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Mount Rainier

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

Noble Knob

Sometimes I think I bestow too much emotional significance on Noble Knob. It’s too much for such a humble summit to bear, and sooner or later it’s bound to disappoint. Well, maybe not disappoint, but…underwhelm. This was that time, sort of.

Noble Knob 007

I’ve been in love with Noble Knob since September 2007, our first mountain backpacking trip. We got a late start and the sun was setting just as we reached the foot of the Knob, so knowing nothing about leave no trace principles (or about the existence of a mighty fine tent site up on the Knob), we hurried up and pitched our tent in the middle of the meadow, had dinner, and went to sleep. Except I couldn’t sleep at all, terrified by the thought of marauding bears and the sound of gunshots in the distance…in a display of absolutely horrid timing, JK had told me about the Pinnacle Lake murders as we were hiking. Ugh.

Rainier at sunrise

But oh, the next morning! We hiked up to the summit and sat there in awe as Mount Rainier was painted bright pink with alpenglow. It was pure magic, and I fell for hiking, hard.

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I’ve been dreaming about bringing our kid here for years, and this summer we finally have an excellent baby to schlep along. We had originally planned to car camp at Corral Pass and hike to Noble Knob in the morning, when the light is best, but the road to Corral Pass was closed this year. Boo. So instead we drove a confusing network of logging roads to an alternative trailhead. This took us on a short, wooded trail instead of the fabulous, mostly open ridge walk from Corral Pass, and I realized that I love that trail as much as I love the Knob itself – without those wide-open views from the start, Noble Knob lost a lot of its appeal. If you haven’t hiked to Noble Knob before, I recommend waiting until the road opens again.

Noble Knob

After a year of almost no rain (thankfully it’s pouring down outside as I write this), everything was dusty and dry and beige and hot and blah. Nora took a short nap in the carrier, and I put in headphones to listen to my Autumn playlist – I am so over summer at this point. Enough with the heat! I want slippers and hats and pumpkin spice cardigans or whatever.

Noble Knob Paternity Leave

We made it to the Knob and decided to eat lunch by the rocks so we could find some shade when the heat got too intense. I had this image in my head of getting the perfect portrait photos of me and Nora in front of Rainier, but she was consumed by the presence of magnificent sand! and rocks! everywhere, and therefore refused to indulge me in my fantasies.

Noble Knob

(Of course in hindsight I can see that these photos ended up much cuter than the posed photos I had wanted.)

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Nora hadn’t slept in the car and only caught a 20-minute snooze in the carrier, so after lunch, we could tell she was in need of more rest. We headed out, assuming she would sleep the entire way, but no. Not a wink. Then we drove home, thinking she would maybe sleep at least a little bit, but no. When we realized she wasn’t planning on sleeping at all, we kept her happy and distracted by playing You Are My Little Bird, which we all love, plus a few songs from Alphabutt, which is hilarious. As we got close to Redmond, the only thing keeping a massive meltdown at bay was playing Nora’s number one favorite song, Dyrene i Afrika, over and over and over again. The poor nugget was so overtired that she woke up 547 times that night, and I felt guilty and grumpy. The magic of Noble Knob had failed us!

The next morning I could see things in perspective. Nora was back to her happy self, my brain was no longer overheated, and it dawned on me that if this is what I think of as a bad hike, I am both very lucky and very very spoiled.

(But srsly, don’t visit the Knob until Corral Pass is open again.)

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.

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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.

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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!

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 –

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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

She fits right in

One of the good things about being an introverted hermit homebody is that I don’t feel like I had to give up on a lot of stuff when I had a baby. We don’t eat out much (uhm, picking up Qdoba doesn’t count), nor do we like to go out and party. (Okay, so introverted, homebody, and just plain old.)

I was discussing this with JK last weekend and came to the conclusion that the only things I really miss about my old life are: 1) sleeping in when I need to and 2) being able to run the downhills on hikes. Not exactly a huge sacrifice to make in exchange for a life shared with the cutest little Nora in the world, eh?

There are polar bears on Mount Rainier?

Not only that, but most things are just more fun with Nora along. Even little things like going to the grocery store (or Qdoba!) is a little adventure when seen through her eyes.

Where are Nora's snowshoes?

We’re at a stage now where it’s really easy to take Nora hiking, so we’ve been able to keep that important part of our family life going, too. One of our traditions is to go to Paradise at least once every winter, and this year was no exception. There’s hardly any snow at all in Washington this year, but Paradise has a modest cover – enough for lil’ Norbert to go on her first snowshoeing trip.

Nora's first snowshoe trip

After feeling the biting wind in the parking lot, we bundled Nora up in wool jammies, leg warmers, and her polar bear suit. It turned out to be a little too warm – the wind died down quickly and I stripped down to a t-shirt by the end of the day myself. Nora’s layering is the most frustrating part of our baby hikes so far. This time we had the added challenge of sun protection, since we were in high-elevation sunshine with added reflection from the snow. We brought a sun hat, sunglasses, and mineral sunscreen.

JK gets a chance to try out pregnancy

Luckily, she stayed tucked inside the Ergo, happily asnooze and out of the sun, while we hiked. She woke up just as we reached Glacier Vista, where set up a little lunch station in a spot of shade from a swaddle blanket attached to our hiking poles.

Lunch break

We had to take her out for a quick photo shoot though, because ehrmagerd, cute little yeti cub with a majestic backdrop!

*raspberries* Here comes the Noradactyl!

In addition to my Loo with a View: Scenic Shitters of Washington album, which celebrates the many beautiful privies on our hiking trails, I should make a collection of my favorite al fresco nursing spots. This one takes the cake so far.


We had time for a surprisingly long and luxurious lunch break, enjoying the views, listening to rock fall on the Nisqually, watching skiers zooming down Pan Face and little ant hikers snailing their way up to Camp Muir, and playing airplane and blowing raspberries at Nora. She truly seems to love being outside – I’m sure all babies do – which warms my heart to no end.

Flying yeti cub

After a while, we realized we had to start hiking back in order to make it home before Nora’s bedtime. The timing would be perfect: she could take a peaceful nap in the car, wake up and play for a little while at home, then go to sleep, dreaming of snow and big marshmallow mountains. Well, that nap never happened… Let me add one more point to the list of things I miss: 3) peaceful, non-eardrum shattering car rides. That thing people say about babies magically being soothed in cars? Lies, all lies!! But those car rides are still oh so worth it for a day like this.

Perfect day to blow off work

Glacier Vista | 3 miles | 700 feet elevation gain –

Nora & mamma

Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Nora meets the Mountain

Nora turned two months last week and decided she was more than old enough for her first visit to Mount Rainier. Mama and papa were happy to oblige!

Between the end of Daylight Saving Time, a late morning nap for Nora, and the fact that everything takes about seven times longer than you expect it to when you’re travelling with a wee babby with a prodigious appetite, we didn’t hit the trail until about an hour before sunset. No worries, it gave us enough time to mosey along on the touristy trails above Paradise.

Nora insisted on keeping her cute little head outside of the Moby wrap to look at the scenery, so she clearly didn’t mind the fact that we were walking on paved trails for most of the way.

She wanted to look at the scenery

I say this every year and never actually follow through, but this year, dagnabbit, we will send out Christmas cards. It would be a crime not to after we scored this perfect Mukmukian family photo!

Mukmuk family

Speaking of Mukmuk, Nora’s Halloween costume shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who reads this blog. My dreams, thems done gone come true!

Mukmuk! Marmots need cuddles too

Back to Mount Rainier – while we may have gone deaf from the car ride there (and that’s a looong drive), seeing this little lady seemingly enjoying herself in one of my favorite places made the trip so worth it.

Is this really November??

I know she can’t really see much of anything at all yet and probably won’t appreciate the views until she’s in her twenties, but I love being able to include her in our family traditions like this. Babywearing is such a wonderful feeling to begin with (and a workout, now that Nora is pushing 12 lbs!), but getting to do it while looking at views like these? Amazing.

Perfect day for a walkabout

JK got to do the babywearing this time, while I was stuck with the lame, non-adorable, non-warm, non-snuggly backpack.


Our hike ended with yet another nursing session for the hungry little hiker, with a side of excellent sunset views and happy cooing. One of my favorite moments yet.


…and luckily hiking is such hard work that Nora spent the entire drive home sleeping like, well, a baby. I’ll call our first real mountain outing a success for sure.

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