On the John Muir Trail near Island Pass, a truly amazing place!
On the John Muir Trail near Island Pass, a truly amazing place!

Hi, I’m Chris, welcome to TrailChick.com!

I’ve always loved to write and I originally started this site as a simple way to keep family and friends updated on my travels. Then friends asked me to tell some of my crazy stories and give them ideas for weekend road trips, places to visit, and types of gear to buy.

I quickly realized I didn’t want to write the usual “10 best secret PNW hikes” or “20 reasons why” articles. I love sharing adventure and great places to go, but I prefer finding the least accessible route. I’d rather inspire others to pull out a map and find their own adventures, and do so in ways that are sustainable and make a difference! All of us can choose to buy gear from companies that give back, practice leave no trace principles, mix volunteer work with adventuring, or simply find a new path!

After all, how you give back is just as important as how you adventure!

My story…

I’d love to say I’ve always been an outdoor enthusiast, but it really isn’t the truth. I grew up a nerdy, skinny, and incredibly uncoordinated Midwest kid. I kicked the ball backwards in kickball and my superhero power was, and still is, being a complete klutz! I was picked last for every sports team.

I graduated from Purdue University in May 2000 and made a quick, somewhat rebellious decision, to pack everything I owned into my truck and hit the road for the sparkling Emerald City of Seattle. I had no job, knew no one, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing! To this day I really don’t know what I was thinking, but Seattle’s mountains and water called to me.

I got a job as a Web Developer, met a few outdoor friends, and started hitting the trails in my jeans and cotton t-shirts. Ah, those were the days! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but I quickly fell in love with the outdoors.

I became a hiker, backpacker, mountain biker, road bike racer, trail runner, and snowboarder. I discovered a passion! And it was simply being outside.

One of my first PNW adventures with my dad way back in 2000. Hiking in jeans because of course, that’s a great choice for a wet climate! How much we’ve learned since then! 🙂

Traveling the World

Despite all my amazing Northwest adventures, I had always dreamed of traveling the world. In 2010 I realized I had been nowhere, so I quit my full time Web Development job and became a freelancer to give myself the freedom to travel.

I kicked off the adventure with two friends by driving a 1.2-liter car from London to Mongolia in the Mongol Rally, which to-date is the most amazing adventure of my life! It was humbling to see first-hand how money raised on the Rally directly contributed to improving the lives of many by building water filtration systems, providing children’s playgrounds, and establishing youth development centers.

In Mongolia on the Mongol Rally, a completely self-supported adventure of a lifetime!

Over the next 7 years I worked remotely and committed time to small volunteer projects while traveling in Indonesia, campervan’ing Australia and New Zealand, trekking in the Andes, and solo hiking part of the John Muir Trail. I visited 32 countries on all but 2 continents and spent winters living in the Methow Valley, one of my favorite places in the state.

I met some of the kindest people thriving in some of the harshest areas on the planet. I’m forever in awe of all the ways traveling changed my life and motivated me to find more ways to give back.

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Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

A few years ago I began having symptoms of fatigue with stiff, swollen joints that caused me to stop running and snowboarding. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disorder causing your body to attack its own tissue. Nearly 1.5 million people in the United States have RA and there is no cure. There is also no way to know how the disease will progress, or if it will. Some live with minor flares their entire life. Others can be completely crippled from the disease.

The diagnosis wasn’t a complete surprise. My dad, at nearly 70, has been an outdoor addict his whole life and also suffers from RA, as does others in his family. Somehow, with the help of anti-malaria meds to fight inflammation, he still manages to hike 50 miles every weekend so I’m determined to follow in his footsteps!

Dad and I in the North Cascades, adventuring despite arthritis!

Forging Ahead!

In 2017 I decided it was time for a change again, so I went back to full time work as the Technology Manager of a Seattle Interactive agency and I’m tackling new work challenges as well as replenishing my bank account for future travel.

I’ve made some dietary and lifestyle changes to keep my RA in check, like cutting out dairy and other inflammatory foods, keeping my stress low, and getting plenty of sleep! Although I sometimes feel like the rusty tin man and I don’t run quite as fast as I used to, I’m slowly returning to trail running and snowboarding, two sports I dearly love.

After a few years as a competitive bicyclist and runner, my new race is learning that it’s not about speed or distance. It’s simply about listening to my body and having fun!

The summit of Mount St. Helens on New Years Day 2015, woohoo!!
The summit of Mount St. Helens on New Years Day 2015, woohoo!!

I enjoy adventuring with friends, but ever the introvert, I love solo outings and travel. There’s just something magical for me about being outdoors alone, me and nature, and my crazy Lab/Chessie mix Jake dog of course! At 12, he still has the energy of 10 dogs + 2! He’s always been my best adventure partner, though this year has been tough as he’s growing old and we’re learning new tricks.

My best adventure partner Jake dog!
The best adventure partner a gal could ask for: Jake dog!????

Despite 17 years of exploring this beautiful state I still have an never-ending list of places to go and my big goal in 2018 is to finally run a trail marathon and complete my quest to visit all 93 remaining Washington State Fire Lookouts. It was a seed that was planted years ago due to my fascination with history and places off the beaten path. So far I’ve managed 36, so only 57 to go!

I volunteer with the Washington State Animal Response Team, a volunteer emergency response team that helps animals and their owners in times of need and I share my love of trail running by being an XTERRA Trail Run ambassador.

My inspiration: my dad, my outdoor hero

My bio wouldn’t be complete without my dad! Since I was young, he’s always been an adventurer! He’s nearly 70 and despite having rheumatoid arthritis, is living proof that staying fit and having an intrepid spirit keeps you eternally youthful. He and my stepmom have lived in the southern California area for 15 years and have bagged 800+ peaks (over 1,000 if you count repeat trips). They’ve completed nearly every Sierra Club peak list in the area multiple times.

We’ve done several amazing adventures together including backpacking the JMT, climbing Mount Whitney, completing the Enchantments Death March, and hiking the Grand Canyon rim to the river and back in a day. Just this past summer we hiked Southern California’s 3 tallest peaks in 3 days to complete the 3 Peak Challenge. Somehow my dad always out-hikes me and is my outdoor hero!

The summit of White Mountain (14,246′) in the Inyo-White Mountains with my dad and stepmom.

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Contact me if you’d like to chat, I love hearing from readers! I’m also available for guest blogging and freelance writing. Follow my stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Life is short, so get out there, plan your next adventure, and make a difference! Thanks for reading and have a fabulous day!!

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