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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, Mount Rainier, Skiing, Top Trips

Tour de Muir

JK had promised our Norwegian guest a ski tour, so when the summer solstice forecast read sunny all the way, he took the day off work and drove us to Paradise. He brought his randonnée skis and Jolli rented telemark gear – a true Norwegian!

Silly Nannies

I, the bad Norwegian, was on foot. Honestly I wasn’t planning on going very far, so I brought my Kindle and my Zune, prepared to hang out at Panorama Point while the guys skinned up to Camp Muir. I haven’t done any really challenging hikes in a long time, elevation gain-wise, so I had sort of lost the confidence I used to have about being able to keep up with other people and join them on longer dayhikes.

Meh, they're rentals Feels like the beach Almost there (for real this time)

Not that I haven’t been enjoying our lazy hikes this year, au contraire – I love late starts, hanging out at lakes and taking summit naps…but it would be nice to not have to turn down hiking invitations because I’m worried that I won’t be able to push myself.

A good day to play hooky

Anyhoo, back to Rainier. The weather was amazing – strong wind to begin with, but it died down once we hit the Muir Snowfield, leaving us stripped down to base layers and roasting in the glorious sun. Somehow I was consistently ahead of the boys the whole way, so I decided to just turn on my Zune and keep going.

"Almost there"

Between the gorgeous views and the perfect playlist – mostly Hot Chip and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – I felt amazingly energized. Even as we got close to 10,000 feet, I kept stopping to throw down dance moves. Hmm, maybe the altitude affected me more than I thought.


I reached Camp Muir, 10,080 feet, infinitely proud of myself, confidence restored. I ate my disgustingly soggy Subway sandwich (note to self – Subway works better as a winter hiking food) and chatted with some climbers while waiting for JK and Jolli to arrive.


After taking group photos, I left the boys to their own soggy sandwiches in order to get a head start – skis beat feet on the downhill. I got some good glissades in where it was steep enough, but the snow was so soft from the heat that I spent most of the 4,700 feet of elevation loss posthole-running.

Excited about the descent

As for JK and Jolli, all that uphill paid off in surprisingly good skiing. They were all smiles as they caught up with me, just above Pebble Creek.

Definitely worth the climb


I hiked down to Glacier Vista with some very nice climbers celebrating their successful summit bid, then posthole-jogged the rest of the way to the car, still high on endorphins and thickening air.

Just as I was telling Jolli that the only thing missing from our day on the mountain was a fox sighting, this little guy came into view. With that, it was official – we’d had a perfect day.

Roadside fox

Camp Muir | 9 miles | 4700 feet elevation gain –

Ski tracks

Hiking, Mount Rainier, Skiing

It’s Superbowl Sunday!

…but wait, Norwegians don’t give a rat’s ass about handegg, so JK and I took advantage of the fact that most people would be glued to their TVs and went to a place that would usually be chock full of people on a sunny(ish) Sunday – Paradise. Aaah!

Rainier looking good from the car

Ok, so it was still crowded, because Paradise on a weekend is always crowded…and for good reason. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve hiked up there, but we just never get sick of it.


Once again it hit the spot; it was the perfect short hike to loosen up my legs which were still magnificently sore from Friday’s run and Saturday’s cross-country ski trip.


We had a picnic (stroopwafels and a Subway sandwich – I needed a banana pepper fix) on Panorama Point before skiing/glissading back down the hill. JK impressed me by staying upright on the icy crust (while I got borderline frostnipped butt cheeks).

JK and a large mountain

It was nothing new, nothing adventurous, just another beautiful day with my favorite person in one of my happy places.

Golden glow

As we drove back down the winding road, mindful of errant foxes and slick patches of ice, Mount Rainier kept changing color.


We arrived at Longmire just in time to run out of the car and admire the pink alpenglow. The perfect end to the best weekend of 2012 (well, so far anyway). There’s nothing better than feeling exhausted but relaxed and content.

Oooh, that's the stuff

– Panorama Point | 3.5 miles | 1500 feet elevation gain –

Pan Point ski tracks

(Yay, I finally learned how to do fun things with our GPS tracks – thank you for the tutorial!)


Catherine and Ingrid

Our snowshoe to the Grand Junction Warming Hut piqued our interest in the Snoqualmie Nordic System, so JK and I decided it was time to explore the area as Ullr intended – on treacherously skinny cross-country skis.

Look at me, being all Norwegian and such

We had our sights set on the classic Mount Catherine Loop, and chose to do it the cheater’s way by hitching a ride on the Silver Fir chairlift. Our official excuses are as follows:

– We wanted to sleep in.

– We had to be back in town early in time for the Ingrid Michaelson show.

– We have season passes, so it would be silly not to take the lift, right?

– I was so. sore. from my run the day before.

…fine, we’re really just lazy.

So that's what it's supposed to look like!

Avoiding most of the elevation gain by taking the lift up is actually a bad choice for me since I greatly prefer going uphill and, as I have documented before, I should not be allowed to go downhill on cross-country skis. Also, I’ll never know how I managed to get off the chairlift on those twigs without falling in the first place.

I90 with Das Toof and friends

We both LOVED this route. Lots of pretty vistas all around, no steep hills (there was only one fall/pole-impalement incident), and two excellent warming huts – not that we needed them. It was a bit breezy, but the sun kept us nice and toasty during our lunch break.

Sunshine squishy!

(I refuse to carry the camera when I ski – given my perpetual fight against gravity – so most of these photos are of me posing awkwardly in front of things, none of JK in action. He would have been a much better representation of the Norwegian spirit. Even though he’s technically Polish. Whatever.)

Jim Brooks Warming Hut

Did I say it was breezy? Ok, so it was windy as all hell, but this actually worked in my favor as my normally disastrous downhill run was slowed significantly by the headwind, giving me a semblance of control. Success!!

'Twas a bit breezy

– Mt. Catherine Loop | 9 miles | 1000 feet gain (2,200 feet loss!) –

Ingrid Michaelson @ Tractor Tavern

Oh, and the Ingrid Michaelson pop-up show that night was fantastic. Very intimate, low-key, and fans-only. It was refreshing to go to a concert where people actually shut up and listen to the music. I’m looking at you, annoying people behind me at Florence and the Machine!! A concert is not the place for you insipid first-date banter.

Skiing, The pups

Snowpocalypse 2012

This walk sucks, mama!!Every couple of years or so, our usually temperate home of Western Washington is hit with a doozy* of a snowstorm, and the world stops turning. This time it was a charming snow/ice/wind event that started last Saturday and has now morphed into Slushmageddon. We’re extremely lucky that a) JK can work from home, b) we can walk to the grocery store, c) we didn’t lose power and d) our house wasn’t obliterated by ice-laden trees. So for us, this week was pure heaven. Even Wellie, our furless, fatless friend, had fun exploring his favorite parks and trails in a totally new way.

Schnow schnow!! Schnow schnow!!

I love not having to drive to the mountains for a wildernessish experience. What’s the point of fighting traffic on slick roads when good old Nike Park has transformed into a winter wonderland?

Nike Park in white

Ironically our Wednesday evening ski class was cancelled due to the snow, so we satisfied our adrenaline cravings by sledding in Meadow Park with Carlos and Deborah and our respective offspring.

Sledding with Nathan

Wellie training for the Iditarod

The highlight of the week was our Cross-Country Ski Tour de Redmonde. We’ve skied in our little town before, but that was before we knew about the wonderful Powerline Trail about a mile from our house. I’ve been wanting to ski that sucker for YEARS, and it did not disappoint. I only fell once!

I've been waiting for this for YEARS

All in all we’ve covered about 30 miles of walking and skiing so far this week, which I’m hoping will make up for the elevated levels of baking brought on by the snow. Damn you, snickerdoodles!!

Maybe Wellie will be able to find his ball before the next Snowpocalypse hits.

Mama, I can't find mah ball!

*a doozy for a region that owns something like five snowplows total.