North West Summer 2012 Trip

Washington’s three national parks, Olympic, North Cascades and Mt. Rainier are state’s crown jewels. Olympic National park is way different than other two. It has Olympic mountain range, temperate rain forest and beautiful coastline.  Olympic range is actually not very tall. Tallest among them is Mt. Olympus, about 7980 ft. high. Due to high precipitation, this range gets lot of rain and snow. This range hold many many glaciers. Hurricane ridge provides excellent vista points to see this range. Subalpine meadows of hurricane ridge display grand show of wild flowers in summer.

Here are some images from Hurricane ridge.

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I originally planned for a road trip across north-west coast all the way from San Francisco to Washington tip. My kids joined me on this trip. Considering only 5 hours drive a day, it takes away 6 days for to and fro journey. So dropped that idea and flew to Portland, Oregon. From there we drove around to all these national parks. Our first stop was Port Angeles, Washington. It’s beautiful town. Vancouver Island, Canada is just a ferry trip away from there. Hurricane ridge is 17 miles from Port Angeles. Good thing about Olympic national park is that you can avoid expensive national park accommodation and still be reasonably close to the park. Next day we covered Sol Duc and Lake Crescent areas. Sol Duc river and Sol Duc Falls has good hiking trails. Sol Duc also has hot springs area. Unfortunately these hot springs converted in to spa pools; but other hand, it’s much safer for people to enjoy goodness of the hot springs.

Here are some images of Sol Duc Falls and Sunset at Lake Crescent.

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We stayed in fork for three days. fork is small coastal town outside Olympic. But this is central place to go either Sol Duc, Hoh Rain forest and all the beaches. All the rain fall due to Olympic Range, created two temperate rain forests at foot hills for the range. Hoh Rain forest and Quinault rain forests. Next two days we spent in Hoh Rain Forest. Photographing forest scenery is very challenging. Composing the frame without distractions and still maintain your story is great learning experience as artists. Presence of mind is always required but here you cannot do without it. If you want to challenge the artist in you, this is the place to take it. Its really fun. My kids were unusually cooperative in this trip with my long stop overs for each picture I took. Some reason, I did not get same privilege on first day in Hoh rain forest.  So we came back hotel early and watched nice movie.

We spent another day in the rain forest….dropping out Quinault from our list. Weather was great in the rain forest both days. overcast with slight rain. Ideal for photography. We fortunately carrying our rain ponchos with us. I would now suggest a mosquito repellent spray as well. Obviously, I realized why kids were a bit cranky last day, only after seeing bumps caused by mosquito bite on their hands and forehead.

Fox Glove flower are in full bloom everywhere.  Here are some images from Hoh Rain Forest.

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Last day we spent in Ruby beach. We had blast playing in the beach for long time. After getting them back on dry cloths, I spent sometime composing some images. sky was promising with great cloud cover, but unfortunately, not that great show of color at the end. There are so many other beaches in this area with great sea stacks (mounds). La push and second beach are two other beaches, I wanted to cover, but did not get chance this time.

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Next day, we took off to Seattle. We spent one day in Seattle Science museum  and Space Needle. Next day we took off to North Cascades National Park. North Cascades and Rainier are part of Cascadian range that extends from Lassen peak in North California to Canada’s British Columbia. These volcanic mountains are part of pacific ring of fire.

North cascades is less known and less visited national park. However, I found it pretty good. Beautiful Skagit River with greenish water runs next to Route-20 that takes us from I-5 to North cascades. National Park boundary start from few mile further on Route 20 from Marble mount village. But I fell in love with cascade river road that starts from Marble mount village into north cascades. First few miles are paved and rest of the road  is rough, patchy and very narrow; but you can travel by even a passenger car as well. Cascade river runs along next to road.  You can see cascades (Mt. Johannesburg, Cascades and Magic Mountain and Mount Formidable much closer. Cascade pass trail starts at the end of the road. Route 20 goes through North Cascades National Park. There are several waterfalls and lakes on the way. Gorge Falls and Diablo lakes as well.

Here are some images

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We stayed in wooden cabins in Rock port. These wooden cabin are great. With kitchen and fire place, kids enjoyed homemade food after a weeks fast foods. From there we took off to Mt. Rainier next day. We reached a bit later than expected. We could able to cover some hikes and water falls before reaching  paradise. I love Mt. Rainier.  My both the trips to Rainier are little early in the year to see wild flower spectacle there, but still there are lots of flower in bloom. The grandeur of Mt Rainier always amazes me. Sunset and Sunrise was great from reflection lakes. I did not get lot of time to compose my images here. When I was waiting for sunrise last year, clouds covered Rainier completely. But  while clouds moving, I had a very brief peak of alpine glow on rainier. It was bright red. This time, weather was a bit warm and no clouds. I did not see same color during the sunrise. But anyways, it was fantastic morning and a great trip.

Here are images from Mt. Rainier.

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