Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is one of the greatest springtime escapes in the Pacific Northwest. This year’s heavy snowfall means lots of mountain roads are still closed, but luckily the Olympic Peninsula offers easy access to many beautiful hikes and views. With ferry rides, long stretches of coastal highway, evergreen forests, glistening lakes, and summit views for miles, this area offers a little bit of everything for outdoor adventurers. My latest trek was with my friend and photographer Erin Cunningham on Mount Storm King, an ascent that offers stunning views of Lake Crescent off the peninsula. If you’re looking for a little inspiration to get out in the woods this season, read on for my insights on packing, snacking, and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.
What I Love About Hiking
I have loved the great outdoors ever since I was young. Growing up, I remember exploring the desolate desert castles of Utah on the weekends with my family. These vivid memories gave me euphoric feelings of excitement, gratitude, joy, and adventure… They were moments of bliss. As an adult, the castles have gotten higher and the adventures are more grand. Between the mountains, deserts, and lakes, there’s never a dull moment outside in the Pacific Northwest.
Mount Storm King
Storm King is located at the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula and holds some of the best views in Olympic National Park. The hike we chose is only 3.8 miles roundtrip, but it has an elevation gain of 1,780 feet — in other words, it’s STEEP. The main trail brought us through a mossy green forest with a steep climb up a groomed trail, ending right above Lake Crescent. However, there are two sections of trail that are dangerously exposed. A fixed rope is provided to help you up and down these sections. After surmounting the steep slope, we found ourselves on the Storm King Ridgeline with views of mountains and lakes for miles.
As a full time nutritionist for Washington’s native Tulalip Tribes, a delicious snack at the summit is one of my favorite parts of hiking. Food always seems to taste better in the mountains, rain or shine. For this trip, I brought a Trail Foody bag of goodies that included roasted almonds, dark chocolate, crackers, and organic fruits snacks. A balance of lean protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates kept me energized for the descent.
One of the key essentials I look for when hiking is the perfect pair of leggings. Nowadays, I frequently find myself wearing the Burton Plasma Leggings. They are comfortable, breathable, and help regulate my body temperature.
Staying the right temperature in the mountains is a challenge, but a must. It’s all about the art of layering. On my trip to Storm King, I wore the breathable and light Step Out Tank. The Anouk Fleece made for a cozy layer underneath the Hella Light Insulator. In the Northwest, you can’t leave home without a waterproof jacket because you never know when it might rain. With a name like “Storm King,” I was sure to pack my GORE-TEX® 2L Day-Light Rain Jacket. For shorter day hikes, the classic Tinder Backpack suits all my needs.
After a day of getting dirty and sweaty, it’s smart to bring an extra layer for the ride home. In this case, I brought my Burton Foxtrot Fleece for a comfy drive.
In the end, nothing compares to the alpine smell, the sound of chirping of birds, breathing in the freshest air, and feeling the river’s mist on my face. It’s an indescribable feeling — something you have to experience for yourself. Hiking will always be what nourishes my soul and makes me feel the most alive. ∆
*All photos by Erin Cunningham.
Annie Jensen is a nutritionist who spends her free time taking photos at high elevations. She’s also a part of the Burton Girls Ambassadors Program, which highlights a diverse crew of women from all over. What ties them all together is their love of the mountains, their desire to explore, and their mission to inspire and engage with other women in their communities. With their passion and unapologetic attitudes, they're leaving their mark on the world and we’re taking note.