Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Top Trip Reports

Nora the Explorer

Our year of introducing Nora to our favorite trails and places continues! When it comes to Melakwa, it’s definitely more of a favorite place than a favorite trail. I usually visit these lakes when I do the Tuscohatchie loop, so I can’t even remember the last time I hiked the trail back down. It’s pretty rocky and kind of sucks, especially when you’ve become used to the soft, rolling, luxurious trails of the Issaquah Alps. But the destination more than makes up for it – upper Melakwa Lake is one of my Official Happy Places.

Melakwa Lake

The last time I was here, it was just me and Wellie running the Tuscohatchie Loop. I was doing a lot of soul searching, trying to come to terms with the possibility that I might not ever become pregnant. The mountains, the lakes, the sun, the tiger lilies, and one loud marmot were my therapists that day (and on so many others). By the end of my run, I was so high on endorphins that I knew I would be able to handle whatever the universe sent my way.

Melakwa Lake

Thankfully, the mountain gods chose to send us this wonderful little creature. I can’t quite describe the feelings I experience when I return to a place like this with Nora in tow. “All the feels” will have to suffice.

Melakwa Lake

Normally I wouldn’t even be able to get to Melakwa in May (without an ice axe and a sizable pair of ‘nads), but thanks to the low snow this year, it looks like mid-July up there. The parking lot was overflowing by the time we reached the trailhead at 9, but the trail is long enough that it didn’t feel crowded, especially once were past the Slippery Slab which is the destination for most of the families with older kids. That’ll be us in a couple of years, but for now we’re enjoying being able to do regular hikes with a non-ambulatory baby on our backs.

Melakwa Lake

Once we popped out of the woods, we just got roasted in the sun. We worried that Nora would be too hot, but the thin wool layer she was wearing seemed to keep her pretty comfortable. I’m definitely on the lookout for a thin, breezy set of hiking clothes for her for the summer though, something that will protect her from the sun and bugs but still keep her coolish on sweltering days.

Melakwa Lake

She woke up a little while before we got to the lake, and was very…vocal about not wanting to be in her carrier anymore. Luckily she cheered up once we got to the lake, and after eating lunch and getting a fresh diaper, she turned into the happiest baby ever.

Melakwa Lake

Nora <3 Wellie

Melakwa Lake

Whenever we hike with Nora, I go into it with low expectations of how much time we’ll actually get to spend at our destination, but she was happy as a clam hanging out by the lake. I think she likes watching the water. This bodes well for the summer ahead.

Melakwa Lake

Most people seemed to stop at the first lake, so my favorite best-seat-in-the-house rock was available for lunch and playtime. I even got some relaxing done, once I was able to stop manically taking photos of Nora whenever she did something adorable.

Melakwa Lake Melakwa Lake

Once Nora started showing some sleep cues (she always begins by subtly grabbing her ear, which quickly escalates to rubbing her eyes and yawning), we packed up and headed back down so she could nap in the carrier. We put in headphones so we could listen to music while she slept, then hiked back to the trailhead, all smiles (except for intermittent grumbles from me whenever I would trip over a rock and curse the fact that I hadn’t brought hiking poles).

Best baby hike yet, rocks and all.

Melakwa Lake

– Melakwa Lake | 9 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –

Melakwa Lake


I slept!

I slept until 5 this morning! It was amazing! What a difference a little sleep makes – I feel excited about life again. The new thing I tried last night was to use white noise from Nora’s Mamaroo. Hopefully this wasn’t a one-time thing.

Since I actually had some energy again, it turned into a wonderful day. I manically cleaned the kitchen and living room in the morning, then took Nora for a two-mile walk on the trail before it got too hot. We also went to the playground so she could hit the swings and stare in awe at the older kids.

Monday Monday

Back home, I made lunch for both of us: Carib-bean (heh) stew, sauteed red spinach, avocado, and pear. Nora approved.

Between sprouting tons of teeth (she’s up to six now and is working hard on two more) and being in the process of dropping her third nap, Nora has been going to bed really early lately. Unfortunately this meant she missed out on our BBQ dinner…but huzzah, then JK and I could eat in front of the tv, like savages, while watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

Monday Monday

I couldn’t go for a run tonight since JK is out playing soccer, so instead I futzed around in the garden for a bit and am currently out on the deck, enjoying a nice Chianti (no liver or fava beans) while processing photos.

In short, a perfect day in the life of a suburban homebody housewife. Life is good when you don’t feel like a zombie.

(And I didn’t even eat any chocolate!)


Week Fivesixredux

Ugh, gaah, etc etc. Sleep deprivation really messes you up. I’ve never been a good sleeper, but I naively thought that after having a baby, I would be so exhausted that sleep would come easily. Nope. Worse than ever. I’ll wake up at the slightest noise (like a squirrel jumping onto our fence outside, even though I’m inside, wearing earplugs) and then not be able to fall back asleep the rest of the night. Waking up for the day at 2AM many nights in a row = ugh. It turns me into an unmotivated, physically and emotionally drained, sugar-craving, clumsy shell of a human being.

This turns into a Vicious Cycle of Doom wherein I spend my free time staring into space/internets/Netflix instead of doing something active or productive that would make me feel good, which again makes it harder to sleep the next night. So I’ll try to make up for these two lost weeks of the challenge by adding a Week Seven where I’ll try to break that damn cycle and get all excited about life again.

– 20 miles
– 2 runs
– no sugar (except for my birthday cupcakes, because birthday)
– do something productive every day (beyond raising a child)

This doesn’t sound very challenging for most able-bodied humans, but right now, it will be for me.

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Some highlights from the last few weeks (no photos of me with my head in a bucket after getting food poisoning – this really hasn’t been my week):

Strawberry picking – Nora “helped” | We ran out of containers while making freezer jam… | Nora turned nine months | …and she also turned 38 weeks and 2 days, which meant she has now spent longer on the outside than on the inside (hmm, that makes it sound like my uterus is San Quentin or something).


Week Five

Ugh. I think I might just have to put this on hold until I get some sleep. I don’t know what to do – last night I took a Benadryl (which hopefully won’t affect my milk supply), but that didn’t keep me from waking up at 2:55 and not being able to fall back asleep. Why, body? Whyy?


I covered 21 miles and went on a beautiful hike | I probably spent more time walking than sleeping. I wish I was kidding.


Week Four

Sleep fail, massive sleep fail. And sleep fail leads to a sluggish body and zombie brain, and it’s all a stupid vicious cycle of sloth. I need to remember that a challenge is supposed to be challenging, which means that I should get out there even when I’m so tired that I just want to collapse on the couch. It might even help me sleep better. Sitting on the couch obviously isn’t helping, so it’s worth a shot. Having insomnia was bad enough before, when I was living a life of absolute leisure, but now that I have a child to take care of, it’s a special sort of evil.

Apart from the whole sleep issue, it was a great week. We went for a hike on Cougar Mountain, which is so green and beautiful right now, and attended a dinner with His Majesty King Harald V of Norway! A very cool experience, but gaah, I am never wearing heels again. Why do women do this to themselves.

Dinner with His Majesty King Harald V Cougar Mountain

For the sake of my sanity, I’m skipping the bad bullet points this week. I didn’t run, I didn’t sleep nearly enough, yada yada yada.


I covered 18.5 miles | That’s frankly amazing considering my sleep this week. *pats self on back*

I completed one strength session | I’ll take it.

I did not shoot myself up with chocolate | The no sugar challenge taught me that I don’t need chocolate every day, which was a lesson I really needed to learn. Eating well is going smoothly in general, I notice that I’m pretty much just eating the way I did when I had gestational diabetes, with a focus on beans and greens.

Powerline Trail Free ride
Zzzzz Naptime gardening

This week’s book obsession was Eating on the Wild Side, which was recommended on Alpine Lily. I found it fascinating, and it has influenced my vegetable intake (and gardening plans) in lots of little ways – for example, arugula is now my lettuce leaf of choice, even though I used to think it was too bitter, and I let my garlic rest for ten minutes post-mincing before cooking with it. Also, if I ever get around to weeding around our house, those dandelions are going in my belly, not in the compost pile. The book has lots of little tips and tricks to get the most phytonutrients out of your produce, and tells you what to look for in the grocery store, at the market, or when shopping for seeds for your garden.

Alright, I hear Nora chirping on the baby monitor. I’ll be back next week, hopefully all energetic and well-rested.