Jaye’s Anatomy: Backpacker

If you’ve followed this blog in its short existence (not that I expect you to), you’ve read that I’m from Washington, and the things that top my list of what I miss most about the Evergreen State are the mountains, hiking and backpacking opportunities that we don’t get in Florida or anywhere in the South.

I can’t remember when I fell in love with hiking and backpacking.  I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors, so when I started leading a more active and fit lifestyle, hiking naturally became a favorite activity, and from that came the love for backpacking.  What I love about hiking compared to organized activities is that anyone who wants to can hike, no experience needed, all you have to do is take the first step.  Hiking has given me a deeper appreciation for the simpler things in life that we take for granted: clean air, our environment, nature, being disconnected and unplugged from electronics.

For this episode of Jaye’s Anatomy, I’m sharing how I discovered my inner outdoorsman, how we started backpacking, as well as my favorite hikes and backpacking trips.

If I had to credit the one hike that really piqued my interest and led me to pursue hiking as a hobby, it would have to be Hawaii’s Koko Head.  Truth be told, it’s not much of a hike but a strenuous workout, with a gorgeous view at the end.  It’s not even a mile long (0.7 mile) or 1,048 steps, but it rises 1200 feet in elevation, making for a super steep vertical climb.  The reward is a beautiful, breathtaking view of Hanauma Bay!  Here are a few pics of our hike up Koko Head in 2012.

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1,048 steps rising 1200 feet in elevation in less than 1 mile.

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Koko Head led my husband and I to pursue hiking in Washington.  The first of these were day hikes in our area, one memorable one was Oyster Dome, a very popular hike in Bellingham, WA.  Oyster Dome is a nice 6.5 mile out and back trail with switchbacks and a 1,900 feet ascent that leads to the Bat Caves and gorgeous views of the San Juan Islands.  This is the first hike that really took us high above the treeline and gave us a real sense of the phrase “The world is your oyster!”  This hike is kid and dog friendly too 🙂  Check out these views from the top:

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After Oyster Dome, we started to take on more challenging hikes in our area, more mileage and higher elevation, here are a couple favorites:

Mount Constitution, highest point in the San Juan Islands, WA.
Dean, almost to the top of Mount Pilchuck.
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Mount Pilchuck

Miles of hiking later, Jeremy wanted to do an overnight backpacking trip.  Initially, the thought of being isolated in the woods, far from our vehicle, exposed to the elements and wild animals with just the gear on our backs scared me, what if we freeze to death? or encounter bears?  I agreed to go camping instead, but what does my husband do to warm me up to the idea of backpacking?  He tells me to research the best backpacking gear so we can go shopping!  How can I resist shopping? Many trips to REI and Cabela’s, and hundreds of dollars later, we were fully equipped.  We had everything we needed, all that was left was to pick a place!  For our first backpacking adventure, Jeremy didn’t pick one for lightweights.

Marmot Pass in the Olympic National Forest was 12 miles round trip with 3,000 feet elevation gain for some of the most majestic views in the Pacific Northwest.

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More trips followed after this, and there will be many more to come.  Here are a few pictures of our most recent backpacking adventure on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia:

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We meet some interesting people on the trail!  On our last trip, we met a family from Germany,  a guy who has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and will soon hike the Continental Divide Trail, that’s nearly 8,000 miles!!  He even has a trail name!  “Smokes” and his sweet friend Carolina, were fellow veterans who love backpacking as much as we do, Carolina’s Instagram page features some really impressive destinations (that have me drooling)!

So many hikes, so little time!  We can’t wait until we get back out West where hikes are closer and more plentiful.  I’d really love to hike Mt. Rainier, Machu Picchu and anything in Utah someday!  Are you a hiker or backpacker?  What are some of your favorite destinations?  What’s on your bucket list?

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