Mother Rucker Dave Gebauer four-wheeled his way up to Crater Lake, just above the Carson Pass Trailhead during the Fourth of July Weekend.
“I’ve been wanting to go for several years and I had no idea the road conditions would be as steep and rocky as they were, but I packed up my rucksack with all of my staples and sustainment needs,” Gebauer said.
Originally planning on hiking his way up to the lake, as it was just a 3-mile trip one way, Dave reconsidered after speaking with a man driving down the hill and a fellow hiker.
“The road to Crater Lake is like life – it’s rough and rocky in some parts, but once you reach the top, you are amazed by the beauty of nature,” Gebauer said. “When you have time to look around and you’re not holding on for dear life, you take in the waterfalls all around, which feed the lake with snowmelt and these spectacular boulders and cliffs; you are literally going right up the side of the mountain, climbing up Hope Valley for about 6,000- to 9,000-foot elevation.”
Dave decided to break trail down to the water, a more challenging feat due to the rough terrain and boulders.
“Two-thirds of the way up, you can see Hope Valley, the mountains around Blue Lakes and everything along the side of the valley where we have ‘Mother-Rucked’ before,” Dave said. “When you finally get to the top, you see the lake nestled in along massive cliffs. There’s only shore access in one little spot, so that’s where I stopped.”
After he got settled, Dave pulled his collapsible 2-pound backpacker’s chair out of his rucksack for a lunch and coffee break, enjoyed while taking in the sights at Crater Lake.
“This is an amazing location, but you better know what you’re doing if you drive in to the lake … and even hiking the road in – it’s real, hardcore four-wheel driving, taking 40 minutes to travel just 3 miles in. It’s the roughest 3 miles I’ve ever driven on. And once you start driving up, there’s no turning back. You have no choice but to keep going forward. But people love this sport and it’s a great place for true wilderness campers. The only sounds you’ll hear are the birds, the wind and the splashing of the waterfalls.”
Crater Lake has a peaceful, yet wild, desolate appeal to remote wilderness campers, cross-country hikers and backpackers, fishermen, snowshoers, sightseers and deer hunters in the fall. A wilderness permit is not required for the area, although you must carry an active, valid campfire permit if you wish to have a fire and only may have a campfire when the Toiyabe-Humboldt National Forest does not have active fire restrictions.
California’s Crater Lake is located in Alpine County (96150) in Hope Valley of the Toiyabe-Humboldt National Forest; follow Highway 88 about 3 miles past the Carson Pass Trailhead and look carefully for unmarked Alpine Mine Road. There, you will find the trailhead and can follow the road up to Crater Lake, either by hiking or four-wheel driving.
Join “Mother Ruckers” Dave Gebauer and Sarah Spinetta, along with other guests, as they traverse through the natural beauty of Amador and Calaveras counties. Be sure to watch the accompanying Interactive News video available on Sarah Spinetta’s YouTube channel featuring Dave visiting the backcountry Crater Lake. Look out for the next installment of “Mother Ruckers” to see what adventures we get up to.