Highway 20 took national parks traveler Mikah Meyer through North Cascades National Park in Washington state, offering him breathtaking views of the mountains.
“I had heard that the mountains were rugged, but this is far more dramatic than I imagined,” he gushed.
He got a slightly different perspective on those majestic mountains from a boat on Lake Diablo, which Mikah compared to a popular American drink. “The water is so blue that it actually reminds me of a flavor of Gatorade called Glacier Freeze -- it looks like I could just scoop my hand down and drink the water and it would taste just like that Gatorade.”
The American Alps
The turquoise water set against a backdrop of the towering peaks reminded him of another picturesque mountain range…
“A lot of locals call this park the Alps of the United States because it looks very similar to the Swiss Alps."
But Mikah was surprised to learn that unlike the famous European range, the North Cascades is among the least visited of America's 59 national parks... in part, he thinks, because it's so remote.
“I was just really struck by the remoteness of this park, both in its visitation and its accessibility,” he said. “There's not a lot of hotels there, there's not a lot of roads that allow you to just drive up to the peak.” He described it more as a wilderness area, “not a park designed for the automobile visitor like so many other parks are.”
“If you want to get the good views, you’ve got to hike.”
Which is exactly what Mikah did, hiking up a harrowing, almost six kilometer (3.7 mile) long trail, much of which was covered in snow, even in the middle of summer.
“I can never get tired of this!”
While in Washington, Mikah, who’s more than halfway through his mission to visit all 417 national parks in the U.S., also checked out two of the states’ more popular peaks, this time from the air. Thanks to the generosity of Kenmore Air, Mikah got as close to them as he was ever going to get.
“Off in the distance, you see Mount Rainier National Park,” he remarked as he looked out the plane’s window. “A little closer to us is Spirit Lake, and in the foreground you can probably see steam coming out of an erupted Mount St. Helens.”
Mount St. Helens made headlines on May 18, 1980 -- with what many consider the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. history. The blast killed 57 people, and the mountain was left with a giant crater on its north side.
Mount Rainier, also an active volcano, is considered a Washington icon. It rises more than 4,390 meters (14,410 feet) above sea level, the highest point in the state. “It’s this massive behemoth of a snow-capped mountain and it kind of catches you off-guard and takes your breath away because it's so huge and it's so gorgeous that the images are just spectacular,” Mikah said.
The locals in Seattle, a short distance away, will commonly ask "is the mountain out today?” Mikah noted, explaining that they can see it from the city if it's a clear day.
The mountain is “out” …
Mikah got lucky on all counts. It was a cloudless day, so he had clear, compelling images from a variety of perspectives… the air, water and even driving along the interstate.
“I could can see Mount Rainier from hours of drive away, and that's when I think the mountain is most spectacular,” he said.
“I put on my social media a picture of the mountain that you can see as you're just coming down the interstate and I said, ‘I don't think I could ever get tired of this.’”