Belly of an Erupted Volcano

Crater Lake, Oregon

How did a mountain become a lake? A massive volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago left a deep basin in place where a mountain peak once stood. Centuries of rain and snow filled the basin forming a deep blue lake whose waters are of unmatched color and clarity. It is the deepest lake in the US. Crater Lake’s purity makes it an indicator of human-induced change. Park aquatic biologists discovered that moss beds encircling the lake and Wizard Island may way 50 times more than the rest of the lakes living matter.

The Klamath hold the Lake sacred, believing it to be the crossroads of the Spirit of Above (Skell)—a spirit of peace and goodness—and the Spirit of Below (Llao)—a spirit of fire, darkness and terror.  The Klamath believe that a battle between these two created the Lake when after defeating the evil Llao, Skell collapsed the mountain on his portal to this world and covered it with clear water as a sign of everlasting peace.  Skell cast Llao’s limbs into the Lake and tricked the water animals, which were faithful to Llao, into devouring them.  But when the animals reached Llao’s head they recognized it as their master and would not touch it.  It can still be seen today as a lone, steep cinder cone rising from the Lake’s waters.  It’s known as Wizard Island, and Llao’s spirit is still said to make its home there. In other words, the Klamath’s version of the Devil lives in Crater Lake.

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