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Hikes of the Year

Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2018

We’re sitting here in the biggest snow event Seattle has seen in a long time, and while the kids chill with some Bubble Guppies in between romps outside, I figure it’s a good time to resurrect my blog. Starting with – since it’s already February, yikes! – my favorite hikes of 2018!

Heybrook Ridge

This was our first time on this brand new trail, and it became an instant family favorite. Short, pretty, snow-free even in January, and a shortish drive from home? So good.

Heybrook Ridge

Orcas Island 25K

Oh Orcas Island 25K. You are always freezing cold and steep and horrid, but I love you so. (Side note: I sold my entry this year since depression + illness = not being able to cover 16 miles, and of course this year the weather was gorgeous and the photos looked heavenly.)

Orcas Island 25K 2018


We’ve snowshoed on Mount Rainier at least once every winter/spring since 2008, and ever since we had kids, these outings have felt epic. This year was no exception, and the addition of a sled made it even cooler. Nora even snowshoed up the first hill all by herself!

Paradise Snowshoe 2018

Heybrook Ridge again

We had to go back to Heybrook Ridge again in April, and I can tell that it’s going to be our default family hike. This was the week after Lily started walking! What an excellent place to practice that new skill.

Heybrook Ridge

Chirico Threepeat

Every year, a bunch of runners run up and down the Chirico trail to Poo Poo Point over and over again, mostly as a social event but also to try to earn the coveted tiger hat bestowed on the first person to reach ten. I did three, which isn’t too shabby – that’s still 12 miles and 5000 feet of gain. (Also, whoaaa, I’m kind of thrown by how fit I look in this photo, because…well, let’s just say that’s not how I look now. Heh.)

Chirico Threepeat

Ebey’s Landing

The recipe for a great day with kids? A ferry ride + beach. Aka Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island. At this point we’re just hiking the same trails every year and I don’t mind that even a little bit, because they are gorgeous and I love them.

Ebey's Landing 2018

Sun Mountain 50K

My first ultramarathon! This was such a cool experience, and I was (am!) so proud of myself. And I totally want to run more of these, and longer distances, once the kids are a little older so training will be less stressful. We took a long weekend at Sun Mountain and it was so good, just a delicious blur of running and wildflowers and sunshine and paddleboarding and happy little kids.

Sun Mountain 50K, mile 7

Kelly Butte

This hike was so cool. Seeing Nora climb up that steep, rocky trail like a little mountain goat more than made up for the fact that Rainier stayed mostly hidden in the clouds.

Kelly Butte Father's Day 2018

Mirror Lake

On the 4th of July, we headed to Mirror Lake, which has been a favorite of ours since I first hiked it when pregnant with Nora. Love all the short, beautiful trails we’ve discovered since then. The water was colder than Lily and Nora expected, but that didn’t stop them from going in!

Mirror Lake 2018

Melakwa Loop

Aah, the Melakwa-Pratt loop! This was my first ever solo hike back in 2009, and every year now I look forward to that premium bit of alone time in July.

Melakwa-Pratt Loop 2018 Melakwa-Pratt Loop 2018

Rainier Weekend

Speaking of alone time, in July I also spent my first night away from the girls! Eeep! I joined the Alpine Trails Book Club for their camping weekend in Mount Rainier National Park. We hiked to Van Trump Park, saw the sunset from Pinnacle Saddle, and were in marmot heaven on the Skyline Trail. So good, so good.

A Weekend in Paradise


We went on a long (5 week!) vacation to Norway in August, and JK and I snuck away for two nights alone in a teeny tiny little cabin in Jotunheimen. We went for a run up Bitihorn, which (a) was jaw-droppingly gorgeous in every direction and (b) gained extra bonus points when we happened to run into Jens Stoltenberg, ex-Prime Minister of Norway and current Secretary General of Nato. (I’d like to see Trump try to hike up that thing!)



We also hiked Besseggen, which we had also done in 2008, back when I was really scared of heights. Okay, so I am still scared of heights, BUT it is so gorgeous that I would gladly hike it over and over and over.


Beaver Lake

Back in Washington, the depression that had started to sneak in in June came into full force, but some really good family hikes kept me afloat. I need these ups to get through the downs. We went to Beaver Lake (which is south on the PCT from Snoqualmie Pass, basically just going up the ski hill) to look for fall colors, and with the swirling mist and fog, it was just perfect. And Nora found her first King Bolete!

Beaver Lake Autumn 2018

Snow and Bench Lake

A couple days later, JK took a day off work so that we could inject me with a good hiking antidepressant before his work trip to Japan. We drove down to Mount Rainier to hike the Bench and Snow Lakes trail, which was definitely my favorite hike of the year. Warm sun, beautiful fall colors, deliriously happy kids, a swimming snake, my favorite volcano…I couldn’t ask for more.

Snow & Bench Lakes

Frozen Lake

Of course we went back to Rainier again when JK came back from Japan, too. By this time it was October, and all but two little marmots named Nora and Lily had gone into hibernation.

Frozen Lake

Mushrooming with Lily

October is prime chanterelle season up here in these parts, so I introduced Lily to the fine art of the gold hunt on Tiger Mountain (I won’t get more specific than that because these are MY mushroom patches).

Mushrooming with Lily

Family shrooming

More Tiger Mountain, more family foraging. A good reminder that the best hikes don’t have to involve long drives or big mountains or good weather, as long as you’re with the right people.

Chanterelle hunting

Lily’s birthday

One of those right people, Lily, turned two in November! Somehow her late November birthday coincided with not just a Saturday but also beautiful sunshine! We went to Gold Creek Pond and had all the cake and lots of sledding. It was perfect.

Lily Turns Two!

Deception Pass 25K

In December, I had my first DNF (Did Not Finish) in a race. I had a horrid sinus infection and my face just hurt too much to run much, so I dropped at the aid station. But! I got to cover six miles of date time with JK while my parents, who were visiting from Norway for Christmas, watched the girls, AND quitting early meant I was first in line for pizza at the finish line.

Deception Pass 25K 2018

Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2017

I definitely focused on running rather than hiking this year. There were many many trips to Tiger, Cougar, the Watershed, and St. Edwards. It’s hard to pick a favorite here, but my first time back on the Cable Line after Lily was born got me the biggest endorphin high on my life. I don’t have a good photo of that one, so here’s one of me meeting up with Nora and the rest of the gang after running the Shy Bear loop instead.

The winter of 2017 was very special since JK was home on paternal leave the entire time. So it was special, but also exhausting, because newborn. Getting everyone bundled up and into the car to go on adventures was kind of a production at this point (okay, it’s still kind of a production, honestly), but one of our favorite things to do to get a sense of adventure was to drive into Seattle, pick up food to go at Veggie Grill, and then have a picnic in Discovery Park.

20170319_134912 Discovery Park

I was so proud that we were able to get out for a family snowshoe on Mount Rainier in February. It was so chaotic (and loud) getting there, but once everyone calmed down and I could enjoy the sun on my face (that must have been our only day of sunshine all winter, surely?) and that big volcano? So worth it.

Last year I entered the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study, and found out that Dr. Joel Fuhrman was going to have a talk in Port Townsend. We rented a house on the peninsula and spent a couple of days exploring the area, including our first visit ever to Hurricane Ridge. We couldn’t see a thing, but we had so much fun playing with Nora in the snow.

Paradise Weekend in Sequim

In May, we took another family trip to Winthrop so I could run the Sun Mountain 25K. The morning after the race, we went for a family hike on the trails next to Sun Mountain Lodge, and that night I went for a solo run on Mount Patterson in the golden hour. Best run of my life! Being out there in the sun felt like our prize after getting through the rainiest Seattle winter/spring on record.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017 Patterson Mountain run

My second favorite run this year? The Melakwa loop! I hadn’t run this since before getting pregnant with Nora. Turns out it’s even more fun when you’re in good (for me) shape.

We went back to Paradise in summer to look for marmots. It was so much less hectic than our winter outing. Nora hiked most of the little loop herself, we saw tons of adorable marmots, and we just had pure fun – that’s not always a given when you adventure with a three-year old and a baby. These are the days I want to remember forever.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017 Nora's Marmot Quest '17

In August, JK took a random afternoon off and we took Lily for a hike to Poo Poo Point while Nora was in preschool. Shh, don’t tell her! As much as we love those family outings, sometimes it’s nice to be able to hike and actually talk about adult things.

…which is exactly what we got to do when my parents came to visit and we joined our first outing with the Thursday Night Afterburners in forever! As luck would have it, the hike that was scheduled for the one day we were able to go was my favorite TNAB destination: Rampart Ridge. It was perfect in every way.

Poo Poo with Lil' Lil Date night

While my parents were here, we also got to celebrate Nora’s birthday on the Naches Peak Loop! We brought cake, balloons, and party hats. It rocked. I made the whole family fill out little interview tags for my December Daily album this year, and both JK and Nora said that this was their favorite memory from 2017.

As summer turned to fall, we went to Twin Lakes with some friends. I didn’t expect anything special from this one, but hot damn it was gorgeous. Sunny and crisp, gorgeous fall colors, mountain views and a really pretty little lake. All good things.

Nora turns three! Twin Lakes

In October, I ran the Oregon Coast 30K with very low expectations and ended up loving every bit of it. Yet another excellent family getaway.

Back in Washington, autumn never seemed to end – best October ever. We hiked up the ski slope on the PCT at Snoqualmie Pass to Beaver Lake, and Nora impressed us with her hiking legs.

Oregon Coast 30K Beaver Lake

We also visited the Middle Fork for the first time. I was not expecting these kinds of views from this little riverside trail.

After Nora’s fabulous mountain birthday, Lily deserved something equally pretty – a snowshoe celebration at Gold Creek Pond! It was a great way to take advantage of the strange drought we had this December.

Middle Fork Lily's First Birthday

In December I also ran the Deception Pass 25K – I could not have asked for better weather. I’ll write more about this one soon.

I know people love to hate the Cable Line, but whaddya know, it ended up twice on my favorites list this year. My parents came back again for Christmas, and JK and I took advantage of the babysitter time to go running together. Our snowy trip to Tiger Mountain was absolutely fabulous. We’re going to try to make room for more runs together in 2018.

Deception Pass 25K Cable Line Loop Date

Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2016

2016 will go down as one of the most hated years in history between the situation in Syria, the terror attacks, the celebrity deaths, and Voldemort being elected president, but for us personally, we had a huge highlight at the end of the year – Lily’s birth! There was also intense morning sickness, depression, illness…but let’s focus on the positive. Our first year of hiking with a toddler!

February Hiking!

This was the year of the lowland trails! Most of my trail time was spent in the Redmond Watershed, St. Edward State Park, or on Tiger Mountain. I was training for races, training for fun, and eventually using the trails as my therapist. And Nora found her trail legs on Cougar Mountain for her very first out-of-carrier hikes!

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama Turtlehead Overlook

Sometime around Christmas last year I realized that the Orcas Island 25K was coming up veeery quickly and I of course hadn’t even started training for it yet. I started running every time I had the opportunity, on the Powerline Trail, in the Watershed, and huffing and puffing up the Cable Line to get some uphill training. At the end of January, I ran (“ran”) the race, survived, and had an amazing time in the freezing snow and rain. Want moar!

The day after the race, we decided to make the most of our island getaway by going on a bonus hike to Turtlehead Overlook. It was so gorgeous and lush and green, and the perfect place to shake out my post-race legs.

Snowshoeing with grandma and grandpa TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

In April, grandma and grandpa came to visit and Nora dragged them along to Mount Rainier for our annual Paradise snowshoe! Nora discovered the joy of glissading, and I cherished being in one of my happy places on a gorgeous day with my family and a teeny tiny embryo (which was not yet wreaking any sort of havoc).

The presence of the aforementioned grandparents also allowed us to join our first TNAB hike since I was pregnant with Nora. This time I was pregnant with Lily, and had to huff and puff up the good ol’ Cable Line without doing any actual huffing and puffing. It felt so good to go on a sunset hike again and reconnect with old friends.

Franklin Falls Ebey's Landing

A day or so after TNAB, morning sickness hit. And then it got worse and worse and worse and worse and I spent most of the spring with my head in a bucket. I did manage to get out on some very easy hikes once the worst was over – short and sweet trails like Franklin Falls and the old family favorite Ebey’s Landing.

Red Top Lookout Hood Canal Birthday Getaway

We also made it over to the other side of the crest a couple of times so we could hunt morels (not that I could eat them yet, since I had a mushroom aversion in this pregnancy too – but huzzah, that means we have dried morels we can eat now!), and on one of the trips we hiked the super short trail to Red Top Lookout. Nora hiked most of the way herself (except near the top, because gaah, dropoffs)!

My birthday weekend coincided with a heatwave, so we skipped our usual Teanaway camping trip and instead took a last minute trip to a rented house on the beach in Seabeck. Okay, so this wasn’t a hike, but we spent the entire long weekend outside and it rivals St. John as my favorite vacation of all time, so it deserves a spot here. I never go around to blogging about it, but I journaled about it on this scrapbook page.

Mirror Lake Margaret Lake

The summer months were difficult for me. I struggled with depression, which I’ve later found out is fairly common after going through a long period of bad morning sickness. We spent a lot of time on local trails and on chanterelle hunts, but the only “real” summer hikes we went on were to Mirror Lake and Margaret Lake – thankfully, they were really good ones.

Naches Peak Loop Skyline Loop

Aaah, this was the best weekend of the year. Another last minute long weekend trip, this time to Packwood, near Mount Rainier. We hiked the Naches Peak Loop, which was the perfect length for Nora and is generally just one of the best bang for your bucks hikes in the state, and the Skyline Loop, which was a bit too long for my very pregnant self – but the fall colors and marmots made up for it. I think these long weekend cabin trips will be the best way for us to vacation in the upcoming years.

Skål! Lily's first hike

Later in the fall, one of my trail therapy sessions led to a night of contractions that worried me enough to lay off the trails for a while, and the only little hike I dared to go on (until I hit 38 weeks and started getting antsy) was the flat-as-a-pancake one-mile walk around Gold Creek Pond. We made an afternoon of it by having a picnic by the pond, and we just had a really lovely, low-key time together in the mountains.

On December 15 we took Lily on her first hike! It was cold as balls, so we left Nora at home with grandpa and just went for a 3.5 mile loop in the Watershed, where I spent hours and hours and hours running and hiking while I was pregnant. Given my history and how this year has been (and the fact that we’re in the darkest, wettest time of the year), I’m on high PPD alert, so I’m trying to get out for a good walk every day. Our hikes among the big trees in the Watershed make me feel so good (and these days I can carry the ten essentials in my giant undereye bags, which comes in very handy). I’m not sure what 2017 is going to look like, hiking-wise, but it’s good to know that our trusty Watershed is such a close and accessible way to introduce our littlest lady to nature.

Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2015

Eeek, January is almost over! Not only does this mean that Orcas Island 25k, for which I am hopelessly undertrained, is coming up veryveryvery soon, but it means I need to write my annual favorite hikes of the year post.

She officially loves Poo Poo! So this is...January??

2015 started out fabulously, with a certain someone coming out of her fussy newborn months. That meant we felt brave enough to tackle more “real” hikes, starting with good old Poo Poo Point. It felt like a return to the world for me – the newborn period is intense, a rollercoaster of unbelievable highs and overwhelming lows, but now things were settling down, and we started going on our normal family outings – hikes! Veggie Grill! – but with a happy little lass in tow.

2015 was also a bizarre year for snow. Well, lack of snow. One really shouldn’t be able to hike to Mason Lake on a dry trail in January, but that’s what we did. A little taste of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the middle of winter.

Nora don't care 'bout no crowds Nora & mamma

In February, the weather was freakishly warm and we went to Rattlesnake Ledge to soak up some sun. We were not alone. This was a common theme for most of our hikes in 2015 – hiking really seems to have exploded over the last couple of years – but it’s hard to complain about the fact that tons of people are out exercising in nature and spending time with friends and family. I want more people to realize what an amazing hobby/pastime/lifestyle/therapy/workout this is, so I can’t be annoyed when people come out and do just that. (And anyway, Rattlesnake on a sunny Saturday? We were asking for it.)

On another warm day, we drove down (well, up I guess?) to Mount Rainier for our annual Paradise snowshoe. It was amaaaazing. Perfect conditions. No jackets required. Sun sun sun. Cutest snow baby ever. She even wore sunglasses!

Nora approves Cougar Mountain loop

We went for several hikes on Cougar Mountain in the spring. It’s such a great place to go for mellow hikes in the winter, but even better in the spring when everything turns chartreuse and full of life.

Happy hiker Melakwa Lake

Due to the aforementioned lack of snow, we were able to go on our annual Teanaway camping trip in May instead of June. So I spent Mother’s Day on Iron Peak, which was all sorts of perfect.

We also went on an early season hike of Melakwa Lake, which started summer for us. At this point, Nora was able to stay awake for longer on our hikes, so we could hang out at the lake and actually relax.

Mama n' Norbert Holy crap we'll be back

In June, we visited Fremont Lookout so Nora could see her first marmots. Another early season wonder.

We also traveled all the way to Norway and Italy, where we finally had a chance to visit the Dolomites and go on a little hike. I just realized I never blogged about that hike, but just trust me, it was fantastic. Even the drive was full of jaw-dropping views.

Lake Valhalla Tolmie Peak Lookout

We returned to Washington in time for Hike-a-Thon, and celebrated by swimming in Lake Valhalla. Then we went on what was my number one favorite hike of the year, Tolmie Peak. Everything worked out perfectly that day, and I have nothing but good memories. Swimming? Huckleberries? Happy baby? Napping baby? What’s not to love??

Noble Knob Snow Lake

I debated whether or not I should include Noble Knob on this list. At the time, there were a lot of frustrations and annoyances, but my highly revisionist memory tends to focus on the positives…so now I’m looking back at it fondly, thinking of the juice huckleberries we picked and ate on the way home, how much fun Nora had playing with the rocks on the summit, nursing while sitting in my happy place, staring at Mount Rainier. Aaw.

Our hike to Snow Lake let Nora further explore her love of rocks and sand and generally getting good and dirty.

Birthday hike Lake Margaret

In September, our little lady turned one! We celebrated on trail, of course, eating cake on Tiger Mountain.

We also started mushroom hunting again, including this failed hunt turned excellent hike to Margaret Lake. It was one of those miserable, soggy, grey days that just made the fall colors pop like crazy.

Shroooom! Christmas card pic

Most of our autumn trail time was spent looking for mushrooms on Tiger Mountain, either with Nora or on our own while the grandparents were visiting and could babysit. Hiking without Nora felt all sorts of weird and wrong at first, but it was admittedly really nice and freeing to be able to run again – even with a bag full of chanterelles weighing me down.

Lodge Lake Gold Creek Pond

Luckily we’re getting more snow this season than last year’s, so to get in the Christmas spirit, we visited Lodge Lake at the end of November. It was Nora’s first time actually interacting with snow, and she loved it! She really is Norwegian!

The grandparents visited again in December, and this time they joined us on trail for their very first snowshoe outing. We visited Gold Creek Pond which was an absolute winter wonderland…and Nora still adores the snow.

2015 went by so fast. Nora went from sleeping through most of our hikes to hardly ever falling asleep in the pack anymore (c’mon mamma, there’s snow and moss and chipmunks to look at! I can’t sleep through that!). We’re excited to see what 2016 will bring – I suspect we’ll be doing a lot of short hikes on Tiger and Cougar, inspecting pinecones and jumping in puddles…and probably having to bribe Nora to keep moving.

Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2014

I love writing these yearly reviews and looking back on the time that has passed, especially since my life seems to just keep getting fuller and better as the years amble on. 2014? Fantastic. Amazing. Wonderful. There were some challenges, which comes with the territory of being a new parent, but what is life without challenges? I just feel so damn lucky to get to experience any of this at all. (I’m also conveniently choosing not to remember the whole morning sickness thing. Lalalala!)

Snowshoe football Leinster Bay

In January, before the NFC Championship Game, we went to Mount Rainier with some friends for a snowshoe handegg session. We hadn’t started telling people about the pregnancy yet at that point, so I remember being embarrassed about the amount of huffing and puffing I was doing on the short hike to Glacier Vista, but hopefully the others were too distracted by the beautiful and freakishly warm weather to notice.

Aah, St. John. Our favorite island getaway. We returned in 2014, this time staying at the Coral Bay Eco Retreat, the perfect rental home for us – sleeping in an outdoor bedroom, cooking in an outdoor kitchen, showering in an outdoor shower, and there was even a loo with a view! Another bonus was the access to the Johnny Horn Trail, which led us down to Waterlemon Cay, one of the finest snorkeling spots on the island. Every time we’ve snorkeled here, we’ve seen tons o’ turtles and, uhm, fajillions o’ fish. The trail was pretty cool too, steep and rocky under a canopy of green, with a short side trail to the ruins of an old guardhouse.

Coming September 2014 Ebey's Landing

We did a lot of lowland hikes last winter and spring, mostly in crappy weather and with me having to stop and puke once or twice per mile (okay, so I do remember morning sickness), but some were very wonderful indeed, like when we hiked to Poo Poo Point to take an announcement photo…which eventually ended up as an oil painting in Nora’s nursery!

Ebey’s Landing has become a spring favorite of ours, and this year’s hike was no exception. We saw orcas, ran into friends, and I didn’t puke once! Huzzah!

I'm gonna be huge by September 22 weeks at Goat Lake

Another spring classic is Sauer’s Mountain, near Leavenworth. I like to get at least one good balsamroot hike in every year, and this is my favorite. I hope we’ll be able to go this year too, with Nora bouncing along in her carrier. Maybe a long weekend in Leavenworth is in order.

Goat Lake was the hike where I physically felt the best last year – morning sickness had ended for the most part, and it was the last hike before my pelvis decided to go mental on me, so I could still hike far and run when I wanted to. I was feeling pretty damn good mentally, too, seeing as it was Mother’s Day and I couldn’t stop thinking about that little nugget of mine.

Beautimous trail Lunch spot

Twin Lakes was a new trail for us, and what a trail it was! I’m used to hiking up up up through forest forest forest and then reaching a view, but this trail had lots of variety. Beautiful from start to finish.

By the time my birthday came around, I had decided to choose the rest of my hikes for the year out of the Best Hikes With Kids book so I wouldn’t fudge up my pelvis. Instead of hiking to Iron Peak for my birthday, we visited Esmeralda Basin. The slick mud and snow were still a little too much, but the views were classic Teanaway…and I got to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing on a Thermarest while JK fed me cupcakes (this was the week before my gestational diabetes diagnosis, sigh) and did all the camp chores.

Mirror Lake pool bar Hiking to Noble Knob

In July, we decided the best way to cool off during the heatwave was to get up early and hike the shortest trail possible to a good swimming lake. Mirror Lake fit the bill perfectly. See, this Best Hikes With Kids thing isn’t so bad.

Noble Knob always makes it onto the Favorite Hikes list, because it’s Noble Knob and can do no wrong in my eyes. Even when the trail is packed with over a hundred ultrarunners and your dog rolls in elk poop. Best hike of the year, at least pre-Nora.

34 weeks down, sixish to go! 35 weeks

I had yet to see a marmot in 2014 come August, so JK and I decided to hike around Sunrise on Mount Rainier since that place is just lousy with my favorite rodents. Not only did we spot the fattest marmot in the universe, but also a herd of goats and masses of homo sapiens.

The wildlife bonanza continued when we went to Snow and Bench Lakes and spotted a bear! At this point I was 35 weeks pregnant and Nora had dropped, making me waddle like a duck and generally feel like I needed to start staying closer to home. We mostly did lowland hikes after that, until I started having contractions while picking mushrooms on Tiger Mountain at 38 weeks. Our bestest little Nora was born the next day, and our lives changed forever!

First hike! Mukmuk family

…but we still like to hit the trails once in a while. When she was ten days old, Nora demanded to go for a hike on Tiger Mountain to see how the mushrooms were doing. They weren’t doing well at all since it hadn’t rained, but let’s not complain about dry summer weather. Let’s also not complain about walking in the woods with a brand new, tiny, delicious, perfect human being on your chest. The only thing better than baby smell is baby smell mixed with tree smell. Love. Love, love, love.

In November, we took Nora to Mount Rainier for her first alpine hike. The marmots had already started hibernating for winter, but no worries, we had our own little Mukmuk in tow. Beautiful light, beautiful mountain, beautiful sunset, beautiful girl.

2014, you rocked.