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May 2012

Hiking, Issaquah Alps

I left my calves on Tiger Mountain

Sweet fancy Moses, I forgot how steep the Cable Line is! 2000 feet of elevation gain in 1.5 miles absolutely murdered my calves. And my thighs. And my butt. And my lungs. And my heart. But mostly my calves, since they haven’t hiked anything that steep since last year and have never hiked anything that steep ever in minimalist shoes.

Blue Crew

We stopped at the summit long enough to check the facebooks, then took the longer, flatter West Tiger 3 trail down so we could run. And you know what didn’t hurt? My head. Two headache-free training hikes in a row – this is actual, honest-to-goodness physical progress.

But yeah, if you find my calves up there, please return them ASAP.

Cable Line Loop | 4.75 miles | 2000 feet elevation gain –

Life, These days

Spring redeemed

I’m taking a break between trip reports to acknowledge the incredible amazingness that was Seattle Spring o’2012. After the preposterous excuse for a spring and early summer we had last year, I think I just forgot how fantastic this area is when it’s, well, not raining non-stop for months on end.

Melting Wellie

Not only was it not raining, but it was so hot that even Wellie couldn’t be outside in the middle of the day (and he’s Italian!) – every day I would find him melted on the floor or over various pieces of furniture like a DalĂ­ clock.

Sunshine Welliepop Redmond Watershed

Spring on the Powerline Powerline sunset

Hot days led to warm afternoons spent walking on the Powerline Trail or biking to the Redmond Watershed Preserve…

Climbing Mount Si

…rock climbing in North Bend or sailing on Lake Washington.

JK with alpenglow

Thank you, Washington, for providing us with the best playground we could ever ask for. You have more than made up for the nightmarish spring of 2011, and with this blog post I hope I have made up for all the smack I talked about you back then.

Hiking, Issaquah Alps, Top Trips

Poo Pooped

I don’t know whether it’s due to his innate inability to show up anywhere on time or part of some evil scheme to get me in shape, but JK always, always comes home late when we have sunset hiking plans. Even now, on such a short trail and so close to the summer solstice, I had to race up the Chirico Trail in order to make it to Poo Poo Point in time.

The Menfolk of Poo Poo Point

Now, I realize that “racing” for me is like a Sunday stroll for a lot of other people (in fact, I was passed by a denim-clad gentleman who was jogging effortlessly up the hill), but for me it was impressive. Dani says I should stop comparing myself to insane people – namely TNAB and various ultrarunners – and just be proud of the fact that I’m out there at all, hiking up a mountain at night when I could be eating peanut butter cups and watching New Girl.

Poo Pooped

And proud I was, once I was able to catch my breath and peel myself off of the astroturfed launch pad. I was pleased with my ascent time (I made it just in time for sunset!), but I was worried that the sustained high heart-rate would result in one of my dreaded exertion headaches. Fortunately the mountain gods smiled on me and let me off the hook – I hope it wasn’t a one-time deal, because it would be nice to be able to step up my workouts without risking a night of moaning and puking as my immediate reward.

Cell phone update

Instead of a headache, I reached one of my happier states of endorphin-induced bliss; what JK affectionately calls “skravlepus” in Norwegian. I’m usually pretty quiet and not much of a talker, but if I hit just the right amount of exercise, I can’t. shut. up. Luckily this is helpful when you’re hiking down a mountain in the dark since my inane banter will scare away the sneakiest of cougars and the creepiest of bunker-dwelling survivalists. JK just smiles and pretends it’s not annoying, knowing full well that this is the risk he takes when he shows up late.

Poo Poo Point | 3.5 miles | 1750 feet elevation gain –

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Me

Lovely lazy lakes

I think I’m succeeding in my goal of developing a more relaxed and balanced attitude towards hiking, and it’s mostly thanks to our new house. I no longer stress out about having to hike every single sunny weekend day, because I love just hanging out on our new deck, barbecuing and playing with Wellie in the yard. Now that we have (urban) trail access right by our house, I’m also much more inclined to exercise midweek – this makes for a less antsy Ingunn when the weekend rolls around.

Talapus Lake

Importantly, I’m much less picky about where we go hiking – no to-do list this year! My main priority is just to enjoy myself, preferably somewhere Wellie-appropriate. It doesn’t matter whether the trail is short and sweet or long and hard (TWSS), I just do exactly what I feel like doing that day.

Got jerky?

No monthly mileage goals, no keeping track of my hiking stats in a geeky spreadsheet. I’m loving it.

Don't throw me in, mama!

Sunday was one of those really delightful days. Tom, JK, Wellie and I hiked to Talapus and Olallie Lakes under a scorching sun. It was just plain awesome, even though the conversation between the guys quickly devolved into nerdy tech talk (as it always does) and I was left to discuss politics with Wellie.

The snow was continuous after the first mile, but hopefully this warm spell will speed up the melting process and save us from a repeat of the dismal summer of 2011. If not, I won’t be quite as fazed as I was last year – I’ll just become a master barbecuer instead.

Talapus & Olallie Lakes | 6 miles* | 1100 feet elevation gain –

Olallie Lake

(*the mileage was probably lower since we hiked straight up the snow instead of trying to follow the switchbacking summer trail.)


Bears and beers

We always bring our SLR with us when we hike (unless it’s just a training hike on Tiger Mountain or if the forecast is beyond craptastic), but on Saturday we decided to leave it at home, mainly because we wanted to save weight (I had never done anything longer than 9 miles in my Merrell Pace Gloves before, so I wanted to go as light as possible), but also because we were just going to Rattlesnake Mountain (which is pretty enough, but, well, if you hike in Washington long enough, you get spoiled)*.


Of course, after 10 minutes or so on trail, we ran into several hikers warning us of bears ahead. I’ve met enough bears at this point that my immediate thought was less “oh shit, a bear!” and more “oh shit, I only have my crappy compact camera!” – I would probably have been nervous if I were alone, but I know that black bears usually either don’t care about humans or they’re scared of us.

We leashed Jasper and Wellie to avoid an unfortunate canine/ursine confrontation, then hiked on in search of the bruin. Sure enough, on a switchback 1-2 miles before Grand Prospect, we met the cutest bear I have ever seen. He was just sitting there on a log, quietly observing us. I haven’t stopped kicking myself for not having my SLR to take a photo when a bear was staring me right in the face. Why? Whyyyy?

"Should we bring the big camera?"

The rest of the hike was uneventful but pleasant (and my feet felt wonderful in the Pace Gloves, even with the whole kicking myself-thing), and the day turned excellent when Gimpy Jo picked us up at the Rattlesnake Lake trailhead and whisked us off to the Yellow Dog Inn where she not only served us beer and ALL THE FOODS, but presented me with a beautiful (and not to mention timely) bear amulet (which I will tell you more about when the time is right).

Rattlesnake Mountain Traverse | 11 miles | 2700 feet elevation gain –

Upper Ledge

*whoa! That just might be the longest (and most parenthesized) sentence I have ever written.