PNW: A wonderful corner of the world

April 9th, 2020

Two and a half years ago I arrived in Seattle with an open mind and no expectations. Well, I expected rain – a lot of it! But I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the Pacific Northwest. I mean, have you? Unless you live in the United States or have traveled to these parts, I’m sure you are also somewhat unaware. Ever wonder why people choose to live in a place where the sky cries for 9 months a year? Well, I unraveled this mystery as I explored some of the wonders of the great PNW.

Surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests, Seattle is perfectly situated for weekend adventures. About a two hour drive southeast of Seattle is one of its greatest tourist attractions, Mount Rainier National Park. This was the first thing on my bucket list and I signed up for a day tour within the first couple weeks of moving there. Biggest rookie error to date. In my defense, I was completely new to this and I barely made any friends yet, so the tour seemed like a good option at the time. And it was! Seeing a stratovolcano from up close for the first time is exciting no matter what the scenario! However, the best way to take in the majestic Rainier and its surrounding landscapes is to gather some friends and go camping at one of the many forest campsites. I did this with a friend during my last week there, it was kind of like a “going away” getaway. Ironically, Mount Rainier was my first and last outdoor adventure in the United States. How lucky am I?

You can go all out and take on the 4 day trek to the summit, but this will require some practice and a good set of equipment. Maybe I’ll do this on my next visit…

Closer to Seattle, on the outskirts of the metropolitan area lies North Bend. Perfect for day trips, you can take a not too long, scenic drive across lake Washington and out of the city. North Bend has many hiking attractions.

Poo Poo point a moderate hike up Tiger Mountain where you’ll find many paragliders along the way and you can watch them “fly” down from the peak. Not a bad way to end off a 6 kilometer climb! Some of us are less fortunate and have to hike back down again.

Another great attraction in this region is Mailbox Peak. You’ll find less traffic along this hike, for good reason! An 18 km round trip switchback trail with 4,200ft elevation gain, this has been the toughest day hike I’ve ever taken on! My friend and I decided to do this on a whim, so we weren’t fully prepared. We ran out of snacks halfway and we had to be stingy with our water. I almost cried at the last stretch because a thick cloud was hanging over the rocky mountain top, the trail was no longer visible and my legs were shaking from fatigue. At the top we found the iconic decorated mailbox filled with “I was here” souvenirs – the only splash of colour in an otherwise white atmosphere. As this was an impulsive decision it happened to be cloudy that day and we had no view from the top. This may not have been the best way to do it, but being able to accomplish this monster of a hike was so rewarding that we didn’t care about the view. Also, I think we were just too tired!

For less serious hikers (like me, actually) North Bend also offers countless easier hikes with breathtaking views of glacier lakes and evergreen forests. My favorites are Talapus Lake, Little Si and Snow Lake. If you are brave (or what some people would consider downright crazy) you can jump into the icy lakes and feel your body wake up for the first time. Brr!

If hiking is not really your thing but you enjoy nature scenes, look no further. Pack a picnic basket and head to Rattlesnake lake where you can enjoy some water activities or just soak up the sun and views of mountains and pine trees. Or if you want to be fancy, you can visit the Snoqualmie Falls and have an Instaworthy lunch overlooking one of Washington’s most famous waterfalls. This one’s great for a rainy day, as you get to do sightseeing while staying dry – best of both worlds if you ask me.

I can’t leave you without sharing an actual secret of the PWN. Southwest of Seattle is a hidden historical landmark known as Vance Creek Bridge, or its cover name, That NW Bridge. Built in 1929, this 114m high bridge was retired in the 1960’s. It sits on private property and is not accessible by simply typing the name into Google Maps (this will take you to a false location). If you manage to figure out the secret route, you still have to enter at your own risk, passing more than one warning sign. The things we’d do for a thrill! Because of the dangers related to this attraction and the fact that it’s such a hidden gem, the community wants it to remain a mystery to everyday tourists. This is one of the things that makes it so special – no traffic except for some locals taking a walk or a few determined adventure seekers who managed to crack the code. Definitely a highlight of my time in this wonderful corner of the world!

Lastly, I’ll share my favorite spot on earth: Lake Twentytwo. Who knew that Seattle was just one hour away from paradise! An easy to moderate hiking trail leads to a crystal clear glacier lake reflecting its mountain backdrop. We spent the entire day sunbathing like hillbillies on a rock and jumping into the soul-stirring water.

This is but a handful of wonders of the Great PNW – there’s still so much more to discover. Instead of going somewhere touristy, how about taking the road less traveled to see what secrets the Pacific Northwest is willing to share with you? In any case, seeing is believing!

*I apologize for the low quality of some of these photos. I lost most of the originals when I dropped my phone in the toilet (don’t judge, it happens!), so I had to download some from Instagram or have them sent through Whatsapp from friends – not ideal, but better than nothing!

12 thoughts on “PNW: A wonderful corner of the world

  1. Looks wonderful despite the frequent rain! I moved to London, so there’s a fair amount of rain here, too. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, though.

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    1. See that’t the thing, because of Seattle’s surroundings the rain didn’t get to me. London has it’s charm to make up for it I’m sure πŸ™‚ luckily summer is coming and with the current situation you’ll most likely stay indoors until then!

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  2. The Pacific Northwest is a corner of the US which has my heart. I went there in 2017, and I was blown away by how green everything was. I LOVED Seattle, and I would like to return there some day. The hikes you did look stunning as well!

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