At the end of the last post, Grace and I had just finished our Trinity Alps trip when I received a voicemail letting me know I could come back and hike Mount Whitney. The Whitney Portal Road had closed because of wildfire the day Grace and I were supposed to start our hike, so the permit office was offering a seven day window to come back and try it again. Just like that, five days after our Trinity Alps trip, I was again packing for Mount Whitney. This time though, I was solo.
When our friend, Andrew, came to visit last weekend from Washington, we wanted to take him someplace special. Pinnacles National Park was at the top of our list, and since it was only an hour and a half drive from the South Bay, it seemed like the best choice. None of us had been to Pinnacles before, so we'd get to know a new-to-us national park together.
And it ended up being a fantastic trip! We were blown away exploring mystical caves, admiring Pinnacles' signature spires, and spotting California condors. The icing on the cake was discovering it all together.
My Instagram friend Mitch recently talked about the balance between traveling to a new place and revisiting an old favorite, and I couldn't help recognizing the sentiment. Most of the time I'm compelled to hike in places I've never been before, mainly for practical reasons: improving my knowledge of hiking in Washington State and pushing myself outside my boundaries.
But there's always one or two hikes—or, in this case, a snowshoe—that I come back to year after year. Mazama Ridge is that snowshoe for me: a wide, gently rolling fairway with gratifying views of Mount Rainier. In the summertime, magenta paintbrush and periwinkle lupine douse the meadow-like ridge, while winter turns her into a vast white playground.
September 2017 marked our fifth anniversary, and we knew we wanted to do something special to celebrate. Onur had taken a day trip to Zion National Park—located in southwestern Utah—in 2016, and suggested we return for our anniversary. He didn't have to ask me twice; I was in!
Zion is famous for its sheer, multi-colored cliffs—uplifted layers of sedimentary rock known as the Grand Staircase—carved into a dazzling canyon. The Virgin River flows wide and easy along the length of the canyon, while soft brick- and sand-colored walls of sandstone rise like cathedrals from the valley floor. It was easy to lose ourselves in the magnitude and wonder of the place.
Looking for a weekend getaway in the mountains, my friend Grace and I headed to North Cascades National Park: a true wonderland of steep, slate-blue craggy mountains, aqua-green lakes, and wondrous larch-peeping hikes. Colonial Creek Campground, a car campground located 125 miles northeast of Seattle--near mile marker 130 on Highway 20--fit the bill. The plan was to arrive on Friday afternoon and set up camp, hike and explore on Saturday, kayak on Sunday, and then drive back home.
Hiking past bright, multi-hued fields of lupine, paintbrush, bistort, sitka valerian, and awe-inspiring views of Mount Rainier is a priceless summer adventure. I was seeing vivid wildflower reports of Berkeley Park in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park, and though I've written about Sunrise hikes in my book, 75 Great Hikes Seattle, I had yet to visit Berkeley Park. So, I went for it!
Grace and I were driving back from Chelan on the Fourth of July, cruising over Stevens Pass on a traffic-free evening, when we had the kind of exchange hiking buddies have while figuring out on their next hiking adventure. Someone said "Tolmie Peak" and then someone wondered aloud when the next full moon was. Grace looked it up: "Huh, it's this Saturday." Done! We had found our next hiking fix: a full moon hike on Saturday, July 8th, to Tolmie Peak Lookout in Mount Rainier National Park.