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That indoor hobby

Recently I decided to excavate a path through all the clutter and general life debris in our office in order to have access to my scrapbook stuff again, and man alive, I’m hooked! I thought it would be harder to find time for stuff like this when I have a kid, but in a way, it’s become easier – I no longer have time to sit and hem and haw and try to find that elusive perfect piece of paper or whatever. Now I just grab whatever is close by, and don’t stress if my margins aren’t totally even. I’m a recovering perfectionist!

Another thing being shorter on time has made me think about is which stories I choose to tell. Right now I’m focusing on Nora’s baby album, our vacation album, and my own life lessons/paper Prozac/personal stories album.

I Hiked This

That’s where this one will go, part 162 of Ingunn Slowly (Really Slowly) Realizes That She Can Do Hard Things (my Beat the Blerch page will be installment 163). I’ve documented the gloriousness that is the Enchantments several times before from backpacking trips, so this time I just picked one favorite photo and let the others be.

Remember This

I think this is one of my favorite pages ever, not for looks, but for content – this will probably be the last page of Nora’s baby album and is full of little details I want to remember of her at one year old. She changes so quickly, and I’m sure half of these things will disappear from my memory in a year or so.

One thing I haven’t figured out how to document is Nora’s hiking. A separate Nora the Explorer album? Or just a yearly summary spread with additional pages for special hiking stories? Hmm.

Here & Her

I originally thought this page was for her baby album (or her hiking album, I guess), but then I realized it actually belongs in my life lessons album. The lines are blurry there.


I Beat the Blerch!

Two and a half weeks ago, I was hit with that awful feeling of having totally forgotten about something. And by “forgotten”, I think I mean “pushed so far to the back of my mind that maybe it’ll just go away if I don’t think about it, lalala”. I’m talking about the Beat the Blerch 10k. I talked a good game about wanting to run this spring, and then summer came along and I was apparently content with sitting on my ass eating chocolate every night.

Normally in this situation, I would bail, bail, bail, but I seem to have grown up a little bit in this first year of parenthood, so instead I decided to go for it. I figured that even if I ended up walking most of the course, then (a) who really cares – no one, no one except for myself and (b) there would be Nutella. And a couch along the route. This clearly isn’t a race that encourages taking oneself too seriously.

In case you don’t know, Beat the Blerch was started after Matthew Inman (aka The Oatmeal) made this comic called The Terrible and Wonderful Reason Why I Run Long Distances. It hit a nerve with a lot of people, and led to this excellent book and this race series. When I was looking through my photos after the race, I suddenly noticed the whipped cream action going on behind me and Nora. This is very descriptive of the race, and naturally I highly recommend it.

Beat the Blerch Beat the Blerch

Anyway, I finally took Nora out in the running stroller, which is actually pretty fun, and a godsend in the rainy weather we had those two weeks – the rain cover is awesome and can withstand some very soggy runs. I got some good runs in, but never more than two miles in a row of running. The trails near our house are just too hilly for me to not take walking breaks, especially while pushing a stroller. I set a goal for myself that on race day, I would run to the halfway point, then switch to walking.

Beat the Blerch

But come Saturday, you know what? I ran that entire thing. I was slow as molasses – 1:10:48, I have to live up to my blog name, after all – but I ran it. I didn’t even need to stop at the aid station, but I ended up doing it anyway since I couldn’t miss out on a photo op with a real live Blerch.

Beat the Blerch 10k Beat the Blerch

Lessons learned:

– My shins hurt for the first two miles and I was starting to consider maybe walking a little bit, and then suddenly BOOM I was warmed up, nothing hurt, and I felt great. Must remember this next time when everything sucks. I even got several comments from strangers about the fact that I was smiling while running, so yay! Endorphins!

– At one point, before my shins stopped hurting, I was about to walk but told myself that fer chrissakes, you rocked contractions, you can make it through this. And it totally worked.

– I started out way too slowly and didn’t realize until the end that I had way more to give. Don’t be so cautious!

– Podcasts work better for me than music, unless I’m running downhill. Music gives me time to mull over things, and those things usually involve some sort of negative self-talk. Podcasts take my mind off whatever I’m doing, and suddenly I’ve been running for ten minutes without really noticing.

– I tend to shy away from big crowds and love running alone in the mountains, but there’s something to be said for the motivational aspect of being surrounded by lots of people. Especially when they’re all high on sugar.

– My body can run for over an hour straight on basically no training. That’s pretty awesome.

– I really need to stop bailing on things that intimidate me.

Beat the Blerch Beat the Blerch

So yeah, that was a really great experience, and a huge confidence-booster. If I could run this race without training for it, what could I do with training? I went ahead and put my name in the lottery for Orcas 25k in January to find out. Fate will decide whether or not I get in, but if I do, I decide how prepared I will be. I’ve entered this race before, and bailed – but now I really do know that I can do hard things. Please send good lottery vibes my way.


First birthday

Nora turned one yesterday. One! I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since we first got to meet this little lady. She was so tiny! I remember how scared I was to pick her up that very first time because she was so small and vulnerable and so very very breakable, but when the midwife helped me scoop her up and put her on my chest, everything felt so right.

This first year of parenthood has been so much more fun than I thought it would be. I mean, I could have done without the screaming-baby-on-me-24/7 newborn phase, but what I wouldn’t give for one of those chest naps right now. Now I’m sitting here blogging while Nora is next to me, happily playing independently and practicing putting a hat on her head. It doesn’t seem real that this little human is the same creature as that little helpless burrito we had last year. Man.

Bestest burrito So tiny

It’s been raining since Friday, but yesterday the skies cleared for our little ray of sunshine. We decided to celebrate her birthday on trail, complete with cake and a fabulous party hat. This was the trail where I first started having contractions the day before Nora was born – we’ve come full circle! Happy birthday, my little love! And thank you, for everything.

We tried to come up with the perfect present, and finally decided on the only thing that felt right – birthday money for Nora to donate to UNICEF to help the kids who really, really need it right now.

A cake? For meee? Happy birthday!

Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier

Noble Knob

Sometimes I think I bestow too much emotional significance on Noble Knob. It’s too much for such a humble summit to bear, and sooner or later it’s bound to disappoint. Well, maybe not disappoint, but…underwhelm. This was that time, sort of.

Noble Knob 007

I’ve been in love with Noble Knob since September 2007, our first mountain backpacking trip. We got a late start and the sun was setting just as we reached the foot of the Knob, so knowing nothing about leave no trace principles (or about the existence of a mighty fine tent site up on the Knob), we hurried up and pitched our tent in the middle of the meadow, had dinner, and went to sleep. Except I couldn’t sleep at all, terrified by the thought of marauding bears and the sound of gunshots in the distance…in a display of absolutely horrid timing, JK had told me about the Pinnacle Lake murders as we were hiking. Ugh.

Rainier at sunrise

But oh, the next morning! We hiked up to the summit and sat there in awe as Mount Rainier was painted bright pink with alpenglow. It was pure magic, and I fell for hiking, hard.

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I’ve been dreaming about bringing our kid here for years, and this summer we finally have an excellent baby to schlep along. We had originally planned to car camp at Corral Pass and hike to Noble Knob in the morning, when the light is best, but the road to Corral Pass was closed this year. Boo. So instead we drove a confusing network of logging roads to an alternative trailhead. This took us on a short, wooded trail instead of the fabulous, mostly open ridge walk from Corral Pass, and I realized that I love that trail as much as I love the Knob itself – without those wide-open views from the start, Noble Knob lost a lot of its appeal. If you haven’t hiked to Noble Knob before, I recommend waiting until the road opens again.

Noble Knob

After a year of almost no rain (thankfully it’s pouring down outside as I write this), everything was dusty and dry and beige and hot and blah. Nora took a short nap in the carrier, and I put in headphones to listen to my Autumn playlist – I am so over summer at this point. Enough with the heat! I want slippers and hats and pumpkin spice cardigans or whatever.

Noble Knob Paternity Leave

We made it to the Knob and decided to eat lunch by the rocks so we could find some shade when the heat got too intense. I had this image in my head of getting the perfect portrait photos of me and Nora in front of Rainier, but she was consumed by the presence of magnificent sand! and rocks! everywhere, and therefore refused to indulge me in my fantasies.

Noble Knob

(Of course in hindsight I can see that these photos ended up much cuter than the posed photos I had wanted.)

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Nora hadn’t slept in the car and only caught a 20-minute snooze in the carrier, so after lunch, we could tell she was in need of more rest. We headed out, assuming she would sleep the entire way, but no. Not a wink. Then we drove home, thinking she would maybe sleep at least a little bit, but no. When we realized she wasn’t planning on sleeping at all, we kept her happy and distracted by playing You Are My Little Bird, which we all love, plus a few songs from Alphabutt, which is hilarious. As we got close to Redmond, the only thing keeping a massive meltdown at bay was playing Nora’s number one favorite song, Dyrene i Afrika, over and over and over again. The poor nugget was so overtired that she woke up 547 times that night, and I felt guilty and grumpy. The magic of Noble Knob had failed us!

The next morning I could see things in perspective. Nora was back to her happy self, my brain was no longer overheated, and it dawned on me that if this is what I think of as a bad hike, I am both very lucky and very very spoiled.

(But srsly, don’t visit the Knob until Corral Pass is open again.)

Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Can all hikes be like this one?

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Nora has suddenly started sleeping in in the mornings, which is glorious and luxurious and amazing, so we’ve been getting a late start on our hikes. I would rather get that extra snoozage in the morning and deal with starting our hikes at noon, so it’s all good, but it does mean we have to stick to shorter trails in order to enjoy ourselves and still have time to get back home in time for bed. I don’t mind that either – there are lots of gorgeous short trails in this state.

One of those is Tolmie Peak Lookout, which somehow we had never hiked before.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 036

The drive was just long enough for Nora to take a nap in the car (only 20 minutes, but it’s better than nothing), so when we pulled up to Mowich Lake, the whole family was in an excellent mood. On clear days, you can see the top of Mount Rainier peeking out above the hillside, but today she was shy, hiding behind a fig leaf of clouds. No worries – our eyes were busy scanning the bushes for huckleberries anyway.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

After hiking up and down and up again and feasting on an especially tasty patch of hucks along Eunice Lake, we reached the lookout.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

I instantly fell in love with these little mountain goat cutouts. Adorbs!

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We sat down to eat our lunch, resigned to the idea of a volcanoless view, when lo and behold, Mount Rainier decided to reveal herself after all! Nora was very excited.

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Much photography ensued before we decided it was time to put away the camera (for the most part) and just sit down and enjoy it all – the view, the sun, the togetherness. And the huckleberries.

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Nora is one lucky girl to have this as her playground!

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This hike is going on the repeak list for sure.

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After a while, JK couldn’t resist the alluring waters of Eunice Lake anymore, so we packed up and headed down the trail so he could swim.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

I wish I could have joined him, but I had forgotten my spare set of skivvies and there were too many people around to swim in the buff.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Next time, next time.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Nora fell asleep a couple of minutes after we started hiking again, and snoozed all the way back to Mowich Lake. JK and I put in headphones and cruised along the trail, getting lost in the flow and the tunes. So good.

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This time I joined in on the fun and went swimming myself – going commando for the drive home was a small price to pay for the pleasure of a mountain dip.

Nora was obviously the one who should have gone swimming after she discovered the joys of digging in the wet dirt by the lake. Happily, a warm bath was but a car ride (a scream-free, joyful car ride!) away.

Lakes, berries, a lookout, a big, majestic, amazing volcano, huckleberries, naps, a very happy baby. Everything worked out so perfectly! Seriously, can all hikes be like this?

Tolmie Peak Lookout | 7.5 miles | 1100 feet elevation gain –

Tolmie Peak Lookout

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