North Cascades, Mount Rainier, and Olympic National Parks of Washington State

What a year to experience nature’s beautiful landscapes. A year ago, I was tired of waiting and planning what I wanted to do. It was time to put things in motion. I booked a series of trips to lock me in and not allow “work” to prevent me from getting away.

I prefer to hike alone (unless it’s with my favorite hiking friend, Betty). I can go at my own pace which is relatively fast uphill and slow downhill (not by choice, I need to work on running downhill rocky terrain). I don’t like to take breaks or stop for meals - I feel it’s more difficult to get going again if I stop. My happiest is hiking/trail running 8-9 hours straight. I like to pack snacks I can eat on the go. I personally don’t overpack food and found my ideal amount to include 2-3 bars like Aloha Bars, Clif Builder Bars, or Nelly’s Peanut Butter Bars, 4-5 liters of water with electrolytes, and 200-300 calories of salty snacks like Bada Beans. If I eat more than 300 calories every few hours, I feel sluggish. Hiking/running oddly makes me lose my appetite. I'm not fast, so I’m only able to cover about 18-20 miles during 8-10 hours. My next goal is to be able to do 30 miles in 10-12 hours, but I don’t know what I’m doing and should really seek a trail running coach! I think I may need to learn how to eat more, so I can go faster and become stronger. I wish I could say the same when working from home all day sitting at my desk. I have no problem eating all day when I’m not active!

One of the best refueling tricks I learned from hiking is eating 250-300 calories every few hours. My goal is to see if I can maintain the strength and leanness from hiking without spending all day hiking/running 60-100 miles/week. I’m finding that by keeping my meals around or under 300 calories, I no longer feel bloated, my energy levels remain stable, and I never am so hungry that I will eat anything or everything in sight. Since I’ve been home, I’m not nearly as active, but trying different hill interval workouts and speed drills, along with consistent at-home strength training to see if I can rev up my metabolism.

Here's a quick video of my favorite snacks, protein powder and dehyrdated meals!

North Cascades National Park - “American Alps”

I flew into Seattle-Tacoma International airport and drove about 2 hours straight to Marblemount, Washington. Marblemount is a good home base to many of the best trails in North Cascades National Park. Most trails will be within an hour drive. The trails are not far, but the roads are single lanes and drivers tend to abide by the slower speed limits, so expect longer driving times.

My hotel at North Cascades Inn was simple, yet comfortable and conveniently located to trail heads. They even stocked the fridge with hiking-friendly snacks and food which was very thoughtful! Some were vegan/gf-friendly and much appreciated.

This was my first experience seeing alpine lakes. The pristine beauty of turquoise lakes was worth the drive. I had no idea we had bodies of water like this in the U.S.! I didn’t even see lakes this beautiful in the European Alps.

Next stop was still part of North Cascades National Park, but on the opposite side of the park. These national parks are so expansive. It takes about 2-3 hours to drive around these majestic mountains. I booked a few nights in Twisp, WA which was one of the most wonderful hotel stays. There isn’t much around the town and it’s not near the best hiking trails, so I wouldn’t recommend staying in this town for more than a night of travel. I happened to stay here because all the other towns were fully booked.

Views from the Cascade/Sahale Pass of North Cascades.