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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.



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.


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.


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!


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.


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.)


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.


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.

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.

Cabin Trip, Hiking, Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier Babymoon | Suntop Lookout

Our plan for our last vacation day was to hike to Noble Knob on the way home, but between the heat (90 degrees, where did that come from??) and me finally respecting that I need to stop underestimating formerly easy hikes while pregnant, we decided to just have a picnic at Suntop Lookout instead.

Suntop Lookout Suntop Lookout

We had never been to this fire lookout before, even though you can drive right up to it. It felt like cheating to get that view for nothing!

Suntop Lookout

The lookout is manned by volunteers in the summer (it’s such a popular gig that they have a lottery to get in), so we chatted with the hosts for a bit and let Nora explore. She’s been to several fire lookouts before, but this is the first one she’s been inside. She was pretty excited.

Suntop Lookout

When the girls are a little older, we’ll have to go sleep in a lookout again.

Suntop Lookout

After exploring indoors, we sat down in front of the lookout to have lunch in front of that majestic mountain we love so much. It’s probably going to be a while before we get up close and personal with Rainier again (hopefully we’ll manage a snowshoeing excursion to Paradise when my postpartum body feels ready to venture out on snow and we feel brave enough to do something like that with two kids?), so I’m so happy we finally stopped procrastinating and went on this cabin trip. It was the perfect babymoon setting for this mountain girl.

Suntop Lookout

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