could snag a couple of vertical shots as well. Crater Lake would be a nice place for a panoramic as well.

Have a great trip!

Mandy Huffman