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Hiking with baby

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Hiking with baby, Top Trips

Turtlehead Overlook

In news that should come as a surprise to no one, chasing after a toddler all day is mentally exhausting. There are so many good bits at this age – so much laughter, cool new skills, incredible cuteness – but after spending the entire day attempting to navigate the volatile emotional landscape of a small human and generally trying to keep her from killing herself, I inevitably end up on the couch, brain fried to a crisp, mindlessly watching television. Hence the lack of blogging lately. I want to change this! I like blogging! So here I am.

Anyway, back to Orcas Island. I woke up the morning after the race pretty sore and waddly, so we decided we should go for a hike to loosen up the ol’ legs a bit. But Nora was still sleeping. We got up and made breakfast, and she was still sleeping. We sat down and read and had coffee and admired the view from our rental house, and she was still sleeping. Until 9:45! That’s FIFTEEN HOURS! Apparently race day took a lot out of her, too.

Orcas Island 25K

At that point, we decided we might as well go have brunch first and hike afterwards, so we drove to Doe Bay Cafe and had our best restaurant-dining-with-small-child experience yet (except for the time we had pizza in Grado). I guess that’s what happens after you sleep for fifteen hours straight.

Orcas Island 25K

After stuffing ourselves full of delicious beans and vegetables, we drove to the other side of the island to hike to Turtlehead Overlook. Our habit of picking hikes based on the name alone (hi, Noble Knob!) paid off again, because this was an unexpected treat.

Turtlehead Overlook

The start of the hike was an unremarkable walk up an old road, but when we forked off into the woods, it was like we were walking in some sort of magical wonderland, gnomes and fairies hiding behind every moss-covered rock. Unfortunately Nora must be terrified of fairies, because she would not. stop. screaming. You can’t win ’em all. Luckily there was no one else on the trail.

Turtlehead Overlook

The overlook was gorgeous, a little piece of Ireland hidden away in the San Juans. Gorgeous. I can’t believe I had never heard about this hike before! We didn’t linger, due to the wind and the aforementioned screaming, but we have to go back there at some point. What a gem.

Turtlehead Overlook

Turtlehead Overlook

The next morning my legs were back to normal, which either means that the Turtlehead fairies worked some sort of sweet magic on me or that maybe I could have pushed myself much harder during the race after all. And Nora slept in again, for an excellent ending to our long weekend getaway.

Turtlehead Overlook | 5.7 miles | 1300 feet elevation gain –

Turtlehead Overlook

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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, Running, 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.)