I have always been rather fond of Halloween, being a holiday to celebrate monsters and the like. It is Halloween all year in my sketchbook, which I populate with strange beasts. Here is a depiction of the Midgard Serpent, the monstrous snake that encircles the Earth, according to Norse myth. He is Thor's arch-rival, and the two shall battle to the death at Ragnarok, the battle to end the world. (And no, it won't happen in 2012.)
Crater Lake remains an awe-inspiring place, whether you are seeing it for the first or the five-hundredth time. Visually spectacular, scientifically unique, sacred from many perspectives. Prompts contemplation among Native Americans on the mystic powers of the waters, and contemplation among white men on the presence of fish, variation in lake level, and whether the lake freezes. Being a ranger and interpreter, it has been my charge to share the wonders of Crater Lake and the surrounding old-growth forest with the world, through boat tours, trolley tours, guided hikes, talks from the rim, roving interpretation, and campfire presentations.
My iconic ranger photo atop Mount Scott, the highest point in the park, at almost 9,000 feet. The Klamath call the mountain Muckwulx, “a place where chiefs sleep.” To them, it is a place for vision quests. To tourists, it is the only place where one might fit the entire lake into a camera's viewfinder.
A boat tour, with me at front, visits the waterfalls in Chaski Bay.
The sunset from atop Watchman peak.
The plunge into Crater Lake. The water is *$@#($#*( cold! (I understand if you consider me to be cheating by wearing a wet suit, but for me the suit makes a bit of swimming possible. Without it, one jumps into the lake, and then right back out.)
I managed to get out for one day with the trail crew. It was a rewarding day of clearing for the new Pleakney Falls trail (apologies if I mispelled the name). Turning the volcanic earth of Mt Mazama into a trail, especially one accessible to people with disabilities, is no easy task. We used leverage, technique, and a bit of brute force to clear massive rocks from our path. It is quite rewarding to see a rock go crashing down the hill, after much effort by rock bar and muscle.
Towards the end of my season, we had summer weather in late September (clear and sunny), producing astounding reflections on the lake (to which my photography does not do justice; nonetheless, the view from the Phantom Ship Overlook.)
And thus I conclude my reflections.
My thanks to the unnamed tourists who shot the various photos of me. (The scenery photos are by yours truly, and the trail photos are by Kara Reinhardt.)
In other events, coming up is 10/10/10, a day to take action for a better world, by participating in a local project to mitigate global warming. Find one near you. (I will be aiding the harvest of Wealth Underground Farm in Portland.)
I have now moved to new locations, and so shall my blog. Coming soon... scary drawings, and notes on scarier world events.
My time at Crater Lake has come to an end, once again. I do not know whether I will return, and do not know what I am doing next. I was in a similar situation previous two times I made my exodus from this grand park. There is some sadness every time I turn in my badge and radio, and a combination of reflecting on the past and contemplating the future.
This season has been short (only a little over three months) but busy. Especially since August, I have been going almost non-stop. Among my many projects in this short time: the first-ever Crater Lake National Park staff art show. (First-ever as far as I know, anyway.)
I took the lead in organizing, with instrumental guidance and assistance from our dynamo of an Education Coordinator, Linda Hilligoss. Twelve staff artists displayed work in the show. Over 600 park visitors attended, by a very conservative estimate. Our efforts were documented in the Herald and News of Klamath Falls.
I was simultaneously honored to have my own work on display, and impressed that there was so much artistic talent in our staff. Once I announced my intentions across park headquarters, the artists started coming out of the woodwork, with captivating images to show me. To name a few: Fire Management Officer Greg Funderburk had mystical-looking photos of Crater Lake in the winter, with Wizard Island covered in snow and the lake shrouded in fog. Ranger Dave Harrison had skillfully rendered watercolor paintings of scenes from the coast. Lesley McClintock, an art teacher from California who volunteered this summer as a ranger at Crater Lake, had accurate and attractive illustrations of the park's geologic features and wildlife (including the spotted owl on our NPS flyer above; the Raven over Crater Lake is by yours truly.) I hope that the art show becomes an annual tradition.
Ross Wood Studlar and his artwork
My personal Artist Statement for this show:
“At Crater Lake, one is awed by the forces of nature. Volcanoes, glaciers, earthquakes, blizzards, lightning storms and forest fires have all left their mark upon this landscape, and made it what it is today. The mythic beasts of my illustrations interpret the powers of nature metaphorically. I take some inspiration from Native American Legends, as native peoples are great interpreters of earth's might and wonder. On display is the three-part “Llao vs Skell,” an interpretation of the Klamath Legend on how Crater Lake formed. Also there are scenes from my book The Raven and The Crayfish. It is an original story that re-envisions the mythic guardian of Crater Lake. My “Thunderbird Over Crater Lake” is inspired by a lightning storm which sent I and a boat full of tourists to hide in the shelter on Wizard Island. “The Unlucky Pika” is a tribute to the cute but heat-intolerant member of the rabbit family. With Global Warming, the Pika's survival is in question. My drawings are pen-and-ink or scratchboard, which I scan and modify digitally.”
"Thunderbird Over Crater Lake"
Coming up, some reflections on the season as a whole, to conclude my recent string of Crater Lake-related posts.
I am a storyteller. I draw comics featuring robots, frogs, turtles, guinea pigs, and giant monsters. I am a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, where I tell Native American legends and stories from science and history. I am a graduate of The Center for Cartoon Studies (Vermont), and Denison University (Ohio). My most valuable educational experience was The Homestead at Denison University.
This blog, updated 1-4 times per month, contains some of my comics and drawings, as well as stories and essays on comics, books, films, science fiction, politics, environmental issues, sustainability, outdoor life, wildlife, survival, and anything else that I feel inspired to draw or write about.