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Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2017

I definitely focused on running rather than hiking this year. There were many many trips to Tiger, Cougar, the Watershed, and St. Edwards. It’s hard to pick a favorite here, but my first time back on the Cable Line after Lily was born got me the biggest endorphin high on my life. I don’t have a good photo of that one, so here’s one of me meeting up with Nora and the rest of the gang after running the Shy Bear loop instead.

The winter of 2017 was very special since JK was home on paternal leave the entire time. So it was special, but also exhausting, because newborn. Getting everyone bundled up and into the car to go on adventures was kind of a production at this point (okay, it’s still kind of a production, honestly), but one of our favorite things to do to get a sense of adventure was to drive into Seattle, pick up food to go at Veggie Grill, and then have a picnic in Discovery Park.

20170319_134912 Discovery Park

I was so proud that we were able to get out for a family snowshoe on Mount Rainier in February. It was so chaotic (and loud) getting there, but once everyone calmed down and I could enjoy the sun on my face (that must have been our only day of sunshine all winter, surely?) and that big volcano? So worth it.

Last year I entered the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study, and found out that Dr. Joel Fuhrman was going to have a talk in Port Townsend. We rented a house on the peninsula and spent a couple of days exploring the area, including our first visit ever to Hurricane Ridge. We couldn’t see a thing, but we had so much fun playing with Nora in the snow.

Paradise Weekend in Sequim

In May, we took another family trip to Winthrop so I could run the Sun Mountain 25K. The morning after the race, we went for a family hike on the trails next to Sun Mountain Lodge, and that night I went for a solo run on Mount Patterson in the golden hour. Best run of my life! Being out there in the sun felt like our prize after getting through the rainiest Seattle winter/spring on record.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017 Patterson Mountain run

My second favorite run this year? The Melakwa loop! I hadn’t run this since before getting pregnant with Nora. Turns out it’s even more fun when you’re in good (for me) shape.

We went back to Paradise in summer to look for marmots. It was so much less hectic than our winter outing. Nora hiked most of the little loop herself, we saw tons of adorable marmots, and we just had pure fun – that’s not always a given when you adventure with a three-year old and a baby. These are the days I want to remember forever.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017 Nora's Marmot Quest '17

In August, JK took a random afternoon off and we took Lily for a hike to Poo Poo Point while Nora was in preschool. Shh, don’t tell her! As much as we love those family outings, sometimes it’s nice to be able to hike and actually talk about adult things.

…which is exactly what we got to do when my parents came to visit and we joined our first outing with the Thursday Night Afterburners in forever! As luck would have it, the hike that was scheduled for the one day we were able to go was my favorite TNAB destination: Rampart Ridge. It was perfect in every way.

Poo Poo with Lil' Lil Date night

While my parents were here, we also got to celebrate Nora’s birthday on the Naches Peak Loop! We brought cake, balloons, and party hats. It rocked. I made the whole family fill out little interview tags for my December Daily album this year, and both JK and Nora said that this was their favorite memory from 2017.

As summer turned to fall, we went to Twin Lakes with some friends. I didn’t expect anything special from this one, but hot damn it was gorgeous. Sunny and crisp, gorgeous fall colors, mountain views and a really pretty little lake. All good things.

Nora turns three! Twin Lakes

In October, I ran the Oregon Coast 30K with very low expectations and ended up loving every bit of it. Yet another excellent family getaway.

Back in Washington, autumn never seemed to end – best October ever. We hiked up the ski slope on the PCT at Snoqualmie Pass to Beaver Lake, and Nora impressed us with her hiking legs.

Oregon Coast 30K Beaver Lake

We also visited the Middle Fork for the first time. I was not expecting these kinds of views from this little riverside trail.

After Nora’s fabulous mountain birthday, Lily deserved something equally pretty – a snowshoe celebration at Gold Creek Pond! It was a great way to take advantage of the strange drought we had this December.

Middle Fork Lily's First Birthday

In December I also ran the Deception Pass 25K – I could not have asked for better weather. I’ll write more about this one soon.

I know people love to hate the Cable Line, but whaddya know, it ended up twice on my favorites list this year. My parents came back again for Christmas, and JK and I took advantage of the babysitter time to go running together. Our snowy trip to Tiger Mountain was absolutely fabulous. We’re going to try to make room for more runs together in 2018.

Deception Pass 25K Cable Line Loop Date

Hiking, Hiking with baby, Top Trips

A Tale of Two Birthdays

Lily turned one (what??) on Black Friday, but she was so miserable with four molars coming in that frankly none of us were in the mood to celebrate quite yet. Our baby deserved to actually be able to enjoy her cake, dagnabbit!

Fast-forward to yesterday, when Lily was back to her happy, normal self, the sun decided to make a mysterious December appearance in Washington, and JK was able to take some time to give our little girl the birthday she deserved.

Lily's First Birthday

Of course we had to go to the mountains. Man, even the drive was gorgeous.

Lily's First Birthday Lily's First Birthday
Lily's First Birthday Lily's First Birthday

We hiked the two minutes (for reals) to Gold Creek Pond, our trusty old destination for when we desperately want views but have no idea how long the preschooler will last.

Lily's First Birthday

Lily definitely enjoyed her cake, both as a meal and as a face mask.

Lily's First Birthday

I cannot believe she is already one. I thought Nora’s first year flew by, but that was nothing compared to this. I could have used some more sleep, but it has been such an honor, a privilege, a joy to get to know this affectionate, smart, hilarious, easygoing girl.

Lily's First Birthday

And of course Nora hit the big sis jackpot with cake and a ride in the sled.

Lily's First Birthday

This might have to be her main transportation on snowy hikes this season).

Lily's First Birthday Lily's First Birthday

Nora had her own mountain birthday this year when she turned three!

Nora turns three!

This was back in early September, when it was hotter than the dickens and we wore swimsuits instead of snowshoes.

Nora turns three! Nora turns three!

My parents were visiting, and we packed the car full of cake and balloons and headed to Naches Peak Loop, another short-but-glorious family favorite.

Nora turns three!

Nora’s favorite part was swimming in the little tarn, of course.

Nora turns three!

I can’t believe Lily is one, and I definitely can’t believe Nora is three (except I kind of can, whenever that whole threenager thing rears its ugly head). This girl is feisty and hilarious, so smart, and fully bilingual at this point. She speaks English with a thick Norwegian accent, which is just about the cutest thing ever when it comes out of the mouth of a three-year old.

Nora turns three!

Nora and Lily, I love you both so much. Thank you so much for happily indulging us in our mountain baby fantasies – hopefully this brainwashing will work long-term.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, TNAB

The ultimate date night

I have a vague recollection of bragging online about the fact that Lily had started sleeping through the night. As any parent knows, the second one dares utter those words, the shit hits the fan in a major way, and illness or teeth or just general babyness swoops in to mess you up and leave you exhausted and probably take years off your life.

This is all to say that my parents’ visit could not have come at a better time. Raising two very young kids without any family around can be incredibly hard at times, and we really needed some kid-free time to just feel like ourselves again. Our first date night since Lily was born was spent at Cafe Flora, of course, but the next night we went big – we went to TNAB.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

…because there’s nothing quite as relaxing as hiking really fast straight uphill and scrambling up mountains and then turning around and doing the entire thing in reverse in the dark. Yay TNAB!

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Okay, so it might not be relaxing, but it’s definitely refreshing.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And when it’s been a while since you’ve had a big mountain adventure, a night like this will make you feel incredibly high on life.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

There were delicious huckleberries, a distant marmot sighting, and reunions with old friends.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And – this part is super-cool – hiking straight uphill just isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Man alive, I wish I had been in this kind of shape back when we used to TNAB regularly.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

I could not wipe the smile off my face.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Rampart Ridge has always been my favorite TNAB destination, and I thank the mountain gods for lining up my parents’ visit to coincide with this very hike.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

(Interestingly, I was less comfortable with scrambling than I used to be. I guess it just comes down to lack of exposure? I mean I’ve always been afraid of heights, but I had tamed it to a certain degree before Nora was born…but I haven’t done anything like this since 2013. I’m out of practice.)

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Wearing my Progress not Perfection tank to celebrate all the strides I’ve made these past couple of years – taking charge of my health, parenting…neither will ever be perfect, but I think I am doing pretty damn good anyway.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Especially if we can continue getting some time off here and there. We’ve been good about getting our separate alone time after Lily was born, but kid-free adventures together like this never happen. Maybe it’s time to look into getting a regular babysitter.

Date night

This is the absolute best kind of date night.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

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

Health, Hiking, Me

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, I was a totally different person. There aren’t that many photos of me from that time because, well, let’s just say I preferred to be behind the camera. Ten years ago was also 65+ pounds ago.

I don’t remember much of my life back then, partly because – thankfully – it feels like a lifetime ago, but mostly because it wasn’t much of a life at all. I remember staying up all night because I just couldn’t sleep during those bleak, dark hours, then crawling into bed in the early morning, staying there until noon or sometimes even until JK came home from work. Almost never getting out of the house, and not for my normal homebody/introvert reasons, but due to crippling social anxiety and near-constant migraines. Subsisting on a diet of faux-meat “chicken” nuggets, fries, potato chips, Pepsi, and chocolate. Trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise, because dear lord that would have been a shit show. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone a little baby.

2007 was the year that changed so many things for me, all set in motion by that one backpacking trip to Shi Shi Beach, which I somehow, stepping way, way out of my comfort zone, agreed to go on. (Thank you Tom and Amy for reaching out and making it happen!) That adventure sparked a fire in me that hasn’t stopped burning since. Right when I needed it the most, along came this whole new world of fresh air, jaw-dropping views, endorphins, sunshine, and new, like-minded friends. It got me interested in life again. I set goals for myself. I felt immense pride in myself when I reached those goals. I started appreciating my body for the things it allowed me to do.

Within a month and a half of that trip to Shi Shi, JK and I had visited Mount Rainier, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks. We went to Noble Knob for the first time, gobsmacked by the sight of Mount Rainier lit up bright pink at sunrise. Talk about finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Slowly but surely we hiked more and more trails, and I lost more and more weight. That fall, I couldn’t even make it halfway up the trail to Poo Poo Point because I legit thought I was going to have a heart attack, but the following summer, we backpacked to Jade Lake and the Enchantments. We started taking adventurous vacations. We got hooked on trail running. We climbed volcanoes. We finally had our wonderful babies and are continuing our life on trail, albeit a little differently these days.

This trail hasn’t been without its fair share of setbacks (or should I say switchbacks?). I still tend toward depression if I don’t take care of myself, but it’s no longer a constant, towering presence in my life. Sometimes, back in the day, hiking itself brought out some of my old tendencies – my big depression problem of not feeling like I was good enough would come up whenever I hiked with a group of faster, stronger people (in other words, most other people). But over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons why I feel so happy in the mountains is because I feel competent out there. I feel like I know what I’m doing. That’s not a feeling I’ve experienced much in my life, especially now that we’ve entered the ever-changing world of parenting (does anyone feel like they know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to parenting?), so it’s more important than ever that I keep getting out there, finding myself on trail.

Poo Poo Point 2017 St Edward 2017

Anyway, this was just a long-winded way to say, well, it’s been a great ten years, trails. Let’s have many, many more.