Writer, hiker Craig Romano of Mount Vernon is happiest when he’s hoofing it

  • By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer
  • Saturday, February 28, 2009 3:12pm
  • Life

By his count, Craig Romano travels 2,000 miles a year on foot, hiking and running.

“That’s not including the cycling,” he said between sips of coffee in his Mount Vernon kitchen.

Romano is something of a rare breed, the odd man whose hobby has turned into a career. An energetic, emerging talent among outdoors writers, Romano’s work often promotes the wilds of Washington.

The writer will visit the Everett Public Library on Sunday to discuss hiking the North Cascades.

Romano can blame his abilities on the unusual life he’s lived.

He traces his interest in the outdoors to his childhood in a small New Hampshire town.

“I basically grew up in the woods,” Romano, 47, said. “I mean, that was your entertainment. If you didn’t like being outdoors, forget it. I was a Boy Scout. I would ski and hike and canoe.”

After high school, the prospect of college sounded dull, so Romano bicycled with a friend from New Hampshire to Washington state, taking a circuitous route down the East Coast and up the West Coast.

That was just one of several larks. He also spent five years as a ski bum, worked for five seasons as a guide in the Pyrenees with his wife, Heather Romano, and cycled in every Canadian province.

“I was always an adventurer,” he said.

He occasionally returned to school, however, picking up degrees in forestry, history and education. The latter was a master’s from the University of Washington.

Drawing on his book smarts and trail expertise, Romano went full-time as a writer two years ago.

His largest ongoing project is a concise series of trail guides for Seattle’s Mountaineers Books. With a handful of other writers, he is updating the famed “100 Hikes” series by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning.

In “Day Hiking: North Cascades,” a 2008 title, Romano featured 125 trails. He hiked all of them the previous year so he could report accurate trail conditions. Romano tackled another 125 for the upcoming “Day Hiking: Central Cascades,” which is scheduled for release in early May.

“Whenever we work with him, we want his ideas and his suggestions about what he thinks is going to work, because he does have such a deep knowledge,” said Helen Cherullo, publisher of Mountaineers Books. “He’s just a very good writer.”

While he cites Henry David Thoreau as an inspiration for his writing, Romano is no transcendentalist. He promotes the outdoors in more straightforward ways than the “Walden Pond” author.

“Don’t sit there and think about it on these giant levels,” Romano said. “Just do it because it’s healthy and you feel good after.”

That said, he understands hiking has its risks. He spends about a third of the year outside and has had his close calls.

His worst nail-biter came in the early 1990s, he said. He was in California when he became separated from his hiking party during an electrical storm. He was wearing crampons and carrying an ice ax in the charged atmosphere. The electricity caused all his hair to stand up. He felt like a lightning rod.

“I made peace with my maker,” he said. “I really thought it was all over. I ­really did.”

Before the storm even passed, though, the experience confirmed something for him. He was doing right, spending time outdoors.

“I’m sitting there and going, ‘God, I’ve lived life just the way I want to live. I have no regrets,’ ” he recalled. “It was almost relieving.”

Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, arathbun@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Camp Fire attendees pose after playing in the water. (Photo courtesy by Camp Fire)
The best childcare in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied. Here are the results.

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

Whidbey duo uses fencing to teach self-discipline, sportsmanship to youth

Bob Tearse and Joseph Kleinman are sharing their sword-fighting expertise with young people on south Whidbey Island.

Craig Chambers takes orders while working behind the bar at Obsidian Beer Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Obsidian Beer Hall takes over former Toggle’s space in downtown Everett

Beyond beer, the Black-owned taphouse boasts a chill vibe with plush sofas, art on the walls and hip-hop on the speakers.

Glimpse the ancient past in northeast England

Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles across the isle. It’s still one of England’s most thought-provoking sights.

I accidentally paid twice for my hotel. Can I get a refund?

Why did Valeska Wehr pay twice for her stay at a Marriott property in Boston? And why won’t Booking.com help her?

How do you want your kids to remember you when they grow up?

Childhood flies by, especially for parents. So how should we approach this limited time while our kids are still kids?

Dalton Dover performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Friday, June 9, 2023, at the Spotify House in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The Red Hot Chili Pipers come to Edmonds, and country artist Dalton Dover performs Friday as part of the Everett Stampede.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone plays cop in Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’

The true-crime drama started streaming Wednesday. It’s Gladstone’s first part since her star turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

A giant Bigfoot creation made by Terry Carrigan, 60, at his home-based Skywater Studios on Sunday, April 14, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
The 1,500-pound Sasquatch: Bigfoot comes to life in woods near Monroe

A possibly larger-than-life sculpture, created by Terry Carrigan of Skywater Studios, will be featured at this weekend’s “Oddmall” expo.

wisteria flower in Japan
Give your garden a whole new dimension with climbing plants

From clematis and jasmine to wisteria and honeysuckle, let any of these vine varieties creep into your heart – and garden.

Great Plant Pick: Dark Beauty Epimedium

What: New foliage on epimedium grandiflorum Dark Beauty, also known as Fairy… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.