After a week of the city, Tim and I were ready for a little backcountry camping. Our choice was one of the rainiest places in Washington – which is no small feat – Mount Rainier. Here an average of 83 inches of rain falls annually (Paradise Valley, inside the Park holds the world record for the most accumulated snowfall in a single year when a mind boggling 1122 inches (93.5 feet) of snow fell in 1971 – 1972).
We arrived Saturday night and popped Frank’s top. Over the course of the night, it began to rain…naturally. When we woke up to blotchy blue skies, we didn’t hesitate. There was no time for breakfast or even coffee. We immediately started driving in hopes is seeing the elusive summit. We drove up to Sunrise Point and watched as the clouds swirled around the peak. We lucked out and got a few glimpses before more storms rolled in.
Though the drizzle had started, you can’t let that stop activity at Mount Rainier. We put on our rain gear and hiked up to Emmons Glacier, a 4.3 square mile mass of ice that is the largest glacier in the lower 48. Though not snowy or even white, it was still an impressive sight.
After a wet hike, we returned to Frank to continue our drive south. 3 hours of winding roads later, we arrived at Mount St. Helens. After 30 years, the destruction of the Volcano’s blast is still evident. The flattened forest has begun to grow back, but Spirit Lake at the base of the mountain remains a lifeless testament to the events of May 18, 1980.
We spent an hour waiting out the clouds, but the bitter wind drove us back down the mountain before we’d seen the top. We’ll go back in the future for another glimpse.
It was just another 2 hours south to our final destination for the night. We arrived late in Portland ready to explore the hippest city in America.