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Challenge, Hiking, Me, Skiing, Top Trips

Past in Present

Over Christmas, I finally decided on a my one little word for 2013: present. I tend to waste so much time and energy either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, so I entered the new year making a conscious effort to focus on what’s happening right here and now.

(Ironically, this trip report is three weeks late. Oh hush you.)

Cold and happy. Also, cold. Perfect start to the new year

Back on New Year’s Day, the here and now was cold enough to freeze your nubbins off. JK and I drove over Snoqualmie Pass which was socked in once again, hoping to ski above the clouds on Amabilis Mountain.

It seemed to take much longer to reach the sun this time than it did on Kendall, probably due to my total ineptitude on cross-country skis, but once we made it, it was oh so glorious.

View from Amabilis

I love days like this one, where the sun is out but it’s so cold that the trees are still snowy. I usually only get one trip like a year, but this season I keep getting lucky. Mount Rainier was out along with the prominent Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks, which made for gorgeous views. We couldn’t see Kachess Lake this time, but we can’t complain since it was replaced by a beautiful sea of clouds.

JK was there too

Even in our ginormous winter puffies, we were cold as the dickens, so we only sat down for a quick lunch before heading down. I was anxious about skiing down right from the start – see why I chose my one little word? – but I needn’t have worried, I only fell six times. Six times. At least they all happened on the ungroomed part of the trail, so I had relatively soft landings…and anyhow, that’s all in the past now.

Hello 2013

Hiking, Me, Running

The changing of the seasons and of other things

I’m sitting here listening to the rain playing drums on our roof, and it feels like Seattle again. We had an absolutely incredible summer with endless sun and no significant rain from late July to mid-October, but now autumn is here and it’s time to lounge around in front of the fireplace, reading books and ingesting myriad pumpkin-spiced foodstuffs.

For once, the rain was welcomed, as it seemed like half the state was on fire. Unfortunately, the Table Mountain A-Frame burned down (poor Pooperine!), but obviously that’s inconsequential when you think of all the people who lost their actual homes.

Mazama Ridge

In personal news, I’m still trying to find the root cause of my pain problem. My doctor’s new theory is that it could actually be a musculoskeletal thing, which would be preferable to a scary internal organ thing.

I tried total rest, but that didn’t help at all (and it turns out that chronic pain is much more difficult to handle without a regular influx of endorphins), so I’ve been doing easy but wonderful hikes and lots of slow (as if I have much choice) runs. Just in case the doctor is right, I’ve also been doing pitiful, Fondaesque adductor exercises to strengthen and stretch the area in question.

Labyrinth Mountain

I’ve been hesitant to mention this online or to most of my friends, but I’ve stopped eating gluten. I know, I know, it seems like such a fad, right? Originally I tried it because of anecdata showing it might help with my pain problems. Well, it didn’t, but three days after going cold turkey, I woke up feeling clear-headed for the first time I can remember since my teenage years. No brain fog, no headache, no lethargy. I didn’t want to say anything at first since I figured it might be some sort of placebo effect (and I can practically hear the exasperated sighs all the way from Norway when my parents realize that I now not only eschew meat, but also bread), but a month and a half later I am still going strong.

It’s been surprisingly easy so far, but I could see problems arising during the holidays – no Norwegian Christmas cookies? No Field Roast?? No gravy??? No onion-rosemary rolls???? Hnnngh. But really, I would rather feel this great than eat a cookie. Besides, I can still have sweet potato soufflé. Mmm. I should probably do a test where I eat something really glutenous and see how it affects me, but I just feel so damn good now that I don’t want to risk it.

Homeward bound

Due to this new-found energy, I have started running more consistently and really enjoying it (mostly). And…I signed up for the Orcas Island 25K in January! I’m hoping it will keep me from hibernating all winter long. This will be my first race of any kind ever, so the only person I will actually be racing against is myself. As long as I’m not last, I’ll be happy (but, honestly, there’s a pretty big chance that this could happen).

Actually, I’ll be happy if I make it to the race at all, if it turns out I do have some sort of musculoskeletal failage. Maybe my uneven-legged, pigeon-toed gait and crooked back has finally caught up with me.

Sleeping in for the win

So, this was an update of sorts, complete with photos from different hikes we’ve done which I will get around to writing about at some point. I guess going gluten-free didn’t magically turn me into a better blogger…but I’ll try not to let an entire month pass before my next post.

October on the beach

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Me, Solo

HaT #8: Wright Mountain, wrong day

For the last year and a half, I’ve been experiencing pretty significant pelvic pain. At first it was only for a couple of days of my cycle, but at this point I have the joy of dealing with it 2-3 weeks out of every month, complete with nausea when the pain is at its worst. On Monday I had laparoscopic surgery where my doctor removed some adhesions, which will hopefully help. If not, at least I am now in possession of gross photos of my innards.

I’ve spent the week recovering on the couch, having my wonderful man slave cook and do all the housework, but I’m hoping to feel good enough to walk and maybe even go on an easy hike soon. In the meantime, here’s a report from when I was dumb and went hiking during “peak pain week” in August. Exercise usually helps when there’s just pain (yay, endorphins!), but when there’s nausea involved, it’s better to just stay scrunched up inside and drink buckets of ginger tea. But, you know, I had Hike-a-Thon miles to cover.

Inferiority complex

The hike started on a promising note with coolish temperatures and, to Wellie’s excitement, our first full-sized Greyhound sighting on trail. I’ve seen a surprising number of Italian Greyhounds out there, but never a big one.

Snow Lake

Snow Lake was its usual pretty but crowded self, even on a weekday, so I stopped briefly for a photo and then went straight on towards Gem Lake, where I planned to spend the afternoon reading, drinking lake-chilled Pepsi, eating Ginger People chews, and moaning quietly to myself.

Gem Lake & Wright Mountain

As I was soaking my feet in the cold water, I noticed that my socks just happened to have the words WRIGHT SOCK printed on them (even the wleft one), so I pretty much had no choice but to drag my nauseous self up to the summit of Wright Mountain, just so I could take photos of my dirty sock.

Gem Lake

Then I went back home, curled up into a ball, and drank a bucket of ginger tea. The end.

Wright Mountain | 11 miles | 3400 feet elevation gain –

Wellie's feelin' all Wright

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Me, Solo, Top Trips

HaT #7: Melakwa to Pratt Loop

In honor of National Fight Procrastination Day, I hereby resolve to resume my Hike-a-Thon recaps. <- HAHAHA! Naive sentence I wrote last Thursday. Hike-a-Thon 07: Melakwa - Pratt Loop

As I mentioned in my Hike-a-Thon summary, 45 of my August miles were hiked solo. This might sound boring (or scary?) to some, but I really, really love my alone time. I have known that I am an introvert ever since I took the Myers-Briggs personality test in college, but it wasn’t until this spring, after reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, that I realized just what being an introvert means.

It turns out that many of the quirks I’ve viewed as my personality flaws (and which I’ve honestly thought of as symptoms of depression), are just typical traits of an introvert. I prefer staying home with a book instead of suffering through awkward small talk at a party, and the mere act of being social makes me so exhausted that I have to be by myself and recharge for a couple of hours afterwards. I need quiet alone time to really think and be creative, and I can happily wander around in the mountains for days without talking to another human being. (I do like to share some deep thoughts with Wellie, though.)

Please don't jump in, mama

While I hate being the center of attention in real life, this section from Quiet resonated with me:

Studies have shown, that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the “real me” online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend those relationships into the real world.

Yay for blogging and over-sharing on Facebook!

Lovely trail

So, welcoming another day of quiet enjoyment, Wellie and I hiked to Melakwa Lake, an old favorite, and onward to Lower Tuscohatchie Lake and Pratt Lake. The last time I hiked this loop, the trail between Melakwa and Tuscohatchie sucked donkey balls (a technical term), but it must have been shown some tender love and care – this time, it was a soft, runnable path lined with pretty moss (except for the one section where I slipped and fell, which was lined with Devil’s Club).

Lower Tuscohatchie

I only saw two other people between Melakwa Lake and the Granite Mountain junction, and not a single mosquito – now that’s what I call quality alone time.

This is the kind of hike that leaves me blissed-out for days. I love spending time with friends in the mountains (and it’s so easy to bond when you’re out there), but when I’m alone, I get into this awesome state of flow where I focus on nothing and everything all at once. I get physically tired, of course, but mentally refreshed.

Pratt Lake

– Melakwa to Pratt Loop | 14 miles | 3500 feet elevation gain –

Backpacking, Hiking, Me

Five years, countless miles, and a couple of pounds

Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of my hiking obsession! Thanks to Tom and Amy‘s willingness to shepherd a couple of couch potatoes into the wild, JK and I found ourselves celebrating Tom’s birthday on beautiful Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park.

Me on my first hike

I remember eating baked beans straight out of the can, spending the whole trip soggy and cold in my cotton clothing, and limping around the mud in ridiculous shoes. I also remember loving every minute of it.

Shi Shi by night

Five years on and I’m still in love, even when my feet hurt like the dickens, when I’m roasting in the sun on a never-ending hill, or when evil biting flies gnaw on my face (all of which happened during the last week, by the way).


Here’s a short but timely interview I did for The Wilderness Society – it may sound hokey to say that hiking saved my life, but I honestly don’t know where I would be today without trails in my life.