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The pups

The pups

Our Boy

Last week JK and I were impressed by how well Basil had healed after his broken leg and subsequent surgery, but then everything fell apart fast. He seemed a little tired over the weekend, and by Monday morning he was very lethargic and wouldn’t touch his food. Basil always wanted food, so this was troubling. We took him to the vet, where an x-ray showed a most likely cancerous mass on his heart valve which had started to leak blood. The cancer had also spread to his lungs. The heart valve was leaking blood which pooled around Basil’s heart, making it almost impossible for it to beat hard enough to circulate oxygen around his body. We went to the emergency vet where they were able to drain 275 ml of blood from around his heart, and he seemed good as new. We knew our time with him would be limited, but we were hopeful and wanted to make the most of it.

Sadly, less than 24 hours later the heart valve started leaking again. This time it happened so fast, he went from acting totally normal to not being able to move in a matter of minutes. We sped to the vet, but there was nothing to do except let him out of his suffering while we held him in our arms. The only thing that made it bearable was seeing his little body finally relax against us again.

Our Basil

Our poor little Basil. You didn’t have much fur to speak of, but what little hair you did have must have been made of velcro, because you were attached to Wellie right from the start and I have never seen two dogs be better friends (and based on the shows you used to put on whenever we had guests over, you two were more than friends).

Best buddies Spring is here and love is in the air
X marks the spot Post-hike snuggles

The house feels strangely empty without you in it, with your dramatic yawns and your vigorous shaking (which almost got you sent off to England when mamma was sleep-deprived and you kept waking up the baby). I think what I’m going to miss the most is how you used to sneak up from behind and dig your nose and then your entire head into my armpit in search of scritches. And that incredibly soft spot on your forehead that I could rub for luck. And the adorable little white mohawk tuft of fur on your neck.

Who needs the dog park??

We only got a little over three years to spend with you, but thank you so much for accepting us and for becoming part of our little family. I hate hate hate that Nora is too young to remember you, but we’re going to keep showing her pictures and telling her stories so that she’ll know that little nutria that she used to pet and hug.

Basil's first summit snooze

Happy trails, little Basil. There are no mosquitoes or evil boulder fields on the other side of the rainbow bridge, just couches and blankets and food and lots of open meadows full of marmots to chase. We love you.

Golden hour through the fog

Life, The pups, These days

These Days

These days, time is flying way too fast. I feel like I’ve said this in every single post since Nora was born, but for reals, where does the time go? Also, what on earth was I doing with all of my time before??

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

Time probably feels like it’s moving slow as molasses for poor Basil right now. He broke his leg while jumping off the stairs down to the yard (we didn’t see it, but ugh, we heard it, and we knew immediately what had happened) and had to have surgery. Then the puncture wound (where the bone had POKED THROUGH HIS SKIN, ugh ugh ugh) became infected and he had to take five million different antibiotics and get his bandage changed at the vet’s almost every day. Now the wound has healed and his bandage is off, but we’re keeping him sedentary for a while longer to make sure the leg is healed. I held him in my arms in the car on the way to the emergency vet, and he was so stoic and brave and snuggly, calmly resting his head against my chest while I tried not to panic and not to focus on the part of his leg that was just dangling there.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

My parents came to visit for two weeks, and Nora loved loved loved having her grandparents around. I worked on letting others take care of her, which felt all sorts of weird and wrong at first, but I managed to let go of some control when I saw how much fun she was having. By the end of their stay, I happily spent lots of alone time scrapbooking (because I’m hooked again) and JK and I even went on two mushrooming/trail running trips sans baby.

These Days These Days

Speaking of scrapbooking, I’m having so much fun with it, and scrapbooking more often than I ever have before. Right now it’s all very Ali Edwards-inspired – I’m still working on putting my Week in the Life album together, and I am also making pages for this month’s Story Kit, since I was asked to be a guest storyteller! If you’re not in the scrapbooking world, you won’t know how huge this is, but Ali Edwards is the O.G. of modern scrapbooking, the Zen Master of story, and generally just one of the most inspiring people I know.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

Now that the grandparents are gone, we’re back to our normal life. Currently that means lots of time outside enjoying this beautiful fall weather, lots of playing with Duplo (we got Nora a bunch of used Duplo blocks plus a new set with ducks, because she just really has a thing for ducks), and lots of Qdoba takeout, because cooking dinner is suddenly much harder now that I have a more mobile little human in the house. I am making an effort to take the running stroller out more often, because I got into Orcas 25K! Eeep.

Hiking, The pups

Summer lookout

Hike-a-Thon begins this week, so I need to get caught up on these trip reports! July has been absolutely amazing, but all of these adventures (plus a healthy dose of procrastination) have created quite a blog backlog. Let’s get to it.

Paintbrush at the lookout

Thorp Mountain is a laid-back summer favorite of mine. A pleasant trail to a great swimming lake, followed by a slightly less pleasant but definitely beautiful trail to an old fire lookout with tremendous views.

Synchronized swimming

We’ve hiked here three Julys in a row, and at this point it just wouldn’t feel like summer without a trip to Thorp. This time we brought Ada along, and she spent the entire hike finding and fetching sticks of various shapes and sizes.

Yes Ada, that's a perfectly reasonable stick to fetch

You shall not pass!! Oh, you found a stick?

The wildflowers around the lookout were slightly past their prime, but still put on a good show.

Thorp Mountain Lookout

We had a lunch and lazed around on the summit for a while (well, everyone except Ada – she was fetching sticks), taking in the views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mount Rainier, and my new best friend, Mount Adams.

A Raisin in the Sun

It was Basil’s birthday, so he got some extra snuggles and treats to celebrate. We don’t actually know when he was born, so we’re celebrating his adoption day instead. This lovable little raisin of a dog has brought us lots of happiness since we adopted him a year ago, and he and Wellie are inseparable. Best brothers, best buds.


Unfortunately, the birthday boy is allergic to mosquitoes, so when the breeze died down and the little bastards came out in full force, we just had to get out of there. Benadryl is not a good birthday present!


We jogged down most of the trail, but I was having my first bad run in a while. I got my first side stitch since winter (I must have been holding my breath on the loose, sandy downhill bits), and my hair tie snapped, leaving me with an out of control, frizzy mane that was incredibly annoying in the heat.

The last two miles felt good, though, especially when we got to the swimming hole by the trailhead. I just took off my pack and walked right in to cool off. The water was absolutely freezing and absolutely heavenly. Basil hid in the shade while JK joined me in the pool, followed by Wellie who jumped in to rescue us.

Trailhead swimming hole

And Ada? She was still fetching sticks. Some things never change, like summer traditions (hopefully!) and obsessive-compulsive dogs.

– Thorp Lake & Lookout | 8 miles | 2300 feet elevation gain –

The hike is over but she's still finding sticks

Backpacking, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, The pups, Top Trips

Above the fog with a puffy dog

Last weekend it was time for our annual trip to Noble Knob, this time to share our favorite trail with Carlos, Deborah, and our favorite Small Person, Nathan.

Almost breaking through

In spite of the “mostly sunny” forecast, we spent the approach walking inside of a cloud. A very, very cold cloud. Luckily the trail had lots of eye candy to offer even though Mount Rainier was hiding – all my favorite wildflowers were on display: western anemone, columbine, paintbrush and the always beautiful tiger lily.

John, Paul, George and Ringo Columbine
Magenta Paintbrush Stormy Tiger Lily

We seemed to be right at the cloud line the whole time, and the sun was this close to breaking through…

Golden hour through the fog

…but by the time we made it to camp, we were firmly enshrouded in the fog. It felt more like late September than July, and the nutrias, devoid of fur and fat, spent the evening puppy-piled in JK’s sleeping bag. Brrr. Nathan stayed warm in the tent in his sleeping bag and fancy backpacking suit.

You can stuff your iggies in a sack, mister!

But ahh, Noble Knob came through for us yet again! When we peeked out of the tent in the morning, we were above the sea of clouds, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks rising up as jagged islands in the distance.

Above the clouds

Now that the sun was out, it was warm enough for Nathan to come out and play. Happiest baby on the rock!

Best buds

He also got to take a good look at what will likely be his future playground, Mount Rainier.

Nathan is growing so fast

Wellie and Basil had to pose for photos…

Freshly caught nutrias

…and I got to engage in my favorite pastime, al fresco reading.

Book club with a view

While I reread Wild and Deborah was on baby duty, the boys (minus Nathan) hiked up the Secondary Knob. I took photos of them and tried to make it seem like a harrowing climb…

Boys (minus Nathan) on the ridge

…but actually it looked like this:

Little Knob

It might have been an easy ascent, but the mosquitoes were ferocious. By the time they made it back to camp, Basil had been gnawed on by so many bugs that his whole face swelled up. Nathan graciously donated some of his Baby Benadryl, and JK and I packed up as fast as we could.

Poor, poor Basil

We left the others on the summit since packing up and hiking out with a baby takes a bit longer and we didn’t want to take any chances with Basil. Surprisingly, he didn’t seem bothered by the situation at all, he was his happy self and in full-on explorer mode.

He got lots of sympathy from the White River 50 Mile runners we met along the way, and by the time we got back to the car, the antihistamines had worked their magic and Basil looked almost back to normal. From now on we’ll always carry nutria-appropriate doses of Benadryl (10mg) with us, and put cedar oil on Basil to keep the bugs away. Poor little guy.


Noble Knob | 7 miles | 500 feet elevation gain –

Hike-a-thon, Hiking, The pups


JK, Wellie and I hiked to Thorp Lookout for the first time last summer, and it was one of my favorite hikes of the year. I don’t know if it was because of the trail itself or simply because of the timing – we hiked it on the day after the terror attacks in Oslo and what was to be the day before we learned that JK’s dad had passed away. I’ll always remember Thorp as a safe, carefree haven between unbearable amounts of sadness.

This is exactly why we need access to nature – a way to escape “real life”, clear our heads, recharge our batteries, fit extraordinary adventures into our ordinary lives, and restore faith and hope in those moments when the world doesn’t seem to make sense anymore. And this, in turn, is why we’re participating in this year’s Hike-a-Thon fundraiser.

Hike-a-Thon 2012 Ok, fine, I also have selfish reasons – I want to hike as much as possible this month and maybe even fit into the sausage casing of a t-shirt they sent me by the end of it – but first and foremost, I hope to raise a little bit of dough for Washington Trails Association to support their trail maintenance and advocacy. If you want to help out, click here or on the picture in the sidebar. Any amount is appreciated (and if you want to join WTA or need to renew your membership, $40 will get you a one-year membership and a subscription to the excellent Washington Trails Magazine)!

Anyhoo, back to Thorp Lookout. Exactly one year later, we returned to that wonderful trail, this time with Dani, Jasper, and of course our lovable new nutria, Basil. Just like last year, we swam in Thorp Lake, one of the warmest alpine lakes I know. We learned that Basil is not a swimmer (and I use that term lightly) like Wellie; he prefers to spend his time rummaging through our packs in search of foodstuffs instead.

Shouldn't nutrias be used to water?

Once we were dry and fed, we made our way up to the lookout, enjoying a tremendous wildflower show which I failed to adequately document – you’ll have to go see it for yourselves.

Flowers with a view

We spent what seemed like hours on the summit, talking, taking photos, taking naps, eating human feces (only Wellie. Dig a cat hole, people!!), evading dog kisses (ugh) and taking in the views and the stillness.

= Summer

Turns out Thorp is a great escape even when you have nothing to escape from.

Thorp to ourselves

My boys

Thorp Lake & Lookout | 8 miles | 2300 feet elevation gain –

Basil's first summit snooze