June 2, 2010 4

Road Trip 2010 – Day 8

By in Travel

May 22, 2010
Seattle, Washington to Yakima, Washington, 262 miles
5 hours, 21 minutes

Realizing that we had been spending far too long in cities, headed in the wrong direction (north instead of east), we decided to skip Vancouver and instead head towards Montana. I’d always wanted to visit Mount St. Helens, so we decided to take a short detour on Day 8 and try to find the volcano. First, however, another Top Pot doughnut breakfast was in order.

Our next stop before leaving Seattle was suggested by one of my brother’s friends: Archie McPhee. Billed as the emporium for weird toys and novelties, we had to make a visit. Where else can you find a bacon tuxedo and a chicken suit for sale?

Finally, we got out of the city. Before officially leaving the metro area, however, Faye and I wanted to visit the factory store for one of our favorite companies, Tom Bihn. They make the absolute best luggage bags in the world, and we’re total converts. After having spent 3 weeks trekking across Europe with only our two carry-on Aeronaut bags, we knew we’d want to visit their Seattle HQ.

As it turns out, Mount St. Helens is not a national park or even a national forest. Instead, it is officially a volcanic monument inside of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Getting to the lava-filled ruins turned out to be easier said than done, since the entire forest is about 6-8000 feet in elevation. We knew it might be difficult but if you don’t try you never know!

Our National Geographic scenic byway guidebook (awesome, by the way) suggested that we take the eastern route via Forest Roads 25 and 99. Once we entered the forest, we were greeted with a gorgeous view of Iron Creek, a tributary descending from Lake Scanewa.

Pretty soon we encountered our first obstacle: a one-lane temporary bridge constructed over a giant landslide. We’d seen landslides in California before but nothing of this scale.

We wound through the forest for about 20 miles, taking in all the beautiful scenery of Douglas Fir and other tall pine trees. The air was so moist and clean that we kept our windows down the whole time, even though it was only about 55 degrees outside. Pretty soon, though, we quickly started gaining elevation and watching the thermometer drop. Not good. About 7 miles up FR99, we were denied. The plow had only gone so far and it was time to turn around. Let me tell you, doing a U-turn in this mess was interesting business indeed.

We decided we’d had enough fun for the day and set course for Yakima. As we dropped in elevation, the forest became quite lush and the views magnificent.

The route to Yakima passes through Wenatchee National Forest, a park filled with amazing vistas and geological features. The first of these we passed was at the Palisades View Point, where across the canyon you could see dacite rock formations left behind by the receding Packwood Glacier.

By far, the highlight of our entire day was reaching the top of White Pass, seeing snowflakes hit our windshield, and getting out of the car to see this: Clear Creek Falls.

From the road, the scenic view area looked kind of dull. Imagine how happy we were to be able to play in the snow, see a hidden waterfall and after hiking down about a quarter of a mile, take in this view of the canyon and valley below.

Night was starting to fall and Yakima was still about an hour away. However, Day 8 was a day for wandering and we found one last stop. This twilight view of Rimrock Lake was too good to pass up. Even though we didn’t actually see Mount St. Helens, views like this on our travel day meant we were far from dissappointed.

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