California Redwoods in a typical morning fog.
In Covid times, international travel is inconvenient or impossible. USA, with all the public lands offers endless opportunities for solitude and recreation. Staying away from people is relatively easy, especially when traveling by a van. Usually, I spend most of my time in the SW USA. However, for this trip, I wanted to explore northwestern states on foot and motorcycle.
US Northwest is incredibly beautiful, one can find deserts, glacier covered peaks, rainforests and endless beaches. However, for someone who abhors rain, it can be a tricky destination. Last time I came to ride in the NW, I was chased by a major storm for 1500 miles, all the way to southern Utah.
Admiring giants in Del Norte State Park.
Exploring Prairie Creek State Park.
I started driving along the Pacific coast in Ft Bragg, While the temperatures inland were over 100 F, by the coast, it was outright cold, even in the sun. Things did not improve when I crossed into Oregon. But then an unusual "heat wave" came through the NW. While most locals were trying to survive 100 degree days, I could finally enjoy Oregon's beaches.
Tranquil beach in Oregon.
I could not figure out if this stump just "landed" or was it a stump of the tree that actually grew right at the beach.
Washington's Olympic peninsula is a home of America's only temperate rainforest. A famous hike along the Hoh river has been on my bucket list for years, I finally got to do it with a friend. We hiked 18 miles along the river, all the way to the lateral moraine of the glacier on Mt Olympus.
On the hike along Hoh river.
No problems finding drinking water on Hoh trail.
Every dead tree is home to numerous new plants.
Hoh trail winds through a moss covered forest most of the way.
Fern, moss and lichen.
A moss covered tree near Lake Crescent.
Going for a dip in crystal clear waters of Lake Crescent, the largest lake on the peninsula.
Beahes of the Olympic peninsula are also a big attraction and home to a few famous hikes. Unfortunately, because of Covid, many beaches were not accessible.
Driftwood strewn beaches of the Olympic peninsula.
Rock stacks on the famous Ruby beach.
Mt Rainier is only half a day drive from the Olympic peninsula and we wanted to do some day hikes there as a preparation for the longer hike that we had planned to do in the Cascades.
Mostly melted snow cave along the skyline trail on Mt Rainier.
Creeks are cranking, carrying glacial melt from Mt Rainier.
Chilling at Sunrise point of Mt. Rainier.
Hiking a Section of the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail goes over 2000 miles from Canadian to Mexican border, passing through some of the most stunning scenery. We decided to do just one section, 74 miles long (according to a sign). We were dropped off at Stevens pass off US highway 2 and hiked south to Snoqualmie pass on I-90. There were a few hairy river crossings, quite a bit of elevation change, but the biggest challenge, by far, were the mosquitoes. We were bitten everywhere and all the time. Later on, a local lady told us that July is the worst time to hike as far as mosquitoes are concerned.
The trail is literred with fallen trees. Because it's a wilderness area, chainsaws are not allowed, so the crews cut and clear fallen trees like it was done 200 years ago. Doesn't seem like the best use of tax dollars.
Foggy mornings give that true feeling of being in the Northwest.
Just one of many pristine alpine lakes along the trail.
After the hike, my friend and I decided to explore the eastern side of the Cascade mountains. I also wanted to ride some famous single track motorcycle trails near Cle Elum. So we setup a camp by the Cle Elum lake.
Camping at the edge of the Cle Elum lake.
Cooling off in a creek.
Wanatchee National Forest has many great trails to ride. Some are fairly easy, but most were at the limit of my abilities. After a few days of excellent riding, I ended up on a trail littered with fallen logs. It turned to be a much bigger adventure than I had planned for. It took me two weeks of recovery before I could stomach the idea of trying riding motorcycle again.
Old cars and trucks along a highway in Idaho.
During that time, we drove through Montana and Idaho. For some reason, Idaho has been off my radar for many years. There are no spectacular national parks, but there are beautiful forests, canyons, rivers and challenging trails to ride. I will most certainly have to go back to explore Idaho more.
One of my favorite spots of the trip - Upper Payette Lake.
Working on my project in Idaho mountains.
One of many, beautifully maintained, single track trails to ride in Idaho.
The Grand Tetons.
Next, going east was Wyoming. We spent a few days in Grand Tetons NP. One day, we hiked through the magnificent Cascades Canyon up to Lake Solitude. It was a long 18+ miles day and we could barely walk at the end.
Solitude lake trail follows a gushing creek.
A waterfall just below Lake Solitude.
The trail passes Wigwams (that is the name of the peak).
As beautiful as Grand Tetons are, crowds simply spoil the experience. So we headed to the Wind River Range in search of solitude. We were not wrong. We were not alone, but compared to the previous few days, it felt as if we were the only people there.
Happy to be away from the crowds.
We hiked along a wide valley following the Green River.
One of two big lakes that the Green River flows through. No wonder the area is called Green River Lakes.
Chilling at Killpecker sand dunes ( yes, it's the real name!)
By the time I reached Colorado, the weather was already getting cold. Two and half months was about the right amount of time for this trip. I did not rush through any area, nor did I feel bored spending too much time in any place. The trip was an awesome experience, but, now, I am ready for a change of scenery, climate, culture, cuisine ..., a new continent.