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the Pacific Northwest

If Jim and I are anything, it’s adaptable. We are flexible and spontaneous, and that has come in very handy for us over the last few trips.

The trip we’d been planning for about a year would have taken us to New England this fall. We would have flown into New York, met up with Lizzy, headed to the Adirondacks, backpacked the Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and made our way up to Acadia National Park in Maine before returning to New York to fly home.

But life got in the way, and about a month before we’d have taken off, we had to plan a more feasible trip… a shorter, closer-to-home, and cheaper one. So, we decided we’d go to Montana instead. We’d head up to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho first, staying at the historic old Stanley Hotel for a couple nights, then head up to Glacier National Park where we’d camp in our car (because I am NOT going to mess around with grizzlies), and then close out the trip by visiting our friends in Centennial Valley, Montana, back near the Idaho border. So everything was all set. We had the Stanley Hotel booked, and a fresh can of bear spray (GRIZZLIES!!!), and then… there was a fire. A big, fat, raging fire in the middle of Idaho. And it burned a little too close for comfort: two miles from the Stanley Hotel to be exact. I monitored it online over the couple weeks before, but it only got worse. The air was filled with smoke, the road we’d need to take to Glacier was closed, and our hopes for a Sawtooth getaway burned up with the forest.

Adapting, we decided to simply change our route, again. We’d replace our Idaho stop with Grand Teton and Yellowstone instead. We would backpack the Paintbrush Divide loop in Grand Teton (which I had failed at dayhiking back in 2009), and would enjoy three national parks together that we had yet to tally up (together at least… six years ago, Grand Teton was my backyard for several months). We’d still head up to Glacier, and we’d still head down to Centennial Valley.

And then, on Friday afternoon (when we’d be hitting the road on Saturday morning), Yellowstone National Park posted a photo on their Facebook page. There was a fire there too. Everywhere we wanted to go was on fire! I sent it to Jim and he jokingly wrote back with a map of a route to the Pacific Northwest… because it’s wet there, there wouldn’t be fire. While he may have been joking, it took me all of five seconds to be like, “Why the hell not?” So that night, we went to Barnes and Noble, picked up an atlas of Washington and a Pacific Northwest guidebook, and by the same time the next day, we were drinking beer in Yakima, Washington.

Over the course of the week, we backpacked in North Cascades and Olympic National Parks, stayed in a cabin at the base of Mount Rainier (and vowed to someday go backpack the 93-mile Wonderland Trail there), visited Mount St. Helens, floated on a river outside Portland with friends, visited multiple breweries, and I even managed to get food poisoning in Forks, Washington (of Twilight fame). It was a wonderful trip with amazing weather, only slightly dampened by the food poisoning and the endless driving. We had such a wonderful trip, and we WILL be back… only next time we plan on not spending quite so much time in the car.

Here are some pictures! More are on my Flickr.

Typical Jim and Sarah. Eating dinner after backpacking to our campsite at North Cascades.

Jim along the trail.

Our feet along the trail. We had to cross three streams.

Drinkin’ beer on a cliff!

Standard view from the road in North Cascades.

More trail.

Sunrise in Olympic! After car camping at the Heart O’ the Hills campground, we woke up early and drove up to Hurricane Ridge to watch the sunrise.

We ran into a bunch of deer up there, and they were super adorable. They acted just like dogs!

Beegee in the Hoh Rainforest of Olympic.

Our second night in Olympic, we backpacked into the beach… and we brought in our car camping gear (big tent, air mattress, comforter, real pillows). Heavy loads that took two trips, but it was a short enough backpack that we didn’t mind. We carted it all out in one trip though… that was rough.

Drinkin’ wine at sunset.

The later it got, the further out the fog went. So when darkness fell, it wasn’t foggy anymore.

Bein’ cute at our campsite.

Explorin’ the beach.

See how far off the fog went?

At Mount Rainier. Totally beautiful, but I wasn’t feeling so hot (the food poisoning) so we just wandered around for an hour or so.

We want to come back and hike around the whole mountain. There is something magical about Rainier.

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