Moving can be stressful along with hunting for a new place to live. After the search is over, then there is the waiting game to move-in. Waiting for ours gave us a good excuse (not that we need any) to go on another road trip and get to know our new neighborhood, the beautiful Pacific Northwest or PNW. Sometimes referred to as Cascadia, PNW is a geographic region and megaregion in western North America bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east . Though no agreed boundary exists, a common conception includes the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Our first stop was Mount Rainier National Park. The park is known for its crowning jewel Mt. Rainier, the highest mountain of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, and the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington. If you’ve visited Seattle and it’s not rainy then you have seen this towering beauty. Established in 1899 this national park encompasses over 236,ooo acres! There are many activities in or out of the park year-round such as biking, fishing, camping, and hiking to name a few. Park fee is $25 per vehicle which is covered by our annual Inter Agency National Parks pass.
It was cloudy and cold during our visit so we did not get to see the glaciers up close. But the weather did not stop us from enjoying the natural beauty of the park. After a brief stop at the wintery Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise we proceeded to our first hike at the Bench/Snow Lake Trail. The park ranger recommended this short and beautiful trail after we have expressed our desire to see some sub-alpine wildflowers.
The trailhead is located just a few steps from the parking lot right off Stevens Canyon Road.
Gradual succession of ups and downs leads us to the first lake called “The Bench” so named because of the surrounding flat area. The trails continues to a flat meadow dotted with white bear grass flowers and glacier lilies.
We crossed a stream towards a series of twisty & uphill trail and was excited to finally see the clear turquoise green waters of “Snow lake”.
The lake got its name because it is filled by icy melt from the surrounding Tatoosh mountain range. It’s fun to see snow mid-July! We continued and enjoyed the very scenic drive along Stevens Canyon Road towards Ohanapecosh to hike an old growth forest trail.
Along the way we stopped to see the box canyon. From the bridge, 180 feet (55 meters) below we saw water rushing through a narrow slot canyon. We remembered the time we swam the deep volcanic fissure of Las Grietas in Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Grove of the Patriarchs Trail visits an old growth forest. It is an easy hike through thousand year old cedar, hemlock and douglas fir trees.
We had fun crossing the suspension bridge, enjoying the multicolored rocks visible in the waters of the Ohanapecosh river and sharing in everyone’s joyous spirit.v We felt tiny as well as blessed to be walking through these giant trees.