My Dad has wanted to climb Mount Rainier for as long as I can remember. Even before the internet my Dad would talk about Rainier like it was this mythical being. He also would talk about Mount Saint Helens and what happened during the blast, the destruction to the environment, and to people’s lives. I was driving up State Highway 12 from Sunnyside when I came around the corner and there she was in all her glory. I do believe the phrase, holy crap, came out of my mouth. Now after all of these years, I finally get what he was saying. It is a gorgeous mountain. Only one tiny little problem, it’s a volcano.
I snagged a campsite at La Wis Wis on Forest Service land and used this as my base camp while I went and explored Rainier and St. Helens. TOTALLY worth every single penny I paid for it. The drive up to Rainier was unremarkable (coming from the east side) right up until you came around a corner and then BAM! mountain. I was shellshocked. As I drove up the mountain every time you could come around the corner it would get bigger and bigger and bigger. Yeah, it was a very special place. Too bad Perry and I couldn’t hike it. It’s that whole NPS against dogs thing again. Grumble.
After reaching Paradise, which is as far as we could travel, we got out pictures, sat and chatted with a lovely couple of PA, met a deer who was absolutely NOT afraid of Perry and returned to the campground to go swimming in the Blue Hole.
Now, if you want to know what swimming in 40 degree glacier waters feels like, just ask me. After watching all of the kids jump off the rock, of course I had to do it too (fully clothed).
The next day we headed up to Mount Saint Helens. I was super excited to see it considering the number of times I had heard about it as a child. As we drove up I kept wondering where the mountain was, then I came around a corner and there it was. Well, what is left of it. I stopped at the first vista point and ran into a really lovely family who sold everything and is traveling the country as well as their local guide. He was a super nice guy who had all sorts of interesting insights. As we were on Forest Service land (yay!) Perry and I hiked down to Spirit Lake. I was shocked at how much water was showing now vice the log cover from all the trees that were blown off the mountain. Mother Nature does heal herself. Perry and I had a grand time hiking down to the lake; even if the pumice flats were HOT!
All in all, I know Dad will hate me for this, but I actually like Saint Helens more than I liked Rainier. I was on the East side of St. Helens, which meant no visitor centers, no displays, no crowds, but more importantly you could see how nature is trying to heal itself for yourself.
One word; gorgeous.