Backpacking The Northern Loop in Mt. Rainier – Beauty and Danger Intermingled (pt 1)

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Last summer while visiting the Pacific Coast with my kids, I found the Pacific Northwest so beautiful that I decided to go back and do some backpacking. So early September a year later my 15 year old son and I flew to Seattle to hike the Northern Loop Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park. The Northern Loop covers nearly 40 miles in the northern and most remote section of the park and is considered strenuous with an elevation gain of ~9000 feet.

It is a steeply up, steeply down trail with little in the way of flat. So I spent the summer exercising and lightening my backpacking gear to prepare for the trip. I also frequented the weather report leading up to the trip. The last report predicted cool temps with some chance of rain the first two days of the hike and sunny and warmer the last two days. I was happy and felt prepared. And yet…Mount Rainier is a mammoth mountain sitting near the Pacific coast. They say the mountain makes it’s own weather.

Turns out, they are right.

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A 14 year old backpacks alone.


My Eritrean friend looked at me for a long time and then said, “Only white people do crazy things.” Well, that’s up for debate, but I had just told him that in addition to going backpacking the coming weekend with my 12 year old daughter, my 14 year old son would be backpacking by himself. To my friend who had grown up in war torn Eritrea, doing anything “dangerous” by choice was crazy. Rock climbing, backpacking, sky diving…these things that “white people” do for no reason and yet endanger us were beyond his understanding.

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Andromeda – Unexpected Surprise


In November 2014, Nathan, Hailey and I took a trip to Palo Duro Canyon in West Texas. It is the second largest canyon in the US and stunning. We camped for three nights and spent our days hiking. One thing we have all learned is that no matter how much we plan, the trip will never happen as we envisioned. The three of us have had some great adventures, which is to say the calamities we have experienced that now make the best stories. But sometimes, there is simply an unexpected blessing that makes a trip special.

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Why my kids wander

To wander. To explore, travel, experience. It brings me life. I wander through forest, down ravines, across meadows, along beaches, over rocks and logs, scramble up bluffs. If I’m outside, I’m happy. So naturally my kids were going to love the outdoors as well. But with a wonderful husband that doesn’t particularly enjoy being outside I wasn’t sure how much I could accomplish.

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