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Cabin Trip

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Cabin Trip, North Cascades, Running

Sun Mountain 25K

Uuugh, I have officially reached that place where I am so behind on adventure recaps that it’s getting hard to get back into it. So I’mma just start and see how this goes.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

First up: Sun Mountain!

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Highway 20 opened just in time for us to do the beautiful drive through the North Cascades to get to Winthrop. I had forgotten just how gorgeous it is – we haven’t seen too many big mountains lately, so maybe I just appreciate it more now?

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We stopped at the Diablo Overlook for a picnic and I was in awe. Nora loved it too, because we told her that Davis Peak was Svinetoppen (Swine Mountain), which the pig in her bedtime stories likes to climb.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We stayed at the Patterson Lake cabins, part of Sun Mountain Lodge, which was the perfect choice for us with two small kids along for the adventure. The cabins are right on the water and on the Sun Mountain trail system, so you can run in all sorts of directions right from your doorstep.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

So, race day. Unfortunately little Norbert did not get to run her first kids’ 1K due to a…toddler malfunction, but I had all sorts of fun on the 25K. (By “all sorts” I’m obviously including Type 2 Fun.)

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

I ran the first half with two old friends from back in the TNAB days, which was a great motivator to beat the cutoff at the aid station – I was genuinely nervous about that, but we made it with lots of time to spare. I pretty much always run by myself, so it was interesting to note how much farther I could go without stopping when I was trying to keep up with others. It’s the best kind of peer pressure.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

Once I got past the aid station, I kind of fell apart a little bit. The heat really got to me, and my knee, which has been bothering me whenever I’ve run anything longer than 8 miles, was not happy with the steep, downhill mountain bike trail that we were on for what seemed like forever. I don’t really remember much, because my body doesn’t really function well in the heat. A lot of us westsiders were struggling under that unforgiving sun after training in cold drizzle all winter and spring.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

I ended up walking so much of the rest of the course that it was downright embarrassing, especially the last two miles – I could even hear people cheering at the finish line but I just could not get my legs to run. I ended up crossing the finish line at 3:33:10. My only goals for this race were to have fun (Type 2 Fun counts!), to beat the aid station cutoff, and to use it as motivation to get me out on the trails for guilt-free postpartum endorphins and alone time, so that’s a win on all counts.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

(Of course JK decided on a whim to run the Dirty Turtle 25K the following weekend with no training except for two runs on Mount Patterson, and he finished in 2:44:something even with over 5000 feet of elevation gain. Way to make me feel slow, dude! But whatevs, I’m here to live up to my Trail Snail moniker.)

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

After I got my well-deserved high five from race director James Varner, I spotted a super excited Nora running toward me for an even better high five and a big hug. The best! She was all about the post-race pizza party, so we walked (I waddled) over to a shady spot to spread out on a blanket and get our feast on. They even had gluten-free vegan pizza topped with kale and roasted garlic! And there was bluegrass music! And happy people! And little Noras dancing! Total bliss.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

Also how amazing is this finisher’s glass? #hearteyes

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

As the party wound down, we went back to our cabin and took an ice bath in Patterson Lake while Lily napped. Aaaah. So awesome.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

The next day, after a combined effort by my spawn to ensure I got less than one hour of sleep, I somehow felt really, really good. We ended up having a perfect, relaxing vacation day, something we really didn’t think would happen after that night. It’s that Sun Mountain magic!

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We went for a short but beautiful family hike, swam in the lake again, and then both girls actually napped simultaneously so JK and I could read and relax on the porch. Aah.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017 Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

JK kept gushing about the run he had gone on the night before, so once the girls were in bed (and they actually stayed in bed this time, thank jebus), I headed out for a run of my own.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

I had hiked up Mount Patterson before, back in 2012 while JK ran the 25K, but it was overcast and hazy and it didn’t make that big of an impression on me. But this! This was amazing.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Golden evening light, fields of balsamroot everywhere, lupine-scented singletrack…it was trail running perfection. I had the mountain to myself (except for an assortment of animal friends), so I took to running the downhills with my arms flailing every which way and yelling wheeeeeee at the top of my lungs. Best run of my life.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

The next morning we had to leave, but we made sure to squeeze in a visit to the pool up at the main lodge before the long drive home. That view, man.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

So, Sun Mountain. I love you. Let’s make this an annual thing (but hopefully with more sleep next time).

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

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Cabin Trip, Nutritarian

To Sequim on a whim

Earlier this year, while I was getting myself reacquainted with the specifics of the nutritarian lifestyle, I was clicking around Dr. Fuhrman’s website and noticed that he was scheduled to speak in, of all places, Port Townsend. Since we haven’t been out to that area since 2007 when we stayed in Port Townsend the night before our very first hike to Shi Shi Beach, we decided we would make a real trip out of it and, gasp, take the girls on our first vacation as a family of four.

(Side note: major LOLs at that blog post. Canned beans and soy dogs as backpacking food! Describing the trail down to Shi Shi as a cliff! Aaaw.)

Weekend in Sequim

We rented a house in Sequim (for you out-of-staters, that’s pronounced “skwim”, not “seekwim” like I thought when we moved here) and obviously chose to get there by ferry, because if there’s one thing toddlers love, it’s BOATS, plus it offers a timely break in driving that can be used to feed the baby.

Weekend in Sequim

We lucked out with a house overlooking the Dungeness Spit, so after unpacking all our stuff (there’s so much stuff) and feeding Lily again, we drove a couple of minutes over to the trailhead so Nora could get some energy out on the trail and beach after spending half a day in the car.

Weekend in Sequim

We’ve never bothered to go to the Dungeness Spit before because…well, to be honest, it sounded kind of lame. But it totally isn’t! It’s actually really cool – miles and miles of ever-expanding beach (with bonus views when it’s not…February) – and now we want to go back again.

Weekend in Sequim

In true toddler fashion, Nora inspected every grain of sand and bit of driftwood in the first five square feet of the beach and then we had to get home for dinner, so there’s lots for us to explore yet.

Weekend in Sequim

We knew it would be hard to cook in a house that isn’t toddler-proofed while one parent has to watch the baby, so we brought pre-made dinners (lentil soup and cabbage rolls) in a cooler to make life easier on ourselves. I think this is the way to travel while the kidlings are still little! Rent a house. Bring food that needs next to no prep. Relax.

Weekend in Sequim

Once the girls were in bed, we sat down and enjoyed the last little bit of daylight in our beautiful garden, then did non-tv or computer-type things like reading books! and talking with each other! in front of the fireplace!

(This photo was actually from the morning, in case you’re wondering why the sun is in the east.)

Weekend in Sequim

In the morning, Nora had ample time to explore the house. Her favorite part was our friends in the garden, of course.

Weekend in Sequim

Then I was off to see Dr. Fuhrman while JK kept the girls entertained. I showed up crazy early since it was first come first serve, and it turned out to be a good decision even if it made me feel like some sort of insane fangirl. The room was packed! Dr. Fuhrman’s talk was really, really good, informative, and funny, and I took a bunch of notes to share with JK afterwards. Big thank you to the Port Townsend Vegan Meetup Group for arranging it!

Weekend in Sequim

Afterwards, I was nursing Lils while watching Nora suddenly and out of nowhere conquer her fear of the cargo net climbing thing on the playground, and I experienced one of those perfect, gushy, “I love my life” moments. I’m sure the combination of oxytocin and my newly re-energized, super-inspired mindset played a big part in it, but man, I just felt so lucky to have my family, to be able to bring them on a trip like this on a whim, to have a husband who supports my needs to go and do non-mom things, to have the opportunity and the means to raise our kids on all this good food…the list goes on and on. Life is good.

Weekend in Sequim

We were scheduled to go home the next day and briefly considered contacting the rental owners to hear if we could extend our stay another night (because we kept finding new stuff to do in the area), but in the end we decided that we should just come back again some time this summer for a longer vacation.

Weekend in Sequim

Buuut we couldn’t leave the peninsula without driving up to Hurricane Ridge for the first time. Srsly, ten years of hiking and this was our very first visit? For shame! We didn’t get much in the way of views, but what we were able to see whenever the clouds would part made us want to return fo sho.

Weekend in Sequim

Of course I, I mean Nora, had to buy one of the exclusive Olympic Marmots they sell in the National Park store.

Weekend in Sequim

We didn’t have snowshoes or anything, so we just stayed close to the parking lot. I wandered around to help Lily sleep in the Moby Wrap, and Nora climbed up and down a little snow bank that she called “Olympic Mountains”.

Weekend in Sequim

We spent so much time taking photos and playing in the snow that a guy came up to us and said “Aaaw, is this your first time in snow?” – sheepishly we had to tell him that no, we’re actually from Norway…but I guess there’s something about seeing your kid enjoying something that brings out the overly excited n00b in all of us.

Weekend in Sequim

Since the visitor center was closed when we went to Mount Rainier earlier in the month, Lily was overdue for her first National Park passport stamp! I can’t wait to collect stamps with her in Yosemite, Zion, Virgin Islands…all of our happy places.

Weekend in Sequim

I know I talk a lot about what an easy baby Lily is, but man alive, we just cannot produce kids who will sleep in the car. The last half hour of our drive home was pure torture for everyone involved. But after a weekend like that, we weren’t going to let a little (or a lot) of screaming in stereo get us down. We survived our first vacation as a family of four! Parenting achievement unlocked!!

Weekend in Sequim

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Cabin Trip, Hiking, Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier Babymoon | Suntop Lookout

Our plan for our last vacation day was to hike to Noble Knob on the way home, but between the heat (90 degrees, where did that come from??) and me finally respecting that I need to stop underestimating formerly easy hikes while pregnant, we decided to just have a picnic at Suntop Lookout instead.

Suntop Lookout Suntop Lookout

We had never been to this fire lookout before, even though you can drive right up to it. It felt like cheating to get that view for nothing!

Suntop Lookout

The lookout is manned by volunteers in the summer (it’s such a popular gig that they have a lottery to get in), so we chatted with the hosts for a bit and let Nora explore. She’s been to several fire lookouts before, but this is the first one she’s been inside. She was pretty excited.

Suntop Lookout

When the girls are a little older, we’ll have to go sleep in a lookout again.

Suntop Lookout

After exploring indoors, we sat down in front of the lookout to have lunch in front of that majestic mountain we love so much. It’s probably going to be a while before we get up close and personal with Rainier again (hopefully we’ll manage a snowshoeing excursion to Paradise when my postpartum body feels ready to venture out on snow and we feel brave enough to do something like that with two kids?), so I’m so happy we finally stopped procrastinating and went on this cabin trip. It was the perfect babymoon setting for this mountain girl.

Suntop Lookout

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Cabin Trip, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Pregnancy, Top Trips

Mount Rainier Babymoon | Skyline Trail Loop

The following morning, after another stop at the Mountain Goat for coffee and glutenous hiking essentials for JK and Nora, we drove up to Paradise to see how the autumn colors were doing. We weren’t disappointed!

Skyline Loop

This was our first autumn trip to Paradise since 2014, when we introduced Nora to Mount Rainier for the first time. Can you even believe the tininess?

Skyline Loop Skyline Loop

Our main goal for this hike was for Nora to see marmots up close. She has inherited my prodigious collection of plush marmots, and has been obsessed with them ever since I showed her a couple of youtube videos of marmots whistling. Luckily for me (since I had promised her marmot sightings), the fat little lovelies started popping up just past Alta Vista and kept us company almost the entire way.

Skyline Loop

They were especially abundant close to Panorama Point, which gave me a chance to take some much-needed breathers while Nora gushed over her new furry friends.

Skyline Loop

Remember how I talked about my tendency to underestimate trails during pregnancy? Well, I totally did it again. I somehow remembered this loop as being “pretty much flat”, which is…not true. When we reached Pan Point and I realized we would have to keep going upwards on the alternate High Skyline Trail due to a lingering snowfield, our collective morale plummeted. Nora needed a nap and was cranky, I was starting to feel overheated and was cranky, and poor JK was left to deal with two simultaneously cranktastic women. (Just you wait until we have two teenage girls in the house!)

Skyline Loop

Luckily JK is a wise man and decided it was time to feed us. A bar (Nora loves Lara Bars – most of them are just dates + nuts) while walking, followed by a watermelon picnic was just what we needed for a little reboot.

Skyline Loop

…and then we hit a shortcut that let us shave a little distance off our loop. I gladly accepted the lazy way out, even though it meant we would miss out on my favorite marmot area – that should tell you how tired I was. Oh, pregnancy.

Skyline Loop Skyline Loop

Another fun pregnancy fact: downhill is more uncomfortable than uphill, at least in the third trimester. But with views like these, the trick is to just stop frequently to rest and soak it all in.

Skyline Loop

By the time we made it back to the paved trails of Paradise, the afternoon light set the autumn colors on fire. It was so beautiful, the perfect symbolic ending to a very short but sweet alpine hiking season for me this year.

It made quite the impression on Nora too – she’s still talking about this hike in her cute, manic toddler sentence kind of way. “Mount Rainier hike mamma pappa Nora in the carrier eat crackers and watermelon Nora found rocks NORA LOST ROCKS marmot MARMOT CRYING eeeew marmot pooooop!”

Skyline Loop

Skyline Trail Loop | 5.5 miles | 1450 feet elevation gain –

Skyline Loop

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Cabin Trip, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Pregnancy, Top Trips

Mount Rainier Babymoon | Naches Peak Loop

All summer long we talked about renting a cabin near Mount Rainier for a long weekend, and all summer long we procrastinated…and then it was autumn, and we realized our weather window was closing quickly. So we booked a cute cabin in Packwood, and the following afternoon we were off!

Packwood Cabin Packwood Cabin

The drive down went so well, thanks to the fact that we finally caved and got Nora a tablet so she can watch Peppa Pig on long car rides. A lifesaver for non-nappers! We made it to the cabin at dusk, got it heated up and got Nora fed so we could get her in bed not too long past her normal bedtime, and then cozied up in front of the fire and watched, of all things, Sleepless in Seattle on VHS. #cabinlife

Pumpkin pancakes!

In the morning we celebrated autumn with pumpkin pancakes and the first of many stops at the Mountain Goat before driving up to Chinook Pass. Our goal for the day was to hike the Naches Peak Loop – I had hiked it once before and knew if would be the perfect third trimester/toddler trail. And it totally was – it’s only a little over three miles, so we had lots of time to mosey along and dilly-dally, and the views are just insane for the amount of effort you put in.

Naches Peak Loop

Naches Peak Loop Naches Peak Loop

Naches Peak Loop

Naches Peak Loop

Nora hiked parts of the trail herself (carrying her one essential – a Playmobile excavator, of course) and spent a looong time exploring the little lake.

Naches Peak Loop

Naches Peak Loop

We eventually made our way around to the southern part of the loop, where Mount Rainier stares you right in the face most of the way – to the point where it becomes mildly hazardous because you just keep staring at the mountain instead of paying attention to your feet. We found a great little spot for our lunch break, and Nora’s excavator kept her occupied to the point where JK and I could actually relax, like unencumbered adults. We also snuck in a 31-week bump shot.

31 weeks

Naches Peak Loop

Then we packed up and kept hiking, Nora looking absolutely adorable as she bounced merrily along the trail. For reals, how cute is this?

Naches Peak Loop

You have no idea how good it felt to be back in the mountains, all excited and happy to be alive, after the summer of doom and gloom. It’s good to remember, yet again, that rough patches are (usually) just that – phases, phases that will pass. I’ve always tended toward all-or-nothing thinking, so when things change for the worse, I immediately assume that OHMIGOD LIFE WILL BE LIKE THIS FOREVER. If anything, parenthood should have taught me that life is full of transitory stages that feel endless when you’re in them (morning sickness, inconsolable newborns, tantruming toddlers), but they do in fact end and life goes back to being pretty damn awesome.

Naches Peak Loop

…sometimes even so awesome that your non-napper takes a much-needed snooze in the car on the way back to the cabin! Now that’s a sign of a good hike right there.

Naches Peak Loop Naches Peak Loop

Naches Peak Loop | 3 miles | 600 feet elevation gain –

Packwood Cabin