Following my eventful days and sleepless nights in Portland, I headed north to Seattle. Somewhere along the way I began to notice signs for Mt. Rainier National Park, which, naturally, required a detour.

So I overnighted at the nearest Walmart (with much better success than I found in Oregon) and first thing the next morning headed into the park. A significant portion of it was closed because of snow and Rainier itself was under heavy cloud cover for the entirety of the day, but still, it was enough for me to fully fall in love with the Pacific Northwest.

I spent the day shooting waterfalls and petting furry tree arms, and marveling at the lush wonderland that it felt as though I had all to myself (perk of visiting a national park during the “off” season!)

I had no idea at this point that I would end up spending two months in Washington, but I think that if someone had told me, I would have smiled and done a little happy dance.

There’s just something about the rushing rivers, verdant greens, and thundering falls of the PNW that screams abundance, and it nourishes and restores the soul as much as food does the body.

Numerous people that I’ve happened across in my travels over the years have told me that I need to see the wildflowers in Paradise, and even though it wasn’t wildflower season I tried to make it to that section of the park.

As I wound my way up the road to the higher slopes, however, the landscape transformed from wet, lush green and furry tree arms into a white winter wonderland. It was hard to imagine sun-drenched fields of wildflowers where all I could see was snow, but I hope to make it back this summer during peak wildflower season… because sun-drenched fields of wildflowers are a little more my “thing” than knee-deep snow 😉

Furry, moss-covered tree arms at Mt. Rainier National Park

…and since cold trails aren’t really my thing, either, a return trip is essential so that I can explore the park’s many miles of trails a bit more thoroughly.

An active volcano, Mt. Rainier sits at 14,410 feet above sea level and, as the tallest feature of Washington’s landscape, can be seen from many areas of the state…but perhaps best from the vast wilderness of the park itself. (Although driving into Tacoma and seeing the snow-capped mountain rising up behind the city gets me every time and makes running errands a little more inspiring than normal!)

The day at Rainier felt like a tease, and I’m counting down the minutes until summer comes back and I can come back to the PNW to play.

Fog drifts through the trees below the Paradise section of Mt. Rainier National Park

Waterfalls and stone bridges make one of my favorite combinations to photograph

An icy cold stream rushes toward a waterfall at Mt. Rainier National Park

The Pacific Northwest is home to endless waterfalls and moss-blanketed evergreens