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