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Welcome!

Hi, I’m Chris, aka TrailChick! I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years and enjoy seeking out wilderness destinations rich with history, solitude, and wildlife. In fact, my nerdy obsession with wilderness maps and route planning led friends to jokingly call me a walking encyclopedia of trails, hence my silly nickname.

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

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. Now that I spend a majority of my time exploring the Pacific Northwest, I share trip reports, stories, and the fascinating history behind some of the beautiful wilderness areas I’ve seen.

I also believe that more than ever, all of us have a responsibility to protect our wild spaces. I give back to the wilderness I love by volunteering with Conservation Northwest’s Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project. I help manage and maintain remote wildlife cameras in the summer and participate in snow tracking along the I-90 highway corridor in winter, which is helping to restore critical wildlife habitat and create highway overpasses and underpasses for wildlife to migrate safely. Additionally, I do citizen science work with the Cascades Pika Watch program.

Constructing a wolverine run pole and remote camera station in the North Cascades with a team of volunteers from Conservation NW. Amazingly fun and rewarding work!

I love inspiring others to get out, explore, dream big, and give back to this beautiful planet!

My story.

Although growing up, my dad was always hiking, camping, and climbing peaks, I wasn’t really much of an outdoor enthusiast. 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 packed 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.

In short time it’s clear I had my dad’s genes, because I became a hiker, backpacker, mountain biker, road biker, trail runner, paddler, and snowboarder. I discovered a passion and it was fueled by the wilderness.

One of my first PNW adventures with my dad way back in 2000. My dad is a prolific peakbagger and my biggest outdoor inspiration. 

Traveling the world.

I spent several years hiking the popular trails around Seattle but I had always dreamed of traveling the world. In 2010 I quit my full time web development job and became a freelancer so I could live life on the road.

I kicked off the adventure with two friends by driving a 1.2-liter car from London to Mongolia in the Mongol Rally, which has been 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 8 years I worked remotely and committed time to small volunteer projects while traveling in Indonesia, campervanning 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 Washington 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.

travel

Living with rheumatoid arthritis.

In 2011, 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, now almost 72, has been an outdoor addict his whole life and also suffers from RA, as does others in his family. Somehow, with the help of alternative treatments, he’s continuing to hike 50+ miles every week so I’m determined to follow in his footsteps!

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

Forging ahead.

I’ve made dietary and lifestyle changes to keep my RA in check and although I mostly gave up running, I’m determined to keep skiing, biking, hiking, backpacking, and paddling.

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.

I enjoy adventuring with friends, but ever the introvert, I love solo outings and travel. There’s something magical for me about being outdoors solo, just me and the wild. In January 2019 I lost my best adventure buddy of nearly 12 years, my amazing Lab/Chessie mix Crazy Jake. I often joked he had the energy of 10 dogs + 2! He taught me a lot about how to live in the moment every day and in October 2019 I welcomed a new rescue pup to my life: Hudson the Heeler! Jake would be proud.

Visiting all of Washington’s 93 remaining fire lookouts.

On July 1, 2019 I accomplished a goal of visiting all 93 remaining Washington State Fire Lookouts, becoming only the 3rd person and 1st woman to do. It was a seed that was planted years ago due to my fascination with history and places off the beaten path. It was such a special journey that took me all over the state and introduced me to some amazing people with incredible stories of history. I’m continuing to add photos and stories to my blog from this special adventure.

What’s next? Even though I’ve been all over the world there really is no place like home. I’ll be continuing to explore all the miles and miles of backcountry and wilderness right here in my own beautiful home. 

My inspiration: my dad, my outdoor hero.

My bio wouldn’t be complete without my dad! He’s now nearly 72 and despite rheumatoid arthritis, is living proof that staying fit and having an adventurous spirit keeps you eternally youthful. He’s bagged over 800+ peaks and we’ve completed several amazing adventures together including backpacking the JMT, climbing Mount Whitney, completing the Enchantments Death March, hiking the Grand Canyon rim to the river, and completing Southern California’s 3 Peak Challenge.

My dad and I on the summit of Mount Whitney, the tallest point in the lower 48!

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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 happy trails!

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