Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier

We were tired of being soaked on the Oregon Coast so we headed to Eastern Washington for some sun and the mountains.  

Mt. St. Helens was an amazing place to visit, but it's not the view that's so amazing; it's the stories.  The displays in the visitor's center, the audio and video clips, the ranger's talks about her first hand experiences, the memories from the lady running the fruit stand - they all made St. Helens come alive.  Being from a place known for its disaster (The Johnstown Flood) I understood how the people in this community had wrapped this tragedy into the fabric of their lives.   

We stayed at a wonderful campground at Mt. St. Helens State Park.  Great large sites, and good spaces for the kids to play.  We had showers too - which on this trip was always a bonus.

We started at the state park visitor's center - an excellent introduction to what happened with the most recent and with historical erruptions.  There was also some great general information on volcanoes.  We learned a lot, and were ready to see the mountain.

We traveled up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory seeing views of the lahar flow (hot volcanic mud flow that buried the valley) and the trees blown down by the blast.   The destruction over 20 years later was still very apparent.  Be warned - Mt. St. Helens is not the place to find peace and quiet.  It is a very popular destination.  We saw more International visitors there than we did in most of the other places we visited.   

The next day we headed to Mt. Rainier:  I fell in love.  Rainier was one of those places that just instantly felt like home.  We camped in the Ohonopecosh area - beautiful old growth forest, and waterfalls.  Our site was quiet and peaceful, and the sound of water was all around us.

We spent the bulk of our time at Rainier in the Paradise area of the park.  The view from Paradise, is well, Paradise.  We also arrived just at the right time to see the alpine in bloom.  We hiked the Nisqually Vista Trail which was mostly snow covered.  The kids enjoyed the snow ball fights, and I enjoyed the vista.  Another favorite at the Paradise area was the ranger programs in the lobby of the old hotel.  They were our favorite programs of the entire trip - not only were the topics engaging, but I loved being surrounded by the hand hewn beams in this magnificent old lodge, and the kids loved that we bought them snacks.

Avalanche Lilies

We also really loved the Sunrise area of the park.  This area is just as beautiful, but not nearly as crowded as Paradise.  We spent the better part of the day hiking the Sour Dough Ridge Trail to Frozen Lake.  The intense blue/green color of glacier fed waters will never cease to stun me.

Our first view of real glaciers.

Box Canyon Falls

I hope I get to return to Rainier someday.  Next time I'm staying longer and hiking deeper into the back country.  It's definitely best enjoyed on foot.

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