Spring Hazards

Full disclosure or true confessions, I love the Cascades so much my wife considers herself a widow from Mid-March to Memorial Day. The Spring Equinox means longer days, a settling snowpack, and longer tours. In the Northwest we look to the high alpine for long descents off the volcanoes, touring into the North Cascades and […]

Read more "Spring Hazards"

Golden Eagle Migration

Plans to climb a peak this weekend? Be sure to look up, way up, once you reach the summit. The annual eagle migration is picking up steam and mountaintops offer a bird’s eye view of the big event. Pack a pair of binoculars and extra warm clothes and factor in a little extra time at […]

Read more "Golden Eagle Migration"

Caring for Alpine Lakes

Pristine alpine lakes – we take them for granted. But in the backcountry, lakes are popular destinations. These areas already have extreme weather conditions and short growing seasons, making them slow growing environments for plant life. It doesn’t take too many footsteps for shorelines to degrade and the water’s edge to become a muddy bog. […]

Read more "Caring for Alpine Lakes"

Summer Snow

Skiers are jumping for joy; hikers are groaning. Yes, it’s true. September is barely on board and we get our first dump of snow in the mountains. It’s a bit of a cruel joke – one day shorts and t-shirts, the next pants and warm coats. Sure, the sun still packs enough heat to melt […]

Read more "Summer Snow"

Clouds and Weather Forecasting

It’s a bunny. No, it’s a bird. Wait, now it’s a dragon. Cloud-watching while lazing on an ridgetop can be filled with child-like wonder, but knowing that cirrostratus clouds usually means warm weather and stratocumulus means a cold front is on its way can be a valuable outdoor skill. Cirrostratus? Stratocumulus? Obviously forecasting weather involves […]

Read more "Clouds and Weather Forecasting"

Estimating Hiking Times

We were standing just off the parking lot, looking across the lake where we could see our destination. “It should only take about three hours,” my hiking partner announced. It ended up taking closer to five. Why? The rule of thumb (aka Naismith’s Rule) for coming up with approximate hiking times is 1 hour for […]

Read more "Estimating Hiking Times"

Social Media Another SAR Tool

“We need your help with RT. Please see our Facebook page for important information (dr)” – tweeted by Glacier National Park (@glaciernps) this a.m. The message: an overdue staff member. The Facebook entry goes on to say: “We need your help. Glacier National Park seasonal employee Jacob “Jake” Rigby is overdue from a hike he began […]

Read more "Social Media Another SAR Tool"

Backcountry Gear

Backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, warm clothes, food, rope, crampons, harness, helmet,  chimney brush – there’s a whole list of items commonly carried into the backcountry, but who carries a chimney brush? I was lucky enough to sign on for a couple of volunteer days to join my trail crew girl for a trip […]

Read more "Backcountry Gear"

Using Gaiters

Short, tall, junior, unisex, nylon, Gore-Tex, insulated – gaiters come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials. But they all do the same thing and that’s simply keep things off and out of your boots. Most people think of gaiters for winter outdoor activities, but they come in just as handy for keeping […]

Read more "Using Gaiters"