our last stop on our tour of pacific northwest national parks and big cities was mount rainier. after our time in monroe and visiting seattle, we made our way south to packwood, washington, which is just outside of the national park. as we were settling in, i noticed that i had a slight tickle in my throat and that foreboding sense of an oncoming cold. the kiddos also started to get sniffly and grouchy, and it was pretty clear that we were all coming down with something. ugh.
nonetheless, the next day was beautiful, so sick or not, we still planned to head into the park and get our visit started. we stopped at the ohanapecosh visitor center, nearest to us, and checked out some exhibits. hazel is always a big fan of the giant relief maps of the parks.
when we reached the visitor center, we were very surprised at how busy it was. we are used to busy national parks, but it’s the end of the season here and the place was stuffed. we managed to get a decent parking spot, thankfully, or we would have probably scrapped the whole day.
after a bit of consideration, we decided to try to take a short hike. i was bummed because we were all blah. and there were so many people. and my hydration pack was leaking. and there was a lot of whining. but, we pressed on.
and then things went wrong. we took a wrong turn. and found ourselves on a really steep trail. the grumbling and whining amplified. by the time we realized it, we weren’t going to turn back and do the other trail. it was a lost cause. we took another trail that led back to the visitor center and chalked it up to just not being our day.
on our drive home, we noticed some folks intently looking down into the valley below the visitor center. we stopped to see what all the excitement was about and were told a mama bear with two cubs had been spotted, but they had since wandered off and out of sight. but, the views from there were pretty great, so it was still worth the stop.
the next day was overcast and cold and we were all grumpy and sick, so we just laid around as any family would. the cold was mild and short lived and the next day we were all well on the mend. the weather was perfectly autumn-y, so this kid set up camp outside to do a bit of reading.
finally, when everyone was 100% and the weather was decent enough, we waited for derek to be done with work and went back into the park, to hike the grove of the patriarch trail, through a thick strand of old growth forest. as we searched for the trailhead, we happened upon a banana slug, our favorite pnw creature.
so. we had planned to go to the nearby ohanapecosh visitor center for the kids to wrap up their junior ranger badges. but. alas. it was closed for the season. so. we made the long drive back up to the paradise area, just in time for the kids to do their thing.
the next day was absolutely beautiful. so, anna and i packed up and went back into the park to go on a big hike and then to do a bit of tent camping. i’ll post about that later. it was awesome….
when she and i got back, i dragged her to a thrift store, where she scoured the place for books, pajama bottoms, a winter hat, some slipper socks, and this plastic jewelry, which was quickly absconded by hazelnut.
finally, our mount rainier time was up. our travel day was short, so we decided to be super lazy and slow moving and go out to breakfast. the only place we could find in the little town of packwood was the local pizzeria. derek and i split this FOUR EGG omelette and were sufficiently stuffed for the day.
and then, we bid farewell to mount rainier and pressed onward.
next stop… mount saint helens.