Even with the state of Washington full of busy people, the high desert sun mills gray spots within. The Pacific rises dry and hot between the massive walls. The trees towering totally prepared for winter fade into brown and pterodactyl as the rainforest savors its surroundings. And in the distance, eastern Washington is visible, a small green island surrounded by the Cascades and Coast range.
Camping in Washington is literally a dream come true. Having successfully escape to the green zone every night, we are here to document some of the incredible sights we have encountered during our expedition. Washington is a unique destination. While some sites are well known like the Monterey Peninsula and Certainty Peak, there are lesser known and often surprising destinations such as Elephant Mountain State Park and Cape Lookout State Park.
The Elephant Mountain State Park area could easily be a ten day interlude from rest stops. Elephant mountain is vast. We could cover an area the size of California one hour at a time. Leisurely hiking trails wind around the mountain and off into rocky ravines and meadows. There are waterfalls, some not so successful (that’s for this author) to name of those that are not complete. The trail to Sand Point encompasses the entire park and is well maintained by the California hiking club. It affords a nice respite from the wheel•chair•ride to the summit of Elephant Mountain. Our group was small on this tour so we stuck to exploring the trails in the one car.
Cape Lookout overlooks the Columbia River. The trail to this point is shared by hikers and skiers. I don’t own a skylight but have been told by acquaintances that it would be worth the occasional rental. It would be a good day hike if one chose to ski down the trail to Dickey Lake and then the next morning hike down the trail to Elephants Peak. Although there are some ups and downs this out-and-back course still makes for a very enjoyable day expedition.
North of the city is the Columbia River marking the mid point of the famed Appalachian Trail. All of Washington, Oregon and California are part of the trail although the actual shortest point in distance is found in British Columbia. From the Maryland/ Virginia border southward to the California/Arizona border the distance is anywhere from 78 to 116 miles or 124 to 141 kilometers.
At the east end of the Columbia River is a very interesting area known as Jay Cooke State Park. Jay Cooke, an affluent Washington DC area, owns large tract of flats set aside as park land. Upon visiting this park one must think of a space-aged movie where strange people and places exist. Jay Cooke’s neighbors include theasiad of Mount Hyatt in the Avalon hotel.
Our hiking paths took us to a variety of habitats and zoos such as economies, wilds and steaming pools. We visited a place in Dhikala where we pulled off the road to glimpse the river and where Dhikala is located. It is a very polely place with a startlingly high number ofFalcons flying in the sky – not something I would like to see at this low altitudes. On this trail we also had the opportunity to see elephants, rainbows, hummingbirds, marmots, golden orioles, robins, gray wolves and owls.
flies, ants, bees, butterflies, and of course – mosquitoes. The mosquito zappers are deactivated and our friend the Kestrel hit me over the head with it’s pointed beak. It was a venomous creature and although I did not see its face after the strike, I got attacked by what seemed like a million miniature miniature versions of a mosquito as well. Needless to say, I did not want to get any closer to that.
So with our next breath we turned around and headed back to the lodge. We had mixed emotions – we wanted to stay, but knew that this was not the time to bring food to the tigers. We opted to have a snack and a drink out in the open and waited for the tigers to finish their meal – they finished within minutes and then retired to their bedroom to enjoy the minutes. And then we sat and watched the sunset – the sky turning pink and orange and yet the overall feeling was one of serenity.
The way back was easier and at 5:30 am full of energy and excitement, we began our early morning hike to the forest where we planned to camp for the night. Within a half hour, we were parked (or nearly) at the trail head and had our final breakfast and a little time to explore the area.