Salman Aslam

Candid Schmooze

Odyessey to the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Ranier Washington State USA

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This is a sequel to my earlier wanderlust series on exploring America. Paradoxically this time I will be unravelling the tantalizing and surreal aura of Olympic Peninsula and Mount Rainier. In contrast to previous esplanade on shores of Lake Superior in upper Midwest Minnesota the setting will shift tangentially to Pacific North West. The elusive 42nd US State of Washington. Commonality being its juxta position with Canada. There are still a lot of people who confuse this name with nation’s capital -Washington DC (District of Columbia).

A state nestled in the extreme left corner of US map. The Pacific Ocean skirts the western fringes of the state.In the north Strait of Juan de Fuca providing ferry access to Canada. My son had prepared a comprehensive itinerary for the visit tying up all nitty- gritty to the minutest detail. It was a 3 hour flight to Tacoma International Airport Seattle from Phoenix. We were embarking on a jaunt depicting two extremities as far as vagaries of weather were concerned. Phoenix Arizona the city of the sun where sun blazes almost 300 days annually. In contrast US State of Washington was known by its motto Ever Green being the rainiest state of USA (160 inches annually).

We anchored for the night at Renton on the periphery of Seattle. This was a prelude to launch of our next phase to explore the Olympic Peninsula. Metaphorically it could be referred to as terra incognita of the state. The peninsula protrudes into the Pacific like an enclave making it all the more elusive and ethereal.

This circuit of the loop meanders through the most jaw dropping primordial sites of ethereal beauty. We commenced our journey of the 330 miles long circuit counter clockwise direction on Loop Highway 101 from Tacoma to Aberdeen. The route encompasses picturesque sites to explore including an overview of temperate forests, glaciers, lakes and awesome beaches.

The drive on loop highway was scintillating at every turn. Our next hop to bivouac was Port Angeles. This time around our focus was to billet deep into the woods to explore its pristine and verdant forests. Indian valley Motel Port Angeles on the outskirts was the perfect abode to hibernate. Location centrally located to satiate our love for lakes (limnophile).Lake Crescent with its turquoise green waters sublime tranquillity and gorgeous scenery presented an awesome sight.

Trekking and hiking along the Lake Crescent is really revitalizing with trails leading to Marymere Falls and Devils Punchbowl.

A feeling of extreme euphoria and bliss overwhelms oneself while visiting Devils Punchbowl.A cove surrounded by tall bluffs and crossed by a hanging bridge. Water is transparent green with bottom clearly visible. Kayaking and canoeing is a favourite pastime.

One by no means would overlook a visit to the quaint sea port of Port Angeles. The port is the largest town in the Olympic Peninsula. Port clogged with logging ships, fishing boats and ferries.City pier vantage towers providing a panoramic view overlooking the Strait de Juca. The observationoverview on a clear day extends right unto Vancouver Island British Columbia (Canada).

Next day we set course along peninsula loop for Forks a small town having distinction of holding record rainfall (160 inches) annually. Other significant landmarks of prominence are the Hoh Rain Forest. Incidentally this is the venue of filming of the movie Twilight with its werewolves and bats giving a rather eerie touch.

The overawing features of the mystic Olympic Peninsula are its massive trees and torrential rain forests. Sauntering and ambling across the vintage moss laden hemlocks, spruce and cedar trees are rejuvenating for the spirits. That too amidst elks, mountain lions and bears is indeed a novel experience. By dusk we reached our next destination the phenomenal Quinault Rain Forest area. Our two day stay was at the famous Rain Forest Valley Retreat Quinault overlooking the majestic lake. Rooms were spacious with all modern amenities with a fascinating view of dusk and dawn.

Next day my son had chalked out another whirlwind exploratory tour of the Quinault Rain Forest area. The entire tour would have been incomplete if we had not visited the site of the oldest and largest tree in the world. The gigantic Sitka Spruce.

Next segment of our promenade included traversing the Rain Forests and its serpentine trails. These trails were really mesmerizing with its primordial trees 200- 1000 year old. Moss laden foliage covered branches created a mosaic with tree canopies providing complete cover. Trails like The Enchanted Valley, Trail of The Giants and Big Cedar Trail provide stunning views of the glaciated Mount Olympus.

Driving along the Quinault Rain Forest Loop is a 2 hour journey is an intoxicating experience. The razzle and dazzle of majestic Lake Quinault was stupefying. Salmon House is famous for its wide array of fishes. Day would be incomplete without dining here and savouring the delicacies.

The final part of our esplanade was trudging along the 57 mile Pacific coastline. The coast line is straddled with numerous beaches like Ruby and the 6 beaches numbered numerically provide a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. The whistling wind, undulating furious waves and sight of whales in the distant add to the mercurial sight.

This was the end of our visit to the Olympic Peninsula.

The next destination of our excursion would be Mount Rainier and the South Cascades. These are the most formidable landmarks in the Pacific Northwest with its glistening glacier laden peaks. Mount Helena and Rainier still most active volcanoes with the former wreaking havoc in 1980.

We set forth from Quinault Enroute to Ashford at the entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. The route passes through Aberdeen and skirts Olympia the capital of Washington State. Most of the state capitals are smaller cities instead of the most prominent ones.

Our next abode of the junket was The Deep Forest Cabins at Ashford. The setting was serene, calm and tranquil. Douglas firs and cedar trees formed a canopy providing an ethereal elixir. The cabins named Huckleberry were par excellence. After a reinvigorating nights rest we commenced our journey to explore Mount Rainier National Park and adjoining areas.

The first leg was trudging along to the Christine Falls and then along the winding roads to Sunrise at the base of Mount Rainier. The view if the 14,400 feet mountain with its shimmering glaciated volcanic peaks was awe inspiring. Flower laden rolling meadows add to the sublime beauty of the area. A dioramic view of the area is breath-taking with Mount Helena and Mount Adams adding further dimensions. Mount Helena the sleeping beauty erupted in 1980 with all its fury and tempest causing massive destruction. Next place on the must list is the Paradise Point area. The highlights of the area are the Reflection lakes and Grove of the Patriarchs trail. This trail crosses a suspension bridge over Ohanapecosh River into a labyrinth of primal virgin forest. It is like rambling through a relic archive of the oldest trees imaginable. Western Hemlock, Red Cedar and Douglas firs with a heritage of hundreds of year’s tower massively over a fern covered boscage.

The forest is ancient. The trees thick, old providing canopies to cover the sky. Streaks of light are visible amongst patches created by fallen trees. The trees are completely moss laden. Feeling of eeriness creeps in. The lava of Mount Helena eruption is still seen in the soil of these gargantuan trees. The last segment was a tour of Seattle the home of Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing. Other places of interest are Pike Place Market, Central Library and space needle. We lodged for the night at Cedar Tree Lodge at Bainbridge Island. The ferry rides with vehicles to Seattle and back were really thrilling.

This was the culmination of our mind blowing tour of the state of Washington. Indeed memorable in its entirety.

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posted by Salman Aslam @ 8:27 AM,


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