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Hiking, Hiking with baby, Teanaway, Top Trips

Mother’s Day Weekend Part Deux: Iron Peak

First of all, before I forget: the Teanaway Road is in excellent condition right now, I have truly never seen it smoother. So go, go!

After having breakfast in camp and getting ready for the day, Nora was overdue for her morning nap. We drove over to the Iron Peak trailhead and got Nora all saddled up in her new ride, the Osprey Poco Plus. Now for the big question – would she sleep in that thing? Dun dun DUUUUN.

Let's do dis

The answer is yes, oh yes. She slept better than she does in the Ergo! In order to let her get the best sleep possible, we put on headphones and listened to some tunes as we hiked instead of talking. I forgot how refreshing it feels to listen to music when you’re all endorphin-high in the mountains.

New pack = snooze success

The only problem with the new pack was that Nora’s sun hat kept falling off, leaving her face and her delicate little skull exposed to the intense Teanaway sun. I didn’t tie the hat under her chin since she kept nodding her head forward to sleep and I didn’t want her to be strangled, but maybe I’m not giving her enough credit now that she’s not a helpless little lump of a newborn anymore. Any tips on how to deal with this situation?

Pretty trail

The trail switchbacked up, up, up as it always does, but it all seemed to just fly by. We kept a good pace, and I was in this giddy state of flow were the world was all glacier lilies and Rainier views and moving legs and a chubby, sleeping baby ahead of me on trail – the cutest dangling carrot ever.

No no no no

Once we reached the saddle, the blue skies and hot sun were replaced by a high cloud cover and a biting wind, so we retreated leeward to get Nora changed and fed while protected from the elements. Apparently milk is no longer a sufficient hiking snack for her, so she supplemented with some trees.

Approaching the summit

We added a wool suit and a warm hat to Nora’s ensemble, plus some stylish sunglasses to protect her eyes from the snow glare, then made our way up toward the summit.

JK, (Nora,) Stuart

The snow level this year is ridiculously low (considering we were hiking Iron a full month before we usually do it), but there was enough of it to be all postholey and annoying. On the way down, I elected to glissade even though I was wearing shorts, because snow up the butt is preferable to repeatedly postholing up to your knees and scraping the bejesus out of your legs. (I have to wear a dress to meet the King, fer chrissakes!)

Ridgewalk

Apart from the postholes, I loved being up on Iron again. We’ve gone every year since 2010 (except last year, because ow), and it never gets old. We usually hike it for my birthday, but since we might not have time for that this year, Mother’s Day was the perfect backup.

Happy hiker

Nora wanted to partake of her father’s summit libations, but had to make do with more milk and some pilfered bits and pieces of our soggy banana sandwiches.

Like father like daughter

We signed the summit register, snapped photos, took in the panoramic views, and just hung out until Nora started to fuss. She definitely needed a longer nap, so we packed up and headed down.

Iron Peak, now with babby

Nora slept from summit to car. Whoa. And we didn’t see a single other human on trail the whole day. Whoa.

She napped the whole way down

Best Mother’s Day ever. Okay, so it’s also my only Mother’s Day ever, but still.

Iron Peak | 7 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain –

First Mother's Day <3

feat
Hiking with baby, Teanaway

Mother’s Day Weekend Part Une: Camping

My first Mother’s Day! I’m a mom! I still can’t believe it sometimes.

Mother’s Day has never been a big deal in our family, but I’ve started acknowledging it now in order to get to decide how we spend the weekend. Moahahaha. This year, I wanted to go camping.

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

Problem one: We hit the first snafu pretty early on in the planning process when we realized there was no way we were going to be able to fit our dogs in the car along with Nora and all our camping crap. Luckily a friend agreed to watch Wellie and Basil, but for next time, we’re probably going to have to get one of those rooftop ski boxes or something so we have enough room to bring the boys. They love camping too!

Shooting stars in camp

Problem two: Sleep. Sleep sleep sleep. Since Nora is used to sleeping in her own room, we decided to bring some sort of enclosure for her to snooze in. We settled on a Peapod portable bed (henceforth to be known as Podrick) that would let her have her own space but still fit between us in our little backpacking tent. It would also keep her from getting into any sort of mischief in the tent when she’s there alone, since she goes to bed before us, and when we do bring the dogs along, Podrick will protect Nora from being trampled by pointy Italian Greyhound legs.

Playing in Podrick while we pack up camp

Bringing Podrick along paid off right away – Nora had a safe, bug-free place to hang out and play while we were busy setting up camp. She even played by herself in there while we grabbed lunch and got some reading done! I highly recommend getting one of these for camping or beach trips with small humans.

Too excited to nap!

Unfortunately, Nora wouldn’t nap in Podrick. Before we had a baby, I thought night sleep was the thing to worry about – I had no idea what a pain in the ass naps can be. Decent naps make the difference between Happiest Baby in the Universe and Cranky Gremlin. Nora won’t nap in the car, either (it’s happened like, say, three times), so driving inevitably turns into an overtired screamfest.

DeRoux trail (nap hike)

This drive was no exception, and by the time we made it to our campsite along the Teanaway River, she was overdue for a nap. I think the campsite was just too full of new, exciting things for her to fall asleep, so we went to the nearest trailhead and hiked for a while so she could sleep in the Ergo.

She’s a very light sleeper (the one thing this little JK-clone definitely inherited from me), so her naps in the carrier are nowhere as good as her crib naps – she wakes up the second I stop moving – but they’re definitely better than nothing. Of course the DeRoux Trail was full of downed trees that I had to climb over without waking Nora up, for which I surely deserve some sort of hurdling medal.

oh hai

Once Nora woke up, we looked for morels (we found four tiny ones, which JK unfortunately incinerated in the campfire while cooking dinner) and stumbled across a rubber boa – very cool!

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

Back in camp, life was good. We had storytime, I showed Nora the creek, the river, and the thick, fragrant ponderosa bark, and kept her from eating all the different woodland things.

Story time

Then it was time for Nora’s first campfire. Maybe she’ll get s’mores next year. And stick bread!

Camp

After the failed nap attempts, I was worried that Nora wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, either. Luckily, she has such a strong biological urge to fall asleep for the night between 6 and 7 that it was not a problem. We bundled her up in a wool base layer, fleece pajamas, and a thick fleece snowsuit, then put her in the same sleep sack she usually wears at home. It stayed warmer than usual (even though this was a month before our normal Teanaway camping trip!) and the snowsuit hood was nice and cozy, so we skipped the hat.

Nora asleep in Podrick

With lil’ Norbert fast asnooze, JK and I proceeded to just veg out by the campfire, eating and reading. I’m obsessively plowing through Carrot Quinn’s Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart right now, reading whenever I find the time. It is so, so good. And now the book smells like campfire, which seems appropriate.

Teanaway Camping Teanaway Camping

We went to bed early – I think we both expected Nora to wake up a bajillion times that night – and I slept like a rock until 1 AM, when I woke up and made sure my little camper wasn’t too cold. Or too warm. And that she was still breathing. It was like being the parent of a newborn again.

Morning zzzz

Nora usually sleeps until 5-6, eats a little bit, then goes back to sleep until 7 or so, but this time she woke up at 4. I fed her, then decided to snuggle with her the rest of the night. I should have thought about what a light sleeper she is (cosleeping has never worked for us), because she woke up at 5:30 when I made the slightest little movement, and there was just no getting her back to sleep. Yawn. I think we would have gotten at least another hour if I had just put her back in the pod…but then I would have missed out on those cuddles, so it was worth it. Mostly.

Marsupials

The morning was crisp and cool until the sun climbed over the ridge to warm us, so we hung out in the tent for a while before making hot soup and coffee (and a whole banana for Nora). We ate breakfast all snuggled up under my sleeping bag, and then Nora amused herself by banging a titanium cup against the chair while we relaxed. Aaahh.

I’ll admit I came into this weekend expecting the worst, but we really did have a wonderful time. When it comes to babies, pretty much everything you do involves more work and less sleep, but also more fun.

Bundled up Happy camper

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Hiking, Pregnancy, Teanaway

32

Two weeks ago, I turned 32. I never actually remember how old I am anymore, because senility (I usually just ask JK how old he is, then subtract a year), but birthdays should be celebrated nonetheless – and my birthdays are best celebrated in the Teanaway.

My birthday weekend officially began late Thursday night when JK finally felt (and saw!) the baby kicking for the first time! Huzzah! Then I had time to watch the first episode of the new season of Orange is the New Black before we left on Friday afternoon, which meant I had Pulaski at Night stuck in my head all weekend, setting the mood for an excellent trip.

JK was there too!

Our tradition is to hike Iron Peak to celebrate the Aging of Ingunn, but since I’m also dealing with the Aging of Fetus this year, I decided it would be too much elevation gain for my rickety pelvis. My new tactic is to pick trails out of the Best Hikes With Kids book, which touted Esmeralda Basin as a good alternative.

Out of the basin

We set our sights on Fortune Creek Pass and noticed a little too late that I was overextending myself a bit too much on the muddy and snowy sections of the trail. It finally caught up to me when we were literally minutes away from the pass, and I decided to override my summit fever and call it quits right there. It felt like such a mature, adult decision to make, but then again I am 32 now.

*frrrrt*

26 weeks and feeling great, except for that damn pelvis.

Belly is the new Mukmuk

This time I mean it, no more walking on snow for me until winter.

Lunch spot

A slow, uncomfortable waddle later, we were back in camp. I was pretty useless and immobile at this point, but JK claimed he didn’t mind doing the camp chores and cooking. He’s a good one.

Aaw

The dogs, however, were no help at all.

The bestest Basil

We spent the rest of the weekend talking, laughing, reading, eating, staring at the fire, cooling off in the creek, sniffing ponderosa pines, playing with the dogs, enjoying the moment.

Sitting on my ass and being served s&#x27;mores Glacier lilies in Esmeralda Basin I love the sight and scent of the Teanaway in the morning Snugglehound 32! Cupcake with a side of Tibetan Peach Pie

It was perfect. I think I like 32.

Better than TV

Esmeralda Basin | 7 miles | 1750 feet elevation gain –

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Teanaway, Top Trips

Larch Rx

Sorry to keep jumping wildly from season to season, but I never got around to writing about this trip, and it was just too purty and too important to skip.

October was rough. Actually, the whole autumn season was rough. The hormones I was taking made me feel all sorts of not great, so I spent those darkening months gaining weight, fighting lethargy, and feeling very down in the dumps.

Too many photo breaks

Very few things were able to motivate me to get outside. One was mushroom hunting, which I’ll come back to later, and the other was the chance to finally see the golden larch trees in Headlight Basin in perfect weather. I had been waiting for this chance for years, so I gathered up what energy I had left and let JK steer our trusty Subaru towards the magical kingdom of the Teanaway.

I had a moment of hormone-induced (yes, I’ll blame it on that) bliss/sadness/bittersweetness in the car when Pink Rabbits by The National was playing just as Mount Stuart first popped in to view, the light hitting it just right. It was one of those sappy American Beauty plastic bag situations when you realize that there are so many beautiful everyday moments in this world, even though it sometimes feels like shit. I will admit that I shed a tear or two, and I had that wonderful song playing over and over in my head the whole day. I still get emotional whenever I hear it – thankfully, I can still blame it on hormones.

Bare trail for now

Hiking felt so good, even after being couch-bound for so long. My legs warmed up fast, and my lungs reveled in the clean, crisp October air. Soon enough, the endorphins hit and I was talking a mile a minute as we switchbacked up to Ingalls Pass. I felt like myself again.

Headlight Basin

The ridge above Headlight Basin was crowded, as it always is during larch season, but I can’t really complain about sharing a good time in the mountains with fellow grinning, elated hikers. We had all hit the jackpot – larch trees at their peak, a blanket of fresh snow, and blue, blue skies. The colors looked slightly dull from above, but when we dropped down into the basin (which we actually had to ourselves) and the light hit the trees, the larches looked like they were on fire. Amazing.

Walking in a golden wonderland

Unfortunately, I don’t have the vocabulary to convey just how therapeutic and spiritually uplifting a day like this can be for me. I know it must be difficult to understand if you’re not a fellow nature-lovin’, endorphin-hungry, overly-emotional sap.

I meet people who say they hate hiking, they hate the heat of it, the cold, the sweating, the hard work, the bugs, and the dirt. We humans all have different outlets for frustration and inlets for inspiration, and hiking is mine.

When the light hits just right

Especially when I can share it with this guy.

It's such a perfect day

Headlight Basin | 7.5 miles | 2400 feet elevation gain –

Our own little corner of the woods

Hiking, Teanaway

31

Happy birthday to me!

Another year has passed. Since last year I’ve grown a little bit wiser, a lot happier, and noticeably grayer of fur (but let’s not talk about that).

Scott and his yellows

As I’ve done the last four years, I celebrated my birthday on Iron Peak. For a while, it looked like it might not happen this year; I felt sick all day Friday and we had to turn around and go home that night when an overturned semi closed Snoqualmie Pass for three hours.

Team Stout

I woke up feeling better, if not well, on Saturday, and we caravaned to the Teanaway with Scott, Dani, and a ridiculous amount of dogs.

Another great group shot

There was much less snow on Iron Peak than usual! I don’t think we’re actually having an early melt, though, it’s just that the snowpack has been so insane the last couple of years that we’ve become used to finding snowbound trails long into August. Either way, I’m happy. This, I think, will be the summer.

JK's beer fridge on Iron Peak

We enjoyed brews on the summit (except for Scott, who had enjoyed a few too many the night before), played with our six dogs, and traded war stories of past trips. Scott pointed out the route he climbed up Mount Stuart, and I resolved to never, ever do anything of the sort.

We heart the Teanaway

Did you know that there’s a trail up the ridge to Iron? We didn’t, since it’s been hidden under snow on all our previous ascents. I still managed to find a couple of good snow patches to glissade on the way down, though.

Back to the saddle again

We made our way back down to the cars, said goodbye to Scott, Dani, and their pack of dogs, then set off to find a place to camp. Instant success – our favorite campsite was free!

– Iron Peak | 7.5 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain –

We snagged our favorite campsite

We stayed in this exact site in 2010, and it’s simply perfect. It’s hidden from the road, so it offers full privacy, no need to leash the dogs, you have your own babbling brook, a separate cooking area, and a pretty field of shooting stars.

Field of shooting stars

One of my favorite things about the Teanaway – and the Eastern Cascades in general – is the sweet smell of the vanilla-scented ponderosa pines, nature’s Wunderbaum. My nose hadn’t fully clogged up yet, so I spent a lot of time just leaning back and inhaling. Aaaahh.

Bliss

I woke up on Sunday morning, my actual birthday, with a full-blown cold. It quickly became apparent that there wouldn’t be any hiking that day, so instead we spent our time reading in the sun, drinking coffee, and eating birthday cupcakes (courtesy of Andreas, who has perfected a gluten-free version of my favorite vanilla cupcakes).

Wellie acts like a dog, part one Happy 31!

I told JK it was my favorite birthday yet, and it really was. I think 31 will be a very good year.

Basil packs our bags

Oh, and we stopped at the Pass and walked the dogs around Gold Creek Pond on the way home, so we kinda sorta hiked after all.

Gold Creek Pond

– Gold Creek Pond | 1? mile | just about 0 feet elevation gain –