Hike/Climb

The Assiniboine Traverse: A Tale of Unrivaled Splendor, Grizzly Bears and Condiment Soup

For Europeans, the Matterhorn defines alpine beauty. At 11,870 feet, Mount Assiniboine, in the Canadian Rockies, is a similar momentous horn, cleaving the sky. The difference is that the Matterhorn is surrounded by tourist accommodations while Assiniboine rises in country that is by-and-large wilderness. Switzerland without the gondolas. Our intention is simple. We plan to traverse the high country across …

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When the Mountains Send You Home: Lessons from Liberty Ridge

The Chinook helicopter hung low over Mt. Rainier, its massive rotors hammering wildly at the thin air. From the edge of the Carbon Glacier, 5000 feet below, we could make out a second, smaller helicopter running sweeps up and down the mountain. Two black dots moved slowly in a grid pattern across the upper route, presumably climbing rangers looking for …

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The Journey Home: Embracing the Wild Within

Let’s begin by walking. It hardly matters where we go, but today we follow the gravel road to its end on Ruth Creek. Many of us have been to this trailhead before, hiked in this valley more than once, perhaps even climbed the glaciers that feed this creek. But today we aren’t hiking to a destination or climbing to a …

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Autumn Ecstasy: The Top 10 Fall Color Hikes in Washington

  With crisp air, deep blue skies, no bugs and vibrant foliage—fall is my favorite time to hit the trail. I’ve hiked over 18,000 miles in Washington State from the wild Olympic Coast to the grizzly-harboring Selkirk Mountains. And while most of the peaks, forests, lakes, and river valleys I’ve trudged across make great autumn destinations; the ten below represent …

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The High Divide: Walking the Green Horizon

The High Divide, that long sinuous ridge that stretches from Excelsior Peak to Welcome Pass has long been a favorite autumn backpacking destination. I’ve spent some glorious October days and nights on the Divide when the sweeping alpine meadows are positively lurid with the golds, reds and yellows of the season. But my visits in mid-summer flower season have been …

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Sophia’s First

The partially occluded, but dramatic view of Mt. Shuksan catches me by surprise. The hike thus far had been shrouded by the dense second-growth forest, squelching any hope of finding any inspiring mountain views. I point out the view to my daughter Sophia, who has followed me to the river to get water. “Ooh, pretty,” she says, and quickly refocuses, …

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The Wild Pacific Trail: Finding Awe on BC’s New Coastal Route

There is something about the edge of the sea. The unbounded energy of waves crashing on sculpted rocks with its attendant deluge of negative ions, the wind-lashed trees, the profusion of life – aquatic, terrestrial and avian. In the Pacific Northwest everybody loves a walk beside the ocean. Accordingly, there is a plethora of well-known trails along these northern coasts …

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Three Great Winter Hikes

Hole in the Wall The Olympic Coast is magical in winter. The crowds are gone, the sea is tempestuous, and the broad expanse of Pacific Ocean and open sky is a tonic for the winter-closeted soul. From the trailhead at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park it’s an easy two-mile hike north up the beach. The only obstacle is Ellen …

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This Weekend: A Pair of Spectacular Autumn Hikes in the North Cascades

The North Cascades are justifiably famous as a summer hiking Mecca. Emerald green meadows and carpets of wildflowers make for idyllic wandering beneath blue skies. But in autumn, the color scheme changes and the high country is ablaze with warmer hues of red and gold, orange and magenta, yellow and purple. At this time of the year, hikers can feast …

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Higher Education: Learn to Climb this Summer

It is time once again to put down your latte and find your ice axe, climbing harness, and willpower – it may be summer break for the kids, but school is in session on Northwest mountains from the Alaskan Range to the Cascades and there is no better teacher than internationally respected  American Alpine Institute (AAI) of Bellingham, Washington. This …

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