ID=28429143As the wildflowers start to bloom and the sun starts to shine, there is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than by immersing yourself in all of nature's incredible wonders. The best way to achieve this is by putting down your smartphone and leaving the city.

In Washington, we have no shortage of great hikes, camping spots, and secrets to explore all within a 90-minute drive from Seattle. For instance, the Mountain Loop Highway is a local hot-spot for hikers near Granite Falls. Hundreds of cars pack the dozens of parking lots along this stretch of road during the busy months – and for a good reason. Some of the best lakes, waterfalls, and panoramic views in the state can be enjoyed here on a clear day.

But, I do not love Washington for the clear days! I love the gray, the clouds, the rain, and the mood that an overcast day can bring. The emotions and experiences that rain can bring are amplified when you work your way up a mountain. What used to be a trail has quickly turned into a temporary stream; hiding under a knit hat and waterproof jacket does nothing against the sodden wind that blows the clouds overhead.

But, wait. What's this? As you keep hiking up the slippery rocks the rain seems to be stopping. You take off your raincoat and look across the valley where only clouds were floating before. The sun is now beating down on you. While it rains on everyone below, you may just be the only person enjoying the sun. And it only took reaching 5,327 feet of elevation to get there.

Hiking isn't just a hobby for me. It's empowering, it's meditative, and it's a way of life. The solitude that can be found out on the trails sticks with you wherever you go. It's the wanderlust that so many people crave. It's the relentless need to explore, and explore more. It's a passion for something new and something unseen. This was the first time that I was able to hike above the clouds and I may not have that chance to do that again for some time. Hiking is always a new experience and a new adventure.

Get up, go outside, and find your own path.

Editor's note: Jared shared his Mount Pilchuck adventure due to the dramatic weather changes that we experienced along the way. This trail is accessible off the Mountain Loop Highway, and is a relatively short hike with dramatic views. Learn more here.

See more of Jared's photography and adventures at jqgunderson.com.

Other adventure ideas for the weekend:

Explore the PNW: Boulder River waterfalls

Explore the PNW: Climbing Mount Si

Explore the PNW: Palouse Falls State Park