Today’s post is brought to you by Elizabeth of Yellow Elm, a Campfire Chic sponsor.
After moving to Seattle 6 months ago, my husband, Ben, and I were so excited to hike in nearby areas like the North Cascades and the Olympic peninsula. Our experience has been awesome, but we’ve learned a few things the hard way over the past few months that I want to share here on Campfire Chic today in case you ever find yourself hiking around the Pacific Northwest!
Be prepared for cold temperatures and snow
Coming from South Carolina, our “stomping grounds” for hikes used to be the Smokies and the Appalachian Trail, where cold and snow was rarely a problem, especially in the spring. We moved to Seattle in January and after some research decided to invest in snowshoes so we could hike year-round. Our first snowshoeing adventure was amazing and we got some great use out of our showshoes those first couple of months.
However, when we got to late March/early April we thought we could put our snowshoes up for the season and start really hitting the trails—we were SO wrong!! We ended up turning around on more than one hike because of snowy roads or trails. The snow just seems to be an ever-present consideration here, kind of like Kam experienced on her recent visit to Mt. Rainier National Park. Now that we are nearing mid-July I think it’s safe to say most spots are clear of snow, but I’ve gotten in the habit of always throwing gloves and a coat in my pack and researching current trail conditions. (Washington Trails Association is one of the best resources we’ve found for trails and recent trip reports.)
Be prepared for rain and mud
Wellllll this is Seattle, so it goes without saying a rain jacket or poncho is always in my pack and we never go on an overnight trip without the rain fly for our tent. The possibility of rain is still something to always keep in mind. Another fun factor here in the Pacific Northwest is the mud—the moist rainy climate makes for slippery, muddy trails. I have stepped into mud up to my ankles and gotten my trekking poles stuck in the mud on a few occasions.
Be prepared for fog
The fog here is also an interesting weather consideration. It is beautiful and adds an “other-worldly” vibe to a hike, but sometimes makes views at the top non-existent. I try to appreciate foggy mountaintops for their own beauty but it can sometimes be a disappointment.
Fog and clouds are something to keep in mind when exploring the city of Seattle too—think about the weather when buying your ticket to the top of the Space Needle. In our experience so far the fog does seem to burn off later in the day; a lot of times the morning clouds will lift and the sun will break through in the late afternoon. But we haven’t really discovered a good way to predict the fog and plan our hikes accordingly, so I’d love any tips from Pacific Northwest readers!
The summer days here are extra long and the sun is bright, and I’m looking forward to filling our weekends in July and August with many visits to our state and national parks.
What are your favorite outdoor spots near Seattle?
Elizabeth Blanton joined a two-night backpacking trip with her husband and his brothers three years ago—the extent of her camping experience at the time being a sleeping bag on the screened-in porch attached to her childhood home. Though still a fan of hairdryers and fancy hotels, Elizabeth has learned to “walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer” (John Muir). She blogs about life in Seattle, Pacific Northwest hikes, and creative living over at the Yellow Elm blog. Follow along with her adventures as she and Ben explore their new city on her blog and instagram.