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From Life to Layout // A Weekend in Paradise

A Weekend in Paradise

Back in July, I was able to join the Alpine Trails Book Club for a night of camping in Mount Rainier National Park! The premise is so simple but genius – pick a book to read, then gather to discuss the book in a place that is somewhat related to the book. In June, we read Dirt Work and joined a trail work party with Washington Trails Association. This time, the book was A Year in Paradise by Floyd Schmoe…so naturally, this amazing, impressive, bad-ass group of women met in Paradise on Mount Rainier.

A Weekend in Paradise

We stood together underneath Comet Falls, the spray a very welcome shower on a hot day, in awe of the sheer majesticness of it all. I’m not usually a waterfall person, but this place? This place was cool.

A Weekend in Paradise

We traipsed together through blankets of avalanche lilies in Van Trump Park.

A Weekend in Paradise

We saw the sunset together from Pinnacle Saddle.

A Weekend in Paradise

We camped together in the Cougar Rock Campground, sharing food and stories and gear.

For me, the camping was the biggest part – it meant that I spent my first night ever away from Nora and Lily. A bittersweet but oh so important rite of passage of motherhood.

A Weekend in Paradise

On Sunday morning, we headed out on the main event – hiking around Paradise while stalking marmots discussing our book.

A Weekend in Paradise

I had read A Year in Paradise over ten years ago, back when I first started hiking. This was during a period when I was binge-reading anything I could get my hands on about hiking or mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest, so I couldn’t really remember many details. Rereading it, I was surprised by what a charming, inspiring book it really is – maybe I am just able to enjoy it more now that I am old and grizzled. Walking around in Floyd Schmoe’s old stomping grounds while discussing his book with fellow outdoorsy bibliophiles was nothing short of magical.

A Weekend in Paradise

This weekend meant a lot to me, so I wanted to give it lots of real estate in my scrapbook – I absolutely did not want to whittle down my photos too much, because looking at them brings me lots of happy feels!

Book Club Camping Weekend

There’s a lot going on in the photos, so I didn’t want to detract from them by using lots of embellishments. I made the opening page with the Adventure Story Kit from Ali Edwards, and for the rest of the pages I just used photos, typed journaling, stamps, and handdrawn lines. (In case you’re wondering – why yes, I did in fact attempt to draw those lines straight. #talentedartist)

Book Club Camping Weekend

The stamp set I used is Roam from Kelly Purkey. I knew I wanted to use it for this trip even before I left, because the “widen your boundaries” sentiment worked perfectly for my mom’s weekend away.

Book Club Camping Weekend

I collected some memorabilia, but didn’t feel like doing anything more creative with it than stuffing it in a page protector. S’fine.

Book Club Camping Weekend

…and I was pretty stoked to be able to legitimately use the bears from the stamp set because we actually did see a bear! I haven’t seen a bear in the wild since a couple of weeks before Nora was born, so I’m happy that my ursine drought is over.

Book Club Camping Weekend

We stopped by the Paradise Inn, of course, the place where Floyd Schmoe and his wife, Ruth, spent the winter essentially snowed in (picture The Shining, but with adorable, adventurous honeymooners). I picked up a plush marmot for the girls (okay, so really it’s for me, because…I collect plush marmots) in the gift shop – I managed to make it back before bedtime, and Nora and I decided that Schmoe would be the perfect name for this particular marmot.

Loved the book, loved the places we went, loved the companionship of other women, loved the widening of my boundaries.

Book Club Camping Weekend

Hiking, Layouts, Mount Rainier, Scrapbooking, Top Trips

From Life to Layout // Kelly Butte

One of my favorite things about having kids is how everything feels like an adventure now. Ever since my pregnancy with Nora, we have explored lots of trails that our previous snooty selves looked down on because they were “too short”. We didn’t think they were worth the drive. Well, whatever, Former Self, these trails rock. Especially this one: Kelly Butte. 3.4 miles, 1100 feet of elevation gain. Oh, and at the top, you’ll find a fire lookout with a view straight to Mount Rainier (Rainier was hiding a bit this time, but that just gives us an excuse to go back).

Kelly Butte Father's Day 2018 Kelly Butte Father's Day 2018

But even cooler than the lookout was the trail up through the rocks to get there – steep, rocky switchbacks climbing between rock spires that gave me massive Picnic at Hanging Rock vibes (aka the creepiest movie in the history of mankind and the reason why hearing even one note of pan flute music gives me the shivers).

Kelly Butte Father's Day 2018

I was worried about how Nora would do and almost considered turning back, but I’m telling you, that trail made her come alive. She loved it. On the flat trail out of the parking lot, we had to bribe her with crackers and sing songs to keep her moving, but on this rocky stuff she turned into a little mountain goat who was living her best life. It was so cool to see.

Kelly Butte Father's Day 2018

So these days, a 3.4 mile hike is not a too-short, hour-long jaunt. It’s a full-day adventure, filled with mind-blowing experiences for the girls and memories I will try to hold on to forever. This one is definitely in the running for best hike of the year.

Father's Day at Kelly Butte Father's Day at Kelly Butte

Speaking of trying to hold on to memories – of course I scrapbooked this. My favorite way to document things like this right now – because it’s fast and it allows me to include lots of photos – is the ol’ regular layout + pocket page combo. This time I ended up with two 9×12 pages in order to have room for all the words as well, plus enlargements of my favorite photos. I used the Adventure Story Kit from Ali Edwards – the adventure/outdoor theme combined with pink was a really refreshing change from the typical grungy greens you usually get with outdoorsy scrapbook products.

Adventure Story Kit

Adventure Story Kit

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, 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

Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Lily Meets The Mountain

Lily has been on a whole bunch of little treks around the Watershed and Tiger Mountain, but our first “big” hike as a family of four – snowshoeing on Mount Rainier – was…interesting. Okay, so it was complete chaos from beginning to end.

Paradise Paradise

We were too tired the night before to start packing in advance, and we don’t yet have a routine down for what we need to bring on a toddler + newborn hike, especially in snow. Then Lily woke up too early from her nap and was cranky and overtired, our grocery/nursing stop along the way took far too long, and we pulled into the Paradise parking lot much later than we had anticipated.

Paradise

Paradise

As if we weren’t late enough already, everything takes sooo. damn. long. when there’s one small child for each adult, especially when one child is a totally helpless newborn and the other is a toddler, intent on creating mayhem wherever she goes.

Paradise

When we finally got our snowshoes on and the kids strapped to our bodies, it was so late that we realized we just wouldn’t have time to have the fancy picnic we had planned and still make it back down the mountain before they closed the gate at Longmire at 5pm. Gaah! So we just hiked up to a spot that was relatively sheltered from the wind, dropped our packs, and decided that we were going to have fun no matter what, damnit! And we did.

Paradise

Nora dug into the carrots and hummus with gusto (and refused to wear her sunglasses most of the time, because toddler) and chatted up a storm about how she wants her own crampons and snowshoes and that she’s going to climb Rainier one day just like pappa.

Paradise Paradise
Paradise Paradise

She also rediscovered the joy of glissading!

Paradise

Lily was still overtired and had her crankypants on until I gave her a pacifier in her wrap, and then she melted into my body like butter. It’s pretty much the greatest feeling in the world.

Paradise

Throughout the whole thing, I had Jason Mraz’s Life is Wonderful stuck in my head, and you know what, it really is. I’m so glad we have these girls and each other and these mountains and this life. And I’m so glad I’m in a mental place again where I can look around at the chaos and say, in total honesty, that even a trip like this is worth it. (I could do without the backseat screaming in stereo, though.)

Paradise

So, lessons learned for next time: (1) Write a pack list. (2) Get everything ready the night before. (3) Enjoy the madness. (4) Bring earplugs for the car.

Paradise