November 27, 2022

Olympia Travel

Olympia Travel Tips

Outdoor guidebook author extraordinaire speaks in Tri-Cities

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Amphitheater Mountain above the Cathedral Lakes, Pasayten Wilderness.

Courtesy Craig Romano

Hiking and backpacking authority, outdoors writer and guidebook author Craig Romano will be in the Tri-Cities on June 22, speaking about “Backpacking in Washington” in a presentation at the Reach Museum.

The talk, which is free and open to the public starts at 7 p.m., and is being sponsored by the Inter-Mountain Alpine Club (www.imacnw.org).

Romano has written, co-authored or collaborated in more than 25 outdoor guidebooks, mostly published by Mountaineers Books Seattle, including a series of highly-regarded, popular, regional day-hiking guides and another series of urban hiking travel guides.

Romano will be sharing his knowledge and experiences from over 40 years of hiking and backpacking in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

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Klapatche Park on the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. Courtesy Craig Romano

His first backpacking adventure occurred with the Boy Scouts the early 1970s, in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Since then, he has gone hiking and backpacked in parks and forests from Quebec to Chile, and became an end-to-ender on Vermont’s Long Trail.

He moved to Washington in 1989, and decided to stay after a magical solo backpacking experience sharing a campsite with a curious young coyote, several bellowing marmots, five bears and three elk while backpacking the Olympic National Park’s High Divide.

“I felt like I was in a Walt Disney movie,” he confessed. “I was hooked on the Pacific Northwest”.

He has since hiked and backpacked more than 32,000 miles in the Evergreen State and has bicycled across North America three times riding to 49 states and all 10 Canadian provinces.

He started ultra-running in his late 40s and has run more than 30 marathons, including the 1991 Boston Marathon, and multiple ultradistance races around the country including the White River 50 Mile Trail Run near Mount Rainier National Park.

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Hawkeye Point via Goat Ridge Trail near Packwood, Wash., offers stunning views of Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens. Courtesy Craig Romano

Even a 2021 diagnosis of an auto immune inflammatory condition called polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) doesn’t really slow him down. The pain was successfully treated with medication and the health scare motivated him to revamp his diet, eliminate process foods, lose some weight and focus even more on his goals.

He continues to maintain a remarkable schedule filled with ambitious ultra-running events, hiking and backpacking trips. He celebrated his 60th birthday with four others by completing the Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire’s White Mountains – 19.5 miles, 8,600 vertical feet, seven summits, and two sub-summits, in 14 hours.

Last summer he did the Timberline Trail around Mount Hood — 41 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation gain in 15 hours. In August 2021, he completed 325 miles as part of his annual Hike-a-Thon fundraiser for the Washington Trails Association.

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Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus in the Olympic National Park. Courtesy Craig Romano

Romano gathers data and writes mile by mile and continues to challenge himself.

“I work on several books and projects which get me on the trail 2,200-2,500 miles each year,” Romano said. “This is what I live for. I’m going to do my best to make things happen and share what I find with others.”

Romano will be talking about his newest book, “Backpacking Washington 2nd edition” and showcasing a wide array of backpacking routes from 16-50 mile treks throughout the state.

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When pressed to identify his five favorite backpacking trips in Washington he responded, “That’s tough to answer as there are so many great ones — like the 80 in my book!” and then he happily provided this list:

  • Cathedral Lakes in the Pasayten Wilderness
  • Image Lake in Glacier Peak Wilderness
  • Gray Wolf Pass-Cameron Pass Loop in Olympic National Park
  • Northern Loop Mount Rainier National Park
  • Goat Lake-Hawkeye Point Goat Rocks Wilderness

Craig also points to wonderful backpacking trails in the Goat Rock Wilderness, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Mount Rainier National Park and Wenaha Tucannon Wilderness that are all within 3-4 hours of the Tri-Cities.

Craig Romano will talk for an hour, plus time for questions.

“My talk is about where to backpack, not how to backpack. But I always emphasize leave no trace, walking light on the land and trying to seek the trail less taken,” he said. “Many routes in my book are ones that are not popular giving hikers an option to escape the crowded popular places.”

He is currently working on the second edition of “Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge,” spending a lot of time in the Gorge and its environs; doing some serious ultra-running including a 50K at Mount St. Helens and beginning work on a new book on Washington’s rail trails which will have me biking and running all over the state.

He lives with his wife, Heather, son Giovanni, and Maine coon kitty in Skagit County. You can learn more at www.CraigRomano.com.

The event starts at 7 p.m., June 22, at The Reach Museum. Seating is limited so get there early.

This story was originally published June 17, 2022 11:15 AM.