My PCT Packing List

I gave a Backpacking and Camping for Women presentation in 2020, for the Chief Seattle Council (BSA) Program and Training Conference. As part of the class, I shared my packing list. Many folks requested the list, so I’m including it here. Use it as a starting point for your own gear-gathering journey. If you’d like to share, please attribute it to me, and link back to my blog. Enjoy!

Great Opportunity!

Mountain Education, a non-profit Wilderness Safety organization, has just announced a new course at Stevens Pass, in March.

Snow Basics is a three day course focusing on snow hiking, camping, and safety. Right now they’re gauging interest, and if there are eight or more folks who would like to sign up, they’ll come up from Tahoe to teach the course. I’m strongly interested myself, as I’d like to round out my snow skills.

For more info, check out And if you’re interested, ping Ned Tibbets at

Chain Lakes Trail 9/29/15

With clear blue skies and warm sun in the forecast, I grabbed my pack, and Booker the Rhodesian Ridgeback (aka the Wonder Pup), and we headed north. Today’s destination was the Chain Lakes Trail between Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, very near the Canadian border.

To get to the trail, you take the Mt. Baker Highway (542) up past the ski area. At the very end, you’ll find Artist Point. This is a fantastic place to take out-of-town guests. Even those who aren’t inclined to hike can have an in-your-face view of Shuksan, just by stepping out of the car. And there are a variety of short trails for those who would like to explore just a little.

Booker and I had a little longer trail in mind. The Chain Lakes Loop explores several lakes in the area, and winds over ridges, through basins, and back up again. It’s a moderate level hike, eight miles and about 1700 feet net elevation gain. The trail has its fair share of talus (rocky slopes), but no scrambles or anything even close. We took the counter clockwise route, out of the Artist Point parking lot. More trail info can be found at Washington Trails Association’s Chain Lakes page.

2015-09-29 11.19.02
Descending into the Bagley Lakes basin

2015-09-29 11.55.54
Stone bridge across the stream between the Bagley Lakes. Table Mountain is in the background.

2015-09-29 11.56.00
Looping around the stream and the northern Bagley Lake.

2015-09-29 13.26.25
Climbing out of the Bagley Lakes basin, to Herman Saddle. Table Mountain is to the left, and Mt. Herman is to the right.

2015-09-29 13.36.20
Mt. Shuksan, as seen from the climb out of the Bagley Lakes basin.

2015-09-29 14.11.22
The view from the saddle. Shuksan is to the left, Table in the middle, and Baker to the right. A heck of a place to have lunch.

2015-09-29 14.13.13
Booker enjoyed his milk bones, and then relaxed on his new blanket. Rough life.

2015-09-29 14.59.26
Descending toward Hayes Lake

2015-09-29 15.49.31
Mazama Lakes

2015-09-29 16.12.17
After traversing the Hayes/Iceberg/Mazama Lakes basin, the trail climbs through several talus slopes on the other side of Table Mountain.

2015-09-29 16.17.07
Booker was glad to reach the saddle

2015-09-29 16.16.57
And the second saddle proved just as gorgeous as the first. Table Mountain is on the left, Shuksan on the right, and if you look carefully you can see Artist Point in the center.

Of a Certain Age

I celebrated my 51st birthday on the trail this year. What a tremendous gift, to be in the mountains, surrounded by God’s creation, and sharing it with like-minded people.

Some of my favorite people to meet were those of a certain age. I got to know many people over fifty…some were closer to 80, and doing long distance hikes. They weren’t the fastest on the trail (remember Hike Your Own Hike?), but that wasn’t important. The trail belongs to them, just like me, just like those fresh out of school.

So in celebration of the vintage hikers on the trail, I’m sharing an incredible poem from Nanao Sakaki.  Hat tip to Sage Clegg for the reference (She’s a Triple Crowner and outdoor educator, at …don’t miss her website).

Break the Mirror

In the morning
After taking cold shower
—what a mistake—
I look at the mirror.

There, a funny guy,
Grey hair, white beard, wrinkled skin,
—what a pity—
Poor, dirty, old man,
He is not me, absolutely not.

Land and life
Fishing in the ocean
Sleeping in the desert with stars
Building a shelter in the mountains
Farming the ancient way
Singing with coyotes
Singing against nuclear war–
I’ll never be tired of life.
Now I’m seventeen years old,
Very charming young man.

I sit quietly in lotus position,
Meditating, meditating for nothing.
Suddenly a voice comes to me:
“To stay young,
To save the world,
Break the mirror.”