Sonja SaxeExplorer

Seattle, WA based, adventuring everywhere. I'm on an endless journey to explore and photograph the national parks' scenic backcountry!

Best Adventure of my Life

I'm not exaggerating when I say that the 6 days/5 nights I spent kayaking in Glacier Bay's West Arm was the best adventure I've ever been on. The wildlife, mountains, glaciers, milky blue glacial water, and nearly complete solitude (save for the 2 cruise ships that enter each day) make for one unforgettable trip. In fact, the only downside of the entire trip was the cruise ships. They were loud and threw off a nasty wake but thankfully they never lingered too long, just make sure you give them a very wide berth! Trip completed: 5/27/18 to 6/1/18

Great Winter Camping Destination

It's easy to see why this area of Mount Rainier National Park is called Paradise, this place is indescribable! I completed this trip on 3/10 with my fiance. The weather was forecast to be clear, calm, and relatively mild (a low of 22F) and we knew we couldn't let that weather window pass us by. The hike was pretty easy and even though there was new snow the trail was already well-marked and easy to follow. All in all this is a great trip, I would highly recommend it!


over 3 years ago

Perfect Overnight Trip!

On Dec. 31, 2017 my fiance and I picked up our permits from the ranger station (I heard the rangers started denying campers permits later in the day) and headed out on the Four Mile Trailhead with a plan to camp at Glacier Point and then head down the Panorama to Mist Trail the following day/year. Since the winter had been so dry there was no snow or ice on the trail. Only 3 other groups were camping near the point and we all spread out so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We watched the last sunset of 2017 and the first sunrise of 2018 in solitude and it couldn't have been more perfect!

A Beautiful Slog of a Hike

I summited Mount Whitney on 6/9/17. After the drought-breaking winter we knew we were going to be in for a tough hike but it was 100%, without-a-doubt, worth it! We started the hike from Whitney Portal at 1am and route-finding below treeline was a bit tricky but we had a GPS (downloaded the Gaia Maps app) so we were able to get back on track pretty quickly whenever we lost our way. The trail was intermittently snowy (which is what made route-finding difficult) until just past Mirror Lake when it became entirely snow covered and we put on crampons. We made it to Trail Camp at 6am and took a half an hour break. It took us another 2 hours to climb up the chute and make it to Trail Crest. Because of elevation and fatigue it took us yet another 2 hours to reach the summit, but we did it!! We didn't stay long because we knew we still had a long hike back down ahead of us. Sliding down the chute was one of the most fun aspects of doing this trail in the snow but please make sure you bring an ice axe and know how to use it so you can self-arrest if necessary. It was nice to hike back down in the daylight but the sun made the snow an absolute nightmare to walk through! We finally made it back to the trailhead at 6pm, completely worked but so elated!


almost 5 years ago

A True Wilderness Experience

The BLM only allows 20 people to enter the canyon for overnight trips each day so you will likely be alone for the most of your trip. In November 2016 I spent 3 days/2 nights hiking from the White House Trailhead to Lee's Ferry and only saw one other person, which made for an incredible wilderness experience. If you choose to hike the Paria Canyon through its entirety you will have to use two cars or use a shuttle service. I used Seeking Treasure Adventures and was very pleased with the service Yermo provided! Also, you cannot drink the river water, so if you are doing this hike from start to finish you will need to refill your water at the 3 reliable springs. The first is Big Spring at mile 12, the second is Shower Spring at mile 22, and Last Reliable Spring is at mile 25. The springs can easily be missed if you aren't looking for them so be sure to pay attention to your mileage. And yes, there is quicksand, I actually got stuck in it and while I knew I wasn't in much danger it was a scary experience. If you find yourself stuck in quicksand, immediately take off your pack and throw it to shore. It is much easier to climb out of quicksand without a heavy pack dragging you down. All in all this is one of the most unique hikes I've ever been on and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a multi-day hike that combines beauty and solitude!

Stunning views in every direction

Even under (and over) a thick layer of clouds this hike was gorgeous. It's a workout and the views won't come easy but they are well worth the effort! I would recommend budgeting extra time to explore the ridge once you're there.


about 5 years ago

Gorgeous views, but watch out for the headland trails!

The headland trails you have to climb up and over along this trail are no cakewalk, ropes are provided but you are still scaling quite vertical bluffs, and with a full pack on it can get a little dicey, especially when the bluffs are wet! There was also a ranger checking every group's permits when I was there the first week of September so definitely make sure you secure one before heading out. The sea stacks are very impressive and make the perfect foreground for night photography!

My favorite hike from my trip to Olympic

I spent a weekend in Olympic earlier this month and I almost didn't do this hike. I added it to my itinerary at the last minute and am so glad I did because it ended up being my favorite hike of the weekend! Start early, I left the trailhead a little before 9:30 and didn't have to share the summit with anyone else the hour or so I was up there but as I hiked down I passed countless groups making their way up. Enjoying the views in solitude made the experience so much better! As others have noted there is some exposure on this hike; remain cautious and use the ropes and you shouldn't have any problems.


about 5 years ago

Nice hike, very busy!

This is a very popular trail but for good reason! You can visit 3 beautiful alpine lakes by taking this trail (Amphitheater, Surprise, and Delta). If you want more time to explore consider doing it as an overnight hike and staying at the Surprise Lake backcountry site. That will give you ample time to explore the area!


about 5 years ago

Bring Bear Spray

This backpack trip is a must for anyone who loves backpacking! There are only 3 backcountry sites and compared to other hikes in the area there are relatively few day-hikers so there will be few crowds to deal with, making it feel like an even more special spot. Do bring bear spray though, this is prime bear country and as my hiking partner and I were coming up on a blind turn we hooted and hollered and then heard a large something rustling just around the corner. We tentatively peaked around the corner and a bear about 25' away was staring back at us! We had our bear spray at the ready, spoke calmly to it and slowly backed away, and avoided all eye contact. Then it sprinted away until it was out of sight. The park makes you watch a movie about the dangers of the backcountry before they give you the permit so just make sure you pay attention to the movie and you should be good!

The Epitome of Glacier

When I think of Glacier I think of this hike, it has everything: lush forests, stunning alpine lakes, plenty of wildlife, and of course, glaciers (what is left of them!). I would recommend skipping the boat, it is expensive and depending on the time you arrive doesn't actually save you any time and the only hiking it does save you is level and easy.


This hike was my favorite day-hike in Glacier. The trail was not tough and the end view was incredibly rewarding! I'd recommend budgeting plenty of time to just hang out and soak in the views while at the lake.

So Worth the Effort

It is not easy to get to (that last stretch of trail is steep!) but this lake is more than worth it! I would recommend arriving as early as possible. I stayed at the Surprise Lake backcountry campsite and came here first thing in the morning and nobody else showed up for hours which was quite the treat.


over 5 years ago

Unique Hike with Stunning Views

This is one of the coolest (in both senses of the word) hikes I've ever done. It is very short but the water is so cold I was glad it wasn't any longer. The hike was incredibly busy but people were taking turns taking photos of the waterfall, which was a nice gesture. Bring a dry sack for your electronics, just in case!


over 5 years ago

Scenic Hike

This is an easy, quick hike to a beautiful waterfall. It can get very busy so I recommend trying to arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

Great Sunset Spot

The view of Mt. Hood from Tom Dick and Harry is unparalleled! I did this as a sunset hike and brought a picnic. There are many places to lounge at the summit and I stayed until after sunset and watched the clouds turn pink around Mt. Hood. Don't forget to look behind you because the view in every direction is phenomenal. Also, don't forget a jacket as it can get windy up there!


over 5 years ago

Beautiful Quick Hike

This waterfall is breathtaking, pictures don't do it justice, but the entire hike is beautiful! There are multiples places to stop and take a photo of the river rushing through the forest. I recommend hitting this trail early. I went at around 7am and had the entire trail to myself and the lighting was perfect!


over 5 years ago

Great Hike

Definitely arrive early to avoid the crowds, other than that this hike is great and pretty straight-forward! It's well worth your time and the climb.

A Great Night Photography Spot!

The view from the Canyon Junction Bridge is phenomenal in either direction for night photography. Besides being a great location you also won't have to compete with all the photographers and tourists who show up for sunset or watch your back for the shuttle buses! I was heading to the airport at night and was driving across this bridge and it was so beautiful I had to stop. It wasn't even a planned stop and the photos I got from this spot during a full moon are some of my favorite night photos to date!

Worth A Stop!

If you aren't as adventurous as Eric the fee to enter is £9 per person. I visited Giant's Causeway while on a self-drive round-the-island road trip and combined it with Carrick-a-rede (15 minutes east) for a perfect day of exploring!

Don't Forget the Bug Spray!

Iao Valley is the perfect place to visit if you want beautiful views but don't have enough time to commit to a long hike. Also, if you visit Iao Valley after a strong rainstorm you will be treated to spectacular waterfalls pouring over the valley walls in all directions! Last thing - don't forget to bring bug spray! Not having bug spray cut my time here short.


over 5 years ago

One of my favorite beaches!

Due to how difficult it was to find the trail I almost didn't make it to Red Sand Beach but am so glad some helpful construction workers pointed me in the right direction as this turned out to be the highlight of my time in Hana! Just a heads up, this is a nudist friendly beach so don't be surprised if you see fellow sunbathers in their birthday suits!

Breathtaking Landscape

The Cliffs of Moher are incredible. They look beautiful in pictures but nothing can compare to seeing them in person. If you can swing it I would recommend renting a car and driving yourself. This gives you freedom to make as many stops along the way as you want and allows you to spend as much time at the cliffs as you want. The Cliffs of Moher are incredibly busy but most of the activity is centralized around the visitor center. If you walk aways down either path branching out from the visitor center the crowds become sparse quickly and you will be able to enjoy the sweeping vistas without much (if any) company!

Watch Out For The River Crossings!

This is an easy hike but do not underestimate the stream crossings and remember, only one foot on a rock at a time! Morning Glory Bridge is a nice reward at the end of this hike. We saw two men rappelling from it when we arrived and that was actually the highlight of the hike!