Another shot at life | The Seattle Times

I worked with our grant-funded Project Homeless team to make this first-person profile about Fawn Batten, a downtown ambassador for the Metropolitan Improvement District. Her day job is waking up people who have been sleeping on the streets in downtown Seattle. But her story is so much deeper than that.

Fawn Batten is a survivor of domestic violence and used to sleep in a tent. Now, she builds relationships with people on the street as an ambassador for the Metropolitan Improvement District. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

My role:

  • Reporting
  • Cinematography
  • Video editing

See the story on seattletimes.com: I used to live on the street. Now I try to help people who still do.

Emily & Pat | Springdale Station | Austin, Texas Wedding

Jessey and I have never in our lives photographed a wedding. We are also not really photographers these days (we make video stories and documentaries). But I knew how much it would mean to my dear, sweet friend Emily if we were the ones to document her wedding day. It was a ton of work, it was exhausting, and we put our documentary photojournalism skills to work. But it was also so amazing to be with my friend through every step of the day. And I’m even happy with the outcome.

Their wedding was held at Springdale Station in Austin, Texas on February 10, 2018.

Here’s a very small edit of my favorite images from the day….

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Three women marching

Back in January, my colleague Corinne Chin and I were brainstorming interesting and engaging ways to cover this year’s Women’s March in Seattle and somehow address the myriad issues that were bringing women into the streets for the second year in a row.

We ended up finding three amazing and brave women who shared their stories with us in advance of the march and, along with our colleague Bettina Hansen, we documented their experience during the march. Somehow, by collaboratively editing, we published this later that evening.


For indigenous women, for city workers to be free of harassment, for opportunities for fellow refugees and immigrants — three women share their stories and reasons for marching. (Corinne Chin, Lauren Frohne, Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Story on seattletimes.com: Follow three women through Saturday’s Women’s March

How Seattle’s Navigation Team works

Homelessness is a growing, complex, and very visible issue in Seattle. Many housed residents complain of the eyesore and trash caused by tent encampments and put a lot of pressure on the city to clean it up. The city is struggling to figure out ways to address the complexities of each individual’s situation while also humanely dealing with tent encampments.

The newly formed Navigation Team’s job is to help residents who live outside keep their spaces clean and orderly, address their problems and connect them with housing. They also have the difficult job of dismantling the encampments when deemed necessary.

We got a first-hand look at how the process unfolds and joined the team while they performed outreach and closed a camp. And I made a video story documenting it.


Formed in February after a series of camp sweeps drew sharp criticism, the Navigation Team urges people into shelters while removing camps like this one along the I-90 sound barrier wall. Contains strong language. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

My role:

  • Cinematography
  • Video editing

See the story on seattletimes.com: Before homeless camps are cleared, a Seattle team coaxes people to shelter

VIDEO: Honoring Olga & The Pioneers of PNW Ski Culture

I first encountered Lowell Skoog at a Northwest Avalanche Center storytelling fundraiser event. In addition to speaking about his own life, family and horrific losses while exploring the wilderness, he also mentioned that he planned to put on a makeshift ski-jump tournament to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first one held at Mount Rainier in 1917. He has dedicated much of his life to documenting the history of ski culture in the Northwest, so it makes perfect sense. I convinced reporter Evan Bush to do a story about him and we joined him on the Mountain for this ridiculously fun day.

VIDEO: Preview of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors at SAM

Yayoi Kusama has been one of my favorite artists since I was a freshman in college (15 years ago!). So it was awesome to learn that her signature Infinity Mirrors exhibition would be coming to the Seattle Art Museum. Even more awesome was getting to go to the press preview and making a short preview video to share with our community. I filmed and edit this the same day. Totally worth it.

The long road to Lola | The Seattle Times


Faced with a painful medical condition that threatened her fertility, Gloria Chueca Puerto-Mendoza didn’t have the luxury of time. Would you spend four years, and all your savings, without a partner to help?

Photographer/videographer Erika Schultz and I followed Gloria and Lola’s story over five months, filming their journey from the NICU to their home in Bremerton. And I wrote the text story for print to go with our video story and images.

Full story: How far would you go to be a mother? This young woman had to make a sudden decision.

My role:

  • Cinematographer
  • Reporter
  • Writer
  • Video Editor

VIDEO: Seattle Womxn’s March

In the course of our reporting leading up to the Womxn’s March in Seattle, we found so many people marching and protesting for the first time in their lives. We wanted to capture that spirit, what was bringing people out into the streets to be heard in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential election win. We decided on “active interviews” with women who planned to be out marching for the first time. This was filmed by me, Corinne Chin and Erika Schultz, and edited by Corinne. We also co-wrote the text story: ‘Stirred out of our complacency’: Women ready for march after Trump inauguration, and newfound political activism

Additionally, I was out on the streets the day of the Seattle Womxn’s March, filming the massive crowd of people as they filled the entire 5-mile route from Judkins Park to Seattle Center. Danny Gawlowski did the edit:

Winter Hiking Essentials for Women

I’ve been want to post more non-journalism writing, pictures and meanderings — namely stuff about hiking, gear I like, adventures we go on — so this is some of that.

I am pretty big on comfort when I’m hiking. And a lot of being comfortable is having gear that works for you and investing in quality stuff that will work across seasons and last for a long time.

I never really hiked in the snow before moving out here to Seattle, but now we go out most weekends for at least a short snowshoe hike in the winter. So I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error with gear and I’ve read a lot about what other people use.

I figured it might be helpful to other ladies out there who are getting into snow hiking or snowshoeing and want to know what gear or brands could work for them and would be worth the investment. None of these products or companies have paid me or given me products to review free of charge.

So here it is: Lauren’s winter hiking essentials for women…

Clothing Essentials:

Bottoms: Halle Pants from Prana

I’m starting with the worst clothing item for hiking women: PANTS. Hiking pants are the worst. Especially if you have hips, a butt, curves of any kind. It’s like they are always cut for dudes but with the zipper just on the other side. But these pants from Prana — despite the price tag ($85 yikes) — are pretty much the best hiking pants for women.

I’ve worn them on every hike for almost two years and they show pretty much no wear at all. They also keep me warm and dry during snow hikes, even though they are not insulated and are not specifically for snow hiking. I wear them layered with Smartwool 250 weight thermal pants in the winter.

They are slim in the leg, but roomy enough for flexibility and layering thermals underneath. Unlike most hiking pants, they leave enough room for your hips without being too tight in the waist. I am a size 27 waist + 30 inch (or less) inseam and wear a size 6 regular in these.

Another option for snow hikes: Waterproof rain pants like the Torrentshell Pants from Patagonia. I have these in a size medium  and they fit overall, but are a little tighter in the butt. I usually prefer my Pranas over these for snow hikes.

Base layers: Smartwool all the way

I use three wool, base-layer style items for snow hikes:

  1. Women’s NTS Mid 250 Bottom
  2. Women’s NTS Micro 150 Tee (I wear this on pretty much all hikes, winter, summer, anytime.)
  3. Women’s NTS Mid 250 Crew (This is new for me. I usually just wear a flannel shirt)

For me, wool is the best option by far. It’s comfortable, warm, breathable, it keeps you warm even you’re damp, it dries quickly, it doesn’t retain smells like synthetic fabrics and you can wash and dry Smartwool stuff in the machine. I wouldn’t go on a winter hike without at least the bottoms. The tops are optional if you have other warm flannels or sweaters you like to hike in.

Jackets: Patagonia Down Hoody + Torrentshell rainshell

I’ve tried out a few different combinations of jackets for staying warm but also not feeling bulky. I tend to be on the cold side, and my body cools down super quick whenever we stop moving on a hike, so having jackets that are breathable and can layer well is important, but most of all they need to keep me warm.

I’ve zeroed in on a hooded down jacket from Patagonia. I have a couple other brands and types of down jackets for hiking/camping, but I’ve found a hood to be essential, especially for winter hiking and if it’s snowing.

I pair the down jacket with a rainshell from Patagonia (which you can see in the image above in the Halle pants item) which is helpful if it’s snowing, but also helps keep you insulated especially if it’s windy out. I used to have a basic, REI brand rainshell, and I really disliked it. It felt more plasticy and puffy and bulky, and just never seemed to fit right. It was wayyyyy less expensive than the Patagonia version, but it also seemed like if I did use it a lot, I’d have to replace it often.

I also really like Patagonia’s policies that promote repairing your gear and recycling gear to keep it out of landfills, and basically that they make high quality gear that you only need to buy like once in a decade. It’s important.
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My favorite Washington state hikes in 2016

It’s the beginning of 2017, and I took a little time to reflect on some of the places we explored this past year, specifically where we hiked.

During the summer months here in Seattle, we try to get out for a hike pretty much every weekend — usually in Cascades — and while we didn’t get out as much as we did in 2015, we managed to hike some epic trails and even got a little more into snowshoeing.

Here’s three of my favorite hikes around Washington state that we explored in 2016:

 

1. Heather – Maple Pass Loop (North Cascades)

The first, most important thing about this hike is that it leaves from the parking lot at the Rainy Pass PICNIC AREA. Not the Rainy Pass trailhead, which is on the other side of the road and leads you onto a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. We learned this the hard way by hiking about a mile and a half along the wrong trail. I was suspicious by the the third creek crossing, since I hadn’t read anything about water crossings in the trail description. We alerted some fellow confused hikers who arrived in the parking lot as we were getting back in order to head to the correct trailhead. Lucky them.

But once you’re on the right trail for the Heather-Maple Pass Loop trail (7.2 miles, 2000 ft. elevation gain), it’s fantastic.

It starts in the forest and climbs for a bit. About 1.25 miles in, you can break off to Lake Ann, which is pretty muddy and marshy so early in the season. It was kind of cool to see from below before you climb above it, since the whole area is carved out by glaciers. But honestly, it was underwhelming compared with how amazing the views are on the way up to the pass. If you’re pressed for time or don’t want to add another couple miles, it’s okay to skip.

We hiked this on July 4th weekend, and there was still considerable snow at Maple Pass, starting just after Heather Pass. We attempted to traverse it since we had microspikes and hiking poles (better equipped than most other hikers that day), but we got a little sketched out on the steepest slopes approaching the pass. It probably would have been fine, but it was late in the season and a hot day and we didn’t want to risk falling down the mountain. We saw one person successfully make it over the pass.

I have a fairly prominent fear of heights (that I’ve really only discovered by hiking in the PNW), and the slopes, both covered in snow and not, tested my fear for sure. Just don’t look down, just don’t look down.

This hike is great even as an out-and-back, rather than a loop, and it’s definitely worth an overnight trip out to the North Cascades. We’re planning to go back this year and complete the loop for sure.

 

2. Fremont Lookout (Mount Rainier – Sunrise/White River)

We really like the Sunrise area of Mount Rainer National Park. It’s a little less crazy than Paradise and offers some really unbelievable views of the mountain and surrounding areas.

In late September, we camped at the White River campground in the park and finally hiked the Fremont Lookout trail (5.6 miles, 800 ft. elevation gain) that leaves from the Sourdough Ridge Trailhead near the Sunrise Visitor Center.

We’ve hiked almost all the other trails in that area, including parts of the Glacier Basin loop and the Burroughs Mountain trails. And the Fremont Lookout is great to hike on its own for something relatively short without too much elevation gain (though 800 feet at 7,000 feet elevation is harder than at sea level) or to tack onto the network of trails in the area.

The last leg of the trail heading toward the lookout is a steep, scree slope that offers some great views of Mount Rainier, the valley below and the mountain range out ahead. While we were hiking back down, a fog rolled in and out creating a really dramatic scene for a few minutes.

And the actual lookout tower offers panoramic views of Grand Park, Redstone Peak, Skyscraper Mountain and Berkeley Park. And we saw a family of mountain goats hanging out on the slopes and cute little pikas in the boulder areas.

Here’s a little video my partner made from our weekend out there, including our hike on the Fremont Lookout trail:

 

3. Commonwealth Basin snowshoe (Snoqualmie Summit)

We recently explored this trail in December of 2016, so it just eeked into my top three for the year.

We’ve really learned to love snowshoeing as an alternative to hiking in the winter months. Because most of the trails in the Cascades are inaccessible during the snowy months, it can be difficult to find some outdoor hiking-ish activities if you aren’t an avid backcountry skier (yet).

We’ve also found that there are kind of limited choices of where to snowshoe, but the Commonwealth Basin trail area is really lovely. You can either snowshoe through the flat creek basin, out and back, for an easy winter wonderland hike, or you can head up the mountain a bit and make it a loop trail, which is what we did. You can choose your own adventure in terms of how long or how strenuous you want it to be. We had a couple of friends with us and it was a nice casual snowshoe uphill for a bit and then down and back around through the creek basin.

It started snowing pretty early this season and so by mid-December there was already several feet of snow in the Snoqualmie Summit area. You probably will have to park at or near the Summit at Snoqualmie ski lodge and walk under the I-90 overpass to get to the trailhead, because the parking area is blocked by a wall of snow.

There are also skiers on the steeper part of the trail, coming down from more backcountry ski areas you can reach from that trail, so just be contentious of that. And always be careful when going on snowshoe hikes — the risk of avalanche is real and if you don’t know what to look for, try to take an intro class form the Northwest Avalanche Center.

Also, here’s a nice little video our friend Ramon made from our hike that day:

Looking back, my goals for 2017 include getting out on more hikes this summer and learned to ski (and maybe snowboard) before the end of the winter season. As someone who relocated to the Pacific Northwest from the East Coast and Southeast US, I’m still a total newbie at all things snow sports. Hoping to change that slowly but surely!

VIDEO: An easy snow hike close to Seattle – Frozen Franklin Falls

One thing I’m always impressed with is how folks around Seattle and the Pacific Northwest get outdoors with their families. Our first Christmas in Seattle — which we spent just the two of us in our little apartment before going to visit family in North Carolina — we decided to get out to Rattlesnake Ledge for a short, little 3-mile Christmas day hike. We got out there really early and there were already some folks on the trail. And on our way back down, we encountered droves of families of all kinds, like whole extended families of like 15 people. Despite the busy trail, it was really nice to see so many people choose to get outdoors for a little while on a holiday otherwise spent indoors.

Last week, Erika Schultz (my photo/video colleague at The Seattle Times) and I were able to get out to make a little feature story and short film about one of the most popular local hikes: Franklin Falls.

In the summer, this is an easy 1-mile jaunt to a pretty impressive waterfall (though it does reside under an I-90 overpass). It’s also a nice little walk to add onto an excursion along the Denny Creek trail which is close by.

But in winter months, the road to the Franklin Falls trailhead is blocked off by snow which adds almost a mile, making it more like a 4-mile roundtrip hike. But it’s a lovely little winter wonderland kind of trail that is accessible for kids and casual (i.e., not intense or overly prepared) hikers.

There are some steep inclines on the trail, so I would definitely recommend microspikes (YakTrax were insufficient), but snowshoes are not necessary because the busy trail is well packed down. As you can see in the video, a lot of people wearing inadequate footwear (i.e., running shoes) are slipping around and having to slide down the last hill on their butts, or forgo that part entirely.

It also feels about 10 degrees colder in the area around the foot of the waterfall, so make sure to have gloves, a hat, and even a waterproof outer layer to battle the icy mist (which gets even colder when the wind blows). We hung around down there for about two hours as we were filming and photographing and I got sort of dangerously cold and had to retreat up-trail a bit.

Overall, a lovely little hike, especially in winter. Great for the non-intense hikers among your family and friends and pretty good payoff for not too much work.

Enjoy!