Washington State Odyssey Leg #3: Beach to Ranier and Falls

We left Westport 101 South to Raymond where we picked up Rt. 6 to Chehalis for a short ride on I-5 to Napavine and Rt. 12, one of the great scenic highways in North America. 

Location: Mt. Ranier National Park, Stevens Canyon Pass.

 

If you have enough time and willingness to drive, try to explore Mt. Baker in the Snoqualmie National Forest.  We didn’t and chose Mt. St. Helen’s, a scenic but arduous thirty mile drive back and forth off of Rt. 12.   The ride, however, is through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and well worth it for what you will experience.

 

Location: Mt. St. Helen’s National Volcano Monument.

 

We and the other visitors were interested to see if scars of the big blast 36 years ago were still evident; they are but the vast coat of green shows off a massive restoration and the fertility of volcanic ash. 

 

 

Location: Historic sign marker illustrating famous eruption in 1980.

 

 

From this marker, we had about a fifty mile ride to the Packwood Lodge located about three miles outside of town on Rt. 12 and right at the base of Mt. Ranier.  The Deschutes River rushed by a few hundred yards from our bedroom.  The motel is comfortable and provided us a nice stay.   We recommend the Blue Spruce in town for food and drink.

 

Location: Front entrance, Packwood Lodge.

 

 

Location: Deschutes River near park entrance.

 

 

As we parked to take this picture of a pristine mountain lake, we got into a discussion with three couples from Korea also touring the park and state. 

 

 

As one drives the park, water appears to be falling from here, there, everywhere. 

 

 

Patty and I in our travels through Oregon and Washington have driven along the Deschutes River for almost 500 miles.  I believe that this rapid is as close as I can get to the source of the great and important rivers of the Pacific Northwest. 

 

 

I had a much clearer view of Mt. Ranier but by the time we parked the car and I got out, clouds again formed over the top of the mountain.  This is as close as we could get without going into the mountain overnight.  But we had a 175 mile drive ahead of us to Snoqualmie Pass and the Scenic White Pass Mountain Highway to savor ahead of us.

 

Location: View of Ranier from cutoff from Rt. 123 onto Rt. 410.

 

 

Location: Educational marker at the beginning of the Mather Memorial Highway that describes the beautiful but short summer.  The pass is closed most of the year.  

 

 

One leaves the park and onto Rt. 410 and immediately come upon a snowfield in July.

 

 

This great valley scene continues for probably ten miles. 

 

 

Here and there a wetland appears, a small lake or pond has formed but slowly we descend from the mountains and the High Desert begins to appear, dry and rolling hills with the Deschutes meandering through this big sky land.  Agriculture is big business, the growing, processing and selling of cherries, peaches, apples and other fruits and vegetables is ubiquitous. 

 

Location: I-90 North of Yakima and Ellensburg.

 

Our destination is Exit 31 and the Salish Lodge and the Snoqualmie Falls and we arrive late afternoon in time for Happy Hour at one of the great hotels of the Pacific Northwest.