Hiking with Strangers

One of my goals for 2015 was to hike with a stranger and I did it! Ok, I cheated a little bit. I didn’t go hiking with a complete stranger, but rather some of my fellow Northwest bloggers. I put out a call to see who wanted to meet up for a hike and much to my surprise I got some responses. I was thrilled, not only because technically these three lovely ladies were strangers, but because they are my kind of people: smart, outdoor-loving and inspiring.

Jill taking a photo at the overlook

I chose Snow Lake as our destination because it is easy to get to, not terribly difficult and just plain beautiful. I also chose it because it’s one of the first trails that I hiked alone. I hiked it back in July of 2009 when Nali was just a puppy. In fact, it was the first hike I took Nali on by myself. She had so much energy that we ran up most of the switchbacks and then kept going and going until we got all the way to Gem Lake, the next lake up the trail. I ate my lunch there and sat far away from other people because she was so whiny about stopping. She just wanted to keep going. She’s six now and hasn’t changed much really.

Snow Lake reflections from my 2009 solo hike.

My original intention was to find a hiking buddy through an online forum where people post wanted-type ads for hiking partners like NWHikers.net. But as I started finding other blogs and started my instagram and twitter accounts, I found that there is such a generous and supportive community of writers, bloggers and outdoor-loving people online, I just never realized they were there. So I thought why not meet up with these great people that I already kind of know?

Blue lake and blue skies for our meet up hike.

I met Jill, Laura and Lainey at the resort-sized parking lot of the Snow Lake trailhead. We were early enough to get good parking and there was a coolness to the air that was much appreciated by all in this relentlessly hot summer. As true Seattleites we relished in the distant clingy fog, yellowing foliage and the thick smell of autumn in the air. We discussed knitting projects, favorite baked goods, books and trails, all my favorite topics.

Another difference between my two hikes to Snow Lake: there was snow at the lake on my first hike.

By the time we reached the top of the ridge you would have thought we’ve been hiking together for years. Jill showed us a gorgeous lookout spot on top of a giant rock where we lined up in a row to take photos. Later we would all stop to admire the drops of dew on the leaves lit by the morning sun. We reached the lake and after getting chilly in the shade, we basked in the warm sunshine. I brought banana bread to share and we chatted for a long time. But the temperature was rising, the trail was getting busier and we had to climb back up the ridge, so we made our way back to the trail. The conversation never skipped a beat.

Lainey and Laura heading back down the switchbacks.

I thought that after this meet up it would be clear which I like better, hiking alone or with others. But the truth is that both fulfill different needs for me. I crave alone time so I can think clearly. But I also thrive on meeting new people, learning from them and being inspired. I can go further and faster on my own but then I miss out on the tiny beautiful moments like stopping to find a squeaking pika or as Lainey so elegantly described it on her blog, “pass[ing] through fields of nearly-spent fireweed that were busy sending their seeds aloft on silky threads; the downy clusters ascending straight into that blue sky as though they were stars racing to claim their place in the heavens.”

Gem Lake- where I had lunch on my first solo hike with Nali in 2009.

I am so thrilled with the new friendships I gained at Snow Lake and I hope to make more. I will continue to organize meet up hikes for whoever is interested and maybe we can expand our lovely group. Maybe even start an outdoor book club? A girl can dream. Let me know if you are interested in a meet up and I will start a list. And don’t be afraid to go out there and make new friends on the trails!

My new friends:
Jill – PNW Seasons
Lainey – A Day Without Rain
Laura – Tiny Pines

Banana Bread Recipe (from my sister):
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk

  1. Cream sugar and butter
  2. Add eggs one at a time.
  3. Add banana and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together and stir into batter alternating with milk.
  5. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 55 min at 350F.

Bonus Camp Read!


MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
After getting married and moving to Chicago, Rachel had a great life but felt like she was missing something. She had lots of good friends but they were spread out all over the country. She wanted to find new friends in the city but wasn’t sure how. So set out on a year long mission to go on a “friend date” once a week in hopes of finding a new best friend. The story of her quest is a hilarious, charming and satisfying read as she meets an array of characters. But what is important is her message that making new friends, much like dating, means you sometimes have to put yourself out there in ways that can be uncomfortable. This book showed me that there are many people out there looking for friendship and encouraged me to find them.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
This fun and entertaining read will fit in your backpack and will help you to make new friends on the trails.

Hikes featured in this Post:
Snow Lake

5 Replies to “Hiking with Strangers”

  1. Lovely! It’s so fun to read about this hike from each of your different perspectives, each unique and well-written and beautifully photographed. Love the idea of an outdoor book club too! I’m in. 🙂

  2. Lainey Piland says: Reply

    Great post! (Thanks for the quote! 🙂 ) What a difference between your photos from 2009 and the ones from our hike… we didn’t see any snow at all! Gem Lake looks lovely too. Now that I know I can manage the hike to Snow Lake, maybe I’ll have to return and continue on to Gem Lake sometime.

    I’d be in for an outdoor book club too! That sounds like fun. 🙂

  3. I would love to join in an outdoor book club 🙂

    1. Yay!!

  4. I’m so glad you invited me to join you on this hike! It was an absolutely wonderful way to spend the morning. It’s so fun to look back on photos to see the changes to a trail you’ve visited more than once. Thanks for sharing yours from 2009!

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