The first stop on our past Pacific North West road trip was at Crate Lake National Park in South Central Oregon. After a good solid 6 hours of driving from the San Francisco Bay Area, we arrived at Crater Lake in the late afternoon and I had visions a few hours of solid sunset landscape photography. As we pulled up to the Rim Village parking lot we were surprised to find it mostly empty. Leaving the car, we noticed why…a storm front was quickly approaching. Reaching the visitor’s center we heard the first crack of thunder. My wife and her aunt headed into the visitor center; me, I headed to the rim to check out h the storm front.
I found a nice clearing with a view of Wizard’s Island and part of the lake. An old log made a nice seat to sit and enjoy the view. Myself and another photographer settled in to try and capture a lightening strike using the old fashioned tools of patience, quick reflexes and burst mode. There wasn’t much around us except for some trees down slope and an old pine tree, standing by it’s lonesome, a few feet away. All of a sudden there was a flash from a bolt of lightening striking the ground about a quarter mile to my left with an almost instantaneous crash from the thunder. I instinctually looked to where the lightening had crashed and saw a puff of smoke risking as the top of a pine tree started to sway left, then right, and finally disappeared from view.
Damn! I just saw lightning knock over a tree!
The other photographer and I looked at each other and started to wonder if we had chosen a wise spot to photograph from. He hadn’t seen the tree fall, but I had. We were then gifted with more lightening strikes across the lake that I did manage to capture on film. The image above is lightening striking Hillman Peak. From this spot I was able to capture three lightening strikes across Crater Lake.
Later, as the rain started to come down, we jumped in the car and headed around the lake to the north entrance. After witnessing a few lightening strikes in the forest south of the lake, we pulled over the car on a turn out and I set myself up to try and capture a few more lightening strikes. Using a rain jacket as cover, I rolled down the window rested the lens on the top of the window and placed the rain jacket over the camera to keep it dry and to try and keep the rain out of the car. Within a few minutes I had captured two more lightening strikes but decided it was in the best interests of my lens and the interior of the car to roll up the window and continue on.
Within the course of our two hours at crater lake during this storm, we must have experienced more than 30 lightening strikes. As far as I know, none of them started any forest fires.
The only mistake I made on this day was not going out and buying a lottery ticket after seeing lightening knock over a pine tree…
(Make sure to click through on the above photos to see the entire collection.)