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Crater Lake lay before them, a tranquil pane of various blue shades surrounded by barren rocks, pine forest, and, to the north, a nearly lifeless desert formed by the pumice and ash spewed by the Mount Mazama volcano’s eruption over seven thousand years before.

While Peter and the rest of the group set up a makeshift camp at Cleetwood Cove on the lake’s northern edge, Frankie rented out a small motor boat from Crater Lake Lodge. It took her almost an hour to pilot it across the six-mile diameter of the lake. She passed to the south of Wizard Island, one of only two rocky cones and by far the largest. By the time she rounded the other, Merriam Cone, and puttered into Cleetwood Cove, the afternoon sun was just starting to take on a golden hue.

“Took you long enough,” B...

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