Monthly Archives

August 2012

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hike-a-thon, Hiking

HaT #6: Alta Mountain

In Part Two of Ingunn Learns That She Should Never Ever Hike Up Mountains During Periods of Excessive Heat, our heroine climbs Alta Mountain with JK, Dani, Jasper and Wellie.

10 points for style

Basil stayed home because it was hot as Hades and we’re slowly building up his mileage so his paw pads won’t get hurt. Wellie, on the other hand, stayed cool as a cucumber by repeatedly rescuing us from the freezing depths of Rachel Lake. I would never have made it up the mountain or back to the car if there wasn’t a lake to swim in on the way.

Purple Mountains Majesty

Did I mention it was hot? ‘Cause it was damn hot, but also damn pretty. I had lots of flowers and peaks to admire when I stopped every two minutes to eat Honey Stinger chews or suck down gallons of water.

Hot nutria

I just love this trail, 534 false summits and all. In every direction, there are peaks we’ve either climbed or that are on our to-do list.

My favorite part of the trail

Best of all, it’s a ridge walk that even an acrophobic weenie like me can do…

Ridge walk

…and when you finally reach the true summit, one of the most beautiful sections of the entire Pacific Crest Trail lays before you.

Happy summiteers

But, as I think I’ve mentioned, it was damn hot. Sauna hot. Brain-boiling hot. So we packed up, drank some more water (the heat made me too nauseous to eat), and scurried back down the ridge to jump into the lake again. Heaven.


– Alta Mountain | 11 miles | 3500 feet elevation gain –

I done caught me a Cascadian Snow Pig!

Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Mount Rainier, Solo

HaT #3-5: White River Vacation

Three weeks into Hike-a-Thon, my stats are as follows: 78 miles hiked, 20,200 feet of elevation gained, a whole bunch of trip reports not yet written, and $290 raised for trails. Thank you so much for your donations!!

(I was even getting close to my t-shirt fitting comfortably, but after spending a week on the couch eating ALL THE THINGS in order to settle a queasy belly, I fear I’m back to square one in that department.)

Hike-a-Thon 03

My favorite part of the month (so far) was my last-minute vacation at White River Campground in Mount Rainier National Park. JK and I started the trip by hiking to Skyscraper Mountain.

Skyscraper bound

I think pretty much every trail that starts at Sunrise is a winner, but Skyscraper is a favorite of ours since you get to hike through the gorgeous meadows in Berkeley Park and up a peak with volcano views in every direction.

Yay, flwrz!

Unfortunately, it was way too hot for the lardy marmots to be out, but we did see two bears (from afar, very afar).

My Ferdinand

This marmot was overheating too, so we figured a dip in Shadow Lake would be nice…until we saw the no swimming signs. Boo!


– Skyscraper Mountain & Shadow Lake | 9.5 miles | 1400 feet elevation gain –

After Skyscraper, JK dropped me off at White River and drove off to get back to work/real life/the nutrias while I got to spend the next two days reading Jitterbug Perfume (excellent) and hiking (beyond excellent).

My home for two lovely nights

I was planning to hike to Summerland the next day, but when I woke up to cloudy skies and a couple of raindrops on my tent, I took it as a sign that I should sleep in and keep reading. It cleared up by early afternoon, so I went out for an easy stroll to Glacier Basin. The trailhead was next to my tent!

Glacier Basin

I didn’t have high expectations of Glacier Basin, so I was pleasantly surprised to find an inviting, green meadow and a cute frog pond which provided an excellent view and a place to enjoy a piece of Sin Dawg.

I kept an eye out for the famous Glacier Basin bear, but all I saw was a steady stream of climbers coming down from the Emmons route – some of them looking very motivated by the relative proximity of beer and fried foods, most looking like exhausted zombies.

Woodstock Festival

– Glacier Basin | 6 miles | 1600 feet elevation gain –

After much reading and another night’s snooze (dreaming about beets), I headed out for the main part of my trip – Summerland!

Good morning Tahoma Little Tahoma looks strange from this angle

Since I was on foot, I had to hike on the Wonderland Trail just to get to the trailhead…which turned out to be an extra five miles round trip of not very interesting forest. But hey, more miles for Hike-a-Thon, yes?


At least the miles were easy and went by quickly, so it didn’t take too long before I could sit down on a rock at Summerland and just take it all in – Little Tahoma from a unique angle, a lenticular cloud cap on Mount Rainier, and a meadow that was absolutely LOUSY with marmots.

Marmot Master

Oh, the marmots!! I was in heaven.

Surprisingly athletic for "butter on legs" Asshole Marmot chases Innocent Marmot

They would eat, chase each other (those chubby little buggers are fast!), eat, fight, eat some more, and then collapse like marmot-skin rugs on the snow. Next time I come to Summerland, I hope it’s on a backpacking trip. I would love nothing more than to spend all day watching my husky spirit animals.

Hot marmot

Unfortunately I had to get back to White River Campground in time for JK to pick me up, so I bid the marmots adieu and reluctantly hiked away from the views.

Miss Manners

The highlight of my hike back to camp was running into Gabi, hiking friend and contributor to Hike-a-Thon – thank you Gabi!! She and her beau were a couple of days into the Wonderland Trail, and looking way too fresh for people who have hiked for days without a shower. She wrote a great report of their adventure on her blog.

Avalanche Lilies Gabi in Wonderland

The second highlight was soaking my feet in an ice cold pool by White River when I came back to camp. That last extra bit of trail seemed to take forever, and my dogs were barking after five hikes in six days. Huge thank yous and snorgles to JK for facilitating the perfect first week of Hike-a-Thon!

– Summerland (from White River CG) | 14 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain* –

(*I didn’t bring a GPS, so these stats are from the Wonderland Trail guidebook. The gain sounds high to me…but in my experience, much of the Wonderland Trail is so well graded that elevation gain feels easier than it usually does.)

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Top Trips

HaT #2: Bandera Mountain

Bandera and I have a history…and that history always seems to involve me bonking. But since our history also includes jaw-dropping sunsets, purdy wildflowers, and excellent views, I agreed to go back, again, to one of JK’s favorite trails.

Cover Iggy

A trifecta of dumbassedry (we failed to check the forecasted temperature), logistics (the road to the trailhead was closed until noon due to logging), and borderline obesity (peanut butter cups) led to yet another bonk as I attempted to propel my body up that beast of a hill under the scorching afternoon sun.

Cooked Basil

The temps were pushing 90, which to a Seattle-dwelling Norwegian might as well be Death Valley in the middle of summer. I sat down (repeatedly), told JK and the pups to go ahead, ate an entire bag of Honey Stinger chews, drank most of my water, put on some tunes, and eventually made it to the top – one Everest-paced step at a time.

Bringing up the rear

(A disclaimer for the Annoyed Reader: I am not at all complaining about the presence of the sun, whose absence I lament in 97% of my blog posts, I am merely complaining about, uhm, the heat produced by said fireball. Totally different.)

Hike-a-Thon 02

On the summit, all was forgotten. Ok, not really, but my blood sugar was back to normal and I was lucid enough to see things in perspective: Having to sit down and rest with views like these is not the worst thing in the world.

Still, Bandera and I will always have a history…but I’ll make sure our future together only contains cold days or sunsets.

Bandera Mountain | 7 miles | 2850 feet elevation gain –

JK descends

Hike-a-thon, Hiking

HaT #1: Lake 22

Why Ingunn, shouldn’t you be on a mountaintop somewhere, celebrating your hikeaversery in this magnificent weather? Yes, yes I should. Alas, I am moaning my way through a migraine instead. Tomorrow I will pump my body so full of Maxalt and caffeine that I will be able to get out no matter what, because it’s a sunny weekend in August, for cryin’ out loud. And I have goals to reach.

Actually, I don’t really have any concrete mileage goals for this year’s Hike-a-Thon (except to fit into the official HaT shirt without looking like a sausage), but JK said he’ll donate $1 per mile I hike. Since his employer will match that amount, I could be looking at some valuable hiking.

Hike-a-Thon 01

As if that doesn’t make JK’s employer cool enough, they gave him bonus vacation time last week, just in time for the beginning of HaT. Yay! We discussed where to go on this unexpected time off – camping on the coast, maybe the Teanaway – but in the end we decided to stay right here.

Ever since we moved into our new house, the need to get away just hasn’t been that strong. Spending an evening barbecuing on our deck feels just as relaxing as hanging out in camp. We’re also wary of taking Basil out into the wilderness overnight until the bugs bugger off, so I think we’ll be doing lot of dayhikes this August.

Which brings us to Lake 22, a nice, quick hike (hmmm, maybe JK is trying to keep his donation low?) when you want to sleep in, cool off, and be back at home in time for an afternoon nap and tasty grilled veggie burgers.

Pure grace, Wellie-style

JK and I went for a swim, as usual, and Wellie jumped in to rescue us, as usual. This time he followed the swim with a new invention – a dust bath! It was almost enough to make us throw him back into the lake.

Dust bath

Lake 22 | 5.5 miles | 1350 feet elevation gain –

Backpacking, Hiking, Me

Five years, countless miles, and a couple of pounds

Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of my hiking obsession! Thanks to Tom and Amy‘s willingness to shepherd a couple of couch potatoes into the wild, JK and I found ourselves celebrating Tom’s birthday on beautiful Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park.

Me on my first hike

I remember eating baked beans straight out of the can, spending the whole trip soggy and cold in my cotton clothing, and limping around the mud in ridiculous shoes. I also remember loving every minute of it.

Shi Shi by night

Five years on and I’m still in love, even when my feet hurt like the dickens, when I’m roasting in the sun on a never-ending hill, or when evil biting flies gnaw on my face (all of which happened during the last week, by the way).


Here’s a short but timely interview I did for The Wilderness Society – it may sound hokey to say that hiking saved my life, but I honestly don’t know where I would be today without trails in my life.