June 10-13: North Cascades National Park. Where do I even begin? I decided that I was going to recently take a little break. We have been nonstop with our family in Washington State and just wanted to thoroughly enjoy that time. I am very proud to say that I never missed or skipped a blog post since we started this trip. It was time. We did a lot this week. The first adventure was driving through the North Cascade Loop for my father-in-laws birthday.
It was going to be a 3 day, 2 overnight camping experience with Alec’s family (Chuck, Parilee, and Cale). First stop, breakfast. These Brenchley’s “know their bakeries”. They love their breakfast. “It’s the best and most important meal of the day.” They are not wrong. It really does set the mood for the day, in my professional breakfast-eating opinion. “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have”- Ron Swanson. I really did marry a super nice version of Ron Swanson. Alec is simple. He loves breakfast food and brunettes. He loves to woodwork, drink whiskey, smoke cigars, and being outdoors. Parilee always knows the best breakfast places. We went to a place called Sultan Bakery in Sultan, WA.
The bakery was tiny, but, provided people with some fresh foods. We really needed that fuel for the day. We were off to hike and could use all the calories to help us along our way. The hike that Alec’s dad choose was the Heybrook Lookout Trail Hike. This was a 1.9 mile hike moderately strenuous hike. The majority of this hike was very a steep incline, gaining 866 feet of elevation.
With that being said, be smart and hydrate. That’s a good amount of elevation gain for a small amount of hiking. The top of this hike brought you out to a tower that overlooks some of the cascade mountain range.
You can even rent out that tower for a camping spot for the night. Can you imagine the views of those mountains at sunrise?! Just stunning! The end destination for the day was a cute town called Chelan, WA. Chelan is on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range. If you aren’t familiar with Washington, the locals divide the state by east and west of the cascades (never south and north). The eastern section of Washington is drier and more like a desert. They don’t get the excessive rain like Seattle does. The terrain had more browns and oranges to it. It was just beautiful though. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of Chelan. It’s beautiful so be sure to Google Image it! Chelan is Washingtons Wine Country. Vineyard after vineyard clang to the rolling hills surrounding Chelan Lake. This beautiful and extremely clear lake is the biggest in the state of Washington. It is a perfect central point for this beautiful wine country. We wanted to taste some wine, but, we needed to park Callie first. Alec’s parents and brother brought their tents to sleep in. We did decide to take Callie with us instead of just tent camping. That gave us more storage place for foods and essentials. Plus, we would have a full kitchen for cooking. The campground that Alec found was Lake Antilon. It was a free campground, had no cell service, and was right by the lake. We parked Callie and we were off. For our wine tasting that evening, we went to a place called Chelan Winery. They had free wine tasting. Yes, FREE. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t remember one winery where we could taste test for free. We didn’t just stop there. We also went to the Chelan Brewery downtown. Poor Cale had to taxi us around for a few hours. Dinner time. We were super glad that we decided to tow along Callie because the bugs were out that night. The mosquitos almost became uncomfortable while we were trying to grill our burgers. We were right next to the lake and so the bugs were full force. We decided to have dinner inside of our RV while playing music through our speakers. Perfect ending to a perfect day. The next morning everyone was excited to go see the North Cascades National Park. This beautiful park is over 500,000 acres of land and features the North Cascades Mountain Range. This mountain range has the most extensive glacial systems in the lower 48 states. It is also the home to Ross Lake National Recreational Area and the famous, blue Diablo Lake. Windy roads take you through the mountains and pass by the lakes.
Let’s talk about Diablo Lake. Diablo Lake is just stunning. This vivid turquoise lake gets it’s beautiful color from something called glacier flour. The surrounding glaciers grind up rocks that make this water so beautiful. Not only was the color just breathtaking, but, the water was clear.
It was the best of both worlds. Alec’s dad, Chuck, loved it so much that he went for a quick dip in the water to cool off. For the Pacific Northwest, it was HOT that day. It was in the mid 90s. We have been thoroughly enjoying the beautiful 70s and 80s with no humidity. Let’s just say that we were sweating. We did hike while we were there. It was a hike called the Ross Lake Dam Trail. It was about 2 miles round trip, but, considered strenuous. It was a very steep trail. It declined on the way to the dam and inclined coming back. I like my trails the other way around. I like to put in all the work at the beginning and have it easy coming back. This wasn’t the case. It led out to the Ross Lake Dam. I thought that it was slightly odd that we could just walk onto this very large dam, but, I didn’t complain. The views alone from this Dam was worth all of the sweat getting there.
We were all exhausted by the end of the second day.
We had driven over 350 miles in two days. We decided that only Alec and I would drive especially since we were towing Callie. There is no sense in having other people learn how to tow our RV for that trip. For our campground that evening, we found a place called Grandy Lake Campground in Concrete, WA.
It wasn’t free unfortunately, but, still extremely affordable. It was $7 for Callie and $5 per tent. It was right off the lake which, again, brought the bugs. We did the same thing we did the night before. We grilled outside and ate inside. It was just too buggy. We really did have a lovely time with Alec’s family celebrating his dads birthday. I thought that the North Cascades were absolutely breathtaking. Diablo Lake was my favorite part of the two days with the Chelan Winery as a close second. I really think that Napa Valley, CA should take some tips from Chelan. Chelan’s scenery and vibe is much more beautiful, in my opinion. It was a great few day adventure.
June 13-16: Mount Rainier National Park.
In between adventures, Alec and I have really concentrated on spending as much time with family as possible. We had a family night with the whole gang…aunts, uncles, cousins. We have also been spending a lot of time with Alec’s 99 year old grandpa, Jack. Jack is impressive to say the least. His mind is still extremely sharp and quick. It’s just his body that is now failing him. Family time has been the reasons for the lack of details or posts because who really cares about a blog. Family is always first. Always. We took a day or two to regroup before going back out for Mount Rainier. That is a great mountain. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier from over 100 miles away. Impressive. The Seattle people have a saying here. “The mountain is out!” That’s when you know to go looking towards the direct of Rainier and there it will be. Big and in full glory. We have actually been on a mountain during this trip that was 4 feet higher than Rainier called Pikes Peak in Colorado. We drove up to the top of this 14,115 foot mountain. Pikes Peak was beautiful, but, not as striking.
The elevation surrounding Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs is already over 6,000 feet, so the mountain doesn’t look as glorious as Rainier. Rainier is just massive looking because the surrounding areas are close to sea level. It just towers over everything at 14,111 feet. They say that people have a spiritual experience when they go to Mount Rainier National Park. They weren’t lying. That place was amazing. I stood there just stunned looking at this towering mountain just trying to imagine how beautiful heaven must be.
If a mountain that God designed on this Earth is that breathtaking and puts you in such awe, I can’t even imagine what heaven will look like. I love Mount Rainer NP, just loved it. I would say that it is now in my top 5 favorites for National Parks. They way they designed this park with Rainier as the central point.
The way that they roads wind through tunnels and through vivid green forests.
It’s just amazing. I also loved the hiking options the park had. The first day we were there, we did a short 1 ish mile hike called the Grove of the Patriarchs. It took you over a suspension bridge and through the western redwood trees.
It reminded me a lot of the Redwoods National Park. The trees were thousands of years old and stood at about 200 feet high.
The textures on these trees really caught my eye. They almost twisted at the base of them and were covered in thick moss. Some of the branches were covered in so much moss that they resembled spider legs.
Fantastic hike. One thing about this park that you should know is that some people go to admire Mount Rainier and never see it. During the winter and rainy season, the mountain may never come out during your stay. I know last year when we visited for 8 days, I only saw the mountain one time. We got very lucky. The first day, Rainier was out with just a few clouds over it. You could see all of the glaciers on the side of the mountains and the baby blue color that they gave. The sunshine was out and the flowers were just starting to blossom. I was surprised to find out that some of the roads were still closed due to snow. It’s JUNE! Washington! It’s June! I was glad that we weren’t really effected by those road closures. I know when we visited Crater Lake NP in Oregon that we only got into one mile of the park (bummer). At least we could really see most of the park even with the road closures. The park is divided into a few sections: Sunrise (closed), Longmire, and Paradise. Paradise is the most visited area of the park, being right up against Rainier and has the best visitor center. It was interesting because the first day we drove up to Paradise and couldn’t see a dang thing. I mean nothing. The fog was so thick that I didn’t even realize that Rainier was literally right in front of my eyes. So we decided to travel back down the park to where Rainier was still visible and do a hike called the Bench and Snow Lake Trail. It was a moderate 2.7 mile hike that takes you through valleys towards the clear and reflective Snow Lake. Blooming flowers lined the trail.
Mount Rainier peaks itself in the background as you hike along the trail.
I was just in love. The trees with so green and vivid. The surrounding cliffs where still covered in snow.
The lake was calm. We did have to hike through a small part of snow. We did underestimate this hike though. There was a section that was just straight up for a good while. Totally worth it. It was so stunning.
The sun started to make its way down and so we decided to leave to set up camp. Alec found some free land within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that is just outside of the National Park. You have to drive about a 3/4 of a mile through narrow, wooded roads and then it opens up to first-come, first-served camping land. I loved this camping location. There is enough land where you can really spread out from other people. I enjoyed knowing people were there (backup system), but, we still had our privacy. It was completely free land to camp on. There was no cell service, but, it didn’t matter because it was so peaceful and beautiful.
There is a clear, blue creek down a hill right by the open land so there was background noise while you slept.
The campsites are surrounded by tall trees. It wasn’t buggy at all. We maybe got a moth or two, but, it was nothing like the campgrounds near the lakes. We decided for this adventure to just tent camp in our CVT rooftop tent. Fun fact that you may not know. We had originally planned to do this multiple month adventure in that rooftop tent. We both had worked on building out the back of the truck for a year which included the truck topper, the LED additions of the tent itself, a fridge, storage, etc. We ended up keeping most of the stuff we did to the truck. The plug in fridge has been so incredibly useful for us. We have used it during power outages back home and throughout this entire trip for lunchs during the day. A few months before we left for this adventure, Alec did a solo trip to the Georgia Traverse (off-roading trails) and it poured the entire time. Within those 4 days, Alec really just wanted a couch to sit on and walls to be inside of. That’s where Callie came into play. We prayed about it and decided that we really needed a tiny home to really enjoy this trip and to not put stress where stress didn’t need to be. Best decision ever. I really love Callie the Caravan. With that all being said, we really haven’t tent camped this entire trip. It was time. I really missed it. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect and beautiful night. It was just perfect. Absolutely perfect. There was a nice breeze that made it the perfect amount of cool. No bugs. We forgot our chairs and ended up with two perfectly size tree stumps to sit on. We were super organized (I HATE being unorganized while camping. It’s such a pain). Over the years, we have perfected a box just for camping. This box has the essentials for making a dinner, starting a fire, washing dishes, etc. It really helps. We opened a bottle of wine, made dinner, and enjoyed a great fire. I really love making a good fire. Last year, Alec taught me how to make a fire from nothing. No help of a fire log, no additional help like gasoline. Just a straight and solid fire out of wood. I love making them and I love watching Alec make it. The mountain man really comes out and I love it! I really enjoyed my time hanging out with just Alec without any cell phones. We just chatted for hours and drank that bottle of wine in front of the fire.
The simplicity of that is so attractive to me. I am obsessed with those types of nights. We both forgot how comfortable our rooftop tent actually was. We didn’t set an alarm and just counted on the sunlight to wake us up. Right now the sun has been rising around 5am. We have been waking up from that sunlight in Callie. We figured it would be the same within the tent. We were wrong. The tent was nicely shaded and with the running water, we slept in. Oh well. It was just a perfect night of camping. I loved it.
That morning we were ready to get going. Our tent is super easy to pack up again. While I worked on getting the tent ready to pack back onto the top of the truck, Alec made breakfast. We had everyone packed up, eaten, and ready to go within a hour. That’s great organization and teamwork at its absolute finest. It’s amazing to me the difference of one day when it comes to Rainier. The day before, Rainier had some clouds on it and it wasn’t visible at all in the Paradise section of the park. That morning, it was clear. Not a single cloud on the mountain or even in the sky. We drove up to Paradise and was just blown away by the views of Rainier. It’s just so amazing. I just couldn’t stop looking at it. We were excited because we could actually do the hike that we were wanting to get done while being there. It was called the Skyline Trail. It was a Saturday and the mountain was completely out, so we did battle some crowds while going up this hike. The conditions of the hike did start to weed some people out towards the top. Most of this hike was in very wet snow. You would think walking in snow that you would be cold. Wrong. We were both sweating like crazy. It takes a lot to go up the steep inclines in snow without hiking poles or studded shoes. I was determined. I wanted to hike up to see the surrounding areas near Rainier. While we were hiking, we saw a group of people in the distance summiting Rainier. Alec climbed up Rainier a few years ago and told me all about the experience. It really motivates me to train and do it myself. One day. Once we got to a good stopping point, we looked back and could see Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. Just breathtaking.
I can’t really describe the beautiful of it all. It really hasn’t even hit me, to be honest. It was just so great. All of the sweat and struggle hiking through that snow didn’t matter at all while looking at that view. We sat on some rocks relaxing and admiring the mountains for a good while. One of the highlights of that hike was feeding a little chipmunk. I know you’re not supposed too…..but I did it anyways. This little guy jumped onto my lap and ate it on my lap.
I was so excited. If you know me, you understand my love for animals. I have to stop and pet every dog I can. I love feeding birds and squirrels. That chipmunk just really made that hike that much more sweet for me. You can call me Snow White now. Thank you. It was just a beautiful hike, beautiful camping night, perfect adventure. I loved Mount Rainier National Park.
New posts every Monday and Friday.