I had mixed feelings about my sunrise at Crater. On the one hand, there were no clouds at all in the sky which made this a less than stellar sunrise. On the other, it gave me a perfect sky for my efforts a few hours before.
After finishing up the star shots I hiked out of the crater at about 2:00 AM. I'm sure those who read the previous post about my trek down are wondering how hard it was to hike out. I would say it rivaled several of my snowshoeing hikes from last winter. I was huffing, puffing and sweating profusely at the top. But it wasn't until I reached the top that I began to believe I was going to make it without incident, so I was motivated on the way up. I may have had a slightly faster pace than I normally would have.
My planned sleeping arrangements for the night was on a camping cot. Another surprise about the area is it's at about 8000' and there was snow on much of the ground. So at two in the morning I found myself driving around the crater in search of someplace to pull off and catch a few hours before sunrise. I had spoken to the rangers earlier in the day and knew that camping by the crater was not allowed, but they also mentioned that they didn't patrol it at night so as long as I got up before sunrise, I would be fine. I found an area along the rim with several cars pulled off the road and joined them. Made a quick makeshift bed in the back of the Escape I was driving and the next thing I remember is the alarm waking me at 5:00.
Rushing back to the crater, I hit the first pull off I came too. I knew approximately that I wanted to be on the west side of the crater because there were no clouds in the sky and so the sun creeping over the edge might be dramatic. Also, this would put the volcanic cinder cone known as Wizards Island in the foreground. This ended up playing out about as well as possible. Unlike most pull offs around the park, this one did not offer a direct vantage to the crater and I had to hike up a short hill. At the top was a great vantage of the island with the sun coming up behind. The only problem with it was I had to get in front of the trees to get a clear shot which meant walking down the embankment which continued to steepen the further you went until it became a cliff like most of the crater walls. I found a good compromise between acceptable clearing and the point of no return on a 2 foot rock with the dirt around me at about a 45 degree angle. It was pretty and the location was amazing, but if there were clouds this shot would have been unbelievable.