NORTH WEST EXPLORATION 2009:
This Trip was Done in July 2009, one of my best friends moved out to the northwest with the rest of his family and where his now wife was from. We had 5 days for him to show me the ropes of his new home.
Day one started about 4 in the evening off the plane from Chicago to Seattle. Jon picked me up in his 1972 BMW 2002 right from the Airport and were were off trying to beat Rush hour traffic that was building. Our destination that night was his girl friends house in Hood River Oregon. Along the way we had a bit of car trouble with a shifting brake caliper. It was a new install as of the week before and was pretty sure that the bolts just were not torqued. Once we pulled the wheel we did indeed find that it was the cluprit and we were back on our way. We arrived in Hood River that evening and enjoyed the drive up the Columbia River Gorge during setting sun, although you would never know it as most of the trip was covered in clouds.
That morning we rose early and headed off to see White River falls and Mount Hood National Forest. It was a long day, but covered a diverse range of climates and weather. We started at White River falls area that was almost desert Esq. From there up in the Wet Pine Forests of Hood National Forest and then into the snow and above the tree line at Mount Hood Ski Area. On our way back around the west side of the Mt. we ran into some snow issues. If I would have been in the Toyota 4x4 it would have been no issue, but a 2 door civic we were not risking the route. High way diverted us back to main routes and back to hood river.
On day 3 we enjoyed the Columbia river Gorge, watch wind surfers during breakfast on the water and then stopped by the many water falls on the way down the river back to Portland. From there we headed north up to Mt. St Helens which really blew us both away, its amazing to see the damage that the Eruption caused and the amount of debris that was left in the river valley. It was evident almost 30 years after the blast. We left St Helens around 3 in the afternoon and made it to camp that night in Just north of Amanda Park Washington, where we were treated to beach front camping off the 101. The trees were HUGE around the Amanda Park area!
Day 4 started early with some old growth forest hikes before 8 am. We continued up the 101 along the shore and decided to take a cut off that appeared to be a back way around and get up into the Olympics, We followed a forest road up the Calewah river, stayed to the left and up we went... but after switch backs and climbing for over and hour we were stopped by a washed out bridge. no 4x4 would have gotten through, so we did not feel bad about attempting it in a lowered and track ready 2002 BMW. We got back on the 101 and headed out towards the Straight of Juan De Fuca Road to get out to Cape Flattery, but was stopped again by lack of 4x4 with an exceptionally rough road. Couple that along with dense fog, we turned around and made our way to Sol Duc Hot springs and Sol Duc falls hike which was awesome. 3 heavy flowing streams of water took a sharp left and dropped into the river gorge. We hung out there through lunch and had a great time hiking in the old growth forests there. From there we headed up to Lake Cresent and then on up to Hurricane Ridge, the must see part of the park! The show walls were 6-10 feet tall and the clouds broke into sunshine for the rest of the afternoon. Then we took back off back to Seattle and Jon's house to get some much needed rest, we did not arrive there until late at night.
On our 5th day, we were supposed to go to Mt Rainier, weather had another story to tell. A quick phone call up to the ranger station proved that there was no visibility of the mountain that day.... So I took in the sites of Seattle for the first time and enjoyed what it had to offer before hopping on a plane that night to come back home to Chicago..