I love the volcanos in the Cascades. I still gasp when I see them in their glory around Portland, and seeing the glacier covered Mt. Rainier was no different. Just breathtaking, and unfortunately darn hard to get a good shot of with the cameras I have! From Buckley we took route 410 into the park and marveled at the scenery. Another bonus of traveling out of season, was the complete and beautiful silence at some of the stops. I miss the silence of the outdoors and just loved taking a few minutes to breath deeply while viewing Mother Nature.
Our plan was to drive some around Mt. Rainier, then take route 12 & zoom home. Keith, even though he was quite stuffed up with a cold by this point, wanted to take a more scenic route and I wasn’t going to argue. We ended up taking the deliciously curvy NF-25 that runs through Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We had a bit of jealously with all the motorcycles driving by, although some of the dips in the pavement I wouldn’t want to take in a curve on a bike, that’s for sure! We continued on and our intention wasn’t to take the road up to Spirit Lake since we saw Mt. St. Helens just a few months back. Well, it shouldn’t take long so why not? Over two hours later, after stopping at nearly every look out, we were happy we stopped (but starving because it was way past lunch!)
The weather was just perfect for sighting volcanos in the distance and I was especially pleased to see a different view of Mt. Hood. We were amused for some time by a helicopter pilot that was ferrying stuff back & forth. At first concerned it might be for a fire of some sort, one of the other visitors works for the park and he informed us they were transporting pine boughs. Trimming pine boughs from the bottom is good for tree growth and the park now hires in someone to do it, who then turns around and sells them to people who like to decorate around the holidays!
At the last lookout over Spirit Lake, there were several guys set up with binoculars. They were scoping out the Elk population and were very nice about sharing & letting other people take a glimpse. Once you knew were they were feeding, it was even possible to spot them with your bare eyes. There was an insanely long and steep set of stairs to gain another vantage point and I decided we should go for it. After all, we didn’t plan on visiting in the first place again, so we might as well take advantage of the clear skies & see what there is up there. Pure beauty is what we found. Shaking, aching calves are what we had when we finally made it down to the bottom again.
We finished up our drive to a one horse town that had a motorcycle bar – thank goodness they had cold beer and an outdoor patio! From there it was just a few more miles to I5, and back to Portland in time for another work week. While we are not 100% sure yet, we hope to get a glimpse of the Seattle area & Washington countryside one more time as we hope to take a train ride up to Vancouver next month!