Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SIDE TRIPS part thirteen—Purple Mountains

Highly recommended by several people I met was the drive up the North Cascades Highway or Washington State Highway 20.
They weren’t kidding about the UP. It goes through (quoting here from GORP Website), “the largest and most rugged alpine wilderness in the contiguous United States, with scores of 8,000-foot peaks, upwards of 400 glaciers, virgin Douglas fir and Western red cedar forests, and wildlife that includes gray wolves and grizzlies.” The highway goes through elevations so high that it is only open from May to November. This would certainly be the scenic route home. The tragedy was that I had so far to go and so little time. All I could do was gawk through the window as I traveled up the steep valley carved by the Skagit River. The forest was so dense that I couldn’t see the massive peaks, such as Mount Baker 10,781 feet (3,286 m). Names given by explorers to other mountains in the area: Mt Terror, Mt Challenger, Mt Fury, Mt Despair, Mt Torment. (No Mount Doom?) Not a warm fuzzy place for those early guys.
Just to give you an idea of the size of the trees
I pulled over when I finally got cell service at, what I think was, Rockport State Park. The sign said it was, “ …an ecosystem that has never been disrupted, creating a rare, natural forest with a canopy so dense that minimal sunlight penetrates to the ground.”
To say the trees were HUGE would be an understatement. These were Douglas Fir that had probably been growing in this alpine rain forest since the whole place was created. My over-active imagination was looking for mome raths and Jubjub birds and a flaming eyed Jabberwock to come “whiffling through the tulgey wood.” I was far from home, but I didn’t think I had gone through the looking glass. I’ll blame it on lack of sleep at that spooky hotel. This was like the giant redwoods with an extra helping of moss. Every millimeter of everything was alive with something.
The highway cuts through Cascade National Park. Everywhere waterfalls tumbled down from the mountains.

This is what gave the Cascades their name.



Linda Sue said...

Over the Cascades is astonishing! AND brief! Seems like once your in it you're out...Beautiful shots Leenie, you must be the reincarnation of Poke -around -and- Haunt -us.
When I was in my 20's I worked clearing trails in these hills- only saw three bear and loads of deer- no snakes- no spiders. It is heaven!
Have you ever gone up Lake Chellan?Next time...

dawn said...

you are making me seriously jones to come back out there......gosh i miss the west coast when i go a year without getting out there. these shots are gorgeous!

thanks for stopping by ye olde blog! hope you'll come back around when i get off my lazy butt and post again! hahaha!

Janie said...

Beautiful photos of a beautiful place. Interesting that the mountains all have such scary names.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Wow indeed Leenie - absolutely breath-taking.

Kara Bunnell said...

too bad you couldn't stay longer. the pictures are incredible. wow is right wish I coudl see that for my self.


I AM enjoying your travels.

DayPhoto said...

Boy! WOW! Is right!!!!