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TNAB

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, TNAB

The ultimate date night

I have a vague recollection of bragging online about the fact that Lily had started sleeping through the night. As any parent knows, the second one dares utter those words, the shit hits the fan in a major way, and illness or teeth or just general babyness swoops in to mess you up and leave you exhausted and probably take years off your life.

This is all to say that my parents’ visit could not have come at a better time. Raising two very young kids without any family around can be incredibly hard at times, and we really needed some kid-free time to just feel like ourselves again. Our first date night since Lily was born was spent at Cafe Flora, of course, but the next night we went big – we went to TNAB.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

…because there’s nothing quite as relaxing as hiking really fast straight uphill and scrambling up mountains and then turning around and doing the entire thing in reverse in the dark. Yay TNAB!

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Okay, so it might not be relaxing, but it’s definitely refreshing.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And when it’s been a while since you’ve had a big mountain adventure, a night like this will make you feel incredibly high on life.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

There were delicious huckleberries, a distant marmot sighting, and reunions with old friends.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

And – this part is super-cool – hiking straight uphill just isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Man alive, I wish I had been in this kind of shape back when we used to TNAB regularly.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

I could not wipe the smile off my face.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Rampart Ridge has always been my favorite TNAB destination, and I thank the mountain gods for lining up my parents’ visit to coincide with this very hike.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

(Interestingly, I was less comfortable with scrambling than I used to be. I guess it just comes down to lack of exposure? I mean I’ve always been afraid of heights, but I had tamed it to a certain degree before Nora was born…but I haven’t done anything like this since 2013. I’m out of practice.)

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Wearing my Progress not Perfection tank to celebrate all the strides I’ve made these past couple of years – taking charge of my health, parenting…neither will ever be perfect, but I think I am doing pretty damn good anyway.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

Especially if we can continue getting some time off here and there. We’ve been good about getting our separate alone time after Lily was born, but kid-free adventures together like this never happen. Maybe it’s time to look into getting a regular babysitter.

Date night

This is the absolute best kind of date night.

TNAB Rampart Ridge

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Hiking, Me, Pregnancy, TNAB

Date Night TNAB

This spring, I was in the best shape of my life – so far – and when the babysitters, uhm, I mean my parents came to visit in April, I knew I wanted to spend one of my rare date nights with JK hiking with the Thursday Night Afterburners.

I had spent the winter killing my quads and my lungs on the Cable Line Trail on Tiger Mountain, so I was a little bummed when I heard that the week’s scheduled hike was going to be…the Cable Line Trail on Tiger Mountain. But hey, I do kind of love that trail (in a hateful sort of way), plus we were adding some extra summits with actual views, and there would be a sunset and lots of people I like, so who am I to complain.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

I was also 7 weeks pregnant, and if I remember correctly, this was the very last day I actually felt reasonably okay before the worst of the morning sickness began. So it was good timing after all.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1 7 Weeks

Being pregnant meant I couldn’t go all out up that hill, but it was nice to just put my headphones in, turn on a podcast, and mosey on up at a comfortable pace for once. Even so, it was my fastest pace ever at a TNAB, and probably the only TNAB where I haven’t felt like I was going to keel over and die.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

The company was excellent, as always, and seeing Mount Rainier adorned with alpenglow really is a rare treat for us these days.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

It’s a little strange to look back on how strong I was back then from my current vegetative state on the couch. I had signed up for a couple of races this spring and summer, mainly to have them as consolation prizes in case infertility struck again, but we lucked out this time! I was too sick to race, but who cares. We have another baby on the way! And since I got into this kind of shape once, that means I can definitely do it again.

Trail time is invaluable me-time, something I didn’t do a good enough job prioritizing in the months after Nora was born. Come next winter, when I’ll have two kids at home, getting some me-time will be a must.

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Pregnancy, TNAB

TNAB, sort of.

Every year when spring hits, my hiking mojo comes back in full force after a winter of hibernation, and I start getting all manic and excited about summer hiking trips.

This year I’m not actually going to plan any trips since I have no idea of what I’ll be able to (or want to) do, but I’ll gladly take advantage of the energy and excitement and hike as much as possible while I still can.

On the Ledge

Enter TNAB. Sort of. I’ve never been able to keep up with those loons and their afterburners, so I obviously won’t be able to now, but it’s such a good incentive to get out on trail on a regular Thursday night…especially when the weather is sort of soggy and the couch sings its siren song.

(Oh, and a benefit to hiking on a soggy day? My first salamander sighting in Washington! So cute, little Newt Scamander.)

Newton Artemis Fido "Newt" Scamander

The solution? Modified TNAB! Last week, the main group hiked/ran/flew up to Rattlesnake East Peak while a group of us folks who either couldn’t or didn’t want to do the full hike moseyed up to Rattlesnake Ledge at a very pregnant-friendly pace. AND I got to eat fries and a beet salad at North Bend Bar & Grill afterwards. That makes up for the lack of post-TNAB beer.

Rattlesnake Ledge | 4 miles | 1160 feet elevation gain –

TNAB Gimp Group

Last night, we met up with the TNAB group at the Little Si trailhead, but they sped up the Old Si trail while JK and I wandered on up to Little Si instead. Can we still call it a TNAB? Not really, so I think we’re going to name these after-work hikes Fun Evening Trips Up Summits (FETUS).

(Fun evening trips would be even more fun if certain dogs would refrain from rolling in piles of poop of unknown origin – canine? human?? – forcing us to retreat before the sunset to avoid getting it smeared all over us, too. I’m looking at you, Wellie.)

Little Si can be pretty!?

Little Si | 5 miles | 1200 feet elevation gain –

Golden hour

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hike-a-thon, Hiking, TNAB, Top Trips

TNAB

Oh, right, TNAB. I vowed to go to more of these Thursday evening hikes/sufferfests…then we went to one this winter, and promptly stopped. Why? Laziness, that’s why. Mostly, though, it’s because of the drive – rush hour traffic makes it difficult to be at the trailhead by 5:45.

Rampart Ridge? Worth fighting traffic.

To the family we met at the trailhead who warned us about the yellow jacket nest on trail, thank you so much! JK and Basil (who has the worst luck with bugs) still managed to get stung, as did some later arrivals, but Dani, Wellie and I managed to skulk into the woods and bypass the Nest of Evil. Luckily Basil seemed to be doing fine, but we gave him Benadryl just in case and kept a close eye on him the rest of the night.

If you’re hiking the Ramparts through “the backdoor” this fall, be careful, the nest is located right at the junction with Lake Laura, and the yellow jackets will repeatedly sting any man or beast who walks by. Last I heard, some thoughtful hikers had marked the area with flagging.

Stairway to heaven

Moving on, the meadowy bits below the summit were full of scampering marmots, but I didn’t get a single good shot of them. Clouds and forest fire haze foiled my photography plans and cast the mountains in gloomy light…

NABing and gabbing

…until sunset, when the sky ‘sploded in breathtaking pinks and purples. Whoa. When TNAB is good, it’s really good.

Mordor?

When TNAB is good...

There was the usual drinking and chatting, oohing and aahing, joking and reminiscing (even some snoozing, courtesy of Basil, who was still high on Benadryl), and JK and I realized that we had missed this more than we thought.

TNAB!

We vowed yet again to attend more TNABs…and then Mother Nature decided that she would serve up epic storms every Thursday from then on.

If we’re going to fight traffic, it’s going to be for something a bit more pleasant than “rain Armageddon“. So…maybe next week. Or next year?

Pink!

– Rampart Ridge | 4.5 miles | 2,200 feet gain –

Rainer with LAVA!!!11!

Humongous thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, Kelsie…

Thanks, Kelsie!

…Lauren…

Thanks, Lauren!

…and Lyn! Y’all rock!

Thanks, Lyn!

Hike-a-thon, Hiking, TNAB

HaT#11: Margaret Lake and Mount Margaret

Our participation in TNAB this year was pathetic. We made it to one. (We had a chance to redeem ourselves at the TNAB Turkey Burner after Thanksgiving, but we elected to sleep in and eat leftover pie in bed instead.)

Fireweed

But aah, the one we did join, Mount Margaret, is one we seem to make it to every year – and it happened during Hike-a-Thon, which seemed appropriate.

Crook-eye Jasper

At this point I had realized that I would be able to make it to 100 miles for the month, so JK, Dani and I ran down to Margaret Lake for extra mileage.

Margaret Lake

Remember how Josie had made her ACL kneehab trail comeback just a couple of days before? Well, since she’s mental, she chose TNAB as her second hike. That trail is fine until you get to the end, where there, well, is no trail. And it’s steep. And you go down in the dark. Mental, in the very best way.

TNAB on Mt Margaret

(group photo stolen from Scott Lykken)

Otherwise it was business as usual for TNAB. Drinking…

Zeus just whipped him

…splendid views…

Oh, Mount Margaret

…a beautiful sunset…

First TNAB of the year

…and a vow that next year, next year we will make it to more of these.

Margaret Lake & Mt. Margaret | 7.1 miles | 2800 feet elevation gain –

Good night, Tahoma