Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 9 and June 10 Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens

June 9 Vantage WA to Mount Rainier Cougar Camp

Beautiful day again with puffy white clouds all along a very scenic drive from Vantage WA to Mount Rainer's east side. We drove I-90 to Yakima and then good old Route 12 again. Are all Route 12s scenic? It seems so as we also remember a spectacular Route 12 in Utah. Taking 123 brought us to the east entrance of Rainier and a very friendly and helpful ranger at the Ohanapecosh Center. He mapped out some trails for us that weren't of the Farctic and Wazoo variety and we spent several hours walking. "Grove of the Patriarchs Trail" led us to trees that were 1000 years old after crossing a one person at a time bridge over a raging creek.

We walked/hiked this trail and also continued a bit on another trail toward Box Canyon. Good old LL Bean hiking boots still in great shape and hold their grip well. There was still snow in the forest shadows, deer nearby and one rather large poop we hoped wasn't a bear.

Since Stevens Canyon road is still closed we kept on 123 to get a good view of Mount Rainer from the northeast side. Spectacular!

Going to the west side proved a bit more difficult since the Stevens Canyon Road over the pass is closed. There is still a lot of snow but also, according to the ranger, a lot of winter damage that will take a long time to repair.

Due to road closures you have to do a square circle. Back to Route 12 to Route 7 at Morton where we stopped for a few groceries. I know we are "cheap" but we just got some pita as prices there were twice what normal would be. Long way to haul groceries, fuel, etc. Route 7 then goes to 706 and there into the west side of Mount Rainier National Park. As we approached the park the skies opened with much thunder and lightning and rain just poured. We stopped by the side of the road to wait it out and let the rain wash some of the bugs and mud off the TC.

We are camped at Cougar Rock Campground for the night. Tomorrow we will hike/walk more of Rainier and then head for Mount Saint Helens. It's another drive around because of winter damaged roads but worth it.


June 10 - Mount Rainier to Mount Saint Helens and Olympic Peninsula

We are still on East Coast body time so were on the road at 7AM probably to the disgust of some tenters near us.

We were able to drive from Cougar Rock Campground up towards Paradise but not all the way as the road is closed due to winter damage. What a remarkable sight to see an avalanche path and what that slide does to the land. There is nothing left in the path but smashed trees and boulders. This time of year there is a small stream rather than a mass of melted snow rushing down.

Mount Rainier proved to be elusive today except for one shining moment. Here's our Host Rainier at Mount Rainier. You can see the top of the mountain over the front nose piece of the camper.

Round we went the long way to get to Mount Saint Helens. There is no easy way to cut across country with so many small roads still closed. As we left Morton, WA towards Helens, the fog started and the higher we got the more the clouds descended on us. There were times we were feeling our way along about 25 mph with flashers going. There were several pullouts where you cold see down into the valley and the path hundreds of feet wide of mud and debris from the volcanic eruption. There is still no growth in this area even after almost 30 years.

The Johnston Ridge Observatory finally appeared out of the fog and proved to be worth
the journey up the mountain. The US National Park service has built 14 new bridges to get into this area. They provide extensive photos, exhibits and a movie about the eruption at the observatory. At the end of the movie, a giant curtain rises and you should be able to see Mount Saint Helens in the distance. There was just a hugeb blank white area due to the fog/clouds.

Fortunately we wandered the exhibits long enough for the clouds to lift and we got to see the mountain and the surrounding area. The government decided not to plant new trees in the destroyed area and it has not really even begun to regenerate even after 30 years. Weyhauser replanted their acreage and is ready to harvest and replant.

Quite a shock to come back out of the mountains and get on I-5 up through Olympia. The further we went up Route 101, the smaller the road, the fewer the people and the better the view out over the Hood Canal.

We had hoped to stop for supper and have local seafood but have yet to find a place open. Time of year or the economy? We're stopped for the night at Doeswallips State Park. Tomorrow we'll head for Neah Bay and an overnight there - or maybe even two.

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