By the time we left Montana a few things were starting to go wrong with Brenda – the starter battery was on its last legs and struggling to start the car each morning, the roof tent seemed to be falling apart more and more every time we opened it, there was a strong smell of diesel at the back of the car, the rear diff seems to be covered in oil and so on and so on. We had an appointment in Seattle to collect a new roof tent from iKamper, which coincided nicely with the 3 night dog sitting we had arranged, so with the knowledge of an upcoming comfty bed and some time to fix Brenda’s few issues we made our way slowly through northern Washington State via some spectacularly remote passes to our first stop at Northern Cascades National Park for some backpacking and hiking.
Getting backcountry hiking permits (required to backpack overnight in National Parks) is a bit hit and miss depending on the National Park, but fortunately we managed to get one for NCNP, and what a site it was. Perched precariously on a cliff above a raging glacial melt river, we ate our camp meals as the sun set, and enjoyed a campfire listening to the sounds of the rapids, aware that a midnight toilet trip could be our last….
Leaving North Cascades National Park we made our way slowly through the North Cascades mountain range towards Seattle, finding some wonderful wild camping locations, remote hikes and breath taking mountain scenery until we finally arrived at the morning of our dog sitting. Pepper is one of the most chilled out dogs we’ve ever met. He has a huge amount of fur and struggles in the Seattle summer heat, so he tended to spend most of the day laying in the coolest parts of the house trying not to get hot, but early morning and late evening we would take him for a walk, play in the garden and snuggle on the couch. It was great to have a few nights off from travelling – sleeping in comfy beds, sitting on a sofa, and being able to have a shower and stay clean for more than 30 seconds felt heavenly.
Having collected our new roof tent, we waved goodbye to Pepper and headed back to the Cascade Mountains range and slowly made our way south, stopping off for some more amazing hiking and back packing at Mt Rainier, swimming in countless lakes and rivers, laying in hammocks, building dens and setting up slacklines.
After a few wonderful weeks in southern Washington State we finally crossed the Bridge of the Gods and found ourselves in Oregon, a state we’ve been looking forward to ever since we meet Andrew on the first Africa trip, who told us tales of life in Oregon around a camp fire in Uganda.
Northern Oregon is every bit as beautiful as Washington State. Cabin fever finally set in due to the relentless proximity of the trees, so we made a break for it and headed into the desert for a few nights for some open space and stary night skies. We made a quick trip to Red Rock state park where we were both happy and sad not to have our climbing gear (!) before heading back into the cascades to hike into the base of 3 Fingered Jack where we finally ascended high enough to walk on some snow (well… ice). Unfortunately, 2 massive fires in the southern part of Oregon prevented us from going any further – a lot of the roads we wanted to travel on were closed, as was Crater lake NP, so rather abruptly, and earlier than planned, we headed for the Oregon Coast.
The Pacific North West was a spectacular place to travel. Possibly even more so the Idaho. The ease of finding incredible wild camping sites, the relentless stunning views, the friendly people, the hiking and the backpacking, but most of all the quantity and quality of the wild swimming made it (stop me if I’m repeating myself) some of the most fun travelling we’ve ever done.
Anyway, time to leave the trees (for a while) and see the sea.