Hi, I’m Chris, aka TrailChick! I’ve called the gorgeous Pacific Northwest my home for over 20 years. 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 long been drawn to places rich with history, wildlife, and solitude. For me, the solo exploration of the wild outdoors is magically grounding and empowering. I love sharing photos and stories from my adventures and hope they inspire others to take a path less traveled. Despite being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2011, I’m determined to keep skiing, hiking, backpacking, biking, horseback riding, and paddling my way across Washington State’s backcountry.
Visiting all of Washington’s Fire Lookouts.
As a peak-bagging, history, and outdoor geek, I’ve long had a love for fire lookouts. While living in the Methow Valley in 2014, I learned that Okanogan County has the highest number of fire lookouts still remaining in the state, and the Methow Valley Ranger District is home to eight of those.
That year I made a goal to visit all of the Methow Valley fire lookouts. It didn’t take long for my ambitions to grow. In 2017, I committed to seeing and photographing all of the remaining historic fire lookouts across Washington State. Between 2017 and 2019, I traveled to every corner of the state, allying nearly 20,000 miles of driving, over 500 miles of hiking and biking, and nearly 140,000 feet of climbing.
The more I traveled, the more the journey became less about checking off a list and more about understanding and capturing a piece of American history. I return to fire lookouts often, continue to research their histories, visit former fire lookout sites, and help to maintain the lookouts we have here near my home in the Methow Valley of beautiful North Central Washington.
Staffing Goat Peak.
For the 2021 fire season, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to staff the Goat Peak fire lookout outside Mazama, just north of my home. In my first season as a lookout, I reported several fire starts and witnessed the Varden, Cedar Creek, and Delancy fires taking hold, as well as Cub Creek 2. I’ve always been an advocate for staffing fire lookouts, for both early fire detection and communication, as well as for building a deeper connection to both the surrounding nature and the local community. It was an experience I won’t soon forget and I’ve continued my service through the 2022 and 2023 fire seasons.
A journey into horsemanship.
Most recently, I made a long time childhood dream come true by buying my very first horse in November 2022, a beautiful 17-year-old black Mustang named Pippin from the Beaty Butte HMA in Oregon. I also fulfilled a dream to have horses on my property and he’s now living with me full-time with a revolving door of guest horse friends until I eventually (gasp) buy a second horse!
Horsemanship has been one of the hardest but most rewarding, fulfilling journeys I’ve ever taken. There are days where I feel like Pip and I give each other wings and days where I feel like his strong willful mind needs someone far more experienced than me, but he’s amazing teacher and I’m learning so much I never thought I would. Though often strongly opinionated, Pip is one of the most beautiful, calm-minded, friendly, loving, confident, and independent horses I’ve ever met. He’s truly a gem and I’m so glad to have him in my life!
I currently reside in the beautiful mountain town of Twisp, Washington at the foothills of the North Cascades with my blue heeler Hudson and my Mustang Pippin. I’ve lived off-grid for nearly four years while working to build a small solar-powered home.
I’ll be continuing to explore all the miles and miles of backcountry and wilderness right here in my own beautiful backyard. You can usually find me at Goat Peak in the summer, deep in the Pasayten Wilderness or the Chelan-Sawtooth, or exploring the local trails with my horse and dog.
Contact me if you’d like to chat, I love hearing from readers! I’m also available for guest blogging and freelance writing. You can follow my stories on Facebook and Instagram.
Explore, dream big, and give back to this beautiful planet! Thanks for reading and happy trails!