After a week of near-perfect weather, our luck has run out. We arrive at Crater Lake National Park under gray, cloudy, cold and windy skies, and find ourselves elbow-to-elbow with thousands of other visitors.
The air is thick with the heady scent of Juniper even where there’s nary a Juniper tree in sight. Is it my imagination, or is that magnificent fragrance made all the sweeter by the aroma of local craft beer brewing? It is easy to fall in love with Bend, and we did so within a few short hours.
A legendary rock climbing destination, Smith Rock State Park is a paradise for hikers as well. We made a (not-long-enough) stop here for a few hours on our way south to Bend. What our 4-mile-hiked lacked in length, it made up for with a challenging workout and spectacular scenery.
I almost wept at the thought of leaving Washington. But then Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge wrapped me in her warm embrace and made it all better. The lodge is an Arts and Crafts Masterpiece. Oh, and let’s not forget about that pretty impressive mountain she has for a backdrop.
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted with a force exceeding 27,000 bombs. The excitement/dread/anticipation of the predicted eruption had consumed our kid minds. Now, nearly forty years later, we are finally visiting the site of the most significant geologic event of the 20th century, and tangibly experiencing the wonders of our childhood fascination.
On our Naches Peak loop hike, we will walk through beautiful subalpine meadows dotted with evergreens and waves of autumn color. We will gaze at glacial ponds and lakes. We will get a taste of the Pacific Crest Trail. And last but certainly not least, we will take in more stunning views of “that mountain” we’ve fallen so hard for.
One mile on the Pacific Crest Trail
Mount Rainier National Park (Naches Peak Loop)
From Second Burroughs we see a trail winding down through a tundra meadow, up and over another peak. What’s this? We can get even higher and closer to Mt. Rainier?
We head down the mystery trail with these words in mind: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” — T.S. Elliot
Atop 3rd Burroughs Peak
Mount Rainier National Park
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen.” – René Daumal