Hi, everyone! Carolyn here. You might have seen me around the blog before (and some of you are now IRL friends thanks to the HAF holiday parties), but if we haven’t met yet, hello! A bit about me: I’m Liz’s assistant, and I’ve been working with Liz for nearly three years now (!).* I lived in Chicago for five years but recently moved to Seattle, where I’ve been lucky enough to keep working for Liz from afar.
*If you’re wondering what Liz is like in person, she’s just as genuine, driven, hilarious, and kind as she appears here. The whole Adams family is simply the best. 🙂
Though Chicago will always have a special place in my heart, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and I had been missing the mountains for a while. My husband and I met at the University of Notre Dame (go Irish!) and had been bouncing around the country for various job opportunities and grad school, but we both agreed that we wanted to put down roots out West. So, we got married in Oregon last September and moved to Seattle about a month after that. I dearly miss my favorite people and places in the Midwest, but I have to say that it really feels like I’ve come home in many ways.
But anyway, onto the purpose of this post: Liz asked me to give a little update on what I’ve been up to since arriving in Seattle! Like many of you experiencing the ups and downs of 2020, my past several months have been full of a lot and also very little. We are still pretty shut down in Seattle, so I’ve been embracing a slower-paced lifestyle that revolves around long walks in the neighborhood, tending to my indoor plants, and watching way too many Netflix series. However, summer in Washington also comes with about a million reasons to get outside and go exploring, which is how I’ve been filling the majority of my time!
I’ve spent nearly every weekend this summer hiking or backpacking around Washington, and I really don’t think I’ll ever get bored. There are three National Parks in Washington, along with 64 mountain ranges, 150 miles of coastline, and a collection of islands (the San Juan Islands) that might just be the most magical place I’ve ever visited. The coolest thing about all of these areas is how diverse they are in terms of landscape and ecology even though they are all relatively close to each other — you can dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean one day and ski down a glacier the next. Though I still have much, much more to see around the state, here are a few of my favorite hikes I’ve done and trips I’ve taken since moving to Seattle!
Navajo Peak Trail: This hike is in the Central Cascades region and honestly kind of long for a day hike (14 miles total with 4500 feet of elevation gain), but worth it for the 360-degree views you get at the top! We actually have a photo from this viewpoint hanging in our apartment, so it was pretty cool to get to experience it in person. Since we did this hike at the beginning of summer, we got to see sooo many wildflowers starting to pop up everywhere. Navajo Peak is also near Leavenworth, a charming little German-inspired town where I went this winter to see the Christmas lights and snowshoe. Another Washington landmark to add to your list!
Packwood Lake: I chose to backpack here over the Fourth of July weekend with my brother and sister, who both live in Oregon. It was the perfect place to meet because it’s in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which is about halfway between Portland and Seattle. I knew the lake would be beautiful, but I wasn’t expecting the incredible turquoise blue color we saw when we arrived — it reminded me of photos I’ve seen of Lake Louise in Banff. This was an especially fun place to camp, because you are allowed to have campfires (most alpine regions in Washington ban fires for forest fire prevention). Next time I’m bringing s’mores supplies!
Rachel and Rampart Lakes: Okay, if you can’t tell from all the photos I included, this might be one of my favorite backpacking trips ever. You first hike up to this beautiful blue lake called Rachel Lake, and then you keep heading up the trail to a series of “pothole lakes” called Rampart Lakes. We found a campsite on an island with its own private beach, which was the perfect spot for stargazing once the sun went down. I also saw a mountain goat for the first time on this hike! No photos of him because I was too terrified to get close, but I don’t think he was very interested in what we were up to, anyways. This hike was only 90 minutes outside of Seattle, too — crazy!
Mt. Rainier National Park: It’s hard to miss Mt. Rainier if you visit Seattle on a sunny day (which happens more often than you would think), but the best way to experience the mountain in all its snowy glory is to drive an hour or so to one of the visitor centers at the National Park. I recently hiked the Sunrise Rim trail, which you can see in these photos. I also really love the Paradise area of the park, which just requires a bit more driving from Seattle.
Not pictured, but other favorite places I’ve visited since moving to Seattle include Whidbey Island, Discovery Park, and the Crystal Lakes trail, also near Mt. Rainier. I live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of the city, which is right by so many fun restaurants and beautiful city parks for running and walking — I spend lots of time at Volunteer Park, the Washington Park Arboretum, and on the Burke-Gilman trail (kind of like Seattle’s version of the lakeshore path in Chicago).
If you’re at all interested in visiting Seattle or seeing more of what I’ve been up to, I’m trying to save all of the places/activities I’ve loved in Google maps. You can see my Seattle City Guide map here, and my Washington Mountain Towns map here. (And, since I know she’s reading this, I have to acknowledge that I stole the personalized Google map idea from my friend Lauren. Hi, Lauren! 😉 )
Otherwise, that’s about it! Thanks for bearing with me all the way to the bottom of this post and letting me share a bit about my new life in Seattle. I feel so lucky to be able to safely spend so much time outside, and I’m sure I’ll have more adventures to share in the future. In fact, this weekend I’m attempting my biggest backpack trip yet in Olympic National Park — wish me luck!