2021 backpacking and camping trips

In spite of a challenging year, I’m thankful that I was able to go on so many outdoor adventures: in total, I did 10 backpacking trips and 5 camping trips in Oregon and Washington.

I had a few physical challenges that prevented me from doing everything I planned, but they didn’t stop me from getting out as often as I was able to. From a pinched sciatic nerve, to stomach and back issues, I held back (mostly) from doing difficult hikes and instead focused on making adjustments as needed to explore beautiful places.

camping trip #1 – Cape Lookout campground

Oregon Coast: Camping at Cape Lookout in the winter

(January 8-10) The first outing of the year was a camping trip at Cape Lookout on the Oregon Coast. I’ve camped there many times, but this was the first time in the winter. It was cold and rainy at times, but the sunrises and sunsets were amazing. At night, the sky was full of stars and the Milky Way over the ocean. Full trip report

A big physical challenge

At the end of January, I awoke one morning with a pinched sciatic nerve that heavily impacted my left leg and foot for several months. An incredibly painful experience, it took a long time before I could hike again. Thanks to many acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy treatments, I was finally able to heal and get back outdoors.

camping trip #2 – Beachside campground & Cape Perpetua

Oregon Coast: camping at Beachside & exploring Cape Perpetua

(March 26-28) Getting back slowly, I started with another camping trip on the Oregon Coast at Beachside campground near Yachats. I wasn’t able to do any hiking, but I enjoyed the sights at the coast, including watching the waves crash against the rocks at Cape Perpetua. The campground was well named, with easy access to the beach where I spent a couple of hours walking and taking photos. Full trip report

camping trip #3 – Tumalo State Park & Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Tumalo State Park campground

(April 16-19) Located in Central Oregon near Bend, we camped for two nights near the Deschutes River and spent a day hiking (slowly) through the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. Juniper trees over 1,000 years old and scenic views of the high desert are highlights of this hike. Full trip report

backpacking trip #1 – Salmon River Canyon

Salmon River Canyon - Goat Creek backpacking trip

(May 7-9) I’ve done this hike next the Salmon River many, many times and always love how the forest feels here. On my second time backpacking in this area, we hiked in the rain for five miles and set up camp at Goat Creek. It continued to rain on and off all weekend, but no matter… I love being in the forest when it’s foggy and getting to see woodland wildflowers in full bloom was big bonus. Full trip report

backpacking trip #2 – Packwood Lake

Packwood Lake backpacking trip

(May 21-23) Since so many of my favorite early season backpacking locations were still closed due to wildfires in 2020, I was looking for new places to go. Packwood Lake is part of the Goat Rocks Wilderness, but at low elevation so it’s good for an early trip once the snow melts in the spring. We hiked in about 5 miles and setup camp next to this gorgeous lake, then hiked to the end of the lake the next day. Full trip report

backpacking trip #3 – North Fork Skokomish River

backpack - North Fork Skokomish River

(June 3-6) Last year, several friends and I rented a cabin on the Olympic Peninsula and explored this area on a day hike with a plan to return for a backpacking trip. Located in the Olympic National Park, the North Fork Skokomish River Trail travels alongside the river, then gently climbs into a mossy green rainforest. On this trip, we camped at Spike Camp for three nights and did day hikes from there. While I wasn’t able to do every hike I wanted to on this trip due to lingering effects of the pinched sciatic nerve, it was great to spend time here. Full trip report

backpacking trip #4 – North Fork Skokomish River

North Fork Skokomish backpack July 2021

(July 1-3) A return trip to the North Fork Skokomish River, this time with my husband and two friends. We camped at Big Log Camp and spent time hiking farther on the trail to Camp Pleasant and beyond.

backpacking trip #5 – Royal Basin

Olympic Mountains - Royal Basin backpacking trip

(July 14-17) My favorite trip of the year was to Royal Basin in the Olympic Mountain range. The scenery here is stunning right from the start. A friend and I camped at Royal Creek Camp on the first night, and then hiked in farther to camp at Royal Lake for two nights. This allowed us to do a short day hike to the spectacular Royal Basin, with the second highest peak in the Olympics towering above a turquoise lake. The hike did have one short section of sketchy trail that gave me a lot of anxiety, but I managed to push through it to reach this scenic destination.  Full trip report

backpacking trip #6 – Ozette Triangle & South Sand Point

Ozette Triangle - South Sand Point backpacking trip

(July 29-31) Washington’s Olympic Coast is truly wild, with access limited to hikers and backpackers for long stretches of coast line. This trip to South Sand Point included a day hike to see ancient native petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks. Full trip report

backpacking trip #7 – Goat Rocks

Goat Rocks backpacking trip

(August 11-13) We were supposed to go to the Wallowas, but when forecasts called for heavy smoke and thunderstorms in Eastern Oregon, we headed to Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington instead. As it turned out, we didn’t escape the smoke, nor the biting black flies. Also, it was HOT. We had fun anyway although we ended up cutting the trip short due to wildfire smoke. Full trip report

backpacking trip #8 – Mount Rainier: Berkeley Park

(August 26-29) It’s not easy to get permits for backpacking at Mount Rainier. We lucked out in the permit lottery and scored a trip to Berkeley Park camp for three nights. Starting at Sunrise, we hiked in to a camp set in a scenic area filled with meadows and marmots. The next two days, we hiked to Skyscraper Pass and Second Burroughs Mountain. I loved everything about this trip and I’ll be trying to get permits again to explore more of Mount Rainier’s backcountry. Wish me luck! Full trip report

backpacking trip #9 – Rachel & Rampart Lakes

Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Rachel & Rampart Lakes backpacking trip

(September 8-11) After cancelling yet another trip to the Wallowas due to weather, two friends and I headed to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness for a challenging backpack. This was my second time here, and I wondered if I would think it was as difficult as the first time. It was. Regardless, this group of small lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness is incredibly scenic and well worth the effort it takes to reach. Full trip report

backpacking trip #10 – Indian Heaven Wilderness

backpacking - Indian Heaven Wilderness - East Crater Trail, Bear Lake, Lemei Rock

(September 24-26) My favorite destination for fall, this was my sixth backpacking trip in Indian Heaven Wilderness. This time, we hiked in via the East Crater trail, passing through an area that burned in a 2017 wildfire before reaching our camp at Bear Lake. It was a great year for color, with brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red in the huckleberry and mountain ash shrubs that fill the many meadows in the area.  Full trip report

camping trip #4 – Mount Rainier: Ohanapecosh campground

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

(October 8-10) Once backpacking season is over, I like to camp in my car. This trip at Mount Rainier was the last weekend the Ohanapecosh campground was open for the season. While I’ve camped at Rainier many times, this was the first time I’ve seen it with fall color. Wow. We did a quick drive to Paradise for a short hike on the trails there, then spent all of the next day hiking next to the Ohanapecosh River to Silver Falls and the Grove of Patriarchs.  Full trip report

camping trip #5 – Beverly Beach & Devils Punchbowl

Oregon Coast – Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area

(November 19-21) The Oregon Coast never disappoints. This was my first time camping at the Beverly Beach campground and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Located between Depoe Bay and Newport, we spent most of our time at Devils Punchbowl and on Beverly Beach. After a short exploration at Devils Punchbowl during the day, we returned for sunset at low tide and were able to enter the Punchbowl at night. Full trip report