Washington – Day 8 – Mt. Rainier

Rainier Valley

Day 7 was partially taken up with our descent from Lake of the Angels, partially taken up with our loitering at the trail head pondering what to do next and partially taken up driving toward Mt. Rainier.  We stopped off at a hotel along the way as it was suspected that accommodations nearer Mt. Rainier would get more sparse and more expensive.  The next day that suspicion was validated – everything near the park was sold out or very fancy.  This also made sense once we got into the park and saw just how busy it was by midday.

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier from the end of our hike.

We arrived at the White River entrance to Mt. Rainier around 8:30 and drove in.  The initial plan was to do two hikes, so starting at the northern end of the park, we went to the White River Campground to hike toward Rainier on the Glacier Basin Trail.  The trail is reportedly 7 miles round trip, but there wasn’t really an end destination, though looking it up on the map afterward, we went about 3.5 miles in, so I think we made it to the point we were supposed to.  Much of the hike was along the White River which was fed by glacier melt from the Emmons Glacier which is the largest in the lower 48 states.  We did see a team of five hiking along the glacier further up – and according to some person I overheard, hiking Rainier is relatively simple though being a multi-day event.
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Washington – Day 6 & 7 – Olympic National Park

Mt. Ellinor
View from Mt. Ellinor
Mountain Goat
Mr. Mountain Goat nestled into his rocky alcove hiding from the people.
Mountain Goat
Rock Licker

We actually got up early and left Aberdeen right around 7AM headed for the Mt. Ellinor trail head which we reached around 9:00.  I think there were two trail heads for Mt. Elinore and we were heading for the upper, which involved many miles of bumpy dirt road to access.  I have some philosophical thing against hiking past a trail head further in or up since it seems like an intentional deoptimization of the hike.

The upper trail was a 3.2 mile round trip with 2444′ of elevation gain.  We weren’t really carefully tracking elevation or trail distance, but we had made notes and looking back when writing I found it interesting to calculate the elevation ratios.  This one was a 3.46 to 1 ratio, which was notably steeper than the other climbs.

We knew there was a chance of seeing mountain goats, so we were asking people on the way up, (actually, Janet was asking people, I don’t talk to random strangers in the woods.) and the information was that there was one juvenile just over the peak.

When we got to top he was still there, nestled into a recess on the back side of the mountain, so we got to bag our first mountain goat sighting.  But then we hung around enough and he decided that we weren’t dangerous enough to prevent coming to the summit, so he did just that.  We stayed out of his way and let him stroll about licking the rocks for minerals just like the signs said they would.

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Washington – Day 5 – Olympic National Forest

Hydrangea

Because we stopped short of Olympic National Forest, we had to finish the drive up to Quinault first thing in the morning.  The first stop was a the USFS / NPS Recreation Information building where we got a map of the immediate area (not so much Olympic National Park as a whole) and some recommendations.  I think we told the ranger there we were looking for about 10 miles worth of hikes for the day and she recommended we try climbing Colonel Bob which is a mountain in the National Forrest.

We decided to take that part of her advice, but we mostly ignored the part where she told us to do that first and then do the shorter hikes if we were still up for it.  This was mainly because we were already near many of the shorter hikes while the Colonel Bob hike involved driving 20+ minutes or so back the way we had come in and would be leaving at the end of the day.

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Oregon – Day 4 – Oregon Coast

Day 4 entailed a lot of driving, with a few stops along the Oregon coast mixed in.  Our first attempt was a lighthouse very near Newport, but the line of cars just to get into the park was extending beyond visible range of the entrance so we took the hint from a few others in line, turned around and continued on.

Pacific City Dune
Pacific City Dune where you can also see the cars parked off on the sand.

The next stop was in Pacific City at a beach.  I’m not sure what the initial motivation for going to *that* beach was, but when we got there it seemed like the thing to do was drive down onto the sand.  Many vehicles, including a few cars were out there and we figured it must have been well enough packed sand to manage driving around.  I really should have given more though to what was going to happen if we *couldn’t* drive around on the beach sand before pulling off the concrete ramp.  At the end of the ramp was maybe 20-25ft of loose sand – we got through it to the packed area just fine, and once on the more packed sand could indeed drive around just fine.  We got out and walked around a bit, but my desire to go wander was greatly limited by my realization that we might be stuck on the beach, which was too bad because there was a sizable dune that would have been fun to climb.

The Focus is a little front wheel drive car with standard all season tires and minimal ground clearance.  These things should have registered earlier.  I gave a few cautious tries getting through the sand, not wanting to get so far in that we couldn’t back out.  After parking again to sit and consider the optinos, on the third try I got a bit more speed and just went for it figuring if we didn’t make it the difference of being down on the packed sand vs. stuck in the deep sand wasn’t going to be of much consequence.  Fortunately, the result was a successful departure from the beach.  On the way out, we noticed a tow truck at the ready up in the paved lot and realized that should have been a warning on the way in.

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Oregon – Day 3 – Crater Lake

Day 3 was mostly spent at Crater Lake.  I like to relax on vacation by demanding that we wake up in time for sunrise and go to take pictures.  In light of this, we got up early to head to Watchman overlook with our coffee, but finding clouds there, backtracked to Discover Point and arrived just moments after the sun peeked out.  Unfortunately, or fortunately if you like the look of it, there was a cloud in the direct path of the sun coming up.  Either way, we were only there for one morning, so I took a bunch of pictures and then we headed back to the campground to pack up and move out.

Sunrise over Crater Lake

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Oregon – Day 2 – Crater Lake

Day 2 was our started by completing the drive to Crater Lake.  Like a lot of the National Parks, the area you want to get to ends up being rather remote and it was about a 45 minute drive from the nearest town into the closest visitor center.  With that in mind, I should have stopped for gas at that nearest town…  Fortunately, the park is pretty well developed and has a small general store with fuel near Mazama Village where the campsite was (3).

Crater Lake

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Oregon – Day 1 – Portland

It started with a notion that Portland, Oregon would be a nice city to visit.  With the house search happening, the notion was not receiving much commitment nor planning.  But, since the house dealings were all in order and there wasn’t really anything for me to do but wait, Janet and I took a week vacation and did an extreme last minute trip.  Last minute flights – literally booked 60 hours before departure – were cheap enough to go.  So, we headed out from GRR to PDX for a week nearer the Pacific.

Multnomah Falls

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Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

Bryce Hoodoos

This picture is from the day at Bryce Canyon in Utah.  As mentioned when I posted the bulk of the pictures before, this was mostly a midday visit and getting good pictures was difficult.  On one hand, the contrast was very high due to the bright sun and abundance of shadows.  On the other hand, with the contrast dialed down these all blend into one red-orange blob or rock.  Or, maybe it’s not that difficult, and I should just practice more.  Regardless, this one seems to have ended well, so here you have a picture of the Bryce Canyon Hoodoos.

Picture taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 17-85mm lens @ 24mm, f/16, 1/20 sec, ISO 100