The North Cascades National Park blew my mind.
It left me speechless.
We took lots of photos, but they don't do the landscape any justice. Most of what we saw can't be captured on film, and really can't even be adequately described in words.
We left the tiny burg in which we live on Friday afternoon, headed north (stopping at a favorite fruit stand along the way), and eventually met up with the Columbia River. Some call it the mighty Columbia, but it really isn't' mighty at all--not anymore. Today, the Columbia River is a slinky toy. Water pours over one dam down to the level of the next dam, just like a giant slinky going down the stairs.
I think I came up with that analogy myself, but if I stole it form someone I do apologize.
Anyway, we followed the slinky river up to Pateros, then finally began the westward portion of the adventure. The highway was laid down along the floodplain of the Methow River. The amount of water in the river was startling to me, as the Methow has no reservoirs. I'm so used to giant reservoirs holding back the rivers, then releasing the water in the summer to provide habitat for fish and irrigation for crops. Seeing all that water running wild down the Methow reminded me of the first time I saw a parrot flying free in the wilderness (thanks to the PBS series Nature). I remember thinking how funny the parrots looked, and wondering who fed them, and who cleaned their nests? The Methow River struck me the same way. Unregulated water is awesome.
The first evening we drove up and down every single road we could find on the east side of the park, and once we were off the main roadway, we only saw four cars.
We seemed to have the wilderness to ourselves. Well, ourselves, the moronic bunny rabbit (actually a snowshoe hare), quite a few deer, three buhzillion mosquitoes and crane-flies, and a grouse and her baby. Wait, what's a baby grouse called? A grousling?
Cheeper! Seriously! I just looked it up and a baby grouse is called a cheeper. Somehow, knowing that makes the little guy seems all the cuter! AWwwww...
Anyway, we finally found spot to camp way up in the boonies. We pulled all the stuff out of the backseat, shoved it into the front seat, and managed to sleep quite comfortably in the back of the car. Subaru Forester, in case you ask. We bought her back in February, and she was christened the bluebell on this trip. The only problem we experienced was fear itself. You see, Mr. Boom opened up a package of ham lunch meat as we were driving down the road. The ham was juicy, so he held the whole mess out the window to let it drain. It drained all right...right down the side of the car.
I'm not scared of bears. I am cautious, however. And considering the considerable bear sign we'd been seeing, I really wasn't too excited about our sleeping arrangements as a giant tin of bear bait. It was very hot, and Mr. Boom wanted to crack the doors open. Due to the fact that I already had about ten mosquito bites on my ankles, I had provided them with quite a feast really, I didn't feel like donating another serving to the local bear population. But, the car grew hot and stuffy quite quickly, so the doors were cracked and we survived the night.
The following morning the mosquitoes were gone, but the flies were out in droves. I hadn't had much coffee yet, so as I protested to the files that I wasn't a cow, I think they only heard moaning and confused that with moo-ing, and figured they were in the right spot. The flies were landing on my hands, in my cereal, on my face, and in my eyes. By the time I was done eating, Mr. Boom had the car all packed up and ready to go.
We wound back down through the hills, and eventually turned back onto the main drag through the park. The main drag through the park, Highway 20, really is a drag. It's a bit like Yellowstone. A long line of cars snaking itself through some rather pleasant scenery. If you concentrate on the scenery around you, you'll hit the car in front of you. This ain't my idea of fun. There are approximately three places to pull over, and all three are very nice, in a Mount Rushmore sort of way. Lots of leather-clad and semi-leather-clad men and women sizing up the surrounding hills and surrounding bikes. Meh.
Ross Lake and Diablo Lake are a gorgeous color of blue oh-holy-heck-watch-out-they're-hitting-their-brakes!
There are a number of trailheads in areas where there are no flat surfaces. When the mountain comes straight down to the road, and the sign says the trail is 16 miles long, I feel a bit excluded from participating in that hike oh-holy-heck-watch-out-they're-hitting-their-brakes-again!
So after many miles of oh-holy-heck-watch-out-they're-hitting-their-brakes-yet-again driving, we arrived in the town of Marblemount. There's a river runs though it, called the Cascade River. There's no sign saying your world will change if you head up this little road. The only sign says there's a fish hatchery somewhere up this way. But hey, it's called the Cascade River, and we live in the Cascades, so shouldn't we drive up there? At least to just say we had?
And here my life changed, my mind was blown away, and I ran out of words. Well, actually, I said one word over and over.
Big. BIG. BIIIIIIG. Big!
You'll have to go see it for yourself. None of our pictures are big enough to hold the bigness that is Cascade Pass. My brain can't even hold it all.
It was big.
I want to go back. I really want to go back.
Turns out I really like it big.