The Pacific NW

Wild Western Washington

Our friends Brice and Aline from France came in August to visit us at our home in Mukilteo, north of Seattle, and they wanted to go backpacking. So together we planned a series of trips into the wilds of western Washington starting with a short overnight backpack trip to Ptarmigan Ridge on the shoulder of volcanic Mt Baker. After that we car-camped a couple nights in the rain forest along the Hoh River in Olympic National Park, backpacked in for a couple nights at Foss Lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and finally packed along the wild Pacific coast of Olympic National Park although we’d originally planned a longer trip deep into the wilderness of North Cascades National Park to Beaver Pass. Unfortunately, forest fires kept us out of the North Cascades. We hoped for good weather and lots of wildlife and weren’t disappointed except for smoke from the worst forest fires in decades that covered most of western Washington for weeks. Continue reading

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It’s mid-February and a rare few days of sunny weather has hit the Washington State’s notoriously wet and stormy Pacific coast. So I packed my backpack and drove west from our home near Seattle to land’s end – Cape Alava – the westernmost point in the coterminous United States and a remote point in the wilderness of Olympic National Park. (see coastal hiking information at the end of the article). Continue reading

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September 2014 – A Tough Trip Through Paradise; Snowking Mountain

Tough Trip Through Paradise; I borrowed the title of Andrew Garcia’s classic book documenting his travels through the old wild west to describe our backpack trip up to Kindy Ridge, a lonely rocky highland next to glacier-covered Snowking Mountain deep in Washington State’s North Cascade Mountains. You won’t find Kindy Ridge mentioned in many guidebooks or backpacker’s trip reports. Mountaineers know of it as an access route to climb Snowking and the “trail” is an unmarked, unmaintained steep goat track kicked into the mountainside by climbers’ boots. No doubt, it is a tough trip, but it’s paradise once you finally arrive. Continue reading

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August 2014 – A Very Beary Day

The massive volcano, glaciers and forests of Mt Rainier just outside of Seattle is one of America’s oldest National Parks, established in 1899. Since then the Seattle megalopolis has grown closer and closer until now Mt Rainier National Park is only a couple hour drive from the urban sprawl of Seattle. But wilderness it is and besides its glaciers and canyons, it is known for its abundant wildlife – including bears. Continue reading

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Backpacking Washington State’s Wild Pacific Coast

There are 1,300 miles of Pacific coastline stretching from Mexico to Canada in the states of California, Oregon and Washington. It’s a magnificent coast and gets wilder and wilder the further north you go culminating in the last 73 miles within Olympic National Park where the coast becomes a wilderness with no roads, stores, houses – just eagles, tide pools and remote ocean-side camps. My favorite part is the South Coast Wilderness out of La Push, Washington. It’s hikable all year, but winters are stormy, cold and wet. Continue reading

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Into the Wilderness in Washington State

When our friends from France arrived we had to go backpacking into the wilderness, no way around it. Like many Europeans, they love the vast wildernesses and parks of the U.S. Fine with me since I’m a wilderness nut myself, so I planned two trips into some of the most iconic wilderness areas of Washington State; Robin Lakes and Sahale Glacier.

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