This story is part two of my trip through five states in the northwestern United States. I started off in Seattle and went to do some hiking in Mount Rainier National Park, but I had to abandon my initial plans due to bad weather conditions. My next stop led me through an impressively boring part of Oregon, with miles of literally nothing apart from some brown rolling hills that went on for ages until finally disappearing into dusty brown flats dotted with bushes and shrubs. I think you can probably tell, I was not very fond of this portion of the trip. I had to drive for 9 hours to get to Boise, Idaho, where I stopped for the night and got supplies for my upcoming stay in the Sawtooth mountains. With a trunk full of goodies and a sunny forecast, I slowly started to make my way through Boise National Forest towards the Sawtooth range.
Need for Speed
At this point, I have probably driven well over a thousand miles. My GPS was responsible for a few unplanned detours and some especially scary moments, like the time when it sent me straight into a one-way road with oncoming traffic, or when I kept circling around a KFC, or when the app crashed right in the middle of a massive intersection. But in the end it always got me there. On my way to the Sawtooths, I began to grow impatient, which made me drive recklessly. I kept getting lost because there was very little signage and since it’s not a national park, it doesn’t have the entrance where they give you a map, which I hadn’t accounted for. The road was long and winding and I was already fed up with driving such a long distance by myself and listening to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ on the radio for the hundredth time. I was also quite tired, which altogether sounds like the perfect recipe for a disaster. And it almost was. I came very close to causing a traffic accident when I was passing a car and two motorcycles while trying to make a right turn. The woman in the car wanted to report me to a ranger, but when she saw that I was alone and tired, her motherly instincts kicked in and she walked away with only advising me to take some rest. I realized how dangerous my behavior was, so I stopped at the nearest lodge to rest and ask for directions. Needless to say, this could have all been avoided if I had done that in the first place. The lesson here is: when you are driving alone for a long time, take frequent breaks every two to three hours, stay hydrated, and if you start to feel tired, just pull over. It is not worth it to risk your own or someone else’s life.
Fishhook Creek Trail
After much needed reflection, I felt very bad for losing most of the day on driving around instead of enjoying the outdoors, so I decided to go for a short evening hike. I pulled up in front of Redfish Lodge and started trudging along Fishhook creek. The bubbling stream and golden sunlight shining low through the trees felt very relaxing and calming. Unlike Mount Rainier, the weather in Idaho was already way into spring, with snow remaining only at the highest elevations. Blue wildflowers were blooming along the trail, fading gradually into tall grass as the trail winded into an old forest. I remember listening to Foo Fighters in order to keep a quick pace, as I had to make it back to the car before sunset. In less than 45 minutes, I have made it to a wide opening, giving way to a beautiful view of the mountains. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay there for long, because the opening was right next to some wetlands with swarms of mosquitoes. I took as many pictures as I could before finally escaping from their pesky stings. I managed to make it back safely before dark.
Into the Wilderness
The next day, I was prepared to spend the whole day on the trail. Since I only had a limited amount of time at each destination, I preferred to take longer trips in order to see more of the countryside. The friendly and helpful cashiers at the lodge gave me tips on some of the best hikes, and along with some reviews on the internet, I chose to hike up to Sawtooth Lake first. This hike requires a wilderness permit, which can be obtained at the beginning of the trail from a wooden box. The first part of the hike goes through a forest that slowly turns into rocky overlooks. Then it starts climbing up on a white mountainside and at the top you will get a view of the gorgeous deep-blue Alpine Lake. It is possible to take a detour which goes straight to the lake shore if you follow the sign at the fork. As I gained elevation, the rocks started to get covered in thawing snow, which made it difficult to stay on the right path. When I arrived to Sawtooth Lake, I found that it was still frozen. It was sitting in a cauldron of mountains on each side behind a small snowed up hill. I ate lunch with the presence of a curious squirrel companion and then I turned back. The snow was thick enough for me to be able to slide down in some of the steeper parts. I also stopped at Alpine Lake along the way back. The whole hike was about 9 miles long and took me under 5 hours to complete.
Around Redfish Lake
The next day, I felt confident enough to try and do a roundtrip hike instead of going one way and having to turn back again, so I decided to hike around Redfish Lake. The weather in the morning was cold and there was a light drizzle, but eventually the sun came up. I had my hiking high on and I was going as swift as a mountain goat. I took a detour to go see Bench Lakes that were only three quarters of a mile away, which proved fruitful, because I captured an amazing picture of a young deer. Yellow sunflowers were lining the trail from both sides and I had a good view of the mountains and Redfish Lake. As I got to the middle of my hike, the weather changed rapidly and suddenly I was caught in the middle of a rainstorm. The wind was very strong and cold, so I stopped at a campground by the lake and spoke to some rangers who were just servicing the public restrooms. From what they told me I gathered that it would probably be best to turn back at this point, because I have already hiked around 8 miles and there was at least another 16 more to go. Luckily, there’s a boat that takes hikers and rangers back to Redfish Lodge on the other side of the lake and they invited me for a ride with their bin bags. I went to have lunch by a nearby lily pond and waited for the boat to arrive. The lake was very choppy, which made for a thrilling ride and the rangers seemed very impressed when I told them about my adventures. After getting back to the car, I began to plan my trip to Grand Teton National Park, which you can read about in part three of my road trip round the north west of the US.
Part three of my roadtrip coming soon!
In June of 2016, I have decided to go and explore more of the western coast of the United States. I have already been to some of the southwestern states, so this time I wanted to see what the northern part had to offer. My main focus was to visit several national parks and to go on as many hikes as possible. I also wanted to stop in certain cities along the way so that I could visit some of my local friends and get supplies for camping. I planned my route carefully beforehand and the overall statistics were jaw-dropping: if I wanted to make the most out of this trip and visit everything I intended, I would have to drive over 4,000 miles with a rental car through five states in two weeks – by myself.
Even though I was a little scared, I have decided to take up the challenge for the sake of adventure. But if I wanted to make sure that I would enjoy this trip and not worry too much, I had to plan ahead as accurately as possible. Obviously my main problem was limited budget, as I didn’t have the luxury of sharing the costs with anyone else. Before you start wondering – yes, I did try to find someone to go on this trip with me. I had some promising offers, but they all went down the drain. So I had no choice but to try and make it on my own. I was living in England and working as a Housekeeping Supervisor for a four star hotel at the time and I was also saving up for a long-term stay in New Zealand, so I had to figure out a way how to cut costs.
Doing the Math
The cheapest flight ticket from London I found got me as far as Vancouver, so I had to figure out a way how to get to Seattle effectively. I probably looked up every type of travel imaginable, but the best one still turned out to be a bus going from the Pacific Train Station to the train station in Seattle. The only downfall to that was that I had to pay a taxi from the airport, because I didn’t have enough time during the transfer to use public transport. I booked the cheapest hostel in Seattle that I could find, which had a convenient location close to the train station where I would arrive, and it was also within walking distance of the car rental place. The hostel turned out to be very nice and I would recommend it to anyone – it’s called Hostelling International. The car rental place I chose was offering amazing prices for an economy car compared to booking it directly from the airport in Vancouver, which is why I preferred not to get the car straight away and save some money instead, although it would obviously be a lot quicker to go straight from Vancouver to Seattle by car, but that’s just one of the many compromises I had to make. After I summed up these costs along with personal allowance, the total cost of the holiday ended up being around £1,200.
Ready For Take-Off
After some last minute touches, I was finally ready to get on the plane and embark on my adventure. I arrived to the hostel and the next day I went to pick up the car. According to my booking I was expecting something small like a Kia Rio, but when I saw that they pulled a gorgeous beast of a car called Chrysler 200 in front of me, the only words I could mutter out were: “Oh my god, is that mine?!” Coming from a middle class European family, I have never even seen a car like that before. It took me five minutes before I figured out how to turn the engine on. After that I went to pick up my bags from the hostel and I was finally on my way.
On The Road
My first stop after Seattle was Mount Rainier National Park. The main attraction there is a massive supervolcano called (surprisingly) Mount Rainier, which can be seen from Seattle on a clear day. I was excited to see it with my own eyes, as the pictures of the mountain surrounded by colorful meadows looked absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, the weather there during that time of the year is still quite cold, so I woke up to a fresh layer of snow after my first night of camping. I hastily put my tent back in the car and I went on my first hike. Seeing as the higher elevations were still covered in a lot of snow, I chose a short hike to Comet Falls to familiarize myself with the conditions of the terrain. It was misty and the air was very humid. It took me around 45 minutes to reach the falls. My journey on the trail was quite uneventful, but I managed to get a glimpse of a pika peering out of a rocky pile next to the road. Even though I was highly skeptical if I would even be able to see anything during this weather, I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw an absolutely enchanting waterfall stretching down from a tall cliff side in front of me. It was sitting in a small valley surrounded by snow-covered trees with a narrow stream passing through a rocky ravine. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it, it had that magical winter atmosphere to it and I simply couldn’t get enough. After thorough documentation, I turned back to my car. I was the first person to hike the trail that day.
Next Stop: Paradise
After the hike, I decided to try my luck and go to a place called Paradise, which has a visitor center sitting right at the foothill of the volcano. Soon after I started reaching a higher elevation, I realized that my luck was not with me that day. The clouds were hanging very low and I could only see the base of the volcano. On top of that, it also started to snow again. Slightly disappointed, I went inside the visitor center to look at the exhibits and then I pressed onward. I stopped at two other places before getting to the conclusion that early June was simply not a good time to visit the park. I gave myself a promise that I would return here again one day, but a lot further into summer. I turned on my GPS and typed in my next destination: the Sawtooth mountain range in Idaho. You see, I’m a bit of a mounthusiast – a mountain enthusiast, someone who feels drawn to the mountains, but lacks the physical stamina of being allowed to call themselves a mountaineer. If you would like to follow me on my adventure and read about other places with breathtaking scenery such as the Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, keep your eyes peeled for part two of my road trip through the northwestern US.
Continue reading Part II here -> USA: Road Trip Through the Scenic North West, Part II
This is just an initial post. As soon as I have more time, I will keep adding information about each band, as in what genre of music they play and what type of hike it is suitable for. If this sounds interesting to you, come back here in a few days and hopefully the post will have been updated.
Just so this post is not a complete rip-off and a waste of your time, I have included a list of the bands I currently enjoy listening to. They’re all good for hikes in nature but also for walks around cities. For example, Boy & Bear’s Moonfire is my top soundtrack for city walks around Salt Lake, Utah.
Bands A – Z:
I would also like to know what music you guys listen to when you hike, so do not hesitate to share your music with me!