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Hiking, Pregnancy, Teanaway


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.


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.


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'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 –

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Infertility, Teanaway, Top Trip Reports

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


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.


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 –

Hiking, Teanaway

The morel of the story


Our first weekend home was rather dark and soggy, but I had my heart set on hiking anyway. JK was busy with the Washington Alpine Club, so I cajoled Dani and Josie into driving east towards Blewett Pass in search of sun.

Trail through the flowers

We found said sun, as always, in the Teanaway. We also found dry trails, balsamroot, paintbrush, trillium, glacier lilies, larkspur, and, most importantly, morels! Big, beautiful, fresh, amazing morels.

We be shroomin'

Since we had porcine peakbagger Jasper with us, we chose the treed, viewless summit of Teanaway Ridge instead of the panoramic bumps of Iron Bear and Jester. You see, Jasper is this close to having summited 300 different mountains, which would be impressive for most humans, and certainly for any canine.

He already had Iron Bear and Jester in the bag from an earlier trip, but Teanaway Ridge became his summit #294.

Jabber the Hutt

We probably could have tagged the other bumps as well, but, well, the mushroom-hunting slowed our pace to a crawl. We’ll do it next year – there’s no way I’m not returning to this trail. I loved it.

Mukmuk-sized morels in the Teanaway

I’ve realized that my favorite trails are the ones with good memories attached to them. Noble Knob, Iron Peak, and Melakwa Lake aren’t the most scenic trails I’ve hiked, but they remain my favorites for sentimental reasons.

Where is Tom when we need him?

Whenever I think of this Teanaway Ridge, I’ll remember the feeling of reconnecting with good friends. Oh, and the morels. I’ll remember the morels.

Happy Basil

I will definitely remember the resulting gluten-free morel and asparagus pizza which made up for all the pizzas I couldn’t have in Rome. Hells yeah!


Hiking, Teanaway, The pups

Goat vs Wellie

Eager to finally tackle my annual birthday hike to Iron Peak (see 2010 and 2011) and rescue our Norwegian guest, Jolli, from the soggy Seattle phenomenon known as Juneuary, we packed up the car and sped towards the magical land of the Teanaway.

Norwegians* take Iron

Crossing Snoqualmie Pass felt like driving through a car wash, but if Tom has taught me anything, it’s that it never rains in the Teanaway. And it didn’t, mostly. We hiked in hot sunshine up to the saddle, somewhat intense wind along the ridge (luckily Wellie didn’t blow away – we would need him later), and enjoyed a light two-minute sprinkle on the summit.

Wellie's ears are blowing in the wind Magica De Spell

After devouring summit Subway sandwiches and summit Kona Wailua beers, we had time for a satisfying summit snooze before heading back down.

Summit snooze

On the way up, we had told Jolli about the different kinds of wildlife we see on hikes here – adorable marmots, majestic bears, and mountain goats that follow you if you separate from your group because they want to lick your salty fluid deposits.

Naturally, we mentioned the fatal goring in Olympic National Park a couple of years ago…which was the first thing that popped into Jolli’s head when he ran into a mountain goat on the way down.

Oh, hello

I’ve met a lot of goats throughout my almost five years of hiking in the Cascades and they’ve never really made me nervous, even when they’ve cornered me mid-pee and moved close enough to touch. This one, however, moved right towards us with such speed and determination that it gave me pause.

The boys got their hiking poles ready for battle and I hugged my camera tightly (ALWAYS SAVE THE CAMERA FIRST), but just when the goat got within goring distance of us, Wellie let out a sharp bark which scared the bejesus out of him. The goat literally jumped into the air and ran up the ridge to get away from the terrifying 17-lb canine. Brave Sir Wellie saves the day!!

Iron Goat

Iron Peak | 6.5 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –

Brave Sir Wellie