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Rachel DavidsonExplorer

When I'm not embarking on human-powered adventures, I'm writing about them. Say hi to me the next time you're in Seattle!

I attempted Chimborazo in late February and quickly discovered its altitude is not to be taken lightly. Despite having been over 20k feet three times before, this was the first time I have experienced Acute Mountain Sickness and was forced to turn around due to bad stomach symptoms. Like Kyle says in this write-up, Chimborazo is mostly a long glacier slog that requires endurance, stamina, and strength as you climb the 2000+ feet ridge to the false summit. Give yourself plenty of time for this climb, starting at 10pm or earlier, and make sure you pack plenty of extra food, water, and layers.

I'd read that this was the most epic section of the Zion Traverse, and I was not let down. Zion Canyon and Echo Canyon have such completely different temperatures, flora, wildlife, and views - it will truly feel like you've stepped into a different state. Enjoy the slabby sandstone crossings and keep an eye out for cairns to guide your way. I know people who have begun the Trans-Zion Trek at the Grotto trailhead and continued north, which I see as a huge mistake now... This section is not to be missed!

As others have said below, the 12 miles of this trail above Angel's Landing is completely quiet and undisturbed, truly coming to life in the fall foliage. Beware navigation on the southern part of the West Rim Trail after the intersection with Telephone Canyon - my GPS had recorded the old trail and we ended up bushwhacking along a dried out stream before reorienting ourselves after a couple uncomfortable miles. Looking back, I'd actually recommend the Telephone Canyon as an easy alternative to the West Rim, as this trail runs westward for just 2-3 miles before meeting back up with the West Rim.

If you are running the Zion Traverse (or Trans-Zion Trek), you'll find the Wildcat section to be one of the most excellent, runnable portions of your entire day. Clearly defined and well maintained, this single track trail winds through some of the least-visited parts of the park.

Be sure to pack plenty of water with you on this trail as it lands directly in the middle of a 17-mile stretch of no clean water sources on the Trans-Zion Traverse. Runners, beware - don't underestimate this stretch if you think 4 miles sounds like a breeze, most of this trail consists of deep sand that will slow your pace and fill your shoes.

This was one of the most beautiful sections of the Trans-Zion trek, and also one of the most frustrating. We encountered no fewer than a dozen stream crossings with haphazard rocks and sticks strewn across - to no avail, still came out feet soaking wet. This being said, none of these streams have drinkable water and hikers need to wait until they reach Beatty Spring, which runs along the valley floor to the Kolob Arch. If you're headed the opposite direction, you will have to wait 17 miles to Sawmill Spring... pack accordingly!

The elevation on this hike makes it a great beginner backpacking trip, with a gradual 1000 feet of elevation gain being spread out over four miles. Make sure to pack extra batteries for your headlamp, or alternative light sources - the desert gets DARK at night and there are a few narrow places on the trail where it'd be easy to take a tumble at night.

If you have the strength to make it further, I highly recommend continuing south to an incredible viewpoint sitting on a table that overlooks all of Kolob Canyon. Follow the main trail past the Arch until you reach an intersection with Beatty Spring (an awesome year-round water source). Turn right for a short quarter mile up until you reach a plateau clearing marked with a large boulder, and soak up the red-rimmed sandstone views! This will add .75 miles both ways to your trip, making it a 15.5 mile day.

This is an awesome addition to the Spider Gap Buck Creek Pass Loop east of Glacier Peak, but I would only recommend the summit push for experienced parties comfortable with steep, off-trail travel. When I come back, I'd highly consider heading higher up on Fortress to camp for awe-inspiring views of Glacier Peak and the surrounding area. Please follow Gabe's note on established campsites and campfires!

Like so many alpine lakes in this region, these photos don't do this place justice. Lyman Lakes is an awesome day hike and camping opportunity for folks looking for sprawling meadows, towering peaks, and turquoise-tinted water. Don't stop at Lyman - make sure you head to the end of the valley at Cloudy Pass (just a mile or two past Upper Lyman Lake) for panoramic views of Spider Gap and its neighboring massif.

This trail offers a deeply intimate perspective of the Glacier Peak Wilderness without going too far out there. Just off of Hwy 2, I'm surprised we didn't run into more groups on our 2.5-day trip through this loop. Our group unanimously agreed that the most underrated section of this trip was Cloudy Pass, a place I can't wait to visit again. We also tagged the summit of Fortress Mountain on the northwest side of the loop, which I would highly recommend for experienced and enthusiastic parties.

Beginning this adventure from the Jack Lake Trailhead makes it much more accessible for slower hikers and younger children, as compared to beginning on the PCT side of Three Fingered Jack. Try to go in the spring or early summer when wild flowers are in full bloom, and to avoid the fires that plague this area in the late summer months.

The Lassen Peak Summit Trail is a popular destination year-round for all ages and abilities. The wide, smooth path makes it ideal for large groups or runners, and no matter the season, weather, or wildfire conditions, you're sure to enjoy spectacular views from the top. As others have commented, arrive early to avoid crowds!

Yosemite and Lassen get a lot of hype as far as California parks go, but that's probably because you can enjoy most of their scenery through your car's windshield. Those who venture west of Shasta and make the arduous trek into the Trinity Alps wilderness are in for a truly remarkable and well-earned treat. I saw families with small children, older couples, groups of teenagers, and soloists of all experience levels. This adventure offers something for everyone and should be moved to the top of your list if you're considering a West Coast road trip.

The Kendall Katwalk has some pretty sweet views, but it does skirt around a main objective for hikers in this area: the summit of Kendall Peak. There are a few options from the Katwalk to reach the top, but none should take longer than 20-30 minutes. Definitely worth the extra time to check out a panoramic view of the entire Snoqualmie Pass and Commonwealth Basin areas!

Take them for what they are: A set of stairs next to I-5, in a heavily trafficked neighborhood, with little to no views to reward you for your effort. That being said, Howe Street is a hotspot for before and after work trainers - including runners, walkers, or folks testing new gear (or personal limits?) in mountaineering boots and loaded packs. The November Project and other local workout groups meet here often for training sessions.

This is an awesomely in-depth write up to the routes you can find at Exit 38. This spot offers a greater variety in route length and difficulty than its neighboring Exit 32, which is usually favored by more advanced climbers. Exit 38 is a great place for first time rock climbers to try their hand at outdoor sport climbing, and also ideal for practicing lead climbing before taking a test or certification in a gym.

The entire Commonwealth Basin is an awesome, tucked-away gem of a destination for bc skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, climbing, camping, and more. Snoqualmie Mountain sits above all other peaks in the area, offering sweet summit views and a peek at the ridges connecting it to the neighboring Guye and Lundin highpoints.

Paddlers, runners, volleyballers - this beach is always packed near sunset for a few good reasons. There's a great event center here that I've seen rented out for all types of celebrations. If the parking lot is full, turn right under the bridge on the southeast side of the beach to find a whole hidden alcove of roadside dirt parking opportunities. Definitely worth the drive from the city center.

Coming from San Francisco, I couldn't believe that there was a more sprawling, less crowded beach hiding in the thick of Seattle. If you don't want to bother with parking, you can run / bike / walk the South Ship Canal Trail from South Lake Union, West Lake, or North Queen Anne over to the park. Discovery is also one of the best beaches to catch the sunset at and closer to the city center than Golden Gardens.

Whenever I visit Poo Poo Point, I try to tack on a few neighboring miles around Tiger Mountain. The trail systems up here are great for long-distance training as they link and thread back into each other. I do remember one time in April getting stuck at Poo Poo Point in shorts and a thin shirt during a whiteout snow (and later, hail) storm - remember that the 4k elevation makes this an incredibly different climate than the sea level city!

The first few miles of the Grand Ridge Trail off of Exit 20 are thick with vegetation and sprawling, scenic switchbacks. Make sure you pay attention to each intersection you take - if you hug the trail too far west you'll end up downtown Issaquah like I did, and have to backtrack to regain the trail farther up in the foothills. Like most trail systems in the PNW, this thing turns into a mud bath after heavy rains, so be prepared for some mud trudging.

Pete Lake is a great alternative to the heavily trafficked surrounding Alpine Lakes Wilderness areas that require a permit. The trail is relatively flat the entire way, and there are plenty of scenic camping spots to choose from once you reach the water. We envied the parties who thought to bring inflatable canoes and floaties to swim around the lake. Wranglers, you'll love this spot!

Even when the winds are high and waters are rough, paddling in Lake Union is generally save and easy to navigate. Take off after hours to avoid choppy water and heavy boat traffic - all you need after sunset is a headlamp, according to Seattle's light laws. Head east past the I5 and University bridges to Agua Verde where you can dock and enjoy a beer before heading home.