Category: Hike


Hike | The Wallowas

Trail: Wallowa River Loop (West Fork to Lake Basin to Glacier Lake)

Dates: 9/1 to 9/3 (3 days, 2 nights)

Milage: 28 miles, round trip

Day 01. West Fork to Lake Basin, camped around Horseshoe Lake (11 miles)

Day 02. Lake Basin to Glacier Lake, camped at Six Mile Meadow (11+ miles)

Day 03. West Fork out to trailhead (6+ miles)

Pre-hydration: noodles, sauce ‘leather’ & fresh basil from my garden, and ground turkey.

I’ve had some really great backpacking trips this summer and this is most likely my last trip before grad school starts!!! 

Ever since we picked $80 worth of peaches last month, I’ve been on a dehydrated food kick (it takes almost 36 hours to dehydrate peaches!!). From my bike camping days of bringing fresh produce and making miso soup and also because there’s all together too much sodium in camp meals for me – I wanted to try making my own. I found ‘’ to be really helpful and I used their spaghetti how-to as a guide. I opted for lean, ground turkey instead of beef. It was super easy to cook and dehydrate, but next time I’ll add breadcrumbs to the ground meat, as it’s suppose to help rehydration (both time and texture). The biggest challenge was getting all the noodles to fit in the pot. I was using a fairly small, lightweight pot and adding the noodles in small handfuls. But, I will note I’ve never seen noodles rehydrate so quick (capellini noodles ftw)! Definitely adding spaghetti into my camp food rotation.

Another food win was Tea Drops pepermint tea. I love tea, I always want to drink it and especially after an all day hike. Tea Drops dissolve in the hot water, so there’s no wet tea back to hike out with! Also, they’re delicious (which is more than I can say for most of the instant coffees I drink in the morning).

Pasta success! Don’t forget the parmesan cheese.
Hammock, how have I camped so long w/o you?!

I got a hammock via REI outlet at the start of summer. The first time I took it out, I failed to have the suspension straps, oops. But, this time I purchased suspension straps, bringing the total weight of the hammock to just over a lb (6.5 oz + straps at 11oz). Why haven’t I been hammock-ing this whole time?!! Super easy to ‘set up’ and it is pretty amazing to lay down without enduring rocks, weird angles, and general discomfort out in the woods. Also, it’s the perfect way to watch the stars on the rare occasion that I can stay awake to see them. On a friend’s recommendation, got a packable down blanket that is perfect for hanging out in the hammock.

Moccasin Lake, also perfect for a dip.

The route is great, as there’s diverse scenery to pass through — from meadows, mountains, basins, and lakes. I would recommend doing the loop in the direction we did, as the second climb to Horseshoe is a bit steep, but short and probably way less fun to descend. There are also quiet a few stream crossings, but nothing wild at this time of year (late summer/fall). We encountered less than a handful of bugs, thank goodness, and they didn’t interfere with our dinner or stargazing. Didn’t even need to use the bug spray. The only drawback is the abundant horse shit peppered along the start of the trail, but as far as that goes — it’s tolerable. Also, there’s no potable water or toilets — so bring a water filter and tp (and practice good etiquette!).

I definitely want to come back. There are so many beautiful lakes to swim in, by which I mean do like two strokes and a quick head dunk and then get out because it’s cold AF. Dogs are allowed on the trail and everyone had their doggies with! We met the chillest 4 year old blue heeler and their owner reassured me that when he was a pup, he destroyed everything, but calmed down and stopped chewing around 1 year. Whew! Next year, Tepals will hopefully be ready to go on an adventure like this and I look forward to maybe doing 4 days, with one day fully dedicated to swimming, fishing, and laying in the sun. If you backpack with your dog or backcountry fish – please tell me everything you know!

I love this handmade swim suit by Lily Smith, out of Olympia, WA.

Raelyn and Reed hanging out on the trail.
Here we are!

Hike | Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainer

Trail: Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainer N’tl Park

Dates: 7/20 to 7/23 (3 days, 2 nights)

Mileage: 20 miles

Alpine glow

Day One: Box Canyon Trailhead to Indian Bar (7 miles)

Day Two: Indian Bar to White River Campground (10 miles)

Day Three: White River to Sunrise Visitor Center (3 miles)

This hike was beautiful and I cannot believe that it’s taken me this long to visit Mount Rainer. There’s definitely some elevation gain that was strenuous on this route, but overall so worth it!

Bugs were minimal – I made it thru with only 3 bug bites, which has to be a record! We ran into the most bugs as we were just starting to ascend out of the forest around Box Canyon trail. I did come prepared this trip with 30% DEET bug spray, that I only had to use once along that section of trail.

Indian Bar group campsite
Mt. Rainer cloaked in clouds.
Day 2 – view after climbing something like 1,500 ft in elevation
Mama + baby bear!!
Wahoo – we did it!
Stephen and Margo and my ice cream cone.

// Plant List //

Listing everything I remember seeing in bloom, since I didn’t have time to take a photo of everything, sadly. Also, Mt. Rainer has this awesome wildflower guide!


  • American Bistort – In my head, I always call it ‘buckwheat’ even though it’s not | Polygonum bistortoides
  • (pictured) Avalanche Lily – whole fields of it!! | Erythronium montanum (Liliaceae)
  • Bear Grass | Xerophyllum tenax
  • Bracted Lousewort, more commonly Wood Betony – really understated and beautiful green, tallest lousewort spp. at Rainer | Pedicularis bracteosa (Orobanchaceae)
  • Broadleaf Lupine | Lupinus latifolius
  • Elephant’s Head – only a couple in flower | Pedicularis groenlandica (Orobanchaceae)
  • Gray’s Lovage – kept seeing this one, but wasn’t sure which carrot fam. plant it was | Ligusticum grayi (Apiaceae)
  • Jeffrey’s Shooting Star | Dodecatheon jeffreyi
  • Orange Paintbrush – usually this is the one I see, but only saw a handful | Castilleja miniata
  • Pink Paintbrush – so much, esp. at Sunrise, but also Indian Bar | Castilleja parviflora
  • Sitka valerian | Valeriana sitchensis (Caprifoliaceae)
  • Thistle | Cirsium edule
  • White-flowered Sickletop Lousewort | Pedicularis racemosa, ssp. alba (Orobanchaceae)
  • (pictured) ‘Yeti’s Toe’ or common name, Pasqueflower or Western Anemone – saw this in flower & seed (looks fluffy like the toe of a yeti) | Anemone occidentalis

Trailside / Mid-lower elevation

  • Bunchberry | Cornus canadensis
  • Candystick | Allotropa virgata () – pasting this from Mt. Rainer’s guide because it’s so cool!

Completely lacking green leaves, this plant grows as a single stem marked with red and white stripes. Each flower has red-brown sepals but no petals, and underneath each flower is a small scale-like leaf. Candystick are mycotrophic, which means instead of using photosynthesis to get energy, they form a complicated three-way relationship with fungus and coniferous fir trees to survive. The candystick draws energy from the fungus associated with its roots. The fungus in turn derives energy from tapping into the roots of fir trees. With no need for the sun, candystick can be found in shady, deep woods.

  • Crimson Columbine | Aquilegia formosa
  • Devils Club | Oplopanax horridus (Araliaceae)
  • Foamflower | Tiarella trifoliata
  • Goat’s Beard | Aruncus dioicus
  • Kinnikinnick or Bearberry | Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
  • Pippsissewa | Chimaphila umbellata
  • Pinesap – also a mycotrophic plant | Monotropa hypopithys
  • Slender Bog Orchid | Platanthera stricta
  • Tiger Lily | Lilium columbianum (Liliaceae)
  • lots + lots of Vanilla Leaf lining the lower elev. trails | Achlys triphylla
  • Western Coralroot – a saprotroph plant, I’ll have to pay closer attention between Candystick, Pinesap, & this plant next time I’m out | Corallorhiza mertensiana
  • Wild Strawberry | Fragaria vesca (Rosaceae)

You can also check reported wildflower statuses at Rainer’s website too – the coolest!

Avalanche Lily in bloom and seed.
Western Anemone ‘Yeti’s Toe’ and Paintbrush

Hike | Santiam Lake

Trail: Santiam Lake

Dates: 6/23 to 6/24 (out & back, one night trip)

This was a really nice/approachable/easy one night backpacking trip. We drove down from Portland, leaving the city around 8A and arriving at the trailhead at 10:30A. We hiked in and set up camp by 2:30/3P. The start of the hike is through an old burn (see bear grass photo below) and with elevation, it transitions to open forest and sub-alpine meadows. The snow pack is almost completely melted out. There were only a handful of snow patches ‘obstructing’ the path, as we reached Santiam Lake. The lake is most likely a shallow one, as the water was warm by Oregonian standards (those of us use swimming in what feels like recent snow melt or the Pacific Ocean). I loved swimming in this lake. The only downside was the hordes of mosquitoes that follow you once you get out of the lake/set up camp/try to sit in camp and enjoy the view of Three Fingered Jack. So bring a swim suit, towel, and a bug net (seriously, or a bee keeper suit). Also, open to recommendations on how other hikers, dog owners, herbalists, anyone deals with the ever increasing presence of mosquitos on their camp trips.

The hike is dog friendly and we saw a lot of happy dogs hiking and enjoying the swimming, too. Once Tepals is ready for an overnight trip, this will be one of the first we get her acclimated on.


Featured photo credit: Reed Lehto


Xerophyllum tenax | Myself + Reed (photo credit: Margo)

A whole, glorious meadow of Dodecatheon alpium or what I call rocket ship flower | I think this is a baby Pediucularis groenlandica, but id help appreciated 😀


++ Plant List ++

  • Alpine shooting star | Dodecatheon alpium (Primulaceae)
  • Pedicularis spp. – most likely Pedicularis groenlandica + racemosa
  • Beargrass in bloom | Xerophyllum tenax (Melanthiaceae)
  • Pink mountain-heather | Phyllodoce empetriformis (Ericaceae)
    • Genus is named for a sea nymph, custom started by Carl Linnaeus, father of the binary naming system for plants
  • Hellebore | Veratrum viride (Liliaceae)
    • So many ethnobotanical uses but one to be very aware of as it is extremely poisonous. Ingesting a small amount of this plant can result in loosing conciousness followed by death – eek!
  • Sitka valerian | Valeriana sitchensis (Caprifoliaceae)
  • Lyall’s anemone | Anemone lyallii (Ranunuculaceae)
    • Not a 100% on this id, but seems likely based on visual id & sub-alpine ecology
  • not pictured & not in berry yet – Littleleaf huckleberry | Vaccinium scoparium (Ericaceae)


Also, not sure on this one, but I think it’s Anemone lyallii | Valeriana sitchensis

Veratrum viride | Phyllodoce empetriformis



Hike: Mt. Adams


North Ridge – North Cleaver, Mt. Adams, Washington



Karl at basecamp


Night Before. Drive to Trout Lake, WA. Get permits ($15 ea. for the weekend) + poop bags. Camp off road for an early start.

Day 1. Drive to trailhead + park (Divide Camp). Hike to basecamp at 8,000 ft – it’s a long 4+ miles.

Day 2. Wake up at 4A. Summit to 12,000 ft. Pack up. Hike out. Drive home. Eat pizza.



Karl + Flint at Killen Meadow



  • Crampons
  • Ice axe
  • Stiff-soled hiking boots (I have Asolo Fissures)
  • Gators
  • Trekking poles
  • All means of sun protection (sunblock, sun or mountaineering glasses, brimmed hat, light weight long sleeve, buff/neck cover)
  • Chapstick (preferably with SPF)
  • Hydration pack or water bottle(s) – at least 2 liters, gotta stay hydrated!


Everything Else

  • Rock climbing helmet
  • All the Shot Bloks
  • Loads of trail bars, snacks, calorie-dense dinner
  • Sleeping bag + pad
  • Tent
  • Day pack
  • Hiking backpack
  • Stove, fuel, cook wear, spork
  • Head lamp
  • First aid kit (inc. moleskin, athletic tape, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer)
  • Clothing (2x wool t-shirts, light weight long sleeve to block sun, hiking pants, 2x wool socks, 2x underwear)
  • Shell jacket – preferably Gore-tex 3L to block harsh winds (loves my Marmot Spire)
  • Down puffy jacket
  • Gloves/mittens
  • Toothbrush + paste
  • Utility tool or knife
  • Toilet paper + priority mail envelope (pro-tip from Andrew. To keep shit from leaking on your other shit.)
  • Camera + extra battery



View of Mt. Adams glacier from 10,500 ft and Smelowskia ovalis at 8,000 ft.


Mt. Adams was an awesome and exciting, perhaps too exciting, first venture into mountaineering. I learned how to glissade, self-arrest, and use crampons. The diverse terrain of the summit route along the north ridge keeps it interesting. At points, I self-belayed with an ice axe on a steep snow field, bouldered and scrambled the higher rock ledges, and generally had a hard time keeping my breathe once we hit 10,500 ft elev. At this point, strapped for time and air, myself, Ray, & our guide-in-chief Andrew (who’d already summited this route a few years ago) decided to start our descent back to camp. Reed and Karl, fueled purely by shot bloks, pushed on to the summit & descended about 2 hours behind us.

There were definitely moments of extreme discomfort where the terrain pushed my comfort level to various degrees. Mainly, looking behind/below me and seeing only a steep drop. The idea of sliding off a mountain became a real possibility in my mind. Tongue in cheek, we kept saying “hashtag celebrate discomfort.” While I find this obnoxious, the point isn’t lost on me. I can’t think of another time or activity that has forced me to practice mindfulness, tested my physicality, and involved so much calculated risk, all simultaneously. While my internal mantra was, “You never have to do this again, so do it now” I realize now, at home, that I will do this again and again.

Lessons learned – I’m always grumpy on the hike out & questioning why I do this to myself. Also, I need to cut weight in my pack, which weighed about 32lbs. My Costco bargain (a High Sierra pack) has treated me well, but it’s time to shed a pound and get a pack that fits. Even more so for my current synthetic sleeping bag – which weights 4lbs, but could weight 1lb if I throw down $200 for a new down bag. And not least, everyone’s butt chaffs – so there’s a fun thing to trade stories about with your friends.

Andrew at golden hour

Rachael + the lavender mt. range

I only care about sunset photos


Bye sun!


Hike: Trapper Creek

The hike: Trapper Creek Wilderness Loop, 14.5 mi

This hike is from last weekend. We set out to “summit” Observation Peak, but found the loop snowed in at 6 miles. We could have opted for the straight shot up, but we wanted to do the loop which is longer. There was also a surprising amount of blow down in branches and trees that obstructed the trail at many points. Guess winter hit this area pretty hard. As the snow is still receding, I was able to see some early blooming wildflowers.

Trillium ovatum

Viola sempervirens

Calypso bulbosa

Anemone oregana

Achlys triphylla

// Plant List //

Anemone oregana. Ranunculaceae / Buttercup Family. Anemones can be good indicators of where we are in the season – in this case, early.

Trillium ovatum. Liliaceae / Lily Family. Lilies are a plant family of 3s – 3 leaves, 3 sepals, 3 petals, & 3 stigmas. Seeds are dispersed by ants – each seed has an oil appendage that is attractive to ants. The ants bring the seeds back to their nest & eat the oil appendage, throwing the seeds into their rubbish pile. (cite: Pojar, p.102)

Viola sempervirens. Violaceae / Violet Family – It could be Viola glabella, but based on the lower leaf placement and more rounded leaf shape (vs. a distinct point at the tip), probably v. sempervirens.

Calypso bulbosa. Orchidaceae / Orchid Family – Common name Fairyslipper. Orchids have delicate root systems and are best left untouched. Even a gentle tug can break the roots, causing the plant to die.

Achlys triphylla. Berberidaceae – Common name Vanilla leaf. Known for its vanilla scent when dried &/or crushed. These were babies, barely setting out their seeded spikes.



It is early, here in the PNW, if you are looking for chanterelles. They are out and about, but I saw so many babies just beginning to emerge. It’s gonna be a great season – so treat yourself & get out to the woods in the next few weeks!

But right now, the woods are poppin’ with mushrooms of all sorts! As Reed pointed out, we make a good pair as he focuses in on finding the chanterelles, while I’m distracted/fascinated with every-single-mushroom-that-is-happening. Pre-chanterelles is a great time to find lobster mushrooms, boletes, shrimp mushrooms, cauliflower mushrooms, & many more that I don’t even know about yet.

Chantarellus formosus are mostly what grow in the PNW – they are a separate species from the golden chanterelle due to their mycorrhizal relationship with Doug Firs (hint hint for all you beginning mushroom hunters out there). It is also Oregon’s state mushroom, NBD.

Chanterelle bounty at home. Chantarellus formosus.

Sparassis crispa | Cauliflower mushroom

Learned this one today – Suillus lakei | Lake’s Bolete

Asarum caudatum | Wild ginger. A friend of chanterelles. Harvested a few leaves to make some herbal tea at home.

Cute lil guys. Haven’t id yet – do you know who we are?

Have yet to look these guys up.

Lobster joy! Hypomyces lactifluorum | Lobster mushroom

Perhaps my favorite mushroom, Pseudohydnum gelatinosum | Jelly tooth


If you are interested in going on a guided mushroom hunt (and why wound’t you be ?!), I recommend signing up for Arctos Schools’ upcoming mushroom class. I’ve gone mushrooming with them several times over the past couple of years and I always learn so much (new-to-me mushrooms, where they like to live/ecology, + more)! Also, check out your local mycological society. You will meet interesting, amazing people with a wealth of mushroom wisdom to share. Plus, they also typically offer guided walks, foraging forays, and classes.

Mushroom Expert is an excellent online database by Michael Kuo

All the Rain Promises & More by David Arora | perfect mushroom field guide for the PNW

Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora | the best reference for id-ing mushrooms / the expanded version of ARPM

Radical Mycology By Peter McCoy | I’ve worked with Peter & he knows what’s up. Fascinating & practical read on all things mycology.


Hike: Bald Mountain

I had plans to go bike camping this weekend, but due to laziness and a grey + rainy forecast, I bailed. Instead, I spent my Saturday having an early breakfast at Zell’s (German pancake!), perusing the art supply store, drawing, eating burritos, and driving out to Bald Mt for a “sunset” hike. As you can see, it was overcast, but the wildflowers were still amazing in the waning light and the hike up through a fog-filled forest at dusk was eerie and peaceful.


View of the trail at our “summit” stopping point for the evening. (left) Heart-left buckwheat (right)

Magical mugwort

Heart-leaf buckwheat | Eriogonum compositum




++ Plant List ++

This is a pretty short plant list as we were hiking quickly to catch the sunset, but miss the rain.

  • Heart-leaf buckwheat | Eriogonum compositum (Buckwheat family / Polygonaceae)
  • Mugwort | Artemisia spp. (Asteraceae)
  • Common red paintbrush | Castilleja miniata (Orobanchaceae)
  • Yarrow  | Achillea millefolium (Asteraceae)

Hike: Canyon Creek Meadows

View of Three Fingered Jack & glacial lake at the hike “summit.”

This past weekend, we wanted to get out of town for a day hike. But, it was a holiday weekend (4th of July), so we knew we’d have to get a bit further out of the city to avoid the crowds. Canyon Creek Meadows is about a 3 hour drive from Portland, loosely in Central Oregon. Neither of us had done this hike before & I was happily surprised by the many wildflowers in bloom – especially the abundant valerian. I just noticed the wildflower link on the OR Hike website – it’s a pretty stellar list of what’s currently in flower. The forest has burned in the last decade, making for a stark contrast of bone-white, standing dead trees. Overall, the terrain is easy with few steep descends/ascends. We did climb up to the edge/summit to get as close as we could to Three Fingered Jack and view the glacial lake. There was plenty of snow & wind at this short section of the hike.

Once you descend from the summit and thru the upper & lower meadows, you can follow the loop to the waterfalls, then back to the car lot. 7.5 miles for the whole hike & on our way back to Portland in 5 hours.


Happy valerian!


Hellebore – extremely poisonous if even a little is ingested. A good plant to know.

++ Plant List ++


Lily family identifiers: petals & leaves in multiples of three. Parallel venation on leaves.

  • Beargrass | Xerophyllum tenax
  • Subalpine Mariposa Lily | Calochortus subalpinus
  • Hellebore (not in flower) | Veratrum viride


Buttercup family identifiers: Three pistils with hooked tips. I generally think buttercups have no patterns. Botany in a Day elegantly states “The Buttercups are considered very ‘simple’ because the floral parts [..] are all of an indefinite number and seperate from one another.”

  • Broad-leaved marsh marigold | Caltha biflora
  • Menzies’ Larkspur | Delphinium menziesii


  • Valerian | Valerian sitchensis (Caprifoliaceae)
  • Common Red Paintbrush | Castillija miniata (Figwort)
  • Subalpine Daisy | Erigeron penegrinas (Asteraceae)
  • Stream Violet | Viola glabella  (Violet)
  • Rocketships | Primula jeffreyi (Primulaceae)