Exploring Pacific Northwest

Seattle is perfectly located to reach all the national parks in the Washington state (Olympic Peninsula, Mt. Rainer or North Cascades) in just a couple of hours driving.

I guess a lot of people would agree with me that the Pacific Northwest has the most beautiful nature. Rain forest is something we don´t have in Europe. So after I have done most of the sightseeing in Seattle I started to spend my weekends in the surrounding nature. 

There is a local group called Mountaineers that offers organized hikes or backpacking trips ranging from easy to strenuous. I joined them one weekend on the backpacking trip to the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula. After hiking through the beautiful rain forest, we spent two nights on Shi Shi beach. We played frisbee, cards, and explored the nature life of the beach during low tide. It was fun to spend a weekend with a new group of people of different age but with same interest.

I would suggest to anyone who wants to go hiking, but doesn’t have any company to join the Mountaineers or some similar local group. Except of meeting new people one advantage is definitely that you can share a ride with the other participants. Otherwise if you want to go out of the city, forget about any public transport like buses or trains in Europe. Renting a car is a must. If you are a group of friends and you book in advance the prices are quite acceptable. Having an international driving´s license is recommended, but so far nobody asked me about one; my Croatian license is enough.   

Important to know is that for lot of the hikes and especially campgrounds in the national parks you need a permit. These can sometimes be difficult to obtain, because for some hikes permits might be even months ahead sold out. My suggestion is to search online for the sites where people sell their permits. That is how I got my permit for climbing the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. 

The big difference from hiking in the Alps is that here are no huts, i.e. houses where you can find decent restrooms and get a “wiener schnitzel” with a beer on 10,000 feet altitude. Instead you go backpacking with a bear canister with your dried food and water filter, but for that you get a chance to sleep on campgrounds with extraordinary nature. 

What I will definitely be missing back in Europe is this wilderness, sleeping in the tent next to the lake or on the top of the mountain with the view out of the tent on a nice sunrise. 

Anja Brakus


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