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Hiking with baby

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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Top Trips

A White Christmas

We haven’t experienced a white Christmas since 2008, when we had to ski through Redmond to get to the grocery store (okay so maybe we didn’t have to, but we did), but thanks to a recent huge dump of snow in the mountains, we could at least drive up to Snoqualmie Pass and create our own snowy magic.

Gold Creek Pond

My parents are visiting from Norway again – there’s been a mysterious uptick in the frequency of their visits ever since Nora was born – and they agreed to go snowshoeing with us. They couldn’t get over the size of our trees. Everything is bigger in America!

Gold Creek Pond

We made our way to the pond where everything was a wonderland. This hike is all flat and won’t make you break a sweat (unless you’re breaking the trail), but that’s okay – I was all smiles even without endorphins. It’s so, so pretty for something right off the freeway.

Rampart Ridge

From the pond, Rampart Ridge rises in the east, all massive and imposing and deserving of its name. It’s beautiful from below as well as from the top.

Gold Creek Pond

We wandered around the pond for a bit before going back to the picnic area where we let Nora out of the carrier so she could play in the snow.

Gold Creek Pond

She calls snow “sssss”, which is adorable, and she really does seem to love it. I think we need to get the ski attachment kit for our Chariot stroller so we can bring Nora cross-country skiing and bring oranges and a thermos of soup and sit there in the sun and just generally bask in our desperate Norwegianness.

Gold Creek Pond Gold Creek Pond

As the sun dipped behind the mountains, we let Nora the Red-Nosed Baby guide our way back down to our warm house in town, brimming with Christmas spirit.

I think she likes snow

For me, Christmas is about finding and creating light during the dark times…and if a white Christmas won’t come down here to us, we go in search of it ourselves.

Gold Creek Pond

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Gold Creek Pond

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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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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Issaquah Alps, Top Trips

It never fails

I haven’t really been taking care of myself lately, and I could feel it in my head, my heart, my soul, my back, my everything. On Saturday I even got a migraine – I really hoped they were a thing of the past, but since I’ve gotten one at the same time of the month these past three months, it seems they’re just a new post-pregnancy hormonal thing. Oh joy! But at least they only last one day instead of three.

Tiger Mountain

By Sunday, I knew I needed to get out into the woods. It had been pissing down rain for days, but I didn’t care – getting out there was a must. We bundled Nora up in 537 layers and hit the trails on Tiger Mountain, expecting a bone-chilling deluge.

Tiger Mountain

Instead, we found sunshine. We found the scent of freshly washed (pressure-washed!) greenery. We found giant chanterelles popping up right next to the trail (see it?).

Lazy mushroaming Tiger Mountain

I ran ahead while Nora and JK dawdled and looked for more mushrooms, and in less than a mile, I felt like myself again. Smiling, laughing, positive, able to see beauty in a world that seems to have gone off the rails.

The trail, man. It’s magic.

Tiger Mountain

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Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier

Noble Knob

Sometimes I think I bestow too much emotional significance on Noble Knob. It’s too much for such a humble summit to bear, and sooner or later it’s bound to disappoint. Well, maybe not disappoint, but…underwhelm. This was that time, sort of.

Noble Knob 007

I’ve been in love with Noble Knob since September 2007, our first mountain backpacking trip. We got a late start and the sun was setting just as we reached the foot of the Knob, so knowing nothing about leave no trace principles (or about the existence of a mighty fine tent site up on the Knob), we hurried up and pitched our tent in the middle of the meadow, had dinner, and went to sleep. Except I couldn’t sleep at all, terrified by the thought of marauding bears and the sound of gunshots in the distance…in a display of absolutely horrid timing, JK had told me about the Pinnacle Lake murders as we were hiking. Ugh.

Rainier at sunrise

But oh, the next morning! We hiked up to the summit and sat there in awe as Mount Rainier was painted bright pink with alpenglow. It was pure magic, and I fell for hiking, hard.

Noble Knob 027

I’ve been dreaming about bringing our kid here for years, and this summer we finally have an excellent baby to schlep along. We had originally planned to car camp at Corral Pass and hike to Noble Knob in the morning, when the light is best, but the road to Corral Pass was closed this year. Boo. So instead we drove a confusing network of logging roads to an alternative trailhead. This took us on a short, wooded trail instead of the fabulous, mostly open ridge walk from Corral Pass, and I realized that I love that trail as much as I love the Knob itself – without those wide-open views from the start, Noble Knob lost a lot of its appeal. If you haven’t hiked to Noble Knob before, I recommend waiting until the road opens again.

Noble Knob

After a year of almost no rain (thankfully it’s pouring down outside as I write this), everything was dusty and dry and beige and hot and blah. Nora took a short nap in the carrier, and I put in headphones to listen to my Autumn playlist – I am so over summer at this point. Enough with the heat! I want slippers and hats and pumpkin spice cardigans or whatever.

Noble Knob Paternity Leave

We made it to the Knob and decided to eat lunch by the rocks so we could find some shade when the heat got too intense. I had this image in my head of getting the perfect portrait photos of me and Nora in front of Rainier, but she was consumed by the presence of magnificent sand! and rocks! everywhere, and therefore refused to indulge me in my fantasies.

Noble Knob

(Of course in hindsight I can see that these photos ended up much cuter than the posed photos I had wanted.)

Noble Knob 196

Nora hadn’t slept in the car and only caught a 20-minute snooze in the carrier, so after lunch, we could tell she was in need of more rest. We headed out, assuming she would sleep the entire way, but no. Not a wink. Then we drove home, thinking she would maybe sleep at least a little bit, but no. When we realized she wasn’t planning on sleeping at all, we kept her happy and distracted by playing You Are My Little Bird, which we all love, plus a few songs from Alphabutt, which is hilarious. As we got close to Redmond, the only thing keeping a massive meltdown at bay was playing Nora’s number one favorite song, Dyrene i Afrika, over and over and over again. The poor nugget was so overtired that she woke up 547 times that night, and I felt guilty and grumpy. The magic of Noble Knob had failed us!

The next morning I could see things in perspective. Nora was back to her happy self, my brain was no longer overheated, and it dawned on me that if this is what I think of as a bad hike, I am both very lucky and very very spoiled.

(But srsly, don’t visit the Knob until Corral Pass is open again.)

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Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Can all hikes be like this one?

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Nora has suddenly started sleeping in in the mornings, which is glorious and luxurious and amazing, so we’ve been getting a late start on our hikes. I would rather get that extra snoozage in the morning and deal with starting our hikes at noon, so it’s all good, but it does mean we have to stick to shorter trails in order to enjoy ourselves and still have time to get back home in time for bed. I don’t mind that either – there are lots of gorgeous short trails in this state.

One of those is Tolmie Peak Lookout, which somehow we had never hiked before.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 036

The drive was just long enough for Nora to take a nap in the car (only 20 minutes, but it’s better than nothing), so when we pulled up to Mowich Lake, the whole family was in an excellent mood. On clear days, you can see the top of Mount Rainier peeking out above the hillside, but today she was shy, hiding behind a fig leaf of clouds. No worries – our eyes were busy scanning the bushes for huckleberries anyway.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

After hiking up and down and up again and feasting on an especially tasty patch of hucks along Eunice Lake, we reached the lookout.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

I instantly fell in love with these little mountain goat cutouts. Adorbs!

Tolmie Peak Lookout 088

We sat down to eat our lunch, resigned to the idea of a volcanoless view, when lo and behold, Mount Rainier decided to reveal herself after all! Nora was very excited.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 069 Tolmie Peak Lookout 152

Much photography ensued before we decided it was time to put away the camera (for the most part) and just sit down and enjoy it all – the view, the sun, the togetherness. And the huckleberries.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 124

Nora is one lucky girl to have this as her playground!

Tolmie Peak Lookout 139

This hike is going on the repeak list for sure.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 182

After a while, JK couldn’t resist the alluring waters of Eunice Lake anymore, so we packed up and headed down the trail so he could swim.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

I wish I could have joined him, but I had forgotten my spare set of skivvies and there were too many people around to swim in the buff.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Next time, next time.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Nora fell asleep a couple of minutes after we started hiking again, and snoozed all the way back to Mowich Lake. JK and I put in headphones and cruised along the trail, getting lost in the flow and the tunes. So good.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 256

This time I joined in on the fun and went swimming myself – going commando for the drive home was a small price to pay for the pleasure of a mountain dip.

Nora was obviously the one who should have gone swimming after she discovered the joys of digging in the wet dirt by the lake. Happily, a warm bath was but a car ride (a scream-free, joyful car ride!) away.

Lakes, berries, a lookout, a big, majestic, amazing volcano, huckleberries, naps, a very happy baby. Everything worked out so perfectly! Seriously, can all hikes be like this?

Tolmie Peak Lookout | 7.5 miles | 1100 feet elevation gain –

Tolmie Peak Lookout

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