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Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Can all hikes be like this one?

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Nora has suddenly started sleeping in in the mornings, which is glorious and luxurious and amazing, so we’ve been getting a late start on our hikes. I would rather get that extra snoozage in the morning and deal with starting our hikes at noon, so it’s all good, but it does mean we have to stick to shorter trails in order to enjoy ourselves and still have time to get back home in time for bed. I don’t mind that either – there are lots of gorgeous short trails in this state.

One of those is Tolmie Peak Lookout, which somehow we had never hiked before.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 036

The drive was just long enough for Nora to take a nap in the car (only 20 minutes, but it’s better than nothing), so when we pulled up to Mowich Lake, the whole family was in an excellent mood. On clear days, you can see the top of Mount Rainier peeking out above the hillside, but today she was shy, hiding behind a fig leaf of clouds. No worries – our eyes were busy scanning the bushes for huckleberries anyway.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

After hiking up and down and up again and feasting on an especially tasty patch of hucks along Eunice Lake, we reached the lookout.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

I instantly fell in love with these little mountain goat cutouts. Adorbs!

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We sat down to eat our lunch, resigned to the idea of a volcanoless view, when lo and behold, Mount Rainier decided to reveal herself after all! Nora was very excited.

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Much photography ensued before we decided it was time to put away the camera (for the most part) and just sit down and enjoy it all – the view, the sun, the togetherness. And the huckleberries.

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Nora is one lucky girl to have this as her playground!

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This hike is going on the repeak list for sure.

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After a while, JK couldn’t resist the alluring waters of Eunice Lake anymore, so we packed up and headed down the trail so he could swim.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

I wish I could have joined him, but I had forgotten my spare set of skivvies and there were too many people around to swim in the buff.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Next time, next time.

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Nora fell asleep a couple of minutes after we started hiking again, and snoozed all the way back to Mowich Lake. JK and I put in headphones and cruised along the trail, getting lost in the flow and the tunes. So good.

Tolmie Peak Lookout 256

This time I joined in on the fun and went swimming myself – going commando for the drive home was a small price to pay for the pleasure of a mountain dip.

Nora was obviously the one who should have gone swimming after she discovered the joys of digging in the wet dirt by the lake. Happily, a warm bath was but a car ride (a scream-free, joyful car ride!) away.

Lakes, berries, a lookout, a big, majestic, amazing volcano, huckleberries, naps, a very happy baby. Everything worked out so perfectly! Seriously, can all hikes be like this?

Tolmie Peak Lookout | 7.5 miles | 1100 feet elevation gain –

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Click click click to support me in Washington Trails Association’s Hike-a-Thon!

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Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Hiking with baby

Hike-a-Thon 2015

This is my fifth year participating in Washington Trails Association’s Hike-a-Thon! Every August, hikers from all across Washington sign up to grind out the miles and raise money for WTA to protect and maintain our beloved trails and wild areas.

Lake Valhalla

I usually set a goal for myself, like hiking 100 miles, but 2014 and 2015 have been a little different. Last year, I waddled around as best I could, hitting the trails right up until I went into labor on the very last day of Hike-a-Thon – I had to keep bracing myself against trees along the trail, wondering why my Braxton-Hicks were suddenly so painful that I couldn’t walk through them. Heh.

Lake Valhalla Lake Valhalla

This year, the resulting 11-month old is along for the ride. I’m not setting any goals, except to get out there and introduce Nora to some of our favorite places. Babies love the outdoors, and I want her to keep that feeling with her as she grows up, gaining the kind of confidence you get when being out in nature is, well, second nature.

Lake Valhalla

So this year is not about pushing myself physically or hiking just to hike, it’s simply about being out there, smiling, laughing, singing (endless renditions of Dyrene i Afrika, a Norwegian classic), eating huckleberries, and swimming in mountain lakes, all while helping support my favorite organization in hopes that these places will still be accessible when my baby is all grown up. (Sniff sniff.)

If you want to help support me and Washington Trails Association, click here! And if you would rather donate your time and muscles instead of moneys, you can volunteer on a trail crew – it’s nature’s Crossfit!

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Our first “real” (non-Watershed, non-Tiger) hike after our vacation took us to Lake Valhalla. It’s been so warm here that a trip to our favorite swimming lake was in order…and yeah, the water in this alpine lake was actually noticeably warmer than where we swam by my parents’ summer house in Norway. That probably says more about the summer in Norway than it does about the summer here, but still. Bananas.

Lake Valhalla | 7 miles | 1500 feet elevation gain –

Lake Valhalla

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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 Trips

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 Trips

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