Seattle was great and all, but a breath of fresh air is what I was really after – the wind in my hair, the smell of sunshine in the morning – or something like that anyway. So I went on a few adventures to satiate that need. Each one could easily have it’s own blog post, but for everyone’s sake I’ll cram them all in here.
Bayview State Park (so it begins)
And on the fifth day (of the week) we journeyed North toward the land of the not-quite Americans: Canada. Except we didn’t quite make it that far. We stayed the night in a quaint little park town called Bay View, situated somewhere between Everett and Bellingham on Padilla Bay. The cabins were rustic one room shanties with four beds apiece, but we managed. In truth a hammock would have suited me just fine.
We wasted some time on the beach before turning in for a bonfire, where we proceeded to piddle around being a little too warm or a little too cold before turning in for bed. I probably had a few too many hot dogs and marshmallows for my own good, but there it is.
One of my favorite pictures of this trip came at about 1:30am when Stephen and I stumbled around in the dark trying to find a cool spot for a long exposure on the beach. I’d say we had a lucky stumble.
The next morning we took the long way back home hitting all of the restaurants, ferries, and cool bridges on the way. One beautiful spot we came across was deception pass. I don’t really have a fear of heights, in fact I may even have an attraction to them, but boy does this bridge play with the eyes. I felt every foot of elevation walking across this one with only a thigh-high rail to hold me back.
Oregon, my Love
Maybe it’s too early to judge, as my time in Oregon is limited to a single day’s hike, but I think it’s at least safe to say that I have a crush on this hike. Daniel and I stole a car (actually it was just David’s car), and drove down to the Columbia River Gorge just over the Washington border and into Oregon. About half an hour out we started seeing staggering Basalt cliffs covered in vegetation and waterfalls flowing like endless rain into a paper cup. I nearly wrecked the car from excitement. We parked at the Eagle Creek Trailhead and walked 6 miles of the trail before turning around and walking all the way back. In that 6 miles, we saw over 20 (count ’em, 20!) high caliber waterfalls. The trees sagged with the weight of their moss, and the river roared down below us. Everything was mystical and magical in just the right way.
I could go into details of each waterfall, tell you all about my treacherous journeys down to the river searching for the perfect shot, but I think I’ll just leave you with the pictures. They say enough.
The Big Kahuna – Mt. Rainier
We wanted to climb it. More specifically we wanted to hike to Camp Muir, the base camp for people attempting to summit. Getting to Muir though still meant a 4 mile hike, in snow, with an elevation gain of nearly a mile. That’s a 25% grade in case you were wondering. So, we did our research, rented snowshoes, threw together a backpack and went on our way.
We also rented a sweet cabin for a couple nights, because who doesn’t love hot tubs!
I was a little intimidated when we first arrived at the trailhead. At the base of the mountain the weather was nice, and the ground was not covered in snow. Twenty minutes of driving up the mountain and we realized the hike might be a little different. Paradise, the resort/trailhead, was covered in 15ft of snow. Wowee.
But with snowshoes on feet and ski poles in hand, we started up the hill. (That is, after I nagged everyone to turn around and wait for me to get a group pic).
There’s not much to say about dawn on a snowy mountain besides it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
As we sloughed up the mountain, the sun beat down relentlessly. We were grateful at first, but only later did we realize the err of our ways. Two coats of sunscreen were no match for fierce snow reflection. I managed to sear off the underside of my nose, and I’m still pulling dead skin from the insides of my ears.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘That mountain doesn’t look all that tall.’ I had the same thought, but as we went up and up and up, the mountain never seemed to get any smaller.
Finally we made it to Camp Muir, a smattering of little stone structures partially hidden under lots of snow. We joined the crowd of exhausted bodies at the top and hunkered down for a little food before heading back down.
The experienced and adventurous hikers brought snow skis with them. We were not those hikers. We came down the mountain the same way we came up: the hard way. A couple more hours of hole punching and knee grinding later and we were back on solid ground once again, amidst the horde of mid-day tourists looking for a little fun in the snow and a nice family photo-op.
Hike hard and walk lightly,