Baby

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!

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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.

Noble Knob 027

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.)

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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.

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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.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 182

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

Click click click to support me in Washington Trails Association’s Hike-a-Thon!

Baby

A year ago today

I truly can’t wrap my head around the fact that Nora turns one next week. This morning, Facebook notified me that on this day last year, JK posted this adorable (if I do say so myself) photo of us on the Powerline Trail, out on a post-dinner glucose-regulating walk. We were so excited about what was to come, but not yet aware of just how amazing it would be (or how soon it would happen).

We decided to recreate it, rather hurriedly, before JK went to work today.

August 25, 2014 | August 25, 2015

I’d say it’s way more adorable this year.

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Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking with baby

Hike-a-Thon 2015

This is my fifth year participating in Washington Trails Association’s Hike-a-Thon! Every August, hikers from all across Washington sign up to grind out the miles and raise money for WTA to protect and maintain our beloved trails and wild areas.

Lake Valhalla

I usually set a goal for myself, like hiking 100 miles, but 2014 and 2015 have been a little different. Last year, I waddled around as best I could, hitting the trails right up until I went into labor on the very last day of Hike-a-Thon – I had to keep bracing myself against trees along the trail, wondering why my Braxton-Hicks were suddenly so painful that I couldn’t walk through them. Heh.

Lake Valhalla Lake Valhalla

This year, the resulting 11-month old is along for the ride. I’m not setting any goals, except to get out there and introduce Nora to some of our favorite places. Babies love the outdoors, and I want her to keep that feeling with her as she grows up, gaining the kind of confidence you get when being out in nature is, well, second nature.

Lake Valhalla

So this year is not about pushing myself physically or hiking just to hike, it’s simply about being out there, smiling, laughing, singing (endless renditions of Dyrene i Afrika, a Norwegian classic), eating huckleberries, and swimming in mountain lakes, all while helping support my favorite organization in hopes that these places will still be accessible when my baby is all grown up. (Sniff sniff.)

If you want to help support me and Washington Trails Association, click here! And if you would rather donate your time and muscles instead of moneys, you can volunteer on a trail crew – it’s nature’s Crossfit!

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Our first “real” (non-Watershed, non-Tiger) hike after our vacation took us to Lake Valhalla. It’s been so warm here that a trip to our favorite swimming lake was in order…and yeah, the water in this alpine lake was actually noticeably warmer than where we swam by my parents’ summer house in Norway. That probably says more about the summer in Norway than it does about the summer here, but still. Bananas.

Lake Valhalla | 7 miles | 1500 feet elevation gain –

Lake Valhalla