Archive for the ‘Mount Rainier’ Category

Bench and Snow Lakes

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

34 was the week I went from feeling amazingly energetic to feeling really, really…pregnant I guess, at the drop of a hat. Actually it was at the drop of a baby – she’s shimmied down low, ready for her big arrival, and in the meantime I’m waddling around like I’m carrying a bowling ball betwixt me legs. Our 35-week Hike-a-Thon hike needed to be short. Short, but awesome.

View towards the mountain

We got a late start after going to a birthday brunch at Plum Bistro (where my gestabetic self made the ultimate sacrifice by not partaking of the mac n’ yeaze – see, fetus? See how much I love you already??) before driving down to Mount Rainier to a new-to-us trail – Snow and Bench Lakes.

Berry delay Pretty trail

The hike was a success right from the start when we found huckleberries lining the trail. Apparently we were gorging ourselves with such concentration and gusto that we missed seeing two bears that were hanging out a little ways off the trail, but oh well.

We finally hiked moseyed waddled on when I decided I was way too hot and needed to cool off in Snow Lake post-haste.

Double cooling

…and what an efficient cool-off it was. I don’t know why, since it’s a shallow lake and not at a terribly high elevation, but this was one of the coldest lakes I’ve ever been in – much, much colder that the turquoise, glacier-fed lakes we’ve been in before. Brr.

Cooling off More bump, always

We hung out in the water until our feet started going numb, then had our late lunch on the way out instead of at the lake, which was the one place on the trail that was buzzing with mosquitoes. When we got to the overlook where we sat down to eat, fellow hikers informed us that we had missed a bear wading in the pond below us by a total of two minutes. Aargh, seriously??

Our luck turned a little while later when a shrill marmot whistle alerted us to the presence of another bear – it was way off in the distance and scurried off into the trees before we could get a good photo, but still. It was a bear. And we actually saw this one!

Distant, blurry bear...

I have to say, I’ve loved this summer of hiking. We haven’t covered the miles we usually would have or been out as often, but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and tried out a bunch of new, family-friendly trails that I think we’ll return to again and again in the future.

We’ve seen wildflowers and marmots and bears, jumped (and awkwardly slid, respectively) into lakes, and seen some excellent views. SPD made hiking a bit more difficult than I had hoped, but between my support belt and the natural high I get from endorphins, it was totally doable…and totally worth it. Have I mentioned that I really love hiking?

Bench and Snow Lakes | 2.6 miles | 700 feet elevation gain –

35 weeks

Waddle-a-Thon 2014

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I had three hiking-related goals for this summer: to cool my bulging belly off in a lake, to hike to Noble Knob, and to see at least one marmot. Check, check, and check!


I didn’t realize I would still feel this good in my third trimester, but since I have energy to spare, I decided to add another goal to my list and sign up for Washington Trails Association’s Hike-a-Thon again. I won’t exactly be pounding out the miles this year, but that’s what I love about hiking, especially in Washington – there are countless options for amazing wilderness adventures out there, no matter what your shape (round, mine is very round) or life situation happens to be like.

34 weeks down, sixish to go!

At 34 weeks, JK and I drove to Mount Rainier to look for my marmot friends. We always see them in the area around Sunrise (and the walking is easy), so we moseyed along towards Skyscraper Pass, listening for whistles and looking for lazy, flat marmot rugs hiding in the shade.

Towards Skyscraper

My wish was granted when one of the biggest marmots I’ve ever seen suddenly appeared on the trail right in front of us. There was much snapping of photos and squealing (from me, not the marmot). Just look!

Totes adorbs

Very fur! Much obese!


Such handsome! Wow!


We found a lunch spot where I could keep an eye on our corpulent friend and several of his cousins, and then we turned around and hiked back towards Sunrise. It felt weird to just turn around without having reached a real destination, but since my marmot goal had been fulfilled and the heat was getting to both of us, we decided it was for the best.

Happy hiker

Happily, there were more wildlife sightings to be had – more marmots and some cliff-scaling mountain goats! There were lots of human wildlife sightings too, now that it was later in the day. Sunrise really does lend itself best to early mornings (unsurprisingly, given the name) – the light on the mountain gets washed out later in the day, and the hordes come out to play. It’s wonderful to see so many people out enjoying our national parks, but we were very thankful not to be sitting in the line that reached from the park entry almost all the way to SR410!

Go home, goat. You're drunk.

The wildflowers, on other hand, were rather lacking. The last time we hiked this trail, it was a veritable wonderland of blooms, but I think it’s just been too hot, dry, and generally un-Washingtonesque this year.


– Sunrise waddling | 5 miles | 700 feet elevation gain –

I did manage to squeeze into my Hike-a-Thon shirt for a quick photo op. For obvious reasons, my hiking effort will be rather subdued this year, and after 36 weeks, I should start staying closer to home (and to the hospital) in case…things start happening. Luckily there’s an “urban hiking” category this year, so hopefully I’ll be waddling down my local trails until the end! Here’s a link to my previous years of Hike-a-Thon trip reports, back when I could cover more miles than a toddler but, ironically, could never quite fit into my Hike-a-Thon shirts.

If you’re a fellow lover of trails, please consider a donation – WTA does amazing work, both physically on our trails and for outdoor advocacy. If hands-on volunteering is more your thing, I recommend signing up for a WTA trail work party, which a) is like a free Crossfit session b) is surprisingly fun (you’ll hear some great stories from really interesting people) and c) you’ll leave with chocolate in your belly and a shiny new halo hovering around your head from all the good work you’ve just done.

Hike-a-Thon Hike #1

Return to Noble Knob

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Oh, Noble Knob. Back in 2007 when I picked this trail (for the name alone, since I am apparently 12 years old) as our first family hike, I had no idea how many great memories would come from this modest little mountain. It was where I truly fell in love with hiking, where we said goodbye to little Scabbers, and where we found healing when we desperately needed it. I was hoping to make it up there while schlepping this belly around, and I did it!

Hiking to Noble Knob

Our timing left a little to be desired since we started hiking just as the front-runners in the White River 50 Mile Endurance Run came into the Corral Pass aid station, which meant that about 300 runners had to pass us…out and back. Then again, trail runners are pretty much the happiest, most endorphin-high creatures on the planet (at least when they’re “only” 16 miles into a race), so it truly was a joy to watch and talk to them, even though I had to step off the trail more times than I could count.

White River 50 Mile Endurance Run

Unfortunately, repeatedly stepping off the trail aggravated my SPD, and my pubic symphysis popped out of alignment again, or whatever that feeling is. All I know is that it makes walking feel very painful, and I thought we were going to have to turn around before our hike had really begun. We found a clearing and JK helped me pop it back into place (we do this exercise every day, which allows me to function as a mobile human being). I felt instant relief, but was a little more waddly and uncomfortable than usual for the remainder of the hike…luckily those lovely endorphins overrode the discomfort soon enough. I wish there was a way for me to get an injection of pure endorphins during labor.

Tiger lilies Love this bit of trail

Apart from all that, I felt much more energized than I thought I would at 33 weeks. It’s the magic of the mountains, I tells ya. It’s impossible to not be excited by life when you’re in a place like this. Even when your dog rolls in elk feces then tries to sit on your lap (I know, I know, I might as well get used to being covered in poop).

JK was there too!

Something tells me we’re not done making memories on this noblest of knobs.

33 weeks

Noble Knob | 7 miles | 500 feet elevation gain –

Heading home

Mount Rainier double

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Sunrise on opening day

I’ve been looking forward to hooking up with Janelle again after our excellent winter trip to Mazama Ridge, and the opening day of the Sunrise Road was the perfect opportunity to hike with a Mount Rainier expert.

Little Tahoma

There was a little more snow than we were expecting, but the general consensus is that we’re 3-4 weeks ahead of last year when it comes to snow melt. It’s certainly better than in 2011 when JK skied to Burroughs Mountain on Fourth of July weekend!

Frozen Lake

We started our day with a snowy traverse to Frozen Lake, followed by a dry trail the rest of the way to Fremont Lookout.

The trail to Fremont

Unfortunately we didn’t see any marmots by the lookout, but we did smell one. Well, we decided it was either weed or a wet marmot. Or a wet marmot smoking weed.

Fremont Lookout and Grand Park

Anyway, our rodent search paid off on the way back when the boulders by near Frozen Lake were suddenly lousy with marmots. Marmots! I love them.

It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!

It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!

Hello marmot



We couldn’t hang out with them for too long though; we still had another trail to hike – my first overnight of the year!

Fremont Lookout | 5.6 miles | 800 feet elevation gain –

Still a couple of snowfields to traverse to get to Frozen Lake

Janelle drove us back down Sunrise Road to the Crystal Lakes trailhead where we saddled up and started hiking.

Janelle in hell

Unfortunately, we had forgotten that we were in the midst of an unseasonable early heatwave and that hiking uphill with overnight packs in the middle of the day might not be the best idea. It was incredibly muggy as well, much too muggy for the west coast. It was really getting to Janelle, and I felt so bad for her. I’ve had heat exhaustion before, and it just sucks the life out of you.

Mist on the lake

I did my best to cool her off by pouring cold water on and in her wherever we could find a stream. I think the thought of jumping in the lake at the end of the trail was what really kept her going, though.

Bare campsite

She powered through it like a champ and luckily felt better as the evening progressed. It helped that the lake and our campsite were gorgeous.

Tent life Misty Crystal

Floating head

In the morning it was my turn to feel crappy. I barely got any sleep and had a pounding headache – I guess I was dehydrated too. Janelle brought water and a Kind bar to my tent, and after I had that and a strong cup of coffee, I felt almost back to normal.

Crystallized Mukmuk

Still, we decided to skip our planned hike to Glacier Basin and just lounge by the lake for a while before heading back to civilization. It wasn’t such a bad place to spend a lazy Saturday morning.

Crystal Lakes | 6 miles | 2300 feet –

Crystal Peak

Amazing Mazama

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

After about a year of planning to hike together, fellow nwhiker and hike-a-thoner Janelle and I finally made it happen. The destination was obvious – our beloved Mount Rainier.

Uh oh, clouds moving in

Janelle hikes more on that mountain than anyone I know, and like me, she never gets sick of it. We keep returning to the same places over and over again, but it never feels the same.

Janelle's home away from home

This time, it felt cold. Really really cold. (This seems to be the general theme of my trip reports lately, especially since I missed out on the latest inversion.)

We climbed up to Mazama Ridge just as the mountain decided to hide behind a curtain of clouds. We sat down for an early lunch and briefly considered just going home. But then, ooh! aah! magic started happening!


The mountain reappeared, and at the same it started snowing perfect, tiny snowflakes, like someone was sprinkling glitter all over us.

Perfect snowflakes

Buoyed by the beauty, we abandoned all thoughts of leaving. In fact, it turned into one of those ‘we don’t wanna leave’ days.

Skin tracks

Luckily we could feel our toes again now that we were moving, so we were able to hang out in Paradise the rest of the day.

It don't get no better than this

Janelle is usually quite the early bird, so I was pretty pleased with myself when I influenced her to try a more Ingunnesque schedule – staying for sunset.

Paradise Inn

She seemed to enjoy it.

Happy Hikingqueen

This was definitely one of my favorite winter trips to Mount Rainier – I can’t imagine a better way to bond with a new friend.


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