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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Marmot Mountain Magic

Summer is coming to an end, I can feel it. As much as I love fall (at least the early fall, before the monsoon begins), I always feel a bit of ennui this time of year. It used to be end of summer hiking burnout, but this year it is the opposite – summer really just flew by and we just didn’t get around to doing a quarter of the things we had planned. Gaah!

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

So now we need to squeeze in all the things, starting with a trip to Paradise. We’ve been planning this all year but it kept getting pushed back due to bad bugs, then a heatwave, then two weeks of wildfire smoke, then sick kids. When we finally made it last week, Mount Rainier decided to hide from us the entire hike, but s’all good – we were there for the marmots anyway.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora still talks about our marmot hunt last year so she was super excited for this trip. Luckily there were marmots everywhere, so she wasn’t disappointed. Fat marmots, raggedly ol’ skinny marmots, baby marmots, we got ’em all.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Paradise was beautiful even without a big volcano backdrop, and there was definitely a feeling of fall in the air.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

The trees had that autumnal smell that I can’t really describe, and some huckleberry bushes were starting to turn. There was enough of a chill in the air for Nora to put on her adorable little puffy jacket. I see pumpkin spice in our very near future, friends.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

This was such a good family adventure. At one point, Nora turned to me and said “I LOVE hiking in the mountains”, which of course melted my heart.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

(She also said that she loves wet marmots, which means she’s obviously never smelled a wet marmot.)

Nora's Marmot Quest '17
She was so proud of herself for walking most of the steep hills, but the carrier was good to have when she ran out of steam at the end. At some point she’ll have to graduate to feet-only hikes so Lily can use the big carrier, so I’m thinking next summer will be the season of one-mile trails.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

All those steep hills led Nora to actually doze off in the car for once, so we had two glorious minutes or so of complete silence when the girls’ naps overlapped. Aaahhh.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Over the dinner table that night, she was talking a mile a minute about our trip – finding marmots, eating berries, hiking the stairs, stamping Lily’s National Park Passport, forgetting her water bottle in the visitor center bathroom – JK and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I love seeing her so excited, especially now that I know that she remembers things for a looong time. I’m going to remember this one too, kid.

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

Nora's Marmot Quest '17

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Hiking with baby, Teanaway

Stop talking, start doing

We’ve talked (and talked and talked) about taking the girls camping for a while now. We haven’t been since Nora was 8 months old, and even though that trip was a raging success, the thought of being out there with two little kids was frankly kind of terrifying. But sometimes you have to stop talking and just start doing. Those happy summer memories aren’t going to create themselves, dagnabbit!

Camping June 2017

So off we went to our beloved Teanaway. Yes it was hectic (a couple of times, JK and I just looked at each other and said we don’t have enough haaands), our favorite campsite was taken, Lily hardly slept and I slept even less, and when I leaned against a ponderosa pine while nursing, feeling all majestic and nature goddess-like, I was actually rubbing my hair full of tree sap.

Camping June 2017

Camping June 2017

But! We snagged an almost equally awesome site, we had so. much. fun! and, honestly, I was due for a haircut anyway.

Camping June 2017 Camping June 2017

Camping June 2017

I feel like all our adventures this year can be summed up with these sentences: It was a lot of work. I didn’t sleep. It was so much fun. And last but not least: Let’s do it again.

Camping June 2017

Camping June 2017

Highlights: Teaching Nora the ins and outs of, uhm, backcountry hygiene. This was her favorite part too! // Baking bread-on-a-stick over the campfire. // Getting rain and mist and fog instead of the forecasted sun, and then realizing that it didn’t matter because kids don’t actually mind the rain anyway (or maybe that’s just a Pacific Northwest kid thing?) // Lily sleeping in my arms for the first time in forever. Love love love. // Posing Nora’s preschool mascot, Leggo, for photos of his grand adventure. // Both girls sleeping simultaneously for a little while in the morning so JK and I could drink bad instant coffee and just breathe. // Seeing Nora crawl out of the tent at 9:15 with epic bed hair and a giant grin on her face.

Camping June 2017

Let’s do it again!

Camping June 2017 Camping June 2017

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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Lily Meets The Mountain

Lily has been on a whole bunch of little treks around the Watershed and Tiger Mountain, but our first “big” hike as a family of four – snowshoeing on Mount Rainier – was…interesting. Okay, so it was complete chaos from beginning to end.

Paradise Paradise

We were too tired the night before to start packing in advance, and we don’t yet have a routine down for what we need to bring on a toddler + newborn hike, especially in snow. Then Lily woke up too early from her nap and was cranky and overtired, our grocery/nursing stop along the way took far too long, and we pulled into the Paradise parking lot much later than we had anticipated.

Paradise

Paradise

As if we weren’t late enough already, everything takes sooo. damn. long. when there’s one small child for each adult, especially when one child is a totally helpless newborn and the other is a toddler, intent on creating mayhem wherever she goes.

Paradise

When we finally got our snowshoes on and the kids strapped to our bodies, it was so late that we realized we just wouldn’t have time to have the fancy picnic we had planned and still make it back down the mountain before they closed the gate at Longmire at 5pm. Gaah! So we just hiked up to a spot that was relatively sheltered from the wind, dropped our packs, and decided that we were going to have fun no matter what, damnit! And we did.

Paradise

Nora dug into the carrots and hummus with gusto (and refused to wear her sunglasses most of the time, because toddler) and chatted up a storm about how she wants her own crampons and snowshoes and that she’s going to climb Rainier one day just like pappa.

Paradise Paradise
Paradise Paradise

She also rediscovered the joy of glissading!

Paradise

Lily was still overtired and had her crankypants on until I gave her a pacifier in her wrap, and then she melted into my body like butter. It’s pretty much the greatest feeling in the world.

Paradise

Throughout the whole thing, I had Jason Mraz’s Life is Wonderful stuck in my head, and you know what, it really is. I’m so glad we have these girls and each other and these mountains and this life. And I’m so glad I’m in a mental place again where I can look around at the chaos and say, in total honesty, that even a trip like this is worth it. (I could do without the backseat screaming in stereo, though.)

Paradise

So, lessons learned for next time: (1) Write a pack list. (2) Get everything ready the night before. (3) Enjoy the madness. (4) Bring earplugs for the car.

Paradise

Challenge, Hiking, Hiking with baby

Tiger Mountain Torture

Last week, I started getting that antsy feeling – a combo of needing to kick myself into gear now that we’ve fallen into a pretty pleasant routine as a family of four, and of definitely needing to escape the world of increasingly awful news stories coming at us every day. The solution, as always: trails!

First order of business, getting the girls both dressed up in the matching thermals they got from grandma and grandpa for Christmas. Massive cuteness.

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

Since I apparently wanted to go for maximum self-torture, I chose my old friend/nemesis, the Cable Line on Tiger Mountain. It works pretty well for our family since JK and the girls can dawdle around at the foot of the mountain while I climb to the top, so I think this will be my go-to gym this winter. On those extra special toddler days, I’m sure he’ll be working harder than I am, but luckily for me he knows how important this alone time on trail is for me (and subsequently for the whole family).

Cable Line 01

I guess calling the Cable Line a trail is pretty generous; it was as crappy and steep and muddy and eroded as ever, but man did I get a good workout. I reached the top in one of the biggest endorphin highs I have ever experienced to find that (a) it was snowing! and (b) I had made it up in 57 minutes, which is only 11 minutes slower than my PR. Not too shabby considering the past six months plus the fact that this was my first real postpartum hike with any significant elevation gain.

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

I kept the endorphin rush going on the way down the West Tiger 3 trail, listening to an excellent playlist and meeting several women adorned in pussy hats.

Cable Line 01

Back down at the bottom I found a happy JK, a Lily who was just waking up from her nap and was ready to eat (perfectly timed with my arrival so we didn’t have to use a bottle*), and a pooped Nora who wanted to ride “on the mamma pillow” the rest of the way back to the trailhead.

(And then I waddled around all happy but outrageously sore for the next two days.)

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

*Nora wouldn’t take a bottle so this is new, exciting territory for us. For those with experience in on-trail bottle-feeding, do you just serve it really cold or do you heat it somehow? I can’t really come up with a practical way to do so expect for carrying it close to your body.

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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