The Olympic National Park is big. Like really big. 1,442 square miles (3,735 square km) big.
How big is that you ask? Well, thanks to MapFrappe you can take the outline of, for example the Seattle City limits and overlay it over the Olympic National Park. Gives you a better perspective. And also makes me think:
What are we going to do with all this ‘wilderness’?
I know, I know. The popular notion is to leave it alone. Let it be wild. I get it. But I also see this vastness somewhat forgotten, underused, misunderstood.
Let me dream a bit here. My obvious bias is that I’m from Europe. I know the Alps. I have experienced accessibility, tourism, and the ability to enjoy the rugged mountains without the immediate result being abuse and exploited.
My dream is that people own their outdoors. Owning in a way of using it. Any family’s first dream should be to visit their local National Parks, not Disneyland. But for that to work the outdoor providers have to learn to cater to the families. Not by feeding their demands, but by learning to court and entice them.
We need better lodging and family-accessible ‘attractions’. Not petting zoos and paved roads, but a cable car and backcountry lodges that are managed and hosted year round. If one could hike for 3-5 hours and stay overnight in a real bed with a warm meal, that would be wonderful. Think of the popular hikes that take about 3-5 hours here in the area. Think Glady’s Divide perhaps. How about a lodge up there. The entire area would become so much more accessible to climbers and people wanting to explore further.
I have seen and experienced it and I can vouch that it is incredible. This is my dream.
Update: Oh man, just when I hit “post” on this article this link comes along. I shouldn’t even link to it, but some ‘Mommy Blogging Machine’ published a blog titled: “40 Places To See With Your Kids Before They Are All Grown Up”. And me, all curious if they left out the Pacific Northwest as usual, found #18:
18. Climb Mt. Rainier
West Central Washington State
Why you’ve got to go: This 14,410-foot-high snow-covered peak has 25 major glaciers. And you don’t have to be a mountaineer to scale it.
Excuse the F%^&. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Yeah, you can VISIT some spectacular accessible areas in Mount Rainier National Park, especially the Sunrise Visitor Center- a treat for the family. But YOU WILL NOT CLIMB THIS MOUNTAIN with your “Preschoolers/Gradeschoolers” like the article suggests. Yes! F%^*, you don’t have to be a mountaineer to climb it, but you have to become a mountaineer to successfully and safely climb this peak. It’s tall, like really tall. It’s full of glaciers, it’s a long trip. There is ever-changing weather and hidden crevasses and every year experienced people DIE on this mountain. NO! You will not take your family and CLIMB this mountain on a Saturday afternoon after you stopped by the mall and ate a burger at Red Robin. Dammit.