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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Another Day in Paradise

Can you believe that when I first started hiking, I couldn’t understand why people would hike the same trails over and over again when we have an endless supply to choose from here in WA? Lololol. These days we mostly do the same hikes every year, and life doesn’t seem complete without them.

One of those hikes is our annual winter/spring outing to Paradise on Mount Rainier. I’m proud that we’ve kept that tradition going as we’ve had kids, especially last year when the combination of newborn + toddler made it a special kind of chaos.

Paradise 2018 Paradise Snowshoe 2018

This year, we’ve graduated to toddler + preschooler, and we ended up having the kind of day I used to dream about before we had kids.

Paradise Snowshoe 2018

There were definitely some mini meltdowns, but we are three and a half years into this parenting biz now and can hold our own against the fleeting wrath of a young’un.

Paradise Snowshoe 2018 Paradise Snowshoe 2018

Mostly, it was just so much fun. Nora snowshoed up the first hill all by herself (thank you for the Tubbs kids’ snowshoes, Moosefish!) and she was so proud of herself. Everyone we passed told her how awesome she was doing, and she was just glowing with confidence. She chose to ride the rest of the way in the dad-powered sled, like royalty, but still. Seeing your kids mastering new skills never gets old.

Paradise Snowshoe 2018 Paradise Snowshoe 2018

Lily wants to do everything big sister does, so she wasn’t happy until she got to ride in the sled too.

Paradise Snowshoe 2018

Paradise Snowshoe 2018

We sat down for lunch in our usual spot, just past the Alta Vista knob, and soaked up the sun for a while. While the kids were busy with their sandwiches, I took the time to enjoy the views. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to this side of the mountain now, but I never tire of it. That big, beautiful volcano, the jagged peaks of the Tatoosh. Yes it’s crowded down by the parking lot, but most of the people stay down there. Walk 15 minutes and you lose most of the crowds.

Paradise Snowshoe 2018

Paradise Snowshoe 2018

…and sometimes encountering other hikers isn’t a bad thing, especially when they offer to take your photo and you end up with a snapshot of your all four of you together in a beautiful place at a very happy moment in time.

Paradise Snowshoe 2018

Thank you, Paradise, for living up to your name once again.

Hiking, Hiking with baby

Heybrook Ridge – an almost brand new trail!

We discovered a new-to-us trail in January! And it’s actually a pretty new-in-general trail, too – it was finished in October! It’s called Heybrook Ridge, and it’s on the same ridge as Heybrook Lookout (go figure) near Index along US2.

Heybrook Ridge

I have ambivalent feelings about sharing trail info on social media, but (a) like three people read this blog and (b) I want to get other young families out on trail. This is a perfect hike for families with young children: short, accessible, with a great view from the top (just avert your eyes from the powerlines above you and focus on Mounts Baring and Index and Persis instead).

Heybrook Ridge

I was super happy to find a hike with views like this snow-free in January. We went on a day when JK had the day off but Nora was in preschool so that Lily could get some undivided attention from both parents for once, and she had the time of her life testing her trail legs for the first time – supported for the time being. But we definitely want to go back with Nora, the trail is short enough that she should be able to walk most of it on her own if we bring along enough motivational snacks. Maybe.

Heybrook Ridge | 3.3 miles | 760 feet elevation gain

Heybrook Ridge

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