After two amazing days spent in Mt. Rainier National Park, our Pacific Northwest Adventure continued further north. Day 6 was planned to be our longest driving day of the trip. And it served to be true.
Our plan was to drive 4 and a half hours from Mt. Rainier north to the North Cascades National Park along the US/Canada border in Washington...while going through Seattle along the way and not to mention any sightseeing stops we came across. We planned to make it to the North Cascades in time to make the scenic drive along Highway 20 through the heart of the National Park to see some of it's major destinations, before backtracking back to Burlington, WA to stay for the night.
The North Cascades, often over shadowed by the many popular National Parks, is a hidden gem known for its immense beauty of "Swiss-Alp-like" mountains, glaciers, meadows, and wildlife. We were mostly looking forward to seeing the gorgeous turquoise Diablo Lake. Well to our disappointment, our plans got changed. As we getting closer and closer to the National Park, we kept noticing a large plume clouds before us of smoke. Sadly, the state of Washington had been struggling with numerous wildfires while we were out there. And sure enough as we were about 5 miles from the North Cascades visitor center and entrance, we came to a stop as the road had just been closed. (see video below)
North Cascades Wildfire North Cascades National Park
So after driving 5 hours (most of our day), we were disappointed that we would not be able to go into this gorgeous National Park. But God knew what He was doing all along on our trip, even then. Later that evening we found out that they had just closed HWY 20 right before we had got there as a rock slide had just happened due to the fire. Also sadly, it was during that day that the 3 firefighters lost their lives in the National Park trying to fight the fires. God had his hand on us and kept us from any disaster. Which is a good lesson: Sometimes your life plans may result in a season of disappointment, but God has a different plan and is not done with us. Then we can look back and see that His plan was much better than ours!
So Robbie and I quickly tried to come up with a back up plan for the rest of our Day 6. After stopping at another North Cascades Information Center, we had some park rangers suggest that we drive further northwest to the Mt. Baker National Forest and northwestern part of the North Cascades. So to our great surprise, we were rewarded with one of the best views we had witnessed during our entire trip...and it wasn't even planned on our itinerary.
We made the drive further toward the Canadian border and got on the very scenic HWY 542 which goes through Mt. Baker's National Forest and ends at the Heather Meadows area. The area is on the very border of the North Cascades National Park which offers excellent views of 10,781ft Mt. Baker and the gorgeous picturesque Mt. Shuksan sitting in the North Cascades. You'll see in the photos below as we drive along the road we got to see some scenic farmland then Nooksack Falls. But finally I got to witness a picture opportunity I've only dreamed of. The wonderful picturesque lake with a snowcapped Mt. Shuksan reflecting in the distance seemed like a photo I've only seen in National Geographic photography. The breathtaking scene is still very visual in my mind today as I'm back home. I was in complete awe and amazement with the gorgeous scene I had the opportunity to photograph. And its because of God's grace and His plan that we were able to fit this in to our trip to the Pacific Northwest.
After spending sometime in this area of the park, we actually ventured across the border and drove into Canada. Neither of us had ever been to Canada, so we decided since we were that close we might as well. After driving through Vancouver, we made our way back down into the United States again and finally to Burlington, Washington to stay for the night. After by far our most time spent in the car on our vacation, we were worn out but we satisfied that we were able to see some amazing things after our plans were changed. I hope you enjoy my pictures below.
North CascadesThe drive to Heather Meadows Nooksack Falls Nooksack River Nooksack Falls Mt. ShuksanMt. Shuksan sits in the North Cascades National Park Picture Lake and Mt. ShuksanMt. Shuksan sits in the North Cascades National Park. Mt. ShuksanMt. Shuksan sits in the North Cascades National Park Mt. ShuksanMt. Shuksan sits in the North Cascades National Park Mt. ShuksanMt. Shuksan sits in the North Cascades National Park Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan Mt. Baker10,781 feet Mt. Shuksan Mt. Shuksan
Stay tuned as our las leg of our trip in the Pacific Northwest takes us to various places in Olympic National Park. Including our incredible Orca Tour!