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Goals

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Goals, Hiking, Issaquah Alps, Running

This Shy Bear is coming out of hibernation

When we took Nora to Cougar Mountain to hike the Shy Bear Loop back in February, I really started feeling the urge to run. That loop is one of my favorite lowland routes to run, and as much as I enjoy walking it, I really, really wanted to just gun it along those rolling hills without a care in the world, fueled on by a manic endorphin rush…and then I immediately felt guilty for longing for something that didn’t involve Nora, like I was cheating on her or something.

I realize how ridiculous that sounds, especially since I spend all day every day with Nora and can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve left the house without her. I’ve always felt that it’s incredibly important for parents to maintain their own lives and interests outside of the kid realm (mommy martyrs are the worst), but now that I’m the parent* in question, it doesn’t feel right. I think it might have something to do with the fact that we wanted a baby so badly, and now that we have that awesome baby, it feels wrong to want some of the things I associate with my old life, when I was desperate to become pregnant.

Coal Creek Falls

The thing is, I know it’s healthier for all of us if I have a life outside of motherhood – especially when that life makes me all happy and chill and fulfilled – so I am going to work on pursuing some goals of my own, starting with running. I want to run some of my old classics this summer, like the Rattlesnake Traverse and the Melakwa Loop, and I also signed up for Beat the Blerch in September (just the 10k, because it’s flat – that means I won’t have any hills I can use as an excuse to walk).

Now that it’s still light out after Nora goes to bed, I can run in the evenings, and I am also going to take better advantage of weekends when JK is home. Also, the next time we visit Shy Bear, I’ll run while JK hikes with Nora…she deserves some good alone time with her pappa anyway.

I need to remember that I’m still me, I just also happen to be a mother now.

On the Shy Bear Loop

*HOLY SHIT I’M A PARENT

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Goals, Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Top Trip Reports

Enchantments in a day

You know that goal I set for myself this summer? I generally don’t set goals anymore because they tend to just stress me out and leech whatever joy I would normally get out of a project, but this one, this one I loved and looked forward to (if somewhat nervously) all summer.

Aasgard ahead

JK and I met up with three other friends and caravaned to Leavenworth (the sort-of-creepy but mostly festive faux-Bavarian village east of Stevens Pass), left one car at the Snow Creek trailhead, and hoped we were starting early enough to hit Aasgard Pass in the shade.

Certain members of the group set off at a grueling pace right from the trailhead, leaving certain other (more portly) members (ok, membeR) of the group wondering what the hell she had gotten herself into. Thankfully my thought process changed when we reached Colchuck Lake – I knew that the remaining miles (minus the last six down to the car) would be beautimous enough to encourage a more ambling pace.

“Ambling” is a much faster pace than what I hiked up Aasgard though – that pass you see in the photo above which gains 2200 feet in 0.8 miles. Ugh. I will say that it felt amazing to hike up it with a light running pack instead of a multi-day backpack. We hit sunlight in the last quarter of it, but I still felt energetic when I reached the top, which is something I would never have imagined.

Upskort photo

Huffing and puffing up Aasgard Pass

Cresting Aasgard and walking into the Enchantments gave me a huge rush of emotions. It was so beautiful. I felt so good. And it opened up a whole new world to me to realize that places like this are accessible to me in a day now instead of as a long backpacking trip (with an impossible permit system).

Also, goats! So many! So cute! So fluffy!

I don't have to pee right now, but thanks for your concern

Spot the goats in this one?

Welcome committee

We mostly saw mamas with their kids. All the menfolk must have been off somewhere watching football.

Kidding around

After a long lunch break in the Upper Enchantments, we made our way through this granite kingdom, which geologist Tom informed us is “not actually granite, but close enough”. He also taught us about inclusions, but I wasn’t really listening. Tom’s a gneiss guy and all, but I don’t give a schist about rocks.

Heaven is what it is is what it is

Ok, so I do care about rocks, because look how pretty they be. The Upper Enchantments are very stark, dramatic, and Sierra Nevada-like.

Witches Tower

Every time I come here, I can’t help but play the Lord of the Rings soundtrack in my head.

Through the upper basin

I didn’t think a side trip up Little Annapurna would be in the cards for me, but I really wanted JK to go – he hadn’t been there before, and it’s a really cool summit. As it turned out, my legs still had some elevation gain left in them, so I went up as well.

I made it!

We had another long break at the summit for second lunch, ’cause a hobbit’s gotta eat.

Gaaah

Unfortunately, we had brought our old, unreliable Rebel with us since the 60D won’t fit in the outside mesh thing of my pack, and now it informed me that it was almost out of juice. Nooo! I had to conserve the battery, so I don’t have many photos from the Lower Enchantments – you’ll just have to believe me (or look at Tom’s photos) when I say it’s a veritable wonderland of lakes, peaks, and goats.

Looking back up at Little Annapurna from Rune Lake:

Little Annapurna

“Draw me like one of your French chipmunks…”

Draw me like one of your French chipmunks

The goats bade us farewell as we dropped down towards the last lake of the Enchantments (there would be more lakes, but they’re just not as enchanting). Thank you for letting us visit your home, furry ones!

Thanks for letting us visit your home

Lake Viviane holds a special place in our hearts; it was our first campsite on our first trip to the Enchantments back in 2008. We spent a lovely afternoon there all alone, just reading and swimming. You obviously miss out on experiences like that when you’re only passing through in a day, but I think the dayhike experience is just as rewarding – in a different way.

Lake Viviane

The lower basin is more vegetated than the upper basin (less not-quite-granite-but-close-enough), but there are still some steep, rocky bits where you don’t want to slip. Egads!

Above Lake Viviane

This is the last photo we took, of the rebar steps leading down to Lake Viviane. From here on, we followed the steep route down to and interminable trail around Snow Lake, the rocky switchbacks down to Nada Lake, and the never-ending grind down to the Snow Creek trailhead, where our second car was waiting with a cooler full of delicious liquids.

Rebar

My legs were starting to feel it on the way down, but, spurred on by dreams of Latin food (more importantly, non-“Bavarian” food) at South, I jogged the last miles – changing my gait really does make my legs feel fresher, even after a long day like this. I finally reached the trailhead, downed half a Vitamin Water in one gulp, and reveled in the fact that I actually felt pretty good. Sweaty and dirty, but good.

Two days later, my calves told a different story…but never mind that.

- Enchantments & Little Annapurna | 20 miles | 6000 feet gain (8000 feet loss) -

Big thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, Michelle…

Thanks, Michelle!

…Tom…

Thanks, Tom!

…and Jo!

Thanks, Jo!

Goals, Issaquah Alps, Running, Solo

Enchanted dreams

Taking advantage of our continued bout of excellent weather, I took Wellie and Basil for a run on Cougar Mountain last Thursday. Cougar is a confusing maze of wooded trails, but I’ve spent enough time there this spring (running after WTA work parties) that I can finally make my way around the mountain without having to pull out my map at every trail junction.

A glorious day

I was aiming for 10 miles or so, but, even in the heat, I was enjoying myself so much that I ended up with 15 miles, covering all my favorite trails on the mountain. I know being self-deprecating is kind of my thing, but this time I have to be honest and say that I was downright proud of myself.

Boardwalk Fungus among us

– Cougar Mountain Loop | 15 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain –

All over Cougar

This is promising, since my goal for this summer is to run through the Enchantments. I’ve given up on the backpacking permit lottery for the time being, so going from the Colchuck trailhead to the Snow Lake trailhead in one day is the way to go. As always, I use the term “run” loosely – I hike the uphills and do my shuffle-jog on the flats and downhills. We will be snailing through the core Enchantments, taking photos and enjoying ourselves.

I’m sure I’ll get so sweaty and salty that the mountain goats will lick me clean before I have time to jump in a lake!

Oh sorry, are we in your camp?

My main challenges will be getting my legs and lungs ready to hike up Aasgard Pass, which gains 2200 feet in something like 0.8 miles, without bonking (but yay, I’ll have a small pack this time!)…

LARCH OMGZ!!1!

…getting my feet ready for the mileage – 17-20, depending on side trips – and for running the last hot, dusty, boring six miles down to the Snow Lake trailhead when I’m already tired…

Little Annapurna

…but mostly getting my head ready, ’cause that’s usually where I fail when it comes to challenging myself – I’ll actually have to believe in myself for once. This run on Cougar was a mighty fine start.

Good morrow!

My previous Enchantments trips, four days each: 2008 and 2010.

Goals, Hiking, Me, Skiing

Past in Present

Over Christmas, I finally decided on a my one little word for 2013: present. I tend to waste so much time and energy either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, so I entered the new year making a conscious effort to focus on what’s happening right here and now.

(Ironically, this trip report is three weeks late. Oh hush you.)

Cold and happy. Also, cold. Perfect start to the new year

Back on New Year’s Day, the here and now was cold enough to freeze your nubbins off. JK and I drove over Snoqualmie Pass which was socked in once again, hoping to ski above the clouds on Amabilis Mountain.

It seemed to take much longer to reach the sun this time than it did on Kendall, probably due to my total ineptitude on cross-country skis, but once we made it, it was oh so glorious.

View from Amabilis

I love days like this one, where the sun is out but it’s so cold that the trees are still snowy. I usually only get one trip like a year, but this season I keep getting lucky. Mount Rainier was out along with the prominent Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks, which made for gorgeous views. We couldn’t see Kachess Lake this time, but we can’t complain since it was replaced by a beautiful sea of clouds.

JK was there too

Even in our ginormous winter puffies, we were cold as the dickens, so we only sat down for a quick lunch before heading down. I was anxious about skiing down right from the start – see why I chose my one little word? – but I needn’t have worried, I only fell six times. Six times. At least they all happened on the ungroomed part of the trail, so I had relatively soft landings…and anyhow, that’s all in the past now.

Hello 2013

Goals, Issaquah Alps, Me, Running

Adventures big and small

Another January, another chance to be resolute. Looking back on my hopeful scribbles from last year, in 2011 I intended to:

1) Write more trip reports | A gloriously unquantifiable resolution. I’ll just say I failed, mostly.

2) Not freak out if I miss out on trips | I actually worked hard on this one and have become much more comfortable spending weekends in the city or on lowland trails. Or maybe I just lost my sense of adventure.

3) Lose weight | I happily ignored this one until I came home from Utah in late October and saw video footage of myself. Gadzooks! I’m starting 2012 20 lbs lighter than 2011, so I would call this a success…but it obviously still needs work.

So to keep working on all of these resolutions, I plan to dust off my blog and post all our adventures, big and small. It’s ok if I only have crappy cell phone photos (see below) and it’s just a quick run in the Watershed or the Issaquah Alps. Anything goes.

Nutria and marmot on Cougar

Last Saturday was actually my first time out of the house in days; I had spent most of the week hibernating with a stubborn cold. Everything from the neck up was still stuffy and runny and generally charming, but my body and mind were getting restless. JK and I decided a short run on Cougar Mountain was in order to clear our sinuses.

It was my first real workout since our pre-Christmas xc ski to Tipsoo Lake, so it was shocking that my body even remembered how to move. JK’s body seemed to remember it a little bit better than mine (and he’s training for a trail race), so he ran the hills and doubled back to me for extra elevation gain while I slowly shuffled along, feeling like I was going to die. In a good way, though. Sort of.

Cougar Mountain Trails | 3.5 miles | 830 feet elevation gain