Monthly Archives

June 2012

Hiking, Mount Rainier, Skiing, Top Trips

Tour de Muir

JK had promised our Norwegian guest a ski tour, so when the summer solstice forecast read sunny all the way, he took the day off work and drove us to Paradise. He brought his randonnée skis and Jolli rented telemark gear – a true Norwegian!

Silly Nannies

I, the bad Norwegian, was on foot. Honestly I wasn’t planning on going very far, so I brought my Kindle and my Zune, prepared to hang out at Panorama Point while the guys skinned up to Camp Muir. I haven’t done any really challenging hikes in a long time, elevation gain-wise, so I had sort of lost the confidence I used to have about being able to keep up with other people and join them on longer dayhikes.

Meh, they're rentals Feels like the beach Almost there (for real this time)

Not that I haven’t been enjoying our lazy hikes this year, au contraire – I love late starts, hanging out at lakes and taking summit naps…but it would be nice to not have to turn down hiking invitations because I’m worried that I won’t be able to push myself.

A good day to play hooky

Anyhoo, back to Rainier. The weather was amazing – strong wind to begin with, but it died down once we hit the Muir Snowfield, leaving us stripped down to base layers and roasting in the glorious sun. Somehow I was consistently ahead of the boys the whole way, so I decided to just turn on my Zune and keep going.

"Almost there"

Between the gorgeous views and the perfect playlist – mostly Hot Chip and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – I felt amazingly energized. Even as we got close to 10,000 feet, I kept stopping to throw down dance moves. Hmm, maybe the altitude affected me more than I thought.


I reached Camp Muir, 10,080 feet, infinitely proud of myself, confidence restored. I ate my disgustingly soggy Subway sandwich (note to self – Subway works better as a winter hiking food) and chatted with some climbers while waiting for JK and Jolli to arrive.


After taking group photos, I left the boys to their own soggy sandwiches in order to get a head start – skis beat feet on the downhill. I got some good glissades in where it was steep enough, but the snow was so soft from the heat that I spent most of the 4,700 feet of elevation loss posthole-running.

Excited about the descent

As for JK and Jolli, all that uphill paid off in surprisingly good skiing. They were all smiles as they caught up with me, just above Pebble Creek.

Definitely worth the climb


I hiked down to Glacier Vista with some very nice climbers celebrating their successful summit bid, then posthole-jogged the rest of the way to the car, still high on endorphins and thickening air.

Just as I was telling Jolli that the only thing missing from our day on the mountain was a fox sighting, this little guy came into view. With that, it was official – we’d had a perfect day.

Roadside fox

Camp Muir | 9 miles | 4700 feet elevation gain –

Ski tracks

Hiking, Teanaway, The pups

Goat vs Wellie

Eager to finally tackle my annual birthday hike to Iron Peak (see 2010 and 2011) and rescue our Norwegian guest, Jolli, from the soggy Seattle phenomenon known as Juneuary, we packed up the car and sped towards the magical land of the Teanaway.

Norwegians* take Iron

Crossing Snoqualmie Pass felt like driving through a car wash, but if Tom has taught me anything, it’s that it never rains in the Teanaway. And it didn’t, mostly. We hiked in hot sunshine up to the saddle, somewhat intense wind along the ridge (luckily Wellie didn’t blow away – we would need him later), and enjoyed a light two-minute sprinkle on the summit.

Wellie's ears are blowing in the wind Magica De Spell

After devouring summit Subway sandwiches and summit Kona Wailua beers, we had time for a satisfying summit snooze before heading back down.

Summit snooze

On the way up, we had told Jolli about the different kinds of wildlife we see on hikes here – adorable marmots, majestic bears, and mountain goats that follow you if you separate from your group because they want to lick your salty fluid deposits.

Naturally, we mentioned the fatal goring in Olympic National Park a couple of years ago…which was the first thing that popped into Jolli’s head when he ran into a mountain goat on the way down.

Oh, hello

I’ve met a lot of goats throughout my almost five years of hiking in the Cascades and they’ve never really made me nervous, even when they’ve cornered me mid-pee and moved close enough to touch. This one, however, moved right towards us with such speed and determination that it gave me pause.

The boys got their hiking poles ready for battle and I hugged my camera tightly (ALWAYS SAVE THE CAMERA FIRST), but just when the goat got within goring distance of us, Wellie let out a sharp bark which scared the bejesus out of him. The goat literally jumped into the air and ran up the ridge to get away from the terrifying 17-lb canine. Brave Sir Wellie saves the day!!

Iron Goat

Iron Peak | 6.5 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –

Brave Sir Wellie

Life, North Cascades

Sean McCabe

JK and I stumbled across these prints in a gallery in Winthrop last month, and I decided to buy them as a birthday present for myself. They took me right back to one of my favorite hikes.

Heather Pass © Sean McCabe Studio Heather Pass, our version

(Heather Pass © Sean McCabe Studio | Carlos and Ingunn below Heather Pass)

We were saddened to hear that the artist, local climber and art teacher Sean McCabe, passed away in 2009, leaving behind his wife and two daughters.

A view from the top, our version A View From the Top © Sean McCabe Studio

(Looking down from Black Peak | View from the Top © Sean McCabe Studio)

His gallery is full of beautiful artwork from the Cascades, so take a peek if you’re a local mountain lover.

I’m going to hang these canvas prints in our living room, a reminder of our past and future adventures when the weather is dark and dreary, and a nudge to live life fully while we can.

Hiking, Me

Up the ridge, over the hill

I turned 30 on Saturday! Unfortunately my birthday weekend didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. The original plan was to go camping in the Teanaway with friends, but the rain/wind/snow/thunder forecast squashed that idea.

The backup was to take advantage of the one sunny day – Sunday, appropriately – and just do a dayhike in the Teanaway, but on Saturday night I started feeling iffy…and then I was up most of the night with some rather unpleasant stomach problems. A 7:30 departure time and a long drive/full dayhike was out of the question, so I had to cancel on my friends, again.

Ridgewalk That's my steep face

By noon I was in full-blown self-pitying mode and couldn’t stand the thought of not hiking on such a nice day, so, perhaps unwisely, JK and I decided to hit the trail, any trail, after all. We drove over Snoqualmie Pass to Kachess Ridge and began the worst (physically) hike of my life.

Worse than when we ran out of water on the way out of Havasu Canyon…worse than my epic exertion migraine at Jade Lake…worse than the time I puked on the way up Rampart Ridge (in fact, I seem oddly proud of that one since I keep mentioning it). Those were actually some of my favorite trips. This one was not.

Kachess view

Even at an extremely leisurely pace – my Garmin says my average moving pace was 2.1 mph, and that includes the downhill – I felt like absolute crap. Literally. No energy, constant nausea, ominous rumblings from the nether regions…

Beacon Bagging

I picked the hike because the stats sounded pleasant: 2200 feet of elevation gain, 6 miles round trip. Those stats must be for the summer trail; the spring trail went straight up the ridge and my GPS only picked up 4.5 miles* and 2300 feet of gain. It was pretty steep, and it felt steeper still due to my feeble state.


On the way down, I was able to appreciate more of the trail. The flower show up there is excellent right now – balsamroot, glacier lilies, paintbrush, chocolate liles(!) and myriad other types I don’t know. Also, I didn’t puke once!!

Feed bag

Last night, whatever bug I had caught finally buggered off and now I feel human again, even though I’m officially elderly. Let’s hope this hike wasn’t indicative of my hiking future now that I’ve climbed into a new age bracket.

Kachess Beacon | 4.5 miles | 2300 feet elevation gain –

Trailhead trolls Chocolate Lily

*including the walk from our car to the trailhead and back – we had to park a ways down the road since this was WTA’s Hike of the Week and the trailhead was packed with cars. Luckily, our 2:30 start meant that we met most of those people right at the beginning of the trail.