Running, Top Trips

Orcas Island 25K

I’m back! And, importantly, I’m still alive!

Orcas Island 25K

Our long weekend began with a Friday ferry from Anacortes. Nora loves any sort of public transportation (except for that one flight from Reykjavik to Seattle which we shall never speak of again), and between her fascination with water and all the people-watching (“why are all of these passengers wearing trucker hats”, she must have wondered), ’twas a good voyage.

Orcas Island welcomed us with a magnificent rainbow, which I took as a good omen from the universe re: my chances of survival the following day.

Welcome to Orcas Island

Still, my stomach was in knots when I lined up for the race on Saturday morning. Everyone else just looked…more prepared. And like they actually knew what they were doing. JK snapped this photo of me and captured my look of reservation quite well.

Orcas Island 25K

But, as always, everything seems better once you actually start running, even though the start of the course was a long, uphill asphalt road.

Orcas Island 25K

I settled into the back of the pack and ran what I could of that hill, walking the rest.

Orcas Island 25K

But then! Trails! I could run again! Aaah, heaven. Soft singletrack wending through a veritable wonderland of lush moss, creeks, and waterfalls.

Orcas Island 25K

Lord-of-the-Ringsian bridges!

Orcas Island 25K

Magical trees!

Orcas Island 25K

I reached the first aid station at 5.something miles, refilled my water, grabbed a handful of potato chips and some really delicious, juicy orange slice, and got started on the main challenge of the day – the dreaded Powerline Trail.

Orcas Island 25K

This thing was nothing like my friendly neighborhood Powerline Trail here in Redmond, no, this was a straight-up-the-mountain, Cable Line-esque climb complete with shoe-sucking mud and soul-sucking, NSFW internal monologues. Eventually the mud gave way to snow, because of course, and then, miraculously, the Powerline was over.

Orcas Island 25K

Finally I could run again, and it felt so good! Until we hit another hill. This was the kind of switchbacking trail I can usually hike up in no time at all, but my post-Powerline legs were just spent, and these (supposed) 1.2 miles took foreeever. At least the snow made everything look like a fairytale. One of my fellow runners shouted “OHMIGOD this is the most beautiful thing ever! But I think I’m delirious.” – I think that summed up how most of us were feeling at that point.

Orcas Island 25K

At long last I reached the second aid station on top of Mount Constitution. I had planned for a long break there to take in the views, but since it was just white in every direction, I filled up my water again, grabbed more orange slices, and got ready for the descent.

Special thanks to the volunteers on Mount Constitution who remained cheery and helpful while looking downright hypothermic! This was the same aid station where I volunteered back in 2012.

Orcas Island 25K

The next section was the most beautiful of the entire course, thanks to the snow, but also absolutely freezing. After a couple minutes of running, I realized I couldn’t really feel my fingers, so I had to stop again in order to find my gloves and hat. Opening my pack took forever with my useless Otter Pops fingers, but luckily they warmed up quickly once I got the gloves on.

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

The next four miles or so just flew by – I cranked up the tunes and ran my little heart out, only stopping when I felt an irresistible urge to hug one of the giant cedars that lined the trail.

Orcas Island 25K

The course ended with some rather rude but mercifully short hills that I couldn’t find the energy to run up, and then I was done. Huzzah! I got my well-earned high five from race director James Varner and forgot to look at the clock, but I found out afterwards that I had crossed the finish line in 4:34:39, which I’m reasonably proud of given the amount of elevation gain and my lack of training/general laziness.

Orcas Island 25K Orcas Island 25K

The post-race party was classic Rainshadow Running – live music, lots of food, lots of beer. I was a very happy kind of exhausted.

Orcas Island 25K

Back at the rental house, we watched the sunset with our furry neighbors, had dinner, and went to bed embarrassingly early. It was a very good day.

Orcas Island 25K

Hugs to JK for watching Nora while I was out gallivanting through the woods, and big thanks to Rainshadow Running for organizing such a beautiful race. I know I spent most of that horrid Powerline climb thinking NEVER AGAIN, but of course now I’m like I’M TOTALLY DOING THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

And look, now I even have my very own trucker hat so I can at least look like a runner, even though I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Turtlehead Overlook

Baby, Running

Nora walks, mamma runs

Nora’s first big act of rebellion against her hiking-obsessed parents was to hold out on walking until now. But on Friday night she suddenly got up and walked over to pappa, and by the next morning she was dribbling a soccer ball across the room (in an adorably waddly way). On Sunday, she took her first trail steps on Cougar Mountain, and my heart burst into a million pieces for the 975th time since she was born.


We’ve spent some time on lowland trails like Cougar, Tiger, and the Redmond Watershed this past month since I suddenly realized the Orcas Island 25k was coming up rather quickly and I really should start training. Eeep. I’ve run through ice and rain and mud and a few little bits of sun, from frosty landscapes to ferns and moss so intensely green they look downright Photoshopped.

January January

So now we’re two days away from the race and my longest training run was 7 miles long, and now I’m supposed to go out and cover more miles and more elevation gain than I have since the summer before I was pregnant. EEEP. My initial goal, “don’t finish last”, has been downgraded to “just finish, period”…but I’m not going to complain about getting to run (and walk…there will be lots of walking) for 25 kilometers on a gorgeous Pacific Northwest trail.

January January January

See you on the other side of the weekend, when I’ll be stiff and sore and waddling in a much less adorable manner than this little toddler of mine, but hopefully looking just as happy and proud of myself as she does.


Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2015

Eeek, January is almost over! Not only does this mean that Orcas Island 25k, for which I am hopelessly undertrained, is coming up veryveryvery soon, but it means I need to write my annual favorite hikes of the year post.

She officially loves Poo Poo! So this is...January??

2015 started out fabulously, with a certain someone coming out of her fussy newborn months. That meant we felt brave enough to tackle more “real” hikes, starting with good old Poo Poo Point. It felt like a return to the world for me – the newborn period is intense, a rollercoaster of unbelievable highs and overwhelming lows, but now things were settling down, and we started going on our normal family outings – hikes! Veggie Grill! – but with a happy little lass in tow.

2015 was also a bizarre year for snow. Well, lack of snow. One really shouldn’t be able to hike to Mason Lake on a dry trail in January, but that’s what we did. A little taste of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the middle of winter.

Nora don't care 'bout no crowds Nora & mamma

In February, the weather was freakishly warm and we went to Rattlesnake Ledge to soak up some sun. We were not alone. This was a common theme for most of our hikes in 2015 – hiking really seems to have exploded over the last couple of years – but it’s hard to complain about the fact that tons of people are out exercising in nature and spending time with friends and family. I want more people to realize what an amazing hobby/pastime/lifestyle/therapy/workout this is, so I can’t be annoyed when people come out and do just that. (And anyway, Rattlesnake on a sunny Saturday? We were asking for it.)

On another warm day, we drove down (well, up I guess?) to Mount Rainier for our annual Paradise snowshoe. It was amaaaazing. Perfect conditions. No jackets required. Sun sun sun. Cutest snow baby ever. She even wore sunglasses!

Nora approves Cougar Mountain loop

We went for several hikes on Cougar Mountain in the spring. It’s such a great place to go for mellow hikes in the winter, but even better in the spring when everything turns chartreuse and full of life.

Happy hiker Melakwa Lake

Due to the aforementioned lack of snow, we were able to go on our annual Teanaway camping trip in May instead of June. So I spent Mother’s Day on Iron Peak, which was all sorts of perfect.

We also went on an early season hike of Melakwa Lake, which started summer for us. At this point, Nora was able to stay awake for longer on our hikes, so we could hang out at the lake and actually relax.

Mama n' Norbert Holy crap we'll be back

In June, we visited Fremont Lookout so Nora could see her first marmots. Another early season wonder.

We also traveled all the way to Norway and Italy, where we finally had a chance to visit the Dolomites and go on a little hike. I just realized I never blogged about that hike, but just trust me, it was fantastic. Even the drive was full of jaw-dropping views.

Lake Valhalla Tolmie Peak Lookout

We returned to Washington in time for Hike-a-Thon, and celebrated by swimming in Lake Valhalla. Then we went on what was my number one favorite hike of the year, Tolmie Peak. Everything worked out perfectly that day, and I have nothing but good memories. Swimming? Huckleberries? Happy baby? Napping baby? What’s not to love??

Noble Knob Snow Lake

I debated whether or not I should include Noble Knob on this list. At the time, there were a lot of frustrations and annoyances, but my highly revisionist memory tends to focus on the positives…so now I’m looking back at it fondly, thinking of the juice huckleberries we picked and ate on the way home, how much fun Nora had playing with the rocks on the summit, nursing while sitting in my happy place, staring at Mount Rainier. Aaw.

Our hike to Snow Lake let Nora further explore her love of rocks and sand and generally getting good and dirty.

Birthday hike Lake Margaret

In September, our little lady turned one! We celebrated on trail, of course, eating cake on Tiger Mountain.

We also started mushroom hunting again, including this failed hunt turned excellent hike to Margaret Lake. It was one of those miserable, soggy, grey days that just made the fall colors pop like crazy.

Shroooom! Christmas card pic

Most of our autumn trail time was spent looking for mushrooms on Tiger Mountain, either with Nora or on our own while the grandparents were visiting and could babysit. Hiking without Nora felt all sorts of weird and wrong at first, but it was admittedly really nice and freeing to be able to run again – even with a bag full of chanterelles weighing me down.

Lodge Lake Gold Creek Pond

Luckily we’re getting more snow this season than last year’s, so to get in the Christmas spirit, we visited Lodge Lake at the end of November. It was Nora’s first time actually interacting with snow, and she loved it! She really is Norwegian!

The grandparents visited again in December, and this time they joined us on trail for their very first snowshoe outing. We visited Gold Creek Pond which was an absolute winter wonderland…and Nora still adores the snow.

2015 went by so fast. Nora went from sleeping through most of our hikes to hardly ever falling asleep in the pack anymore (c’mon mamma, there’s snow and moss and chipmunks to look at! I can’t sleep through that!). We’re excited to see what 2016 will bring – I suspect we’ll be doing a lot of short hikes on Tiger and Cougar, inspecting pinecones and jumping in puddles…and probably having to bribe Nora to keep moving.

Challenge, Scrapbooking

One Little Word

The last time I picked a One Little Word for the year was in 2013. My word was present. I wasn’t really scrapbooking back then, so I didn’t participate in the community surrounding One Little Word, but I did manage to focus on that word throughout the year, and it actually ended up changing the way I see the world.

Focusing on the present allowed me to fully notice and appreciate all those little beautiful moments that happen throughout the day and that make up a good life. The afternoon sun filtered through the trees. The smell of onions caramelizing in the pan. Sitting down to drink a perfect cup of coffee. Having a laughing fit with JK over something silly. Finding happiness in all those little instagramish moments made me feel happier overall than I had in…forever.

I used to think that happiness was a constant state of being and that it was probably unattainable for me, but I’ve learned that no one is happy all the damn time. But happy people are generally content in their lives, focus on the positive, and find happiness in the little things. I tend to have a black or white, either/or view of the world in general (I’m totally working on that), assuming that a person is either happy or not happy. That is so, so wrong, and 2013 was the perfect time for me to learn that lesson. I was going through fertility treatments, getting the double blow of sad, hopeless feelings and out-of-whack hormones, but I still think of 2013 as one of the happiest years of my life. There were just so many good moments throughout that year, and for the first time I was able to really live in those moments instead of dwelling on the past (there was obviously still some worrying about the future, given the whole infertility treatment thing, but still).

Fast-forward to 2016, and I’m ready for another word. The one that immediately came to mind is grow. I feel like I have grown a lot since becoming a mother – I’m learning how to be less self-centered (this is an ongoing education, especially on these 30-minute nap days *insert frustrated emoji here*), and how to put things into perspective, which makes some of the things that used to seem huge and scary to me look a little less intimidating. But there’s a lot of room to grow, a lot of potential that remains untapped. I feel like I’m ready to step outside of my comfort zone a little bit. I’m going to be doing some things that are really hard for me, but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the last couple of years, it’s that YES I can do hard things.

First on that list of hard things? I, a massive introvert who is terrified by anything resembling public speaking and even loathes talking on the phone, said yes to be on a podcast! My natural inclination was to run screaming from that proposition, but I couldn’t say no to my favorite Scrap Gals. You can listen to the episode here (or in your podcast app) – I haven’t listened to it myself, because that would be horrifying, but JK listened to it and claims I didn’t embarrass myself too much (he probably just loved the comments that were made about him).

The second thing? Putting myself out there and applying for a spot on Ali Edwards‘ Creative Team – and I got it! I’m still amazed. Ali has been my scrapbooking guru for so long, so this is a huge honor for me.

There are much bigger challenges ahead though, and I’ll be documenting my progress and my successes (and very likely some failures) in my One Little Word album as the year goes on. There are some things I am really, really looking forward to, and some things that terrify me so much that my stomach is in knots just thinking about them. But that’s how you grow, right?


Project of the Year: Finishing Albums

Catching up on December Daily

I really hoped I would finish December Daily while it was still December, but it’s not quite done – instead, it’ll have to be the first installment of my big scrapbooking project o’2016: Ingunn Actually Finishes Albums for Once!

In addition to December Daily, I’m also going to finish my Week in the Life album, get my vacation album up to date, finally finish this mini album from the Southwest (which is my favorite project yet and I have no idea why I never finished it), and possibly maybe even finish the album about our honeymoon in India? Feel free to come here and nag med about my progress. Hopefully my resolve will last longer than most of my New Year’s resolutions usually do.