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Alpine Lakes Wilderness

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, TNAB

The ultimate date night

I have a vague recollection of bragging online about the fact that Lily had started sleeping through the night. As any parent knows, the second one dares utter those words, the shit hits the fan in a major way, and illness or teeth or just general babyness swoops in to mess you up and leave you exhausted and probably take years off your life.

This is all to say that my parents’ visit could not have come at a better time. Raising two very young kids without any family around can be incredibly hard at times, and we really needed some kid-free time to just feel like ourselves again. Our first date night since Lily was born was spent at Cafe Flora, of course, but the next night we went big – we went to TNAB.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

…because there’s nothing quite as relaxing as hiking really fast straight uphill and scrambling up mountains and then turning around and doing the entire thing in reverse in the dark. Yay TNAB!

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Okay, so it might not be relaxing, but it’s definitely refreshing.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And when it’s been a while since you’ve had a big mountain adventure, a night like this will make you feel incredibly high on life.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

There were delicious huckleberries, a distant marmot sighting, and reunions with old friends.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And – this part is super-cool – hiking straight uphill just isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Man alive, I wish I had been in this kind of shape back when we used to TNAB regularly.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

I could not wipe the smile off my face.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Rampart Ridge has always been my favorite TNAB destination, and I thank the mountain gods for lining up my parents’ visit to coincide with this very hike.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

(Interestingly, I was less comfortable with scrambling than I used to be. I guess it just comes down to lack of exposure? I mean I’ve always been afraid of heights, but I had tamed it to a certain degree before Nora was born…but I haven’t done anything like this since 2013. I’m out of practice.)

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Wearing my Progress not Perfection tank to celebrate all the strides I’ve made these past couple of years – taking charge of my health, parenting…neither will ever be perfect, but I think I am doing pretty damn good anyway.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Especially if we can continue getting some time off here and there. We’ve been good about getting our separate alone time after Lily was born, but kid-free adventures together like this never happen. Maybe it’s time to look into getting a regular babysitter.

Date night

This is the absolute best kind of date night.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Health, Running, Solo

Connecting with my old self

Back in the spring, when I had just been cleared to run again after my prolapse and I was in the middle of my big Sun Mountain training stoke, I was watching Ginger Runner Live and heard Gary Robbins mention his Whistler Alpine Meadows race. Now I should mention that it’s customary to enjoy an adult beverage when one watches Ginger Runner Live, and since I’m a total lightweight these days, let’s just say that this led me to immediately sign up for that race and missing some key details. Like the fact that it has over 5000 feet of gain. Gaah.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

So the next morning, when I realized just what I had done, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem because after Sun Mountain I could spend the whole summer training and I would keep losing weight, too. Wrong. I totally lost my running mojo after that race and I have unfortunately resorted to some of my old potato-chips-as-a-coping-mechanism ways to get me through a pretty bad bout of sleep deprivation, so my weight has been standing still for a month and a half.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

But! Lily is now successfully (at least for now? I’m totally jinxing it by writing these words) night weaned, and I once again have enough brain capacity to understand just how hard this race is going to be. So I’m turning to my blog for accountability – I’m cutting that crap out of my diet again and I am going to run run run. Including hills hills hills.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I’m trying not to be too frustrated with myself for the loss of conditioning since Sun Mountain. Getting through everyday life is hard enough when you’re not sleeping without adding training on top of that. But yeah, I kind of feel like I’m starting from scratch again.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

JK said I should sign up for another race this summer to get my mojo back, but then we decided that instead of paying to run on Tiger or Cougar (where most of the close races that are short enough for me are in the summer), I should just go out on my own on my favorite loop in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I used to do the Melakwa-Pratt loop every summer, but this would be my first time after having kids. That actually made me a little nervous beforehand – the stakes are just so much higher now – but once I was out there again, everything felt so right.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

After dropping me off at the Denny Creek trailhead, JK and the girls went off to meet some friends for a hike around Gold Creek Pond and lunch at The Commonwealth before coming back to pick me up at the Granite Mountain trailhead. This gave me a deadline of 4.5 hours, which worked out perfectly – it allowed for a leisurely lunch at upper Melakwa (one of my many Official Happy Places) but also made me push myself a bit and run some sections where I would normally dawdle. Perfect combo of enjoying the wilderness but also getting some good training.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

It was so beautiful out there. Now that we’re no longer out doing stuff like this every weekend, I realize how spoiled I used to be when it came to mountain views.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I just had so much fun. I felt really good physically, even better mentally, and loved getting to reconnect a bit with my former self – the person I was before nursing and diapers. It’s not that I don’t love my life now (okay, maybe not the diapers so much), but it’s important to feel like I’m 100% my own person again sometimes.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

So yes, big stoking of the running fire going on right here. Hopefully it’ll carry over to runs down here on the Powerline, too. It’s easy to be motivated when you’re up in the mountains surrounded by pikas and tiger lilies and sparkling lakes.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

(What kind of devices are people using for tracking their runs these days? I’d like to start using Strava again for additional accountability, but I would rather not have the tracking on my phone since I am always out there alone and don’t want to waste battery life.)

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Hiking with baby

Trips I missed

I’ve been so caught up in the scrapbooking world that I’ve neglected to talk about hiking – whaa? Almost all of our hikes this fall were chanterelle hunts, and there’s not much more to say about those beyond “we went to an undisclosed location and found mushrooms and it was steep and it was fun and finding chanterelles is a modern gold hunt and once you get going it’s really hard to stop because dopamine and everyone should do it but just don’t come to our undisclosed location“. But as for normal hikes, here we go:

SNOW LAKE

Aah, the most overrun place in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. But you know what, it’s overrun for a reason – it’s a damn nice place that happens to be damn close to Seattle. So everyone goes there, and we go there.

The problem with not blogging about trips right away is that I tend to forget things very fast. This is why I love blogging. And scrapbooking! I remember three things from this hike:

Snow Lake

1) Because of the wildfires, it was so hazy we could hardly see across the valley, and we ended up feeling guilty for bringing Nora and her pure, unspoiled, tiny little lungs out there.

Snow Lake

2) We had a really good lunch break and Nora got nice and dirty rolling around in the dust.

Snow Lake

3) She finally took a much-needed nap as we were hiking out, but after 20 minutes or so, a woman who was passing us yelled, actually yelled “Oh my god look, that baby is sleeping in a backpack!!”, thereby waking her up. I don’t know why people do this, but it has happened so many times.

MARGARET LAKE

This was supposed to be a mushroom hunt, but we couldn’t find anything good (much to the delight of the anti-fungal friend we were hiking with that day).

Lake Margaret

Lake Margaret

Instead we dropped down to Margaret Lake and had lunch in the pouring rain. It was one of those days where everything was so wet and grey that the fall colors stood out like magic.

Lake Margaret Lake Margaret
Lake Margaret Lake Margaret

LODGE LAKE

As I mentioned in the previous post, we kicked off JK’s Thanksgiving break with a hike to Lodge Lake.

Lodge Lake

Last time we went to Lodge Lake, I was all pregnant and waddly. And it was summer, and really hot. And Basil was there! Aaaw.

Lodge Lake

This time our main objective was to get a Christmas card photo of the three of us together, but Nora was way too into the snow to cooperate (see the pic below of Nora’s limbs flailing every which way). We didn’t mind, because seeing her enjoying herself that much outdoors makes us so happy.

Christmas card fail

Lodge Lake Lodge Lake

We gave up on the photo and hiked through the winter wonderland forest, singing Christmas carols and not getting over how gorgeous it was.

Lodge Lake Lodge Lake
Lodge Lake Lodge Lake

I hope we can get out on another trail or two before the year is over, but if this ends up being our last hike of 2015, it was a mighty good one.

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Top Trips

Nora the Explorer

Our year of introducing Nora to our favorite trails and places continues! When it comes to Melakwa, it’s definitely more of a favorite place than a favorite trail. I usually visit these lakes when I do the Tuscohatchie loop, so I can’t even remember the last time I hiked the trail back down. It’s pretty rocky and kind of sucks, especially when you’ve become used to the soft, rolling, luxurious trails of the Issaquah Alps. But the destination more than makes up for it – upper Melakwa Lake is one of my Official Happy Places.

Melakwa Lake

The last time I was here, it was just me and Wellie running the Tuscohatchie Loop. I was doing a lot of soul searching, trying to come to terms with the possibility that I might not ever become pregnant. The mountains, the lakes, the sun, the tiger lilies, and one loud marmot were my therapists that day (and on so many others). By the end of my run, I was so high on endorphins that I knew I would be able to handle whatever the universe sent my way.

Melakwa Lake

Thankfully, the mountain gods chose to send us this wonderful little creature. I can’t quite describe the feelings I experience when I return to a place like this with Nora in tow. “All the feels” will have to suffice.

Melakwa Lake

Normally I wouldn’t even be able to get to Melakwa in May (without an ice axe and a sizable pair of ‘nads), but thanks to the low snow this year, it looks like mid-July up there. The parking lot was overflowing by the time we reached the trailhead at 9, but the trail is long enough that it didn’t feel crowded, especially once were past the Slippery Slab which is the destination for most of the families with older kids. That’ll be us in a couple of years, but for now we’re enjoying being able to do regular hikes with a non-ambulatory baby on our backs.

Melakwa Lake

Once we popped out of the woods, we just got roasted in the sun. We worried that Nora would be too hot, but the thin wool layer she was wearing seemed to keep her pretty comfortable. I’m definitely on the lookout for a thin, breezy set of hiking clothes for her for the summer though, something that will protect her from the sun and bugs but still keep her coolish on sweltering days.

Melakwa Lake

She woke up a little while before we got to the lake, and was very…vocal about not wanting to be in her carrier anymore. Luckily she cheered up once we got to the lake, and after eating lunch and getting a fresh diaper, she turned into the happiest baby ever.

Melakwa Lake

Nora <3 Wellie

Melakwa Lake

Whenever we hike with Nora, I go into it with low expectations of how much time we’ll actually get to spend at our destination, but she was happy as a clam hanging out by the lake. I think she likes watching the water. This bodes well for the summer ahead.

Melakwa Lake

Most people seemed to stop at the first lake, so my favorite best-seat-in-the-house rock was available for lunch and playtime. I even got some relaxing done, once I was able to stop manically taking photos of Nora whenever she did something adorable.

Melakwa Lake Melakwa Lake

Once Nora started showing some sleep cues (she always begins by subtly grabbing her ear, which quickly escalates to rubbing her eyes and yawning), we packed up and headed back down so she could nap in the carrier. We put in headphones so we could listen to music while she slept, then hiked back to the trailhead, all smiles (except for intermittent grumbles from me whenever I would trip over a rock and curse the fact that I hadn’t brought hiking poles).

Best baby hike yet, rocks and all.

Melakwa Lake

– Melakwa Lake | 9 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –

Melakwa Lake

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking with baby

Weekend highs and lows

Oh, Super Bowl. It was a hell of a game, but that ending…ugh. Beyond functioning as snark against the Patriots, the word ‘deflated’ really does sum up how we felt on Sunday night. And all day Monday. And a little bit today, to be honest, but I’ll blame that on the weather.

On Saturday, before the monsoon began, the weather looked pretty different. In fact it looked like June up in the mountains along I90. The Ira Spring trailhead parking lot was overflowing as if it were a hot summer day (but who cares about crowds when most of the hikers are wearing 12th Man jerseys)! The forest road is, as expected, pretty awful right now, but apparently Nora thought she was riding in a giant Mamaroo and kept sleeping until we reached the trailhead.

Juneuary

We really shouldn’t have been able to schlep an infant to Mason Lake in January at all, normally those hillsides are covered in huge amounts of unstable snow. Yet there we were, comfortable hiking all the way to the lake on bare trail. I have never seen this little winter snow in Washington before.

Mason Lake

The only uncomfortable bit was right at the lake, where we were hit with some sort of evil wind that seemed to pick up an arctic chill from the lake and blast it right at us. Of course this happened just as Nora made it very clear that she was in need of some milk and her very first al fresco diaper change.

Hello Tahoma

Between a foam sleeping pad, a puffy jacket, and using our bodies as shields, we were able to keep her nice and toasty, but the lakeside was no place to linger with a wee one in tow.

So this is...January??

Even without a relaxing lakeside lunch, it felt great to get out for some exercise. I don’t think all the little stabilizers around my joints are back to normal yet (it could be some lingering relaxin hormone, too), but apart from that, I feel like my old self, at least physically – 97% of my mental capacity is perpetually concerned with Nora.

The remaining three percent is split between wondering where I can get my next hit of chocolate, and trying to understand what the hell that last play of the Super Bowl was about.

It's us again!

Mason Lake | 6.5 miles | 2400 feet elevation gain –

Seahawks, thanks for an amazing season. You’re totes still the bestest.

Go Hawks!