Sunshine Blogger Award III

I think I’ve set a new record here for longest time taken to accept an award. Image Earth Travel nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award about 9 months ago. I started answering the questions, saved it as a draft, and completely forgot about it. Oops. But now that I’ve stumbled across it, I should probably finish it and post it. So here goes….

This award is given to bloggers by other bloggers, with the criteria being “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” I’m very humbled to have received this nomination once again…thank you Nilla for the nomination, and I apologize for taking so long to accept it. Continue reading

Crystal Clear – Crater Lake National Park, Oregon (part I)

After leaving the Columbia River Gorge, we turned south at Hood River, OR and began the 4.5-hour journey to Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake was formed about 7,000 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted so violently that it collapsed. The top of the mountain was blown off and what remained formed a caldera that is 5 miles across and nearly 4,000 feet deep. A few subsequent eruptions were small enough to form the 755-foot tall Wizard Island in the middle of the caldera. The mountain has not erupted since. Many Native American tribes actually lived in the area when Mount Mazama erupted; this event is still alive in some of their legends, and Crater Lake is considered sacred.

Because the lake is in a caldera, there are no inlets or outlets. The only source of water for the lake is precipitation – either that which falls onto the surface of the lake directly, or that which is absorbed into the ground of the caldera and eventually seeps out into the lake. The only way out of the lake is by evaporation. Due to these factors, Crater Lake is home to some of the cleanest and clearest water in the world. Clarity readings range from 115-175 feet, which is incredibly unusual. Continue reading

“Gorge”ous – Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Highway, Oregon

After four fabulous days exploring Mount Rainier National Park, we packed up our car and headed off. It was a bittersweet parting; I was sad to leave when so much of the park remained unexplored but also excited for our next destination: Crater Lake!

After much cajoling on my part (and some whining – not on my part), I convinced my family to take the long way there and drive the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Highway. It added at least a couple hours to our already long drive, but in the end I think we all agreed that it was well worth it.

The Columbia River originates in British Columbia and is the fourth largest river in North America in terms of volume. It travels over 1,200 miles and drains part or all of seven states plus a large portion of British Columbia. Along the way, it travels south through eastern Washington before curving around to the west and forming much of the border between Washington and Oregon as it flows out to the Pacific Ocean. Throughout much of Washington and along the border with Oregon, the Columbia River has cut a deep gorge. Continue reading

Happy 150th Anniversary to Canada!

July 1st marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. To celebrate, among other things, admission to all Canadian National Parks is free for 2017. And to celebrate here on Handstands Around the World, I’ve put together a list of my favorite Parks Canada sites.

This is also conveniently my 100th post! I’m always happy for an excuse to make a list, and this seems a very appropriate time to do so.

Banff National Park, Alberta
My very first memories of visiting Canada are from Banff. We actually went to Waterton Lakes first, but aside from the fact that the wind bent our tent poles, I don’t remember anything. However, the rugged beauty of Banff was definitely imprinted in my mind. I’ve been back once since then and I can’t wait to return someday soon. The scenery is just so incredible and there’s so much of the park that I haven’t had a chance to explore. Continue reading

A Day in Paradise – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (part IV)

I’ve been a lot of cool places. The US map on my bedroom wall is covered in pins; I’m up to 43 states and 57 National Park Service sites, not to mention 7 Canadian provinces and numerous national and provincial parks up there as well. So when I say that the Skyline Trail at Mount Rainier is quite possibly the most beautiful hike I’ve ever done, I have a decent number of locations to compare it to.

In fact, it’s one of the two Skyline Trails that can be found on my All-time Favorite Hikes list.

Of all our days in Mount Rainier National Park, this one was the warmest, sunniest, and by far the best. It began with a cloudless view of Mount Rainier from the main road as we drove from Cougar Rock Campground to the Paradise turnoff.  Continue reading

Feeling Small – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (part III)

Day three at Mount Rainier was full of lakes and waterfalls. Once again, we were greeted by blue skies as we headed out of Ohanapecosh, traveling west down Steven’s Canyon Road to Cougar Rock campground, which would be our home base for the remainder of our time here. We took the entire day, stopping along the way at the multitude of pullouts as well as taking a few short hikes. The first stop was Grove of the Patriarchs, an interpretive trail that leads through giant old-growth forests and across the Ohanapecosh River on a suspension bridge.

If ever there was a place to do a handstand, it would have been on the bridge. My bad. I’ve learned my lesson for next time.

Continue reading

First Glimpse – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (part II)

The next morning we woke to blue skies, the fog of the previous afternoon long gone. This was excellent news for us, as we were headed up to the northeast section of the park to catch our first glimpses of the mountain. 

From Ohanapecosh, we drove north to the White River entrance. Five miles in, the road forks; left leads to White River ranger station and campground and right leads to the Sunrise area of the park. We went left. 

From the White River Campground, we followed the Glacier Basin trail; one mile up, it intersects with the 1-mile Emmons Moraine trail, which leads to an overlook of Emmons Glacier. Continue reading