soleilroth

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Savouring with SAVEUR

Dear Soleil,

Congratulations on becoming a finalist in the 9th Annual SAVEUR Blog Awards! From a pool of over 20,000 submissions, your blog was selected as one of the most innovative, impressive, and well-executed we came across, and one of our top six contenders in the Best Travel Blog category.

These are the words I have held onto the last five days and I don’t think I am coming down from cloud nine anytime soon.
For those that are unfamiliar with this magazine, SAVEUR is one of the top gourmet, food, wine and travel magazines that dives deep into how to cook, eat, and travel the world.

I remember reading SAVEUR when I was little, long before Instagram and food blogs were a thing. It was an escape and exploration into a world filled with limitless food and culture that SAVEUR shared so authentically. One Christmas my dad bought me the SAVEUR cookbook and throughout high school I constantly searched and applied for internships to be within the slightest realms of SAVEUR. And now they chose me?! To say I am excited is HUGE understatement.

For those you that have known me for 10 years or 10 minutes, I thought I’d reintroduce myself (emphasis on food and travel intended).

Name: Soleil Noreen Roth

Born in: Changsha, China

Hometown: Richland, WA

Current City: Seattle

Favorite Restaurant: (In Seattle) Toulouse Petit Lounge and Kitchen, RockCreek Seafood and Spirits, and Canlis-DUH!

Favorite Activity: Strolling the Ballard Farmer’s Market

Signature Dish: Salmon.

Can’t Live Without? Salmon.

Countries Visited: 27 (?)

Favorite City: Rome…or Copenhagen…or Selville… Rome.

Favorite Country: Disregarding my bias for Italy, probably Spain. Also Croatia.

Favorite Trip: Peru…or Vietnam. Switzerland too. Wow, I’m not really that good at answering these questions am I?

Funniest Travel Story: Let’s just say, make sure you go to the correct airport. Because if you go to the wrong airport like I may or may not have, you might end up missing your flight, crying on the airport floor, flying to a different city four hours away from your actual destination, getting flushed on the plane from one drink, and then praying that the earthquake currently happening doesn’t make your train later than it already is.

Best Meal: I still dream about this baked fish I shared with my parents on the island of Hvar, Croatia. It was fresh-caught that day; a delicious flaky, buttery white fish baked whole on top of vegetables complimenting the fish’s gentle flavor and beautiful olive oil. Simplicity at its finest.

Last Meal: Surprise, it’s salmon.

Bucket List Destination: Australia/New Zealand and Japan.

Guilty Pleasure: Wood-fired pizza bianca.

Languages Spoken: English and Italian

Next Language I Want to Learn: French

Next Trip: Europe with the family for Thanksgiving (right after Memphis for the SAVEUR BLOG AWARDS!!!)

Biggest Lesson Learned: Don’t forget your passport!

Favorite Thing About Travelling: Getting to meet new people and trying new foods.

Travel Philosophy: Leave all expectations behind, live in the moment, and remember life is too short not to eat good food.

I am BEYOND excited to take advantage of this amazing opportunity and if there’s one thing I believe is that if there is something in your life you are passionate about, go into it wholeheartedly with everything you have. One of my greatest passions is sharing the beauty of travel and this chance has reminded me how dear that passion is to me. I would love nothing more than you for to VOTE FOR MY BLOG HERE , share it with your family, friends, coworkers, strangers, and know that if I win, I am baking everyone who I know voted treats (you can hold me to that).

 

T H E B I G 2 3

Goodbye Taylor Swift’s “22”, hello Jordan Year.

With my birthday less than 24 hours away,  I was doing some research to see what, if any, significance the number 23 held. A few interesting facts I came across:

  • Each parent contributes 23 chromosomes to the start of human life. The nuclei of cells in human bodies have 46 chromosomes made out of 23 pairs.
  • Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times.
  • There are exactly 23 characters, numbers and letters on the face of all U.S. coins
  •  Kurt Cobain was born in 1967 and died in 1994; 1+9+6+7= 23, 1+9+9+4 = 23.
  • “W” is the 23rd letter of the alphabet. It has two points down and three points up. The “W” on your keyboard is right between the 2 and 3.
  • The average human physical biorhythm is 23 days

I’m not sure what I was expecting to get from this research, maybe some kind of revelation that there is a pre-determined theme to what this year holds; like happiness, tradition, fulfillment, rebirth, simplicity, growth, etc. Ironically enough, there is no special meaning to what my 23rd year holds (apart from Greta’s insistent horoscope readings that have only confirmed I will be forever on the “wellness wagon” and everything hits the ceiling when mercury is in retrograde) yet I think that may be a reflection of exactly what this year should be. Undefined. Unspecified. Not unimportant, but unknown, and more importantly up to me and no one else to define it.

Officially a whole year (and a half) post-grad and this in-between, discover and define, at the cross section of a millennial and an adult leaves myself in a place of excitement and fear, growth and plateau, success and failure, and another 365 days to ponder what the hell I am doing with my life.

Last night, I celebrated my birthday dinner with some of my closest friends at my favorite restaurant (thank you Jackie, Kaitlyn and Amanda!) and midway through devouring a mini feast, Kaitlyn asked her special birthday questions to me, which I thought were genuine, reflective, and honest questions worth delving deeper on.

1. What was I most proud of this year?

If I had to choose a word for my 22nd year, it would be vulnerability. This time last year, I don’t think I truly understood the power and presence of vulnerability. Not only being vulnerable with others, but with myself. Letting myself sit with my emotions, seek counseling, expressing my thoughts and beliefs openly in the line of opposition, acknowledging and sharing my deepest weaknesses with strangers, and the pinnacle moment of crying in front of 80+ co-workers…multiple times.

Easier said than done, vulnerability is not something one jumps right into. Sometimes they have to be pushed, and many times it’s uncomfortable, but knowing that humans are imperfect and will fail me, there is truly only goodness that comes out of it. It’s something not to be ashamed of, but something to be celebrated and encouraged. To give whatever you hold as sacred the chance to be told and honored, no matter how raw or unfiltered or shameful it is, to be open to being intimate with others has, in my experience, provided support, outpouring of love, stronger relationships, and an inner confidence in who I am, imperfections and all.

2. What am I looking forward to being proud of?

I am looking forward to being proud of the way in which I come to respect myself better, become healthier in all aspects of my life, and to live in a constant state of gratitude and mindfulness. There are so many false narratives I have convinced myself of that have hindered me from doing what I love most; being with, for and of people. I am excited to be proud of the friend, colleague, daughter, spirit, and self I am becoming, someone that inspires and serves others unconditionally.

There may be many things wrong going on in the world and even my own life right now, but damn, there are a hell of a lot of things that are going right that deserve a greater celebration than a blog post. This last year has been redemptive, live-giving and life-changing, and I am eager to go further into the place of pride where I can grow alongside beauty and terror.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t fearful of this next year. Fearful, yes, of what may happen, but also fearful of what may not happen. Fearful of staying stagnant, of friends getting married while I stay single, of losing purpose or passion, or having neither. Most currently, I am fearful of being content, something that gives few reasons to be fearful. And yet, I am also fearful of what good things are to come ahead, what grand adventures I have in store, fearful of God and the overwhelming power that will be revealed in His Truth and my life. The deep reverence for God and awe of His holiness and majesty and power through fear of Him, it’s in this same way that my fear drives my unwillingness to stay the same, to lean into whatever comes and live wholeheartedly in every moment.

Below are just a few words I have grown to believe, been inspired by and clung onto this past year, taking them forward with me so that I may not shrink but expand myself, find my way back to the people I love, move forward with peace and clarity instead of catastrophe, override the fear of failure with flying, and start the celebration all over again.

twenty-three quotes, thoughts and musings 

risk being seen in all your glory.

check on your strong friend.

stop saying yes to shit you hate.

if you desire healing let yourself fall ill.

you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

being single is beautiful.

fuck the fear of failure.

it doesn’t matter where you are, if you don’t accept who you are, you won’t accept where you are.

you can love your body and want to change it.

set boundaries and respect them.

stay connected with those that are separated by time and distance. don’t let the gap vanish before it’s too late.

if your passions are really your passions, pursue them relentlessly.

serving yourself is serving others.

do what you need to do to get what you need to do done.

don’t be scared to say I love you if you mean it.

knowing and understanding God better is knowing and understanding others better.

you have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working towards, a body worth feeding, and a soul worth tending. You are spirit and power and image of God. You have been given Today.

be unwilling to stay the same.

you are your actions, not your thoughts.

as you step into this next version of yourself, the most courageous thing you will have to do is let go of the version that no longer exists.

you don’t need to explain the way you heal to anyone.

give yourself permission to not have it all figured out, to be where you are, to have and experience your emotions, to be epic and messy all in one moment, to be HUMAN AF.

the woman you’re becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces and material things.
Choose her over everything.

 

California Cruzin’

Let me start this post with a public apology to my mother. If you have or haven’t been following my travels over the last few years, you will have come to know that a lot of my trips have been father-daughter trips. And somehow, over the past 22 years of my life the mother-daughter trip never came to fruition…until now! A little bit of sun, hiking, good food and conversation, this long overdue Mother’s Day/girls weekend/Memorial Day/mother-daughter trip landed us in the stunning Big Sur and Point Reyes.

Big Sur

Type ‘Big Sur’ in Google and you’ll be bombarded with postcard-esque photos of California’s central coast; rugged cliffs, blue waters, and surging waves flowing together in seamless harmony. I’ve heard recommendations from friends and family who went there, but had never gotten the chance to go down myself. In the least clichè way possible, it was everything I could have dreamed of and more.

Important Info:

You definitely need a car to experience Big Sur. Apart from the physical distances between each location, the best part about driving down the coast is the feeling of the ocean breeze playfully blowing across your skin, music blasting out the windows while the sun shines down through the open rooftop as the sun kisses your skin; pure bliss.

You can go one of two ways; north to south or south to north. Highway 1, California’s longest state route is just over 655 miles, but Big Sur is the roughly 90 miles stretching from Carmel to San Simeon. Either way you go, plan ahead as there is limited service throughout and as you get deeper into Big Sur, accommodation can be spendy during peak times so it’s best to stay at one end or the other.

Our Trip:

Since we only had four days, we decided to go north to south, spending two days and one night in the Big Sur area. We arrived in San Jose late afternoon, rented a car, and headed straight to Carmel. Our Airbnb in the Carmel Highlands was so lovely, and is a terrific option for staying in Big Sur without breaking your bank account. There’s a reason it’s called Carmel-by-the-Sea, point in case that the city is literally blocks from the Carolina blue blanket of calm and serenity. After a sunset beachside stroll, La Bicyclette is a romantic, European bistro to grab dinner and settle in to town’s modern charm.

The next morning we woke up bright and early, had a hearty breakfast at Katy’s Place, jumped in the car and started our journey south down Highway 1. In addition to all the stops on the previously mentioned map, some of our favorite hikes/stops were the Valley View Overlook trail at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which gives you a great sweeping scape of the luscious valley and the Beach Trail at Andrew Molera State Park, a sweet walk (through a creek) leading to a secluded sanctuary of beach. Due to the recent California floods and fires, be sure to check on the California Parks and Recreation website to know ahead of time which trails are open and closed.

Back in town after a long day’s excursion, we decided to treat ourselves at L’Escargot that served country fresh French cuisine in a quaint and intimate setting, to note the frog legs, warm homemade bread and butter, and soup du jour were fantastic. To end the most perfect of days, we watched the sun set along the stunning 17 Mile Drive, which proves an equally stunning sunrise to run in the morning (half marathon training or not). The cost to drive it is about $10 and is completely worth it. Apart from the sea otters, tide pools, and beautiful seascapes, 17 Mile makes it on my list as one of the most scenic coastal drives I’d do over and over again.

Santa Cruz

To me, Santa Cruz is personified in a bronzed, Californian that rides gnarly waves on the beach and says ‘dude’ every 3rd word. In other words, it’s a laid-back, local-loving coastal town with beautiful sandy beaches bordering the Pacific Ocean juxtaposed with the cozy, damp redwoods huddled together in the cool of the mountains. It’s a small city with a lot of character that all can enjoy.

One of the iconic spots in Santa Cruz is the more than 100-year-old boardwalk that is the classic seaside attraction. Founded in 1907, it is California’s oldest surviving amusement park that offers a variety of games, rides, attractions set alongside neighboring volleyball courts, a sandy beach stretch and ocean waves to swim in.

If you’re in the city, downtown Santa Cruz offers a wide range of shopping and events, highlights including watching an independent film at one of the cinemas, listening to some jazz music on the street or learning to salsa dance at Palomar Ballroom. For the nature lover, definitely visit the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to walk through the acres of giant old-growth redwood trees. The Henry Cowell Redwoods are located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a little less than 15 minutes away from downtown Santa Cruz and engulf you with forested beauty perfect for fishing, hiking, and camping. Another fantastic option for getting into the woods and exploring nature is the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, also just a few minutes past the outskirts of Santa Cruz.

My brief time in Santa Cruz has left me with two eats to put on one’s checklist: Taqueria Santa Cruz and West End Tap & Kitchen. Taqueria Santa Cruz is a complete hole-in-the-wall, mostly fit for late nights and cheap eats, but their carne en su jugo is like the pho of Mexican gods. I don’t know what made it so good, but I would travel back just for it. Just as lively with equally delicious food, West End Tap & Kitchen is a Californian gastropub and tap that serves up yummy eats *cough the burger cough* to grab with friends and family in a fun, local setting.

San Jose

My only memories of this town are when I used to pass through for skating trips. Then after, there were a few trips around the area touring colleges and not much else. Nonetheless, there are a few recommendations that I thought I should throw in even if one is passing through. As it deems fit, the seasonal outdoor Toyota Ice Rink is fun activity for everyone with an exciting rink layout. For kids under the age of 10 (or adults that act younger), the San Jose Happy Hollow Park & Zoo is a fun is a small 16-acre zoo and amusement park to play on miniature sized toys or watch an animal show. On a sunny day stroll around the small yet charming Municipal Rose Garden for a sit, chat with friends or even picnic. If you’ve got money to spend, have dinner at incredible, three Michelin-starred restaurant Manresa hidden within the quaint streets of Los Gatos.

San Francisco

This city deserves a post of it’s own, but for time’s sake, here’s a short recap of what I know and love.

Biggest tourist draws but also must-sees include the Fisherman’s Wharf, the Painted Ladies, Haight-Ashbury, Nob Hill, Botanical Garden, Chinatown, Mission District and of course the San Francisco Bridge (whose best viewpoint is on the north side). Whenever I win the lottery and move to San Francisco, I plan on living in Hayes Valley. It’s the hotspot for healthy eats, hipster boutiques, and one of my favorite ice cream places so that’s really all I need. Since we didn’t spend too much time in San Francisco this trip, dinner was the main event before our trip ended and until I make it to Saison, The Progress is where I will be going to in SF.

I have been to a lot of restaurants around the country and world, and asking me to pick one restaurant for one night in San Francisco is like asking me to find a needle in a haystack, near impossible for a foodie like me. After deliberation and filtration, I decided on The Progress for a local, yet semi-gourmet dining experience. The Progress comes from the James Beard Award-winning State Bird Provisions team and chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski that know what they are doing. With a fun write-in menu, everything from the grilled abalone with yuzu-seaweed butter, to the coal-roasted mushrooms and puffed black rice-crusted trout, are dishes I dream (and still dream) about.

Point Reyes

One question: How have I lived my whole life thus far without having visited Point Reyes?

In all ways topographically and geographically different from Big Sur, yet equally breathtaking and radiant, my skin and soul were glowing while visiting this area of Northern California. Point Reyes National Seashore is a large protected cape abundant with rolling hills, peaceful meadows and jaw-dropping seaside cliffs that is a haven for hiking, exploring and wildlife. Whether you want to learn about its bountiful history, indulge in wholesome, organic, good-for-you food, relax among stunning flora and fauna, or just immerse yourself in the most majestic scenery, Point Reyes is sure to leave you in complete awe.

Our first meal was at Saltwater Oyster Depot, a farm-to-table neighborhood restaurant focused on sustainable farmland and seafood, local foragers and thoughtful food that highlights the simplicity and realness of the surrounding community. If there is one restaurant you should go to in Point Reyes, both my mom and I highly recommend Saltwater.

Per recommendations of our lovely Airbnb cottage, we woke up the next morning and headed into town for our West Marin Food and Farm Tour. West Marin is a region known for some of the country’s best artisanal and organic food, and our tour gave us an authentic look and taste into what is being done there. There are few different tour options you can choose on depending on their schedule, from which we chose the Flavors of West Marin Tour. Cheese-tasting, bread-making, honey wine-tasting and more, our tour guide Alex was a jewel and extremely knowledgeable about the local agriculture and food practices. Again, this is the one activity that lets you truly experience the culture and community of food in West Marin that I would recommend to all. When you are finished with the tour, take the time to walk around the shops in the center of Point Reyes Station, like Ink.Paper.Plate, Coyuchi and Palace Market.

In the afternoon, we hiked out to the end of Tomales Bluff from the Historic Pierce Point Ranch. Follow the trail through the Elk Reserve (and see elk!) though be careful as in recent years parts of the end of Tomales Bluff have collapsed. There are so many amazing hikes in this area that I could spend a whole week here and still not do them all. If you have the extra time and you love the outdoors, there are hikes and bike paths galore to spend additional days exploring. Though a little bit pricier and reservations are necessary, dinner at the highly-rated Sir and Star was a delightful meal to end the day with.

The next morning, we stopped by the adorable Inverness Park Market, combined our goodies from the day before and had a lovely brunch before heading out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Operating hours vary so check ahead of time and visit when the stairs down to the lighthouse are open. If you get there early enough, there is a cute picnic table at the top of the stairway to bring your brunch and munch on while at the isolated tip of beauty.

Every Thanksgiving and Memorial Day weekend, there is an event called Open Studios, whereby the name describes the event itself; a couple dozen of local artists open their houses and studios to the public for viewing and purchasing art. Anything from wooden sculptures to watercolors to jewelry can be found among these studios and it’s nice to see and support the local art community.

After a magical trip with my mom, if there’s anything I learned from this trip is that one; simplicity and rest make a heart full, and two, my mom’s the best! So thank you mom, for being a person of humility and comfort, and yes, another trip is in session, by no means excluding California.

 

Not Entirely A New York Native

Sixth time’s a charm? Or is it seven? In the least pretentious way, I have lost count of how many times I have been to N.Y.C. And yet, there’s still SO MUCH I have left to see and do. I have done a lot of tourist things, and a lot of non-tourist things; my little 8 year-old self marking the first of many trips east for a variety of occasions. Whether it was to celebrate birthdays, judge wine competitions, or visit family members living in N.Y.C., my travels east have been more frequent than far and few between. And every time, I have a completely different experience, complete with new sights, adventures and food of course. With that said, I felt it was time that I made a mini guide to N.Y.C.

Important to note: one, New York is not just New York City. There is actually a state outside this city ( though I have yet to venture there). And two, the city is constantly changing, therefore some parts of this post may be relevant for a year, max. Nonetheless, some of the activities and sights continue to stand the test of time. With that said, in respect to length and time, here is a somewhat short and condensed guide to N.Y.C. Hope you enjoy!

N.Y.C. Travel Guide

For the Tourist:

Time Square
Grand Central Station
Statue of Liberty
Central Park
Top of the Rock (less expensive and crowded than the Empire State Building)
9/11 Memorial Museum
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Shop in Soho
Rockefeller Center
Highline

For the Foodie:

Get a real N.Y.C. bagel (Russ & Daughters, Black Seed, Sadelle’s, Tompkins Square Bagels, Ess-a-Bagel)
Eat pizza in Brooklyn (Roberta’s) or really anywhere good (Prince St. Pizza, Rubirosa, Lombardi’s, Paulie Gee’s)
Splurge at some of the top (Contra, Momofuku Ko, Per Se, Le Bernadin, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Daniel, Gramercy Tavern) and world’s best restaurant (Eleven Madison Park)
Try weird N.Y.C. desserts (cronut at Dominque Ansel Bakery, crack pie from Milk Bar, avocado ice cream toast, etc. )
Check out award-winning food trucks (Wafels & Dinges, Korilla BBQ, The Cinnamon Snail, Luke’s Lobster, The Halal Guys, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck, etc.)
Dig your fork into a real New York steak at a classic steakhouse (Keen’s Steakhouse, Delmonico’s, Peter Luger)
If it’s summer, head on over to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn
Eat your way through a food hall like Urbanspace Vanderbilt, Gotham West Market, The Plaza or my absolute favorite Chelsea Market
Travel to Italy in Eataly or to France in Le District

*If I HAD to name 5 restaurants at the top of my list in the current moment, they would be Banter NYC, Blue Ribbon Brasserie, Seamore’s, Keen’s Steakhouse, and Roberta’s

For the Family: 

Central Park Zoo (or Bronx Zoo)
Coney Island boardwalk
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
People watch at Washington Square Park
Walk the Highline or Brooklyn Bridge
Bundle up and spend your Thanksgiving at the Macy’s Day Parade

For the Millennial

Shop at all the cute boutiques in Williamsburg
Artists and Fleas (one in Chelsea Market, Soho and Williamsburg)
Snap a photo in front of the Friend’s apartment
Take in the view from a rooftop bar
Wake up for an early morning concert hosted by the GMA or Today show summer series
Sit on the steps of Constance from Gossip Girl at the Museum of the City of New York
Get an Instagram-worthy shot at the Oculus, Dumbo (intersection of Washington Street and Front Street) or the Flatiron building
Think in Pink at Pietro Nolita or Cafe Henrie

For the Health Nut:

Run the west highway/Hudson River park
Grab a colorful acai bowl with all the toppings (Agavi, Pure Green)
Visit niche health food stores/restaurants (Brodo, Hu Kitchen, Dig Inn, Chalait, Westside Market)
Get your toast on from an Aussie cafe (Banter NYC, Two Hands Cafe, Bluestone Lane)
Take a fun fitness class (305 Fitness, SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, SLT, Phitting Room, etc.)
Check out the Union Square farmer’s market
Brunch it up (Banter NYC, De Maria, Jack’s Wife Freda, Friedman’s, Seamore’s)
Or grab a delicious farm-to-table dinner (Forager’s Table, The Little Beet Kitchen)

For the Artist:

Take in the bohemian vibes of Greenwich Village
People watch at a coffee shop like Devoción
All of the amazing museums like MoMa, Guggenheim, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art
Stock your dream home at ABC Kitchen
Get lost in a bookstore (Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, Strand Bookstore)
Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn
Visit the Cloisters

For the Explorer/Adventure Seeker:

Take the Staten Island ferry
Head up to Queens or Brooklyn
Hammock on over to the Hammock Grove in Governor’s Island
Kayak the Hudson River
Go on a hike outside the city
Zipline in the Bronx Zoo
Ride the Cyclone at Coney Island

For the Culture Afficionado:

Be entertained by the million magnificent Broadway shows (Mamma Mia, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, Hamilton, etc.)
Catch a sporting event (Knicks, Yankees)
Explore Chinatown and Little Italy
Listen to the sounds of the NYC Philharmonic
Kick it with the Rockettes

Other great references for what to do in N.Y.C. : NYCgo, TimeOutHarper’s Bazaar , Thrillist

New York City is definitely the city that never sleeps and the city that never runs of out things to do! From the fashion to the food, New York City’s culture is ironically no culture, as there are so many diverse yet distinct parts that make it up. I, myself, will never turn down a trip to New York… but will always know deep down that there’s a reason they say the west coast is the best coast. 🙂 If you have any other ideas, recommendations or advice on some of your favorite things to do in N.Y.C, let me know!

Hiking Guide: Washington Edition

Spring is finally here, which means summer is nearing, which really means hiking season is starting! While crossing seas can be exhilarating, sometimes the best adventures are within a 100-mile radius of the city I call home. Living in the PNW (Pacific Northwest, for those of you living in the stone age or those of you not from OR, ID or WA), our topography is abundant with opulent mountains, alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping landscapes; arguably, but unarguably, the best hiking in the U.S. The way the crisp, clean air fills your lungs, the way the evergreens engulf you in a never-ending hug, the way each step takes you further away from the noise and closer to semi-silent bliss.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and to be honest, this post is more for my aging memory than for you all, but I do love sharing how beautiful this state is and the nature that makes it up. Hiking is more than a hobby for me, it’s a relief and escape, a way to get closer to God, to others, and to myself. So, I’ve compiled a list of all the hikes I have been on thus far, in hopes that I can convince you to get out hiking this season, or better yet, join me in crossing off a list of new ones!

Lake 22 

Distance: 5.4 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 1350 ft.

Location: North Cascades

Company: Greta + friends

Notes: For Greta’s 22nd birthday, we hiked Lake 22 (complete with Taylor Swift’s “22” on repeat). I wasn’t expecting to like this hike as much as I did. I mean I knew it would be great, but this was GREAT. Forewarning, we went during May and it turned into more snowshoeing than hiking as we were sliding on ice and trekking through snow at the top. Nonetheless, the glass reflection of the mountains on the lake make you want to do it 22 times more.

Colchuck Lake

Distance: 8.0 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 2280 ft.

Location: Central Cascades

Company: Derek

Notes: This is by far one of my favorite, if not favorite hikes. Though it started off with the wrong hike (to be featured later), it was beyond worth it to turn that last corner and step into a meeting between heaven and earth. Being in such close proximity of the fabled Enchantments, it only makes sense these views captivate one’s eyes and soul to the deepest parts. The last leg of the trip is pretty tough, but just when you think you’re about to give up, you are greeted by crystal turquoise waters set below grand spires and the overwhelming peace of nature. Bring lunch (you’ve earned it!) and plan to spend a couple hours enjoying the breathtaking views.

Diablo Lake

Distance: 7.6 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 1400 ft.

Location: North Cascades

Company: Sarah

Notes: If you look up pictures of Diablo Lake on the internet,  you’ll see what looks like overly-filtered photos of an incredibly blue lake. Do not be mistaken, as these are what the actually lake looks like; UNREAL. The day we went the clouds shaded the sun a bit, but on a bright sunny day, the almost see-through sea green blue takes your breath away and it is encouraged to take at least 1000 pictures to prove it is real.

There are two parts to this lake, the hike and the lookout. After reading reviews, we came to the conclusion that the entire hike was not worth it, as the best views were about halfway into the hike. The trailhead is in an inconspicuous location, after crossing a dam and past some boat docks, but right before you enter the North Cascades National Park. When you come to a fork in the road, the trail heads right, not left, as we found ourselves lost the first 20 minutes by going left. Nonetheless, about an hour down the right trail, we found an open space to enjoy lunch and sit in the swaying silence. If you aren’t up for the hike and just want to admire the views from a far, there is an incredible panoramic vista point on the east end of the lake, accessible by following Highway 20.

Eightmile Lake

Distance: 6.6. mi RT

Elevation Gain: 1300 ft.

Location: Central Cascades

Company: Derek

Notes: This hike was not intentionally planned, but due to the misguidance of Derek’s directions, we ended up starting this hike thinking it was Colchuck Lake. About 2.8 miles into the hike with cranky attitudes, we turned around, realizing only after the fact that we stopped 0.2 miles short of the actual lakes. I don’t even know if this photo was from that hike. Plus, who names a six mile hike Eightmile Lake? Despite my shortcomings with this, the part that we did hike was pleasant and I’m sure the lakes are as lovely as others (not us of course) say they are.

Glacier Basin

Distance: 6.5 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 1600 ft.

Location: Mt. Rainier- NE

Company: Derek

Notes: WOW WOW WOW. I seriously loved this hike. This was not your typical uphill hike, as a lot of was traversing over rock and dirt to, well, a big ol’ basin. Playing in fields of flowers and cold, clear glacier water made this hike the epitome of a summer hike in Washington. The wide open meadows to the little details of picking flowers and feeding chipmunks made this hike one I just felt complete happiness while hiking. If you want to enjoy this site for more than a day, be sure to check out the Glacier Basin wilderness camp to stay overnight or make a loop trip out of it.

Heybrook Lookout 

Distance: 2.6 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 850 ft.

Location: Central Cascades

Company: Kiersten, Sarah, Tyler, Dakota

Notes: This hike was cold and wet and rainy, and I was tired and cranky, but good company and portable hot chocolate can save any day. If you want a short hike with great views, this is a good hike for all skill levels. Bring some extra snacks for when you reach the top of the lookout to feed birds right out of your hands. Feel free to explore the surrounding areas for some different scenery and discovery.

Kendall Katwalk

Distance: 12 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 2600 ft.

Location: Snoqualmie

Company: Mark + Sarah

Notes: This one was a long one that I thought I was prepared for, but I don’t think I actually was…but oh was it worth it. THE VIEWSSS. I actually think it was closer to 14.5 mi, if you include the walk from the road to the trailhead. Plan for an early start to a full day and don’t forget your water, as even the strongest and fittest will get a fair workout by hiking this. With a long hike like this, it’s definitely recommended to take your time stopping at different viewpoints and not rush to the top, as part of the beauty is in the journey. Beyond the stunning mountain views, you’ll know you’re at the katwalk, a narrow pathway with jaw-dropping views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Gold Creek Valley on either side. If you want, you can continue an extra 1.25 miles past Kendall peak to a pair of lakes.

Little Si

Distance: 4.7 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 1300 ft.

Location: Snoqualmie

Company: Michaelle, Kate, Kara, Trinity, Allie

Notes: I first hiked this with my core group from The INN at UPC, such a wonderful group of girls and great bonding experience on an easy and fun hike. Little brother to neighboring Mt. Si, Little Si proves most of it’s difficulty in just the last bit, making the rest of the hike popular among family and crows alike. I would suggest this hike along with Rattlesnake Ledge and Teneriffe Falls as easy half-day hikes that everyone will enjoy.  While the hike itself doesn’t have the wow factor as others, the grand finale is a surprise as you are rewarded with phenomenal portraits of the valley and nearby Mt. Si and Mt. Washington.

Melakwa Lake

Distance: 8.5 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 2500 ft.

Location: Snoqualmie

Company: David

Notes: Melakwa is Chinook for “mosquito”. So yes, bring the bug spray, but don’t let that deter you from taking on this hike. It starts out wide and easy, then gets rocky and steep at the end, which leads you to a quite pleasant view. This lake plus mountain combination was a bit on the smaller scale in comparison to other mountaintops I have been to, but I wouldn’t disregard it as any less. The feeling of snugness and safety is a well-kept secret within this mysterious and magical space.

Rattlesnake Ledge

Distance: 4.0 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 1160 ft.

Location: Snoqualmie

Company: A lot of people

Notes: This is the classic Seattle hike. Moderately easy hike, well-maintained, very popular with people of all ages and ability.  I’ve been three times and would say it is a good “bang-for-your-buck” hike. Sweeping views of the lake below, I love taking friends who have never been to Seattle on this one, though due to its popularity can easily become overcrowded. Nonetheless, it seems to be the hike with the longest hike-able season so that’s always a plus.

Mt. Rainier

Distance: ?

Location: Mt. Rainier

Company: Makayla

Notes: I don’t even know what this hike was called. A few years ago in July, my family, Makayla and I lodged in Paradise at the top of Mt. Rainier for a mountain getaway. Of course, the one day we decided to go hiking, it is pouring rain (dully noted, Seattle) so we stopped short. If you have the time, I am a huge advocate for staying a couple of days or even a long weekend to explore all the amazing hikes Mt. Rainier has to offer.

Lake Serene

Distance: 8.2 mi RT

Elevation Gain: 2000 ft.

Location: Central Cascades

Company: Bekah, Lauren, Jason, Kirk, Andi, Tate, Spencer

Notes: The reason you are seeing a picture of us standing on a big flat rock is because that is the only thing we could see when we finally made it up this hike huffing and puffing. From what pictures say about Lake Serene, it seems to be a beautiful expanse of aqua blue covering the base of ascending, snow-tipped peaks. As of now, I cannot say I have seen that same lake, or any lake at all, as my back-to-school hike mid-October with eager friends ended up in an opaque blanket of fog. Halfway up, you can take a side detour to see Bridal Veil Falls, something I recommend visiting on the way up while you still have energy, in case the same fate awaits you. Pack snacks, be prepared for the adventure, and remember it’s about the journey and not the destination (unless the destination is super rad then yes, it’s about the destination.)

IMPORTANT: As of 3/21/18, this trail is closed until 7/1/18.

Teneriffe Falls

Distance: 5.4 RT

Elevation Gain: 1585 ft.

Location: Snoqualmie

Company: Chelsea

Notes: This was a sweet hike perfect for a sunny day. A neighbor to Little Si, it’s got the ease of Little Si with less tourists and equally stunning and simple views. Not too far from Seattle, it’s the perfect hike for the whole family, or best of friends. Go in the spring so that the falls are full and flowing.

Tolmie Peak

Distance: 7.5 RT

Elevation Gain: 1100 ft.

Location: Mount Rainier- NW

Company: Jackie

Notes: It was mostly a miracle by God that the weather at the beginning of October made this hike absolutely magical. I’ve wanted to do this hike for so long and as you should know, one of the first rules is hiking is go with good company, so early in Jackie and I’s forever friendship we headed south to what I would say is one of my favorite hikes in terms of views. The first 0.5 mile and we knew it was off to a great start as we passed the crystal blue Mowich Lake whose calmness and vibrant color easily reeled us in for a return. All you need to know is that Tolmie Peak has the most EPIC views of Mt. Rainier, it doesn’t even look real. There is also a fire lookout at the top, I felt so close to Mt. Rainier that I could have touched it!

To-Do Hikes 

Mailbox Peak

Mt. Pilchuck

Ice Caves

Olympics

Blanca Lake

Skyline Trail

Summit Lake

If you have any other recommendations, let me know!