Solstice Camping in the Central Cascades

small-stream-sidechannel-with-logs

For the summer solstice this year, my partner and I spent a day in the central cascades, camping off of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. My partner’s camped there for years – it’s his River. Right now, the road out is one of the nastiest in the area, riddled with potholes – but the Forest Service is planning to pave it, opening up access to more people. I’m excited that more people will be able to get in there and explore…but we also lament its future overrun state, and that we won’t have it ‘to ourselves’ anymore (not that it’s not already busy!). Over the past few years, we’ve noticed more and more use of the area. The undiscovered has been discovered.

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The Joy of Backpacking

Tracy backpacking in Kahurangi National Park in New Zealand in 2005

Backpacking is miserable, but I can’t get enough of it. If I could spend the whole summer out in nature on the trail, I would. It’s mentally and physically challenging, every day facing:

  • blisters, aches, and pains from your feet to your back;
  • long slogs up steep slopes that demand your mental fortitude to persevere;
  • flavorless food in various textures of mush;
  • cold fingers and cold feet;
  • heavy loads that never seem to lighten;
  • chafing straps and the constant battle to settle your pack comfortably, switching the weight from shoulders to hips to shoulders;
  • the risk of injury or getting lost without anyone to help you, demanding your constant focus;
  • finding and hand-pumping your water (I know, this doesn’t sound like much, but I find it’s a total pain in the ass).

So why take on the misery of backpacking? The challenges are worthwhile for the perception switch to the rhythm of the trail, the simplicity of trail life, the satisfaction of self-sufficiency, the beauty of the landscape.

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Mount Rainier in Late Summer

After four years of living in the Seattle area, I finally made it to Mount Rainier this weekend. We were in time for the tail end of the wildflowers, enjoying aster, indian paintbrush, lupine, and others. Enjoy this photo tour of late summer at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park.

Cascade Mountains Photography Tour: Snoqualmie River Forest Walk

lush early summer plants beneath forestIn early summer, the forest floor in the western Cascade mountains is lush with sprightly young growth. Last week I took a hike on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, 45 minutes from Seattle. After ten or fifteen miles on a gravel road as pockmarked with potholes as an english muffin with ‘nooks and crannies’ (sorry, car!), I reached the quiet trailhead. I indulged myself and photographed as much as I wanted (oops, 350 photos later…). Experience early summer in the Cascade Mountains in this forest walk photo tour. Continue reading