Archive for the ‘Central Cascades’ Category


Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Yikes, I don’t know what happened to my blogging mojo. (Un)fortunately, it shouldn’t take too long to catch up since my hiking mojo skipped town as well. It happens, sometimes I just burn out a little bit after summer.

A young'un

So, let’s go back to the last day of August and my last hike of Hike-a-Thon 2013. Last year on almost this exact date, we hiked to Labyrinth Mountain above Minotaur Lake. This time we decided to take a left at Minotaur and scramble up Point 6262 instead.

Point 6262

The berries were plentiful on this hike, and we spent quite a bit of time stuffing our faces in the meadow below the lake. The dogs even started eating berries straight from the bushes, something we thought was hilarious until we realized that: a) they would come home and strip the blueberry bushes in our yard clean and b) they probably aren’t smart enough to tell the difference between edible berries and non-edible berries. Ruh roh.

Om nom nom!

I loved Labyrinth last year, but I think this peak was even better. Minotaur and Theseus Lakes looked beautimous below.

Almost to the ridge

With views like this, Point 6262 deserves a mythological name of its own, no?

Ridge with a view

Wellie and Basil brought their adventure buddy, Brutus, along for this hike too, so I had all my favorite guys with me.


Pups, lakes, peaks, sun, huckleberries? Summer Saturdays don’t get much better than this.

Wellie with Glacier Peak

Oh, and once again, Basil confused the minds of small children with his furlessness. After stroking Wellie’s (relatively) luscious coat, one of the little girls we met on the way down started petting Basil’s smooth skin. “This one feels like he’s naked! Is he naked?”

At least it was better than last year when, whilst snuggling with the nutrias at Yellow Aster Butte, our friends’ daughter informed us that “Basil doesn’t have any skin“.


Minotaur Lake & Point 6262 | 4.5 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –

Bullheaded JK in Minotaur Lake

Humongous thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, little Nathan and family…

Thanks, Nathan!

…fellow Mukmukian, Lindsay…

Thanks, Lindsay!

…fellow European, Barb…

Thanks, Barb!

…hiker extraordinaire, Elle…

Thanks, Elle!

…and Erik the Ooob! Thanks for supporting me – and WTA!

Thanks, Eric!

Heavy legs, soaring heart

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Woodland Brutus

Two days after I pushed myself on the Rattlesnake Traverse, my legs felt like lead. “No biggie,” I thought. “A little run will loosen them right up.” Hahaha, no.


Fortunately for me, the trail up and along West Cady Ridge is graded for horses, which also means it’s graded for sore Ingunns – never too steep, and lots of beautimous views to keep those legs moving.

Proud beast

Basil is banned from hiking as long as the Cascade mosquito population is still thriving, so Wellie brought along his friend Brutus, ultrarunner extraordinaire, to function as our running coach.


All thoughts of heavy legs disappeared as we got closer to Benchmark Mountain. I don’t know if it’s just that endorphin high again or what, but I just fell in love with this trail.


Hiking in the Cascades often involves climbing through the woods for thousands of feet before finally getting a view right at the top of a mountain, but the majority of this trail was along a beautiful ridge with views in every direction and flowers at our feet. I was in heaven.

Summit ridge

The only thing missing was Basil. And some marmots. And maybe an ice-cold beverage waiting for me on the summit (but that’s ok, we had a cooler full of watermelon in the car for the drive home).

Ingunn & Brutus

My legs started feeling achy and clumsy again on the way down, but you know what? Those legs were heavy because they’re growing stronger. I’m growing stronger, slowly but surely, inside and out.

It was totally worth spending the next two days waddling around like an inebriated duck.

A strong contender

Best dayhike of the year…so far. It ain’t over yet.

Mukmuk approves

– Benchmark Mountain | 15 miles | 4500 feet elevation gain –

Kyes and Columbia?

Running into summer

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Let’s start with a bit of blog maintenance: first of all, I have no idea why my RSS thing keeps pulling up really old (like ’07 old) posts – sorry if you’re seeing outdated posts in your feed reader! Also, I miss posting more regularly…so I’m going to try to do that. Oh, and I’m a member spotlight over on, a very cool Pacific Northwest hiking site, so if you wandered over here from there, welcome, and if you haven’t heard of TMBER before, go check it out.

Running is fun when it's fun

After spending Saturday running errands and working in the garden, JK and I drove up the Mountain Loop Highway on Sunday to run (what I could of) the Elliot Creek Trail to Goat Lake.

Sunshine getting our hopes up

The lower trail is beautiful, and, from what I gather, less crowded than the upper trail. We ran alongside the creek through a lush forest, admiring the greeness of it all. We hardly met anyone on the hike in, so Wellie and Basil got to run off leash, usually staying ahead with JK, the honorary greyhound.

Running through the alder grove Goat Lake

Eventually we hooked up with the upper trail, an old logging road turned alder allĂ©e, before entering the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and finally gaining some real elevation up to the lake. I wasn’t able to run those switchbacks, so I had lots of time to gawk at the huge cedars that lined the trail. The last time we hiked this trail, I felt just about ready to defect and leave Washington for good, but now I am massively in love with this state and our life here. I guess that’s what happens when you try to blame your depression on your location, foolishly thinking you would magically be happier somewhere, anywhere, else.

Goat Lake

While the clouds have thankfully cleared in my head, they had yet to lift over Goat Lake, hiding the mountaintops and nixing the idea of swimming. We didn’t care; we were so high on endorphins that any view would do.

We split a sandwich and ran back down the trail, this time dodging big groups of hikers. This is a very popular hike, so come early. Luckily the two trails help disperse the masses, and once we hit the lower trail, we were pretty much alone again – not that anything could have ruined my runner’s high anyway.

Goat Lake | 10 miles | 1400 feet gain –

Big Four picnic area

We had packed a cooler full of watermelon to enjoy back at the car, but since the sun never really came out to dehydrate us, we drove over to the Big Four picnic area to eat it there instead – with a side of excellent views.

We always stop here after hiking on the Mountain Loop

To round out a perfect Mountain Loop day, we stopped at our favorite farm stand outside of Granite Falls to pick up produce to barbecue in the afternoon. I think summer has arrived and I know I love it.

Vikings in Valhalla

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Our favorite hike of the year (I had better get this post up now since the world is going to end on Friday) was just a mellow afternoon stroll to the best swimming lake in Washington, Lake Valhalla.

Approaching Valhalla

While the water was too cold to tempt even us vikings to take a dip this time, we were treated to a gorgeous display of fall color to enjoy as we lazed on the sandy beach with Basil and Wellie.

Viking nutrias

We even remembered to take a family portrait, our first since we grew one nutria stronger this summer.

Family portrait

When we started losing light at the lake (we had slept in again, but this time it turned out to be a good thing), we moved up to Mount McCausland instead. The haze and the low afternoon light made it look like the hill was on fire.

McCausland's steep bit

My quads were on fire too, but I got to rest them on the summit while perusing the content of the comically oversized summit register (and gazing adoringly at Glacier Peak).

Glacier Peak n' me

The way back down to the PCT was absolutely gorgeous. It was getting late, but we just couldn’t tear ourselves away from the views. This was one of those moments I’ll carry with me until the world ends (so, you know, until Friday).

Sleeping in for the win

- Lake Valhalla and Mt. McCausland | 7.5 miles | 2100 feet elevation gain -

Washington's #1 beach

Thank you, Cascades, for being utterly awesome. Thank you, life, for giving us grand experiences when we least expect them.

HaT #1: Lake 22

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Why Ingunn, shouldn’t you be on a mountaintop somewhere, celebrating your hikeaversery in this magnificent weather? Yes, yes I should. Alas, I am moaning my way through a migraine instead. Tomorrow I will pump my body so full of Maxalt and caffeine that I will be able to get out no matter what, because it’s a sunny weekend in August, for cryin’ out loud. And I have goals to reach.

Actually, I don’t really have any concrete mileage goals for this year’s Hike-a-Thon (except to fit into the official HaT shirt without looking like a sausage), but JK said he’ll donate $1 per mile I hike. Since his employer will match that amount, I could be looking at some valuable hiking.

Hike-a-Thon 01

As if that doesn’t make JK’s employer cool enough, they gave him bonus vacation time last week, just in time for the beginning of HaT. Yay! We discussed where to go on this unexpected time off – camping on the coast, maybe the Teanaway – but in the end we decided to stay right here.

Ever since we moved into our new house, the need to get away just hasn’t been that strong. Spending an evening barbecuing on our deck feels just as relaxing as hanging out in camp. We’re also wary of taking Basil out into the wilderness overnight until the bugs bugger off, so I think we’ll be doing lot of dayhikes this August.

Which brings us to Lake 22, a nice, quick hike (hmmm, maybe JK is trying to keep his donation low?) when you want to sleep in, cool off, and be back at home in time for an afternoon nap and tasty grilled veggie burgers.

Pure grace, Wellie-style

JK and I went for a swim, as usual, and Wellie jumped in to rescue us, as usual. This time he followed the swim with a new invention – a dust bath! It was almost enough to make us throw him back into the lake.

Dust bath

Lake 22 | 5.5 miles | 1350 feet elevation gain –

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