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February 2011


Blessed are the trailbreakers

After a looooong period of soggy, depressing weather, the fine weathermen of Seattle finally promised us a Saturday of sunshine.

As we were making our way up US2 under blue skies, I expressed my concern that my laziness and general ineptitude was keeping us from bagging some majestic peak on such a beautiful day, but Tom assured me that “If I wanted epic I would have gone by myself and left two hours ago.” Shut up, Tom.


Turns out our destination wasn’t too shabby after all, but then again anything would have looked fantastic in that glorious sunshine.

Auspicious beginnings Smithbrook ain't so bad

When we visited Lake Valhalla back in August, we could drive up the Smithbrook Road to the trailhead, but this time it had to be hiked. I didn’t mind, because I’ve started enjoying road walks. A road can only be so steep, so it’s one of the few places a hiker of my heft can really get into the zone.

Ooh, aah!

Soon enough, we reached the actual trailhead and started angling upwards. At one point I somehow ended up at the front of the pack. The only upside to always being the slowest hiker in the group is that I am never relegated to trailbreaking duty. This time I lasted all of ten feet before going into cardiac arrest and sending the menfolk up to the front where they belong.

Trail breaker

Josie and I moseyed on behind them, swooning over Justin Bieber and having pillow fights. Or whatever girls are supposed to do these days.

Yeah, it's a good day

By now the sunshine was really breaking through, and we were all getting high on Vitamin D. I don’t think I’ve laughed that much on a hike before. It wasn’t all malicious laughter, either.

The Stouts and the views Someone looks happy

We made it to the Valhalla overlook below Lichtenberg Mountain and spent a heavenly lunch break eating (mmm, grilled portobello sandwiches), playing in the snow, falling over and just basking in the sun.

He likes me!!!!

Thanks to my homiez for yet another wonderful day in the mountains. It wouldn’t be the same without you.

The ladeez Lichtenberg Til Valhall!

Lake Valhalla | 9 miles | 1900 feet elevation gain –


Hiking, Skiing

Kendall Peak Lakes Zimmer Frame Tour

While we’re on the subject (sort of) of traditions, this is one I’ve really come to enjoy: the annual hike to Kendall Peak Lakes to celebrate Tom’s advancing age.

Pleasant road walk Admiring the views

This birthday celebration is how we first met Tom back in 2009 (though it was actually just a ploy for us to meet Tom’s stout canine companion, Jasper), and the trip was repeated in 2010. At this point we figure we’ll have to keep it going while we still can; Tom’s bones are growing more brittle by the minute and it’s only a matter of time before he falls and breaks a hip.

Group shot

(Group photo by Scott)

Ironically, Scott and I were the ones using our walkers (well, feet) while the old man (and JK) donned skis.

Look at that blue sky

This was my first time visiting the lakes in under clear skies, and I finally realized why it’s such a popular snowshoe destination. Even the road walk portion was pleasant (why yes I did just write those words – the sun must have made me delirious).

All in all, it was the perfect trip for a festively plump (*cough*) hiker trying to get back in shape, especially with Jasper around to confiscate our food when he thought we were eating too much.

Danger on the Mountain Neener-neener

I don’t know if skiing down the forest road was quite as exciting as Tom had hoped, but at least he made it back to the car with all his delicate joints intact. I guess there’s hope that this tradition will live to see another year.

Happy JK Perfect day I gots gams

Kendall Peak Lakes | 7.5 miles | 2000 feet elevation gain –

Beautiful afternoon light


The Eaglet

Clearly it didn’t take long for me to ignore the first of my New Years resolutions: Write More Trip Reports*. Here is the first report of 2011.

Unfortunately I rang in the New Year with a bottle of vintage Nyquil for my cold, but by January 2 I was ready to play outside again. Tom suggested a hike to the Eaglet, based on Carla’s trip report from earlier in the week. I was happy to hear that Dani would be joining the group this time. She usually eschews hiking during snow season, so we had to show her a dang blasted good time to convince her that walking is far superior to skiing.

We followed the as-good-as-flat Heather Lake trail before going off-trail up the not-flat-at-all ridge towards the Eaglet. I could keep up ok through the forest (just because everyone’s slow when they’re climbing over deadfall and doing branch pull-ups), but once we hit the more open slopes I could really feel the inordinate amount of weight I amassed this fall. Last summer I complained about carrying around a whole multi-day pack’s worth of blubber, and then I go and gain another one.

Hot drinks on a cold day Don't look directly at it!

Eventually we made it up the summit ridge. The sun was out, the smiles were on, and I had hot toddy to drink. All was well, even when we were blinded by the sunlight reflecting off Tom’s bare chest. Dani mentioned something about winter hiking being “kind of fun”, so it must have been a pretty good day.

Oblivious Mukmuk Scott got summit fever I wonder where she's from?

After we were done lounging on the summit, came the inevitable slip n’ slide back down to the car. I learned that my extraneous flab is good for one thing – padding my body as I bounce from tree to tree like a pinball.

The Eaglet | 4.5 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –

*followed by Don’t Freak Out When You Miss Out on Trips and Lose Weight, which have also been sorely neglected.