Posted by: David Vernon | February 19, 2010

For the stories

Crazy Old Man of Crater LakeI’m absolutely sure that I started this “For the Stories” concept for photos exactly like this one. So without further adieu…

Let me tell this story.

You have to understand… my wife and parents were at Crater Lake on July 8 (in 2006) – and the park had really only been wide open for a few days. There was still a lot of snow and it is still considered VERY EARLY in the season up there. That’s life in the mountains of Oregon.

Crater Lake is very unique. Generous amounts of winter snow (over 500 inches annually on average)  and some rain supply the lake with water which is a good thing because there are no inlets (and no outlets) from the lake. The remnants of a collapsed volcanic crater, what’s left is the seventh deepest lake in the world (1,943′) and the deepest in the United States and only evaporation and seepage prevent the lake from becoming any deeper. (Thanks to the US Park Service for those facts).

We hiked down to Cleetwood Cove, where they run the boat tours of the lake. The boat tours weren’t running yet. They apparently have to do a number of things from a certification standpoint at the beginning of the season so there would be no boat rides. On to plan B.

My folks, my wife and I were down on the docks – and some folks from Iowa City, Iowa, came down with their two sons – probably aged 10 and 8. The two kids wanted to jump in the lake – they’d been in the lake at Yellowstone and at Jenny Lake in the Tetons. It was a thing with them. But – and that’s a big but – Crater Lake is COLD. All that melted snow combined with an elevation (at the lake level) of over 6,000 feet above sea level -well everything about the place is cold and crisp (except for the views which are hot, hot, hot). In the end, the kids walked in from the shoreline – they did not take the plunge.

My wife and my dad are both “theatre” people. My mom and I are both techies – backstage people – out of the limelight kinda folks. You can guess from that description who decided to take the kid’s action one step further. My wife was first. She removed some of her clothes, sucked it up and jumped in. I captured the whole thing marvelously in a sequence of shots that shall remain far from the Internets under the penalty of death. She lasted two or three minutes before the cold started to get to her but she was a trooper. My dad obviously has little shame – well like I said – he’s an actor; he doesn’t shy away from “immersing” himself – in a role. And before you could say Dustin Hoffman he was on his way in. My ‘ol Nikon D70 could do 3 frames per second so I got three shots and the middle one fit the bill.  I’m glad to say he also lasted a few minutes before hypothermia set in and we had to get the helicopter rescue. Just kidding. He did great.

Mom and I remained perfectly dry – and warm. Interestingly, I included a print of this piece in the Hidden Corporate Talent Art Show at The Peoria Art Guild back in 2007. He came out for the show and got a kick out of standing in front of the image telling people his own version of the story. I’m sure there was no embellishing.

Until the next story.



  1. What a great shot of someone who knows how to live. I’m like you, behind the camera guy. Thanks for sharing this story. Hope you don’t mind if I use this idea to tell some of my own stories?


  2. Dang!! I didn’t know the wife jumped in too!!!???!!! I was just gonna tell you to bring ’em on, until you got to the penalty part. haha!

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