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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2013

Aaahhh, 2013. So much beauty. So many marmots. So many rewarding experiences. And fantastic weather (unless I have a very selective memory).

View from Amabilis It don't get no better than this

We started the year off right with a cross-country ski trip to Amabilis Mountain. For a while (a looong while) there it seemed like we weren’t going to pop out of the clouds, but when we finally did, it was glorious. A week or so later, I met up with Janelle for our first hike together, in postcard-perfect snow conditions on Mazama Ridge.

Ram Head Trail Salomon Beach

In late January, JK and I jetted off to the Virgin Islands for the best vacation of our lives (so far) on the small island of St. John. I don’t know why I never get around to blogging about our big trips (but have countless blog posts from Tiger Mountain), but I promise to write about this one soon, because wow. For now, I’ll say that our favorite hikes were Ram Head, which starts from one of our favorite snorkeling spots, Salt Pond Bay, and the Lind Point Trail – not for the trail itself, but because it takes you to beautiful Salomon Beach.

Happy Hoodlums Samish Overlook

Our car was totaled in a hit-and-run right before we left for St. John, so we spent most of the winter hiking in the lowlands until we could get another car. A weekend in the sun on Mount Hood was a welcome return to snow, even though we just hiked straight up to the top of the Palmer Chairlift and then back down again. As winter turned to spring, the newly ambulatory Nathan took us to Oyster Dome, which never seems to disappoint, especially when you can wear shorts in March.

Shy Bear Marsh Marmots on top

In April, I participated in a bunch of trail work parties for WTA on Cougar Mountain. Since they end early in the day, I liked to go running or hiking afterwards, which would leave me hopped up on all sorts of endorphins and in love with the Shy Bear Trail. I also did one work party on the new Mailbox Peak trail, where I earned my shiny new hard hat and found solitude(!) on the summit afterwards.

Balsamroot Fearless leaders

May saw us eating our way through London, Rome, and Oslo with our families, and when we came back, I ate even more after picking marvelous morels on Teanaway Ridge with Dani and Jo. Mmm, morels. Then I decided it was time to get in shape, and kicked off the summer with an excellent long run on Cougar Mountain, setting grander goals for the summer.

Elg i solnedgang We heart the Teanaway

It’s interesting how many Issaquah Alps hikes made it onto the list this year. I think it’s because I tend to run more on those trails, and the bigger the endorphin rush, the giddier I become. We had so many good hikes to Poo Poo Point this year, but I’ll highlight our June trip as it was the most amooseing. My annual birthday hike to Iron Peak was wonderful as always, and was followed by a most excellent night of camping along the Teanaway River. I really love that area.

Celebrating his fifth volcano Unnamed pond

July was big this year, and the weather fantastic. I accompanied JK on his final Washington volcano climb, Mount Adams, wrestled with the panic monster, and was rewarded with a truly epic glissade. A couple of days later, I hiked and ran the Mount Defiance Loop I’ve had my eye on for years. Score!

A strong contender Wandering through the meadow

One of my absolute favorite hikes this year was Benchmark Mountain near Glacier Peak. It was a new trail for us, but it will definitely go on the repeat list. Wildflowers and views in every direction, and hardly anyone else on the trail. To round out the month, I finally hiked to Sahale, home of the most picturesque crapper of all time.

Broots I made it!

August means WTA Hike-a-Thon, where I get to hike as much as I can while raising money for trails. Yay! Mount Defiance made it onto the list again when JK and I escaped the clouds in Redmond and found wonderful sunshine and total solitude up there, even on a summer Saturday. Later that month, we hiked the Enchantments and Little Annapurna in a day, my big goal hike for the summer. It felt so good and I want more!

Stahp! Ridge with a view

Our participation in TNAB sucked this year too, but we chose the one we did go to well. Rampart Ridge provided marmots galore and a ridonculous sunset. Oh, and a yellowjacket nest, but let’s not focus on that. My last Hike-a-Thon hike was Point 6262 above Minotaur Lake, where we (and the dogs) found lots of huckleberries and ate ourselves silly. The views were okay too, I guess.

Mmm, Shuksan Our own little corner of the woods

More huckleberries were found along Ptarmigan Ridge on a very very hot day in September. After that I suddenly lost all interest in hiking, but I did manage to get out to finally see the golden larches in Headlight Basin in October.

Late season big'uns This be Novembers?

My hiking blahs continued until JK and I were hit with mushroom fever (which sounds like a really gross disease) and took every opportunity we could to hunt, pick, and eat chanterelles, yellowfeet, and hedgehogs. This year we’ll start earlier…and we might have to buy an extra freezer. Right before Thanksgiving, we enjoyed an unseasonably warm and unseasonably sunny trip to Mazama Ridge, where we ran into Janelle (not surprising since I think she might actually live there) and Jessie welcoming the holiday season with a Christmas tree.

Then I got an ear infection followed by a bad cold, and the only hike I have done since Mazama was a short loop on Cougar. I’m sure my first hike of 2014 will lead my lungs to quiver and explode and my leg muscles to actually detach themselves from my body in protest.

Happy New Year!!

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Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2012

Aah, 2012 – the year we bought a house and subsequently turned into total homebodies. A huge drop in hiking mileage, but a giant leap in hiking enjoyment.

Washington favorites:

Happy family in a snowstorm Look at me, being all Norwegian and such

In the middle of the January Snowpocalypse, we joined our friends and their brand new baby boy on a snowshoeing trip to the Grand Junction Warming Hut – perfectly suited for little Nathan’s feeding and changing needs! We enjoyed that trip so much that we returned on xc skis in February to ski the Mount Catherine Loop.

Best buds Jolli

Spring was gorgeous in 2012, and we spent lots of time enjoying our new house and the local trails. In April, we got a taste of summer (and front row seats to a bald eagle peep show) on Oyster Dome. In June, I got a confidence booster at Camp Muir.

Tall grass, golden light = Summer

Our new furry son, Basil, came into our lives in July, and our first hike together was Ebey’s Landing, sure to be a family favorite from now on. Thorp Mountain didn’t disappoint this year either.

Nathan is growing so fast Summerland

Noble Knob always seems to end up on my favorites list, even this year when we had to cut our backpack short when Basil had an allergic reaction to mosquitoes! August was my hardcore hiking month, thanks to the WTA Hike-a-Thon – the best part was my solo camping trip on Mount Rainier, where I spent an amazing afternoon with the marmots of Summerland.

Merahrkwa, mah favrit lerk First TNAB of the year

Another solo favorite of mine was the Melakwa-Pratt Loop. Unfortunately our TNAB attendance was rather dismal this year, and we only made it to Mount Margaret – luckily it was a perfect night.

Labyrinth Mountain Homeward bound

Labyrinth Mountain in September was fantastic – I have extra-special-lovey-fuzzy feelings about it since it happened a couple of days after I had stopped eating gluten and I already felt like a totally different person. Our second backpacking trip of the year took place at Yellow Aster Butte with a group of friends, including Wellie’s biggest fan.*

Mazama Ridge October on the beach

Summer lasted long into October this year, so the marmots on the Skyline Trail had lots of time to prepare for winter. My favorite trip of the year was a beautiful, last-minute hike to Mount McCausland and Lake Valhalla – that one will stay with me for years and years.

That's a sunshine smile! Sea of clouds

Our annual Christmas snowshoe to Skyline Ridge happened earlier than usual this year so we could take advantage of the excellent weather. The year ended perfectly, in perfect snow above the clouds on Kendall Knob.

JK’s favorites:

Almost there Mount Constitution

JK finally climbed his long-coveted fourth Washington volcano this year, the beautiful Glacier Peak. He also completed two 25K runs this year, first as a volunteer on Orcas Island, then as a runner on Sun Mountain. (I, on the other hand, did a lot of talking about racing and not much else.)

Out of state favorites:

Hiking Haleakala Grand Prismatic Spring

Aaah, Hawai’i. You always hit the spot. In April, JK’s sister and her beau came to visit, and we used it as an excuse to go to Maui. The Sliding Sands Trail on Haleakala always leaves me breathless (in more ways than one). In July, we went on a road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks with JK’s mom. The view of Grand Prismatic Spring from the hillside overlook was out of this world.

Hopefully we’ll make it out on more backpacking trips in 2013, but now I know that I’ll be enjoying myself either way.

*apparently going gluten-free did not help my trip report-procrastination, so these trips only have photo sets for now.