- Brightly-colored, camera-friendly outfit? Check!
- Broken in trail shoes? Check!
- Moleskin to cover potential hot spots/blisters forming from said trail shoes? Check!
- Airplane bottles containing strong spirits should the hike go sideways and I’m left weeping in the woods somewhere? Hmmm…..
These were just a few of the items on my mental checklist as I prepped for what would be a 12-mile day hike at Mt. Rainier with hiking guide book author, Craig Romano. Having penned 16 books, selling over 100,000 copies, and giving 30-40 speeches a year, Craig is a guy who has serious trail credibility, so I was determined to be prepared.
The morning of our hike we met in Enumclaw, fueled up, and headed toward Cayuse Pass to start our journey. We were hiking the lower part of the Eastside Trail from Deer Creek to Ohanapecosh, and then the Silver Falls loop trail. Craig told me to dress brightly as I was also going to be in some of his photographs. He was beginning his Centennial hike-of-the-week series for Visit Rainier, and photos with people in them always make a story more relatable.
It was late May and the spring foliage was prepared with its own vivid colors. Wild strawberries were in bloom, along with trillium and lowland paintbrush. The Ohanapecosh River offered dramatic effect too as it rushed wildly from recent snow melt, its water seemingly so cold that I could practically feel an ice cream headache coming on simply by looking at it.
As I expected of a serious hiking guidebook author, Craig hikes while taking frame-worthy photos and geographically descriptive notes, and still has plenty of energy to talk about what it’s like to write about hikes (Note: If one wants to avoid emotionally-charged conversations from their reading audience it’s best not bring up dogs, bikes or guns on hiking trails.)
Having both a naturally strong senses of curiosity and propriety, I waited a respectable amount of time before I felt we were close enough for me to ask to take a peek into his pack. To be honest, I had already checked out his Oboz hiking shoes and decided I was losing in the cool-shoe department, so I really wanted to see if at least my lunch measured up to what I suspected a successful hiking guidebook author may eat. Perhaps he’d pack a Trader Joe’s-style wasabi covered brie with whole grain wafers and artisanal water; maybe he’d be old-school REI with a Mountain House meal and dehydrated ice cream for dessert, or possibly he’d go hardcore and simply sustain himself on Gu energy gel? I was determined to find out! As it was, Craig turned out to be a bagel, mixed nuts, and energy bar kind of guy who also keeps maps in his pack. Curiosity satiated, I turned my attention back to the hike at hand.
At the end of our 12-mile journey I discovered my moleskin had indeed protected my feet, my colorful outfit had provided some photographic punch, and I had thoroughly enjoyed a day exploring the trails of Mt. Rainier with a pro.