Hi, I’m Chris, aka TrailChick! I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years and currently reside in the beautiful mountain town of Twisp, Washington at the foothills of the North Cascades. I enjoy seeking out wilderness destinations rich with history, solitude, and wildlife. In fact, my nerdy obsession with wilderness maps and route planning led friends to jokingly call me a walking encyclopedia of trails, hence my silly nickname.
I’ve always enjoyed writing and I originally started this site as a simple way to keep family and friends updated on my travels. Now that I spend a majority of my time exploring the Pacific Northwest, I share trip reports, stories, and the fascinating history behind some of the beautiful wild places I’ve seen. I love inspiring others to get out, explore, and give back to this beautiful planet!
I also believe that more than ever, all of us must do our part to protect the wild spaces and wildlife we love. I give back by volunteering with Conservation Northwest’s Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project. I help manage and maintain remote wildlife cameras in the summer and participate in snow tracking along the I-90 highway corridor in winter, which is helping to restore critical wildlife habitat and create highway overpasses and underpasses for wildlife to migrate safely. Additionally, I do citizen science work with the Cascades Pika Watch program.
Explore, dream big, and give back to this beautiful planet!
I grew up in the Midwest and although I loved the natural world around me, I was an awkward, skinny, uncoordinated klutz who wasn’t much of an athlete. While my dad was constantly camping, running, playing basketball, and climbing peaks, I kicked the ball backwards in kickball and was picked last for every sports team. Boy do I remember those days!
Somehow my lack of coordination didn’t stop me from graduating from Purdue University in May 2000. I packed everything I owned into my truck and hit the road for the sparkling Emerald City of Seattle. I had no job, knew no one, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing! To this day I really don’t know what I was thinking, but something about Seattle’s beautiful mountains and water called to me.
I got a job as a Web Developer, met a few outdoor friends, and my awkward self started hitting the trails in my jeans and cotton t-shirts. Ah, those were the days! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but I quickly fell in love with the outdoors.
In short time it’s clear I had my dad’s genes, because almost overnight I became a hiker, backpacker, mountain biker, road biker, trail runner, paddler, and snowboarder. I discovered a passion and it was fueled by the wilderness, even though yes, I still remain a klutz to this day!
Traveling the world.
I spent several years hiking the popular trails around Seattle but had always dreamed of traveling the world. In 2010 I quit my full time web development job and became a freelancer so I could live life on the road.
I kicked off the adventure with two friends by driving a 1.2-liter car from London to Mongolia in the Mongol Rally, which has been the most amazing adventure of my life! It was humbling to see first-hand how money raised on the Rally directly contributed to improving the lives of many by building water filtration systems, providing children’s playgrounds, and establishing youth development centers.
Over the next 8 years I worked remotely and committed time to small volunteer projects while traveling in Indonesia, campervanning Australia and New Zealand, trekking in the Andes, and solo hiking part of the John Muir Trail. I visited 32 countries on all but 2 continents and spent winters living in the Methow Valley, one of my favorite places in Washington State.
I met some of the kindest people thriving in some of the harshest areas on the planet. I’m forever in awe of all the ways traveling changed my life and motivated me to find more ways to give back.
Living with rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disorder causing your body to attack itself, most notably, your joints and their synovial linings. Nearly 1.5 million people in the United States have RA and there is no cure. There is also no way to know how the disease will progress, or if it will. Some live with minor flares their entire life. Others can be completely crippled from the disease.
The diagnosis wasn’t a complete surprise. My dad, now almost 72, has been an outdoor addict his whole life and also suffers from RA, as does others in his family. Somehow, with the help of alternative treatments, he’s continuing to hike 50+ miles every week so I’m determined to follow in his footsteps!
I’ve made dietary and lifestyle changes to keep my RA in check and although I mostly gave up running, I’m determined to keep skiing, biking, hiking, backpacking, and paddling. After a few years as a competitive bicyclist and runner, my new race is learning that it’s not about speed or distance. It’s simply about listening to my body and having fun!
I enjoy adventuring with friends, but ever the introvert, I love solo outings and travel. There’s something magical for me about being outdoors solo, just me and the wild. In January 2019 I lost my best adventure buddy of nearly 12 years, my amazing Lab/Chessie mix Crazy Jake. I often joked he had the energy of 10 dogs + 2! He taught me a lot about how to live in the moment every day and in October 2019 I welcomed a new rescue pup to my life: Hudson the Heeler! Jake would be proud.
Visiting all of Washington’s 93 remaining fire lookouts.
On July 1, 2019 I accomplished a goal of visiting all 93 remaining Washington State Fire Lookouts, becoming only the 3rd person and 1st woman to do. It was a seed that was planted years ago due to my fascination with history and places off the beaten path. It was such a special journey that took me all over the state and introduced me to some amazing people with incredible stories of history. I’m continuing to add photos and stories to my blog from this special adventure.
What’s next? Even though I’ve been all over the world there really is no place like home. I’ll be continuing to explore all the miles and miles of backcountry and wilderness right here in my own beautiful backyard and you can usually find me deep in the Pasayten Wilderness or the North Cascades, two of my very favorite places.
My inspiration: my dad, my outdoor hero.
My bio wouldn’t be complete without my dad! He’s now nearly 72 and despite rheumatoid arthritis, is living proof that staying fit and having an adventurous spirit keeps you eternally youthful. He’s bagged over 800+ peaks and we’ve completed several amazing adventures together including backpacking the JMT, climbing Mount Whitney, completing the Enchantments Death March, hiking the Grand Canyon rim to the river, and completing Southern California’s 3 Peak Challenge.
Life is short, so get out there, plan your next adventure, and make a difference! Thanks for reading and happy trails!