We said our farewells to Donna, Inn Keeper extraordinaire after another hearty one of her breakfasts. This stay at the Log House Inn, combined with the two hikes that we did will make this truly the highlight of our trip.
We said goodbye to beautiful BC and headed down the Sea-to-Sky Highway to the Canadian and U.S. border. (Header photo: Mt. Tantalus scenic viewpoint)
We had a minimum amount of traffic going through Vancouver and crossing the border. Our prime concern was getting through Seattle’s traffic to arrive at Mt. Rainier without too much of a delay. It’s absolute madness getting through Seattle and I can’t imagine living there and having to commute on the roadways to work every day. We arrived at Alexander’s Lodge by early evening. This was the only accommodation in (or at the edge of the Park) that had electric charging facilities. We would need to charge every night of our stay. It’s an old dated lodge, but it was clean and convenient to the park.
We had a hard time choosing what would most probably be our last long hike of our trip. We vacillated between Paradise ridge and Comet Falls and finally settled on Comet falls because the reviews we read in our hiking app described the Paradise Ridge hike, though beautiful extremely highly trafficked. Visions of Joffre Lakes came to our minds, so we chose Comet falls instead. We read that parking would once again, be the problem for us so we arrived very early to the trail head. Lucking in to one of the last parking spaces behind a local couple. While chatting they confirmed that Comet falls was a much better choice. We would meet up with them again a couple of times along the trail and we gained lots of great local knowledge from our lucky encounter with them.
This hike ended up being THE most difficult hike of our entire trip. The app had indicated the mileage as round trip 3.5 miles but actually that was the mileage one way! Glad we brought the extra water along. The hike had 2,090 ft of elevation change which was higher than any of our B.C. hikes. For our last hike, this was a 🍑 kicker!
Along the trail to the top we passed 2 waters in a canyon. I was very glad for the distance from the edge of the trail. …and we started to climb… up stairs, over rocks/boulders and on switchbacks. We reached a log across the stream that we crossed to continue to Comet Falls. We finally reached the thundering falls where most people turned around to head back down. The couple that we met at the trailhead suggested that we push the 3/4 of a mile further UP to Van Trump Peak where we would have spectacular views of Rainier. There were times I didn’t think I’d be able to make it. I was exhausted. It was hot (in the 90s) and the trail kept on rising. But oh boy, when we arrived the view was absolutely breathtaking. The sky was hazy with smooth from the fires that were burning all over the state of Washington. So glad we made this hike today as tomorrow Rainier would be obstructed with smoke.
We then drove around (ahhh, my knees were thanking me), to see more of the highlights of the park. We had stunning views of Rainier from different angles. Although the skies were starting to be filled with smoke, so the visibility wasn’t what we had hoped for.
We made a short stop at Narada Falls. Since it was a short hike in to the falls, it was quite busy.
From there we continued on to Reflection Lakes. On windless days (which this wasn’t) Mt. Rainier is reflected in the lake.
For our last day in the park we decided to follow the suggestion of the local couple we met on the Comet Falls hike and drive around the park to Sunrise Rim for a different perspective of Mt. Rainier. There were a lot of steep roads with switchbacks that would consume more battery power than actual miles creating a little unknown factor driving the Tesla.
We stopped for a short beautiful hike at The Grove of the Patriarchs (another trail that was recommended by the local couple).
It was a totally different environment on this side of the Park. There were lots of switchbacks and driving along the edge of the road. Unfortunately, the smoke from fires was really effecting our views but these hazy views were better than not seeing anything at all. There were numerous scenic viewpoint with pull-outs along the way. One of the photos below is of Mt. Rainier’s Louise Lake (not to be confused with the one in Banff which is much larger than this one). We reached the top of Sunrise Ridge at 6,000 ft. which is the highest peak accessible by car in the park. The top of Mt. Rainier is 14,600 ft. Such a pity our photos were smoke filled, but we imagined how incredible they’d be on a clear day with blue skies. There were lots of short trails with wildflowers but it was hot (in the 90s even at this elevation) and so we decided to have our picnic lunch and not hike.
This is where our real adventure started… When we returned to the car after lunch and stopping at the visitors center, Joe couldn’t find the key fob. We searched all over and realized it must have fallen out of his pocket while we were walking around. We retraced our steps 3-4 times, went in to the visitors center to see if anyone had turned in our fob with no luck. It was getting late in the afternoon and we started to feel a bit panicked. I neglected to mention that there is no mobile reception anywhere in the park. Normally we would be able to use our iPhones and unlock and start our car if we lost our fob, but without mobile connectivity that was not possible. Joe went to the ranger and explained our situation and they let him use their phone to telephone Tesla roadside service. Once again if there was mobile reception in the area, roadside service could remotely unlock the car and start it for us by communicating directly to the car. Once again this was not an option. The only solution was to send out a mobile technician from Seattle to resolve our problem. Not only would they be caught in afternoon traffic, but getting up to Sunrise Ridge would take at least another 90 minutes. While Joe was on the phone I was madly searching for the fob. I went back to our picnic area and checked the area for a 3rd time, this time much more panicked. I raked my hands through the ground brush and eureka, I saw the little black fob! Tesla roadside service was alerted that we’d found it and the service call was cancelled. Moral of the story… add a little visible something to the fob so it can be easily spotted, and figure out a way to stow the spare fob in the car incase this happened again. 99% of the time we would have mobile connectivity, so we would just need to unlock the car. Our spare fob is stowed in the trunk with the battery removed incase (which I hope will never happen) we run in to this situation again.
We took 2 days to drive home. Most of the way we had eerie smoke filled skies. In Grants Pass our car was covered with ash in the morning. I thought it had snowed.
On our last night on the road we went to a fun brew pub The Laughing Clam. It had great food and some really good local beer on tap. They had small portions on the menu so I got the calamari and Joe got the fish and chips. Both were really delicious. They also had live music (read: loud if you’re Joe). I thought it was pretty good.
This was a fantastic trip for us. We haven’t done a road-trip in I can’t even remember. We traveled 2,950 miles, using 17 different Tesla superchargers in 5 states. Our total cost for charging (or for gas powered people) Z-E-R-O.