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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Teanaway, Top Trip Reports

Mother’s Day Weekend Part Deux: Iron Peak

First of all, before I forget: the Teanaway Road is in excellent condition right now, I have truly never seen it smoother. So go, go!

After having breakfast in camp and getting ready for the day, Nora was overdue for her morning nap. We drove over to the Iron Peak trailhead and got Nora all saddled up in her new ride, the Osprey Poco Plus. Now for the big question – would she sleep in that thing? Dun dun DUUUUN.

Let's do dis

The answer is yes, oh yes. She slept better than she does in the Ergo! In order to let her get the best sleep possible, we put on headphones and listened to some tunes as we hiked instead of talking. I forgot how refreshing it feels to listen to music when you’re all endorphin-high in the mountains.

New pack = snooze success

The only problem with the new pack was that Nora’s sun hat kept falling off, leaving her face and her delicate little skull exposed to the intense Teanaway sun. I didn’t tie the hat under her chin since she kept nodding her head forward to sleep and I didn’t want her to be strangled, but maybe I’m not giving her enough credit now that she’s not a helpless little lump of a newborn anymore. Any tips on how to deal with this situation?

Pretty trail

The trail switchbacked up, up, up as it always does, but it all seemed to just fly by. We kept a good pace, and I was in this giddy state of flow were the world was all glacier lilies and Rainier views and moving legs and a chubby, sleeping baby ahead of me on trail – the cutest dangling carrot ever.

No no no no

Once we reached the saddle, the blue skies and hot sun were replaced by a high cloud cover and a biting wind, so we retreated leeward to get Nora changed and fed while protected from the elements. Apparently milk is no longer a sufficient hiking snack for her, so she supplemented with some trees.

Approaching the summit

We added a wool suit and a warm hat to Nora’s ensemble, plus some stylish sunglasses to protect her eyes from the snow glare, then made our way up toward the summit.

JK, (Nora,) Stuart

The snow level this year is ridiculously low (considering we were hiking Iron a full month before we usually do it), but there was enough of it to be all postholey and annoying. On the way down, I elected to glissade even though I was wearing shorts, because snow up the butt is preferable to repeatedly postholing up to your knees and scraping the bejesus out of your legs. (I have to wear a dress to meet the King, fer chrissakes!)

Ridgewalk

Apart from the postholes, I loved being up on Iron again. We’ve gone every year since 2010 (except last year, because ow), and it never gets old. We usually hike it for my birthday, but since we might not have time for that this year, Mother’s Day was the perfect backup.

Happy hiker

Nora wanted to partake of her father’s summit libations, but had to make do with more milk and some pilfered bits and pieces of our soggy banana sandwiches.

Like father like daughter

We signed the summit register, snapped photos, took in the panoramic views, and just hung out until Nora started to fuss. She definitely needed a longer nap, so we packed up and headed down.

Iron Peak, now with babby

Nora slept from summit to car. Whoa. And we didn’t see a single other human on trail the whole day. Whoa.

She napped the whole way down

Best Mother’s Day ever. Okay, so it’s also my only Mother’s Day ever, but still.

Iron Peak | 7 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain –

First Mother's Day <3

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Challenge

Week Three

How did the challenge go this week, you ask? Friends, it went sucktastically! Between awful sleep (as usual it was my fault, not Nora’s) and being struck with some sort of post-camping malaise, I neither wanted nor was able to do anything more active than curling up on the couch with Qdoba salads and old episodes of Sherlock.

THE BAD:

No strength training | Except for some random planks and squats here and there, the closest I came to lifting anything heavy was getting my body up off the couch to fetch more wine.

No long walks | My weekly total was 14.5 miles, down ten from last week. Bah.

Salad

THE GOOD:

I finally went for a run | I felt sluggish and slow, and it was just one run, but in the context of this week, it counts as a positive.

Excellent week o’ fuds | We made it through the no sugar challenge and got to celebrate with some excellent Norwegian chocolate at the Constitution Day parade in Seattle! Interestingly, chocolate tastes insanely sweet now, so I was able to not go all bingetastic on that bar. Now for the real challenge: how to avoid falling back into bad habits (and by “bad habits” I mean being this close to shooting myself up with melted chocolate). By the way, when I was running, I looked down and noticed that my tights were no longer tight. We don’t have a scale in the house, but this confirms that avoiding chocolate for three weeks definitely had an effect.

Oggl_635675434431383456 Oggl_635675435079896585

Even though the challenge (and sleep) part of my week wasn’t great, the rest of it sure was. Nora celebrated her first Norwegian Constitution Day and got to hang out with a bunch of the cast members from Alt for Norge, our favorite Norwegian reality show. Actually, our favorite reality show in general! I can’t believe we didn’t get a photo of Nora pulling Alf’s beard braids. Sorry, Alf.

Nora meets Alf from Alt for Norge

Week four of the challenge focuses on sleep, which is just what I need right now. We also have a big event coming up this Friday – a dinner with King Harald V of Norway! – which should motivate me to lay off the chocolate a little while longer and maybe do a shoulder press or two. (And get a haircut.)

feat
Hiking with baby, Teanaway

Mother’s Day Weekend Part Une: Camping

My first Mother’s Day! I’m a mom! I still can’t believe it sometimes.

Mother’s Day has never been a big deal in our family, but I’ve started acknowledging it now in order to get to decide how we spend the weekend. Moahahaha. This year, I wanted to go camping.

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

Problem one: We hit the first snafu pretty early on in the planning process when we realized there was no way we were going to be able to fit our dogs in the car along with Nora and all our camping crap. Luckily a friend agreed to watch Wellie and Basil, but for next time, we’re probably going to have to get one of those rooftop ski boxes or something so we have enough room to bring the boys. They love camping too!

Shooting stars in camp

Problem two: Sleep. Sleep sleep sleep. Since Nora is used to sleeping in her own room, we decided to bring some sort of enclosure for her to snooze in. We settled on a Peapod portable bed (henceforth to be known as Podrick) that would let her have her own space but still fit between us in our little backpacking tent. It would also keep her from getting into any sort of mischief in the tent when she’s there alone, since she goes to bed before us, and when we do bring the dogs along, Podrick will protect Nora from being trampled by pointy Italian Greyhound legs.

Playing in Podrick while we pack up camp

Bringing Podrick along paid off right away – Nora had a safe, bug-free place to hang out and play while we were busy setting up camp. She even played by herself in there while we grabbed lunch and got some reading done! I highly recommend getting one of these for camping or beach trips with small humans.

Too excited to nap!

Unfortunately, Nora wouldn’t nap in Podrick. Before we had a baby, I thought night sleep was the thing to worry about – I had no idea what a pain in the ass naps can be. Decent naps make the difference between Happiest Baby in the Universe and Cranky Gremlin. Nora won’t nap in the car, either (it’s happened like, say, three times), so driving inevitably turns into an overtired screamfest.

DeRoux trail (nap hike)

This drive was no exception, and by the time we made it to our campsite along the Teanaway River, she was overdue for a nap. I think the campsite was just too full of new, exciting things for her to fall asleep, so we went to the nearest trailhead and hiked for a while so she could sleep in the Ergo.

She’s a very light sleeper (the one thing this little JK-clone definitely inherited from me), so her naps in the carrier are nowhere as good as her crib naps – she wakes up the second I stop moving – but they’re definitely better than nothing. Of course the DeRoux Trail was full of downed trees that I had to climb over without waking Nora up, for which I surely deserve some sort of hurdling medal.

oh hai

Once Nora woke up, we looked for morels (we found four tiny ones, which JK unfortunately incinerated in the campfire while cooking dinner) and stumbled across a rubber boa – very cool!

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

Back in camp, life was good. We had storytime, I showed Nora the creek, the river, and the thick, fragrant ponderosa bark, and kept her from eating all the different woodland things.

Story time

Then it was time for Nora’s first campfire. Maybe she’ll get s’mores next year. And stick bread!

Camp

After the failed nap attempts, I was worried that Nora wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, either. Luckily, she has such a strong biological urge to fall asleep for the night between 6 and 7 that it was not a problem. We bundled her up in a wool base layer, fleece pajamas, and a thick fleece snowsuit, then put her in the same sleep sack she usually wears at home. It stayed warmer than usual (even though this was a month before our normal Teanaway camping trip!) and the snowsuit hood was nice and cozy, so we skipped the hat.

Nora asleep in Podrick

With lil’ Norbert fast asnooze, JK and I proceeded to just veg out by the campfire, eating and reading. I’m obsessively plowing through Carrot Quinn’s Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart right now, reading whenever I find the time. It is so, so good. And now the book smells like campfire, which seems appropriate.

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

We went to bed early – I think we both expected Nora to wake up a bajillion times that night – and I slept like a rock until 1 AM, when I woke up and made sure my little camper wasn’t too cold. Or too warm. And that she was still breathing. It was like being the parent of a newborn again.

Morning zzzz

Nora usually sleeps until 5-6, eats a little bit, then goes back to sleep until 7 or so, but this time she woke up at 4. I fed her, then decided to snuggle with her the rest of the night. I should have thought about what a light sleeper she is (cosleeping has never worked for us), because she woke up at 5:30 when I made the slightest little movement, and there was just no getting her back to sleep. Yawn. I think we would have gotten at least another hour if I had just put her back in the pod…but then I would have missed out on those cuddles, so it was worth it. Mostly.

Marsupials

The morning was crisp and cool until the sun climbed over the ridge to warm us, so we hung out in the tent for a while before making hot soup and coffee (and a whole banana for Nora). We ate breakfast all snuggled up under my sleeping bag, and then Nora amused herself by banging a titanium cup against the chair while we relaxed. Aaahh.

I’ll admit I came into this weekend expecting the worst, but we really did have a wonderful time. When it comes to babies, pretty much everything you do involves more work and less sleep, but also more fun.

Bundled up Happy camper

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Challenge

Week Two

THE BAD

No strength training | Get it together, self. Get it together. The other day, I got all excited when my pre-pregnancy shorts were literally falling off me, but then I saw a photo of myself and realized it’s because I lost my butt. And not in a good way. Is this a thing? Does pregnancy make one lose one’s butt? Anyway, strength training might help me relocate said hindquarters.

Sunset run

THE GOOD

I got out on one run for sunset after Nora went to bed, and it was glorious | It helped that I was cheered on by a total of 16 bunnies, most of them teeny tiny babies, along the trail. Spring!

The no sugar/processed food challenge is still going well | Except that I accidentally ate some honey and then decided to bring veggie dogs, the mother of all processed foods, on our camping trip (Yes! We took Nora camping! More on this once I process photos from the weekend.) – but I feel like the act of eating veggie dogs was negated by the fact that we went camping and didn’t eat s’mores. I haven’t had chocolate in over two weeks! Holy crap.

I covered 24 miles this week | Including seven miles on Nora’s first peak, where I realized I’m in better shape than I thought.

I feel great | Yup. I kind of hate that not eating sugar is making me feel this good, because that means I really should make an actual lifestyle change, and that requires effort. And self-control. Goddamnit.

DeRoux trail (nap hike)

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Travel, USVI

#TBT: St. John | Maho Bay

Maho Bay is one of the prettiest beaches on St. John, and the most accessible – most beaches require a short walk or a long hike, but Maho is situated right along the North Shore Road.

Maho Bay

It’s a great place for kids, with a long, sandy beach, shallow water, shade from the coconut trees, and a quick retreat to the car if needed.

Maho

Heaven is what it is is what it is.

Flying fish

(I tried to do one of these jump shots too. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most flattering activity I could be doing with my body while wearing a bikini. Never again.)

Snorkel squishy

Snorkeling in the bay will almost guarantee you lots of stingray, conch, starfish, and turtle sightings (and some reasonably big barracudas), and every time we snorkeled here, it seemed we had enrolled in school. (Get it? Fnar fnar.)

We enrolled in school on St. John

Oh, hello there

Maho turtle

For me, Maho is more of a lounging beach than a snorkeling beach – I mostly go in the water to cool off between long stretches of reading and synthesizing vitamin D – but if you do want to explore, swim along the rocks around the edges of the bay. The marine life gets more and more interesting the farther out you go, and we had a very cool octopus experience in the rocks.

From this...

Metamorphosis…

Tiny octopus

…what even is this sorcery? Man alive, octopuses are amazing creatures. I feel incredibly lucky to have seen several of them on our trips to St. John.

...to this!

Speaking of lucky, Maho Bay is where we saw our very first shark in the wild. We actually saw it from the beach, because it kept cruising back and forth in the shallows, and then we were finally able to snap a photo of it. Looks pretty scary, no?

OH HAI

No! ‘Twas but a wee baby Lemon Shark, and it was adorable. The next year, however, our friends were snorkeling Maho and met what was presumably the same shark. It was definitely not a baby anymore, and it was decidedly unnerving.

Lemon Sharks are not at all in the habit of attacking humans (and as far as I understand – at least this is what I tell myself – the water around the St. John is too warm to attract the really terrifying sharks), but meeting a biggish shark underwater is enough to get the adrenaline going in most members of the Jaws generation.

Baby shark

If you go to St. John, you MUST go to Maho Bay. Pack a lunch and bring a book (not Jaws*).

Sunshine squishy

Come early, both to get a parking spot and to see the palm trees cast their beautiful shadows over the beach and the water. Stay all day (but if you’re there for sunset, you might get eaten alive by no-see-ums), relax, enjoy, snorkel, soak up the sun, look out over that Caribbean blue and revel in the fact that you’re on St. John, which means you’re one of the luckiest people on earth right now.

Maho Bay

*personally, I chose to read Jaws in the safety and comfort of an alpine fire lookout, which housed an impressive collection of shark literature.