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  • Writer's pictureSandra

Washington State at it's best

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Did you know that Washington state has beautiful national parks to offer? I didn't have a clue! Olympic National Park is just one of these natural wonders and can be found on the peninsula of the same name. The park has four regions: the Pacific coast, alpine areas, the rainforest on the west side, and the forests on the drier east side. There are three distinct ecosystems within the park, including subalpine forest and wildflower meadow, rainforest, and the rugged Pacific Coast.

On Saturday, July 30th, 2022, there was a lot going on in the park and when we stopped at the visitorcenter we had our difficulties finding a parking space. We got the obligatory map of the park and then we went on. Unfortunately, the parking problem continued at Lake Crescent and on some of the trails, so that we were only able to take a long walk through the forest at Bear Creek, where Lennox was able to really work out.

Before continuing west, we stopped at Lake Pleasant for lunch. It was late afternoon when we arrived on the Pacific coast.. it was strange, we had bright sunshine and warm temperatures all day, but during the last 5 miles it became increasingly foggy and considerably cooler. When we arrived at Rialto Beach, we first had to find a parking space. As I feared, it wasn't that big and more than well attended. We squeezed into a non-existent row of parks and hoped that the space would clear up soon. I really wanted to catch a glimpse of the sea and the sunset, although I didn't know if you would see anything at all with all the fog. I had previously read in the brochure that Rialto Beach has the most accessible beach. I was irritated, because underneath I had imagined something else. The wall of gravel and washed-up trees not only denied access, but also any view of the beach.

Well, as a pedestrian it's not so bad, you can climb over it. For yours truly, it may be an unmanageable barrier. As you know, I leave no stone unturned. So I sent my "scouts" off to find a suitable spot, to find the advertised accessible path to the beach. The search was sobering, unfortunately there was no way past the huge trunks of driftwood. At least he found a place where I might be able to get onto the hill of coarse gravel with "Genny". With a portion of extra push, the project succeeded and luckily I was able to admire the sunset. It was mystical.

Contrary to our expectations, it didn't get any emptier at a later hour and we decided to stay. Before we set off the next morning, we looked around a bit and we observed how the mysterious fog slowly cleared.

On our way south we wanted to stop at one or the other section of the beach, but realized that it was mainly cliffs. Impressively steep and unfortunately suboptimal for me. I still had the foggy view from one or the other vantage point.

We found a nice, quiet spot on a golf course in Enumclaw near Tacoma for the night, from where we set out for Mount Rainier the next morning. Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest. -John Muir

At 14,410 feet (4,392 m), the mountain is the tallest volcano in the Cascade Mountains and the most glaciated peak in the continental United States. And for me the most impressive! During the drive to the Sunrise Visitor Center, we were able to observe how the plate cloud hovering over the mountain kept changing.

Panoramic views were impressive from Sunrise, the highest point in the park that can be reached by car or, in this case, by skoolie

and there are many great hiking trails that we were able to explore, at least in part. Of course, mountains are not that wheelchair-friendly, but I'm always happy to take on the challenge, because this view is worth all the effort!

After scouting everything around the Sunrise Visitorcenter, the plan was to head to the other side of the mountain, more specifically to "Paradise" from where spectacular views and hiking trails were described. I really wanted to go there and neither the blocking of the shortest route and thus a detour of almost 2 hours nor the discussion about whether it was really worth it changed anything! During the circumnavigation of the majestic Mount Rainier, the plate turned more and more into a cone.

Arrived in paradise

I was more than rewarded for my assertiveness. The sunset crowned this beautiful mountain. The cloud formation called "Altocumulus lenticularis" (thanks Franzi for the clarification 😉) turned into a glowing halo in the last evening light.

It was already late, but with this scenery we couldn't get lost in the bus and decided to walk the trail to Myrtle Falls.

I'm telling you guys, that was magic!

That evening, tired and emotional, I fell into my bed - in my Skoolie parked in front of the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center.

After a cool night I was ready for the next trails. Many of the paths are paved, so I thought it would be easy. Unfortunately wrong thought. I think it was the Alta Vista Trail, which went uphill so steeply that my Segway footboard touched down and I couldn't move a meter. I wanted to turn around, but due to the extreme incline, that wasn't easy either. Seb had to intervene and counterbalance while turning. Nevertheless, there was a real "scary moment" where I almost made the descent towards the slope. Fortunately, however, everything went well. The trails that we then took as an alternative also had their tricky descents, but they were definitely manageable.

Lennox found a way to cool down.

At the end, a few curious companions joined us.

And also during the short scenic drives to the Reflection Lakes and the Louise Lake we had the pleasure to see some little furry residents.

Finally, I can only say: "Take me to the mountain"... Sound on, play video!

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