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Hiking with baby

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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier

Fremont Lookout

Back in June, before our trip to Europe, we decided that we needed a really good mountain hike to see us off. Mount Rainier never disappoints, and the trails around Sunrise had melted out early this year, so off to Fremont Lookout we went.

Mama n' Norbert

A miracle occurred on the way to the mountain – Nora slept! In the car!(!!) For over an hour! This was an excellent start to our day since it meant that she was awake and in a fantastic mood for the entire hike – and, importantly, awake for her first marmot sighting!

We had no close encounters of the furry kind this time, but two sentinel whistlepigs, perched high upon their rocks like corpulent gargoyles, watched over us as we made our way toward Frozen Lake.

Fremont Lookout 256

Last time I hiked this trail was almost exactly a month before Nora was born:

34 weeks down, sixish to go!

As much as I loved being pregnant, I must say I prefer carrying her on the outside. Same spot, now with a nine-month old on my back:

Fremont Lookout 026

It was a warm day, but since we were above 7000 feet, there was a definite chill whenever a gust of wind came our way. Along the Lord-of-the-Ringsian traverse to the lookout, we were pummeled by a particularly biting wind. Sometimes I feel like we’re overdressing Nora for hikes, but this time we definitely made the right choice by having her in her elf suit and a fleece hat.

Fremont Lookout

At last we made it across the traverse to Mordor I mean Fremont!

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Another hike, another gorgeous nursing view. I really should compile a photo book. Udderly Beautiful Lactation Locations? Hmm, I’ll work on the name.

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We all enjoyed avocado sandwiches while watching tiny little human ants climbing up the Inter Glacier on their way to summit Mount Rainier.

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Nora discovered ground squirrels and was mesmerized.

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Before we turned around and hiked back to Sunrise, she even got to try her hand as a fire lookout.

Fremont Lookout 180

One thing I’ll always remember about this trip is that Nora cut her 8th tooth while we were on trail. I knew her left central incisor was about to come through, so I checked to see if it was there before we left the car, but nope, nothing. However, when we were back in the car post-hike, there it was! So cute, even though it meant the end of her adorable wonkytoothed phase. These days she’s looking all grown up with her big, toothy grin. Sniff sniff. She’ll be off to college before I know it.

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– Fremont Lookout | 6 miles | 800 feet elevation gain –

Fremont Lookout 234

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Top Trip Reports

Nora the Explorer

Our year of introducing Nora to our favorite trails and places continues! When it comes to Melakwa, it’s definitely more of a favorite place than a favorite trail. I usually visit these lakes when I do the Tuscohatchie loop, so I can’t even remember the last time I hiked the trail back down. It’s pretty rocky and kind of sucks, especially when you’ve become used to the soft, rolling, luxurious trails of the Issaquah Alps. But the destination more than makes up for it – upper Melakwa Lake is one of my Official Happy Places.

Melakwa Lake

The last time I was here, it was just me and Wellie running the Tuscohatchie Loop. I was doing a lot of soul searching, trying to come to terms with the possibility that I might not ever become pregnant. The mountains, the lakes, the sun, the tiger lilies, and one loud marmot were my therapists that day (and on so many others). By the end of my run, I was so high on endorphins that I knew I would be able to handle whatever the universe sent my way.

Melakwa Lake

Thankfully, the mountain gods chose to send us this wonderful little creature. I can’t quite describe the feelings I experience when I return to a place like this with Nora in tow. “All the feels” will have to suffice.

Melakwa Lake

Normally I wouldn’t even be able to get to Melakwa in May (without an ice axe and a sizable pair of ‘nads), but thanks to the low snow this year, it looks like mid-July up there. The parking lot was overflowing by the time we reached the trailhead at 9, but the trail is long enough that it didn’t feel crowded, especially once were past the Slippery Slab which is the destination for most of the families with older kids. That’ll be us in a couple of years, but for now we’re enjoying being able to do regular hikes with a non-ambulatory baby on our backs.

Melakwa Lake

Once we popped out of the woods, we just got roasted in the sun. We worried that Nora would be too hot, but the thin wool layer she was wearing seemed to keep her pretty comfortable. I’m definitely on the lookout for a thin, breezy set of hiking clothes for her for the summer though, something that will protect her from the sun and bugs but still keep her coolish on sweltering days.

Melakwa Lake

She woke up a little while before we got to the lake, and was very…vocal about not wanting to be in her carrier anymore. Luckily she cheered up once we got to the lake, and after eating lunch and getting a fresh diaper, she turned into the happiest baby ever.

Melakwa Lake

Nora <3 Wellie

Melakwa Lake

Whenever we hike with Nora, I go into it with low expectations of how much time we’ll actually get to spend at our destination, but she was happy as a clam hanging out by the lake. I think she likes watching the water. This bodes well for the summer ahead.

Melakwa Lake

Most people seemed to stop at the first lake, so my favorite best-seat-in-the-house rock was available for lunch and playtime. I even got some relaxing done, once I was able to stop manically taking photos of Nora whenever she did something adorable.

Melakwa Lake Melakwa Lake

Once Nora started showing some sleep cues (she always begins by subtly grabbing her ear, which quickly escalates to rubbing her eyes and yawning), we packed up and headed back down so she could nap in the carrier. We put in headphones so we could listen to music while she slept, then hiked back to the trailhead, all smiles (except for intermittent grumbles from me whenever I would trip over a rock and curse the fact that I hadn’t brought hiking poles).

Best baby hike yet, rocks and all.

Melakwa Lake

– Melakwa Lake | 9 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –

Melakwa Lake

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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Teanaway, Top Trip Reports

Mother’s Day Weekend Part Deux: Iron Peak

First of all, before I forget: the Teanaway Road is in excellent condition right now, I have truly never seen it smoother. So go, go!

After having breakfast in camp and getting ready for the day, Nora was overdue for her morning nap. We drove over to the Iron Peak trailhead and got Nora all saddled up in her new ride, the Osprey Poco Plus. Now for the big question – would she sleep in that thing? Dun dun DUUUUN.

Let's do dis

The answer is yes, oh yes. She slept better than she does in the Ergo! In order to let her get the best sleep possible, we put on headphones and listened to some tunes as we hiked instead of talking. I forgot how refreshing it feels to listen to music when you’re all endorphin-high in the mountains.

New pack = snooze success

The only problem with the new pack was that Nora’s sun hat kept falling off, leaving her face and her delicate little skull exposed to the intense Teanaway sun. I didn’t tie the hat under her chin since she kept nodding her head forward to sleep and I didn’t want her to be strangled, but maybe I’m not giving her enough credit now that she’s not a helpless little lump of a newborn anymore. Any tips on how to deal with this situation?

Pretty trail

The trail switchbacked up, up, up as it always does, but it all seemed to just fly by. We kept a good pace, and I was in this giddy state of flow were the world was all glacier lilies and Rainier views and moving legs and a chubby, sleeping baby ahead of me on trail – the cutest dangling carrot ever.

No no no no

Once we reached the saddle, the blue skies and hot sun were replaced by a high cloud cover and a biting wind, so we retreated leeward to get Nora changed and fed while protected from the elements. Apparently milk is no longer a sufficient hiking snack for her, so she supplemented with some trees.

Approaching the summit

We added a wool suit and a warm hat to Nora’s ensemble, plus some stylish sunglasses to protect her eyes from the snow glare, then made our way up toward the summit.

JK, (Nora,) Stuart

The snow level this year is ridiculously low (considering we were hiking Iron a full month before we usually do it), but there was enough of it to be all postholey and annoying. On the way down, I elected to glissade even though I was wearing shorts, because snow up the butt is preferable to repeatedly postholing up to your knees and scraping the bejesus out of your legs. (I have to wear a dress to meet the King, fer chrissakes!)

Ridgewalk

Apart from the postholes, I loved being up on Iron again. We’ve gone every year since 2010 (except last year, because ow), and it never gets old. We usually hike it for my birthday, but since we might not have time for that this year, Mother’s Day was the perfect backup.

Happy hiker

Nora wanted to partake of her father’s summit libations, but had to make do with more milk and some pilfered bits and pieces of our soggy banana sandwiches.

Like father like daughter

We signed the summit register, snapped photos, took in the panoramic views, and just hung out until Nora started to fuss. She definitely needed a longer nap, so we packed up and headed down.

Iron Peak, now with babby

Nora slept from summit to car. Whoa. And we didn’t see a single other human on trail the whole day. Whoa.

She napped the whole way down

Best Mother’s Day ever. Okay, so it’s also my only Mother’s Day ever, but still.

Iron Peak | 7 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain –

First Mother's Day <3

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Hiking with baby, Teanaway

Mother’s Day Weekend Part Une: Camping

My first Mother’s Day! I’m a mom! I still can’t believe it sometimes.

Mother’s Day has never been a big deal in our family, but I’ve started acknowledging it now in order to get to decide how we spend the weekend. Moahahaha. This year, I wanted to go camping.

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

Problem one: We hit the first snafu pretty early on in the planning process when we realized there was no way we were going to be able to fit our dogs in the car along with Nora and all our camping crap. Luckily a friend agreed to watch Wellie and Basil, but for next time, we’re probably going to have to get one of those rooftop ski boxes or something so we have enough room to bring the boys. They love camping too!

Shooting stars in camp

Problem two: Sleep. Sleep sleep sleep. Since Nora is used to sleeping in her own room, we decided to bring some sort of enclosure for her to snooze in. We settled on a Peapod portable bed (henceforth to be known as Podrick) that would let her have her own space but still fit between us in our little backpacking tent. It would also keep her from getting into any sort of mischief in the tent when she’s there alone, since she goes to bed before us, and when we do bring the dogs along, Podrick will protect Nora from being trampled by pointy Italian Greyhound legs.

Playing in Podrick while we pack up camp

Bringing Podrick along paid off right away – Nora had a safe, bug-free place to hang out and play while we were busy setting up camp. She even played by herself in there while we grabbed lunch and got some reading done! I highly recommend getting one of these for camping or beach trips with small humans.

Too excited to nap!

Unfortunately, Nora wouldn’t nap in Podrick. Before we had a baby, I thought night sleep was the thing to worry about – I had no idea what a pain in the ass naps can be. Decent naps make the difference between Happiest Baby in the Universe and Cranky Gremlin. Nora won’t nap in the car, either (it’s happened like, say, three times), so driving inevitably turns into an overtired screamfest.

DeRoux trail (nap hike)

This drive was no exception, and by the time we made it to our campsite along the Teanaway River, she was overdue for a nap. I think the campsite was just too full of new, exciting things for her to fall asleep, so we went to the nearest trailhead and hiked for a while so she could sleep in the Ergo.

She’s a very light sleeper (the one thing this little JK-clone definitely inherited from me), so her naps in the carrier are nowhere as good as her crib naps – she wakes up the second I stop moving – but they’re definitely better than nothing. Of course the DeRoux Trail was full of downed trees that I had to climb over without waking Nora up, for which I surely deserve some sort of hurdling medal.

oh hai

Once Nora woke up, we looked for morels (we found four tiny ones, which JK unfortunately incinerated in the campfire while cooking dinner) and stumbled across a rubber boa – very cool!

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

Back in camp, life was good. We had storytime, I showed Nora the creek, the river, and the thick, fragrant ponderosa bark, and kept her from eating all the different woodland things.

Story time

Then it was time for Nora’s first campfire. Maybe she’ll get s’mores next year. And stick bread!

Camp

After the failed nap attempts, I was worried that Nora wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, either. Luckily, she has such a strong biological urge to fall asleep for the night between 6 and 7 that it was not a problem. We bundled her up in a wool base layer, fleece pajamas, and a thick fleece snowsuit, then put her in the same sleep sack she usually wears at home. It stayed warmer than usual (even though this was a month before our normal Teanaway camping trip!) and the snowsuit hood was nice and cozy, so we skipped the hat.

Nora asleep in Podrick

With lil’ Norbert fast asnooze, JK and I proceeded to just veg out by the campfire, eating and reading. I’m obsessively plowing through Carrot Quinn’s Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart right now, reading whenever I find the time. It is so, so good. And now the book smells like campfire, which seems appropriate.

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

We went to bed early – I think we both expected Nora to wake up a bajillion times that night – and I slept like a rock until 1 AM, when I woke up and made sure my little camper wasn’t too cold. Or too warm. And that she was still breathing. It was like being the parent of a newborn again.

Morning zzzz

Nora usually sleeps until 5-6, eats a little bit, then goes back to sleep until 7 or so, but this time she woke up at 4. I fed her, then decided to snuggle with her the rest of the night. I should have thought about what a light sleeper she is (cosleeping has never worked for us), because she woke up at 5:30 when I made the slightest little movement, and there was just no getting her back to sleep. Yawn. I think we would have gotten at least another hour if I had just put her back in the pod…but then I would have missed out on those cuddles, so it was worth it. Mostly.

Marsupials

The morning was crisp and cool until the sun climbed over the ridge to warm us, so we hung out in the tent for a while before making hot soup and coffee (and a whole banana for Nora). We ate breakfast all snuggled up under my sleeping bag, and then Nora amused herself by banging a titanium cup against the chair while we relaxed. Aaahh.

I’ll admit I came into this weekend expecting the worst, but we really did have a wonderful time. When it comes to babies, pretty much everything you do involves more work and less sleep, but also more fun.

Bundled up Happy camper

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Challenge, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Issaquah Alps

Week One

Can all weekends be like this one? On Friday night we had Qdoba and finally got around to watching Wild, which was way better than I thought it would be (great soundtrack, too). On Saturday, Nora turned eight months – where does the time even go?? She celebrated by watching her dad play a soccer match, then we had more Qdoba and a visit from a friend. On Sunday, we went hiking in beautiful weather, had Veggie Grill for lunch, and ended the weekend with Game of Thrones. Lots of little moments that added up to perfection.

The makings of a moste excellent Friday night. Finally watching Wild! #qdoba 8 months! She celebrated by watching her pappa win his soccer match and playing with her Italian beau. She was awake for five hours straight without any fussing!! Sometimes I think I have post-colic stress disorder need to remember that we can actually go places now without epic meltdowns and hearing loss. Go baby go!
InstagramCapture_cc921ca6-5428-4904-9c16-78f17b8ce08e #veggiegrill - as if this weekend wasn't already perfect. And now: Game of Thrones!! *hums theme*

The whole week was good, actually. Between watching Fed Up and reading Natural Born Heroes, I’ve had no shortage of motivation. Natural Born Heroes is Chris McDougall’s new book, and just like Born to Run, I can. Not. Put. It. Down… Except that I have to, because there’s this tiny human who keeps demanding my attention. The nerve! Anyhoo, it’s getting me excited about running around and playing in the woods. And rethinking how I do my strength workouts. And strengthening my no-chocolate resolve.

Happily awake again

As far as my challenge goes, I’ll list the good and the bad. Let’s start with the bad so I can end on a high note.

The Bad:

Only one strength session | I was all excited after that first one on Monday, but then Wednesday didn’t happen because I prioritized coffee and general sloth, and Friday didn’t happen because of a nap malfunction.

No running | Oops. No excuses there.

I still really suck at meditating | And when I did try to meditate to sleep better, I just ended up feeling more awake. Meditation just isn’t for me, so I’m glad that part of the challenge is over. I’ll stick with mindful walking in order to feel centered instead.

The Good:

I’m totally rocking this no sugar thing | Every other time I’ve tried to deprive myself like this, I immediately go all rabid and devour all the things, but it just feels different this time. In fact it feels so good that I’ve decided to extend the no added sugar rule until May 17, which is Norway day (and one simply can’t not have Norwegian chocolate on Norway day). I’ve learned that (a) my chocolate cravings are directly related to how tired I am and (b) I’m really addicted to having something sweet with my morning coffee, but a date paired with a couple of walnuts satisfies that craving.

Excellent walks with Nora | Even without any running, I managed to cover 20 miles this week just by walking and hiking with Nora. The best workout was on Thursday, when I packed a picnic lunch and carried Nora on my front, pack on my back, 6.5 miles round trip on hilly local trails so we could hang out in a park. We’ll be doing that again for sure.

Cougar Mountain loop

We knew we definitely wanted to go hiking on Sunday, but we were feeling unmotivated to travel far and deal with potentially not even being able to find parking. The easily accessible trails (with good views) have been so crowded lately that it’s becoming a problem. We decided to just head on over to Cougar Mountain and do a five-mile loop there. We didn’t get any in-your-face mountain views, but we hiked in virtual solitude with green, green, green all around us. I’ll take it.

Cougar Mountain loop