Thursday, August 15, 2013

Road Trip, Day 1: Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier, pt 1

I'm going a little out of chronological order - to include the cities at the end of the trip and focus on the national parks instead.

L arrived in Portland at 9:30am, and after a little map consulting, we headed to Mt St Helens, despite the fact that Portland looked overcast and cloudy. We absolutely learned a lesson that day - just because there are clouds overhead does not mean that there are clouds at your destination. We were rewarded with a gorgeous view of Mt. St. Helens upon arrival:

Mt St Helens

The weather was glorious even if the breeze was a bit biting to this Midwesterner who is used to hot and humid summers. I was too stubborn to put on a polartec just yet, so I relished the small chill and shivered happily.

From there, we got back on the road and headed towards Mt. Rainier.  The park is beautiful ad we completely lucked out on finding a cute little camping spot, with two logs rolled up to the fire pit and a gorgeously tree providing cover for our small little tent. After setting up camp, we headed out for a drive - having marked out our map with the pre-reserached points that we knew we WANTED to hit and leaving ourselves open to stopping whenever.

Mt Rainier National Park

One of of our first planned stops was Christine Falls. The falls drop about 100 feet but it has a lovely stone bridge framing the view. Not much of a hike at all, but plenty worth the stop.  From there, we headed towards Paradise - one of the major stops in the park.  Accidentally, we ended up on the one way loop past the beautiful wildflowers, gloriously rich green meadows and stunning views of all other peaks. Mt Rainier, as it often does, was hiding. It did however peek out to say hello and DAMN is that mountain tall. We didn't look far enough up but the clouds parted just enough to be awed by the majesty. We're hoping for a clear day or some clear moments tomorrow to get really awed by the majesty of Mt Rainier.

Christine Falls

Mt Rainier Peeking Through

Sitting at Cougar Rock, our campground and listening to the vague sound of the Nisqually River in the distance and the pops and sparks of our campfire - I remember just why I love national parks. Not only for their sheer beauty and what we have protected for generations to come but the peacefulness that nature brings. I may be typing this on my iPad instead of a journal, but I'm loving being parted from technology a little bit.

Mt Rainier National Park

On the docket for Day 2 - Sunrise, Ohanapecosh and any other interesting points inbetween. Most of the hikes we're considering are short jaunts. Not because of laziness but because there is SO much to see here. The park is quite large and you have to kind of drive the lop because you can't drive through the middle. I wonder if we'll see any hikers attempting the 14, 0000+ foot summit.

All photos from the entire trip can be found here.

All photos from Mt Rainier National Park can be found here - I am uploading them day by day, so keep checking back for more.

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