But first we made the short trip across the bridge from Portland, OR to Vancouver, WA. While Portland has its own weird sensibility, one it is actively embracing like a teenager who just discovered Nirvana, tattoos, and PBR, Vancouver is like Portland's nice older brother who has a real job and likes to drink coffee while watching the rain. We visited Vancouver's land bridge, walked around its modest downtown, and bought groceries before heading up to Mt. St. Helens.
|Johnston Ridge Observatory|
After another pleasant stay at a KOA, we left Mt. St. Helens for Mt. Rainier. I was looking forward to the flower-covered fields of Paradise with views of the snow-capped, 14,411 ft. mammoth, Mt. Rainier. For weeks I had been reading about all the different trails I could go on from the visitor center at Paradise. I was so excited to see the wildflowers and hike on the trails! But it seems we came a month too soon. The entire mountain was covered with snow from about 4,000 ft. up, meaning the fields at Paradise were blanketed with snow instead of colorful wildflowers. For a guy from California's central valley where June meant 100 degree weather, this was a bit of a surprise. I had been enjoying the 70 degree weather of the Pacific Northwest, but I didn't realize it would still be snowing, even on the mountains.
|Visitor Center at Paradise|
|Taking a good, hard look at the snow|
The Grove of the Patriarchs is a fun, short hike with a little suspension bridge that takes you across the clear blue waters of the Ohanapecosh River and into the Patriarch Loop. The trees are big, old, mossy, and beautiful. A good stop even if you're tired and bummed about the snow.
After the Patriarchs, it was still early, so we took our chances and went back up to Paradise, hoping for a better look at the peak. Eventually, the clouds did clear up enough that we could see the top of the mountain, if only for a moment. After that, we called it a day and went back down the mountain to the city of Yakima where we picked up french fries and Gluten-free burgers at Red Robin and watched The Mummy back at our hotel.
|A moment of blue sky behind Mt. Rainier|
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