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Issaquah Alps

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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

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Challenge, Hiking, Issaquah Alps, Running

This Shy Bear is coming out of hibernation

When we took Nora to Cougar Mountain to hike the Shy Bear Loop back in February, I really started feeling the urge to run. That loop is one of my favorite lowland routes to run, and as much as I enjoy walking it, I really, really wanted to just gun it along those rolling hills without a care in the world, fueled on by a manic endorphin rush…and then I immediately felt guilty for longing for something that didn’t involve Nora, like I was cheating on her or something.

I realize how ridiculous that sounds, especially since I spend all day every day with Nora and can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve left the house without her. I’ve always felt that it’s incredibly important for parents to maintain their own lives and interests outside of the kid realm (mommy martyrs are the worst), but now that I’m the parent* in question, it doesn’t feel right. I think it might have something to do with the fact that we wanted a baby so badly, and now that we have that awesome baby, it feels wrong to want some of the things I associate with my old life, when I was desperate to become pregnant.

Coal Creek Falls

The thing is, I know it’s healthier for all of us if I have a life outside of motherhood – especially when that life makes me all happy and chill and fulfilled – so I am going to work on pursuing some goals of my own, starting with running. I want to run some of my old classics this summer, like the Rattlesnake Traverse and the Melakwa Loop, and I also signed up for Beat the Blerch in September (just the 10k, because it’s flat – that means I won’t have any hills I can use as an excuse to walk).

Now that it’s still light out after Nora goes to bed, I can run in the evenings, and I am also going to take better advantage of weekends when JK is home. Also, the next time we visit Shy Bear, I’ll run while JK hikes with Nora…she deserves some good alone time with her pappa anyway.

I need to remember that I’m still me, I just also happen to be a mother now.

On the Shy Bear Loop

*HOLY SHIT I’M A PARENT

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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Issaquah Alps

Baby’s first Poo Poo

Nora is almost five months old – seriously, where does the time go? – so we were overdue for her first hike to Poo Poo Point. We drove to Issaquah on Sunday and, along with 93% of the Washington population, attempted to find a parking spot along the paraglider landing field.

Let’s just say it took a while…which we really should have considered beforehand, since it was a Sunday. And sunny. And 60 degrees. In January.

Woodland babywearing

Dude, for reals, it was 60 degrees! In January!! I was massively overdressed in long running tights and a long-sleeved shirt, all black of course. Nora ended up hiking (as in being carried by dad) in just her wool unders, and even that ended up being a little too warm for her. She was a champ, though, staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the big trees until she fell asnooze in the Ergo.

I was kind of a champ, too. 1700 feet of elevation gain isn’t much, but it was the most I had done since June, when SPD got the better of me. I was prepared for it to massively suck, but it just felt good. Really, really good.

Norbert!

Nora woke up just in time for a snack and some playtime at the north launch point, then spent the rest of our lunch break sitting on my lap and just staring at all the people and all the dogs. I like to think she was admiring the view, too.

She even got to try paragliding!

Nora wanted to try paragliding too

The Mountain was out. Aaahh.

Why hello there

This was an amazing day. Now that we’re out of the fourth trimester and car rides aren’t traumatizing anymore, we’ll hopefully get to hit the trails a little more often. We’ve been hiking the hell out of our local trails, but I’m feeling ready for some mountainous terrain again. (There, I just jinxed this crazy weather we’ve been having and now it’ll be pouring down rain until July.)

Aaaw She's the best
Nora's first Poo Poo Point silhouette Feels good to be back on this trail

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Baby, Hiking with baby, Issaquah Alps

Notes from the cocoon

Nora’s birth was even more emotional than I had thought it would be. My grandmother had passed away two days before, so there were huge, sad, bittersweet, circle-of-life type feelings swirling around in me on top of the all-encompassing love I felt the second I laid eyes on Nora.

Our bodies are pretty amazing things. I keep looking at this wonderful little creature and thinking we made her? From scratch? This perfect little being? Man, I love her. The birth itself was wonderful – I know it’s easy to say that now, since all memories of pain just evaporated the second I saw my baby, but I truly feel lucky that I was able to have the exact experience I was hoping for.

<3

On Labor Day we went for a hike on Tiger Mountain to pick mushrooms, and I started feeling some contractions. I assumed it was just a continuation of the false labor symptoms I had been having all weekend (False Labor Day, I called it) and was somewhat in denial about the fact that they hurt much more than Braxton-Hicks when we were in the car on the way home. They were strong enough to wake me up in the early morning the next day, and a couple hours later, it finally dawned on me that wait, I think this is the real thing! I was only 38 weeks and 2 days along, so even though I suspected she would come early, I thought I had more time.

I got in the tub, which felt amazing all through labor (along with having warm water sprayed on my lower back and an ice cold washcloth covering my eyes, which allowed me to retreat into an introverted pain cave of sorts, where all that existed during contractions was myself and the music I had on – I realized early on that what I really needed to focus on to get through labor was to stay calm and avoid getting caught in the panic spiral of doom), and then we went to the hospital when the contractions got closer together. JK kept our families updated, and at 11:25 PM, just about the time when our people were starting their work days back home in Norway, little Nora made her appearance.

Happiest moment ever

– Full birth story here –

If you’re local, I highly recommend the midwifery clinic at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland. The midwives provide excellent prenatal care and support during delivery, and you have the added peace of mind of delivering in a hospital, with operating rooms and a NICU right there in case something should happen. Evergreen is also a certified baby-friendly hospital (the very first hospital to get certified in this country!), so you can get all the help and support you’ll need for breastfeeding.

Little Babysaurus

I have never taken care of a newborn before, but Nora made the transition pretty easy for us. She’s been a very happy baby so far, and her Dunstan Baby Language skills are great, especially “neh!” (feed me, peasant!), “eh!” (burp me, peasant!), “heh-heh-heh” (I’m uncomfortable and probably working on a diaper present for you, peasant!). She’s also added her own word to the vocabulary: “flarn! flarn!” (how dare you undress me, peasant?!) – my only issue is lack of sleep, which obviously comes with the territory. It’s not really Nora’s fault, it’s just that I have always been a horrible sleeper, and feeding and changing her at night wakes me up so much that it can easily take 1-2 hours for me to fall back asleep, which is extremely annoying when sleep is pretty much the only thing I need right now. Oh well, it’ll get better.

First hike!

So far, we’ve taken Nora out on two hikes on Tiger Mountain to pick chanterelles, but other than that, my interest in hiking seems to have disappeared completely these days. Five weeks in, all I want to do (except sleep, natch) is just to snuggle with this perfect little creature in our cozy little nest at home. I’m sure my love of mountains will prevail, and when it does, I’ll post more updates. Apart from this initial post, I don’t think I’ll want to post much about Nora except for hiking-with-a-baby type updates, since a) this is a hiking blog and b) Nora didn’t sign up to be blog material. This will admittedly be hard, because she is obviously the most amazing baby ever and I want to share all the cute things she does, but I’ll do my best.

(How can I not share things like this themed mushrooming outfit??)

Themed outfit

In the meantime, my little lady and I will stay swaddled here in our little cocoon, simply enjoying life.

My little loaf in a basket

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Hiking, Issaquah Alps, Pregnancy

Little adventures

I know a lot of people love to hate the Issaquah Alps, but I have really grown fond of them over the last couple of years. I wonder if some of the negativity stems from the fact that a lot of people only visit these wooded gems on crappy days in the middle of winter and never get to experience how lovely they can be in the summer and fall.

I think I could be perfectly happy and content if for some reason I was only allowed to hike and run on Cougar and Tiger the rest of my life (this attitude will probably serve me well over the next couple of years when bigger adventures will be harder to execute). I’ve experienced some amazing moments of peace and flow and wild endorphin rushes on those little mountains, and I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the trails that are available.

Trillium Endorphwin Cougar Mountain convert Turning purple

I finally managed to convert JK into a Cougar Mountain fanboy a couple of weeks ago on an evening hike/run in the AA Peak area. It was his first time seeing the trails all greened-up for late spring, and that huge grin stayed glued to his face the entire night.

Unfortunately, I think this trip was my last attempt at running this pregnancy. It just didn’t feel good as I was doing it (especially downhill, the whole pelvic area felt unstable). I switched to walking pretty early on, but I was still rewarded with a several days of extra grumpy round ligaments, to the point where it was keeping me up at night. I’ll stick with walking from now on.

Powerline Trail Run among the fuzzies Wellie plays hide and seek with the rabbits Treeglow

Speaking of walking, the pups and I have really upped our daily strolls lately – partly due to the sheer magnetic force of the gorgeous, green spring trails, but mostly due to the fact that I have completely weaned myself off Diclegis, and fresh air and exercise is doing a fairly good job of taking care of the remaining morning sickness.

Wellie and Basil are thrilled with this new development, as it often leads to several walks a day, and I am hoping the extra exercise will make up for the fact that I am eating like a person who is constantly hung over. At the very least, all that walking works wonders for my mental health.