Adventure is something I crave. My husband and I love exploring this grand planet God created. We are risk takers. Adventure looks different though, now that I’m a mother.
When we hiked pre-motherhood, my biggest worry was whether or not I took any decent photos to document said adventure. Now? Now, I don’t have enough hours in the day to list all the concerns and worry that cloud my mind more often than not.
One advantage of hiking is being forced to be present. It’s hard to enjoy the beauty surrounding you, if you’re constantly focusing on unrealistic “what if’s.” Nevertheless, I’ve accepted that some of this worry is inevitable and part of the parenthood package.
A few weeks ago, we went to Rocky Mountain National Park. I was so stoked, as I’d been looking forward to that day for months. I was Googling “how soon can I hike?,” while still pregnant what seemed like only weeks ago.
I checked the diaper bag several times before we left, even though I packed it the night before. My daughter had enough diapers and clothing for several blowouts. Clearly, I was ready. When we reached the trailhead, I was unprepared for how cold it felt versus what my Google’s weather report had told me. How could it be so icy? Where was the trail? Where are my gloves? How could I forget such a basic item?
Cold air aside, not long after beginning I was completely taken over with the fear of falling. My husband was wearing the baby carrier, so I only had myself to worry about but even so, I was terrified. What if I fell and brought down all of us? What if someone ran into us and pushed us over the mountain? These weren’t rational fears.
But, when is fear rational?
We pressed on, and I tried desperately to push these scenarios to the farthest corner of my mind. After all, we didn’t drive 3 hours, stop twice to feed my wailing baby, and then wait for an hour on the side of the road for the road to the trailhead to be re-opened, just for me to be paralyzed in fear the entire hike.
So, I made it a point to look around me. When I did this, I was astonished by the beauty that surrounded the four of us. Were the leaves this rust amber every fall? Did the lake always form a reflective solid barrier when the weather dipped below freezing? Is that the entire mountain staring back at me in the lake? There was so much beauty, far more beauty than fear, so I pressed on. Instead, I thought about how I’d tell my daughter about this day, when she is older. Tell her how her mom braved sheets of ice, just to prove that we don’t have to live in a bubble of fear. We have you, and that is an adventure I’m intent on embracing.
This is overdue, I apologize for the delay. May and June have been busy months for me and after each trip was another activity so it seems everything has collided. Below is my summary from an amazing hike while in the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy!
We started around noon, which was the latest I’ve ever started any hike. This was due to the fact that we left Seattle at 8:00 AM for Mt. Rainier and though only 60 miles or so away, it’s not a fast road and going up the mountain was painfully slow. Anyway, I was comfortable in my nike running tights, worn and used hiking boots, racerback tank, and a sweatshirt. My waterproof shell was packed in the fiance’s backpack. My upf 50 hat is always on my head when hiking to protect me from the sun. We also applied ample sunblock to any exposed skin—I didn’t plan on shedding any of my clothes regardless of the heat. (I have an amazing Columbia long sleeve upf 50 shirt that I always hike, bike, run in but stupidly left at home. Whoops.)
The hike started off with a pretty inclined paved road. The scenery was gorgeous, and the day was clear and warm (around 70 F/20 C). I noticed pretty quickly that my breath was rapid early on. I evened out my pace and continued forward. We climbed, and climbed and climbed. In between the climbing were several water breaks. I started drinking water with the very first step, as I didn’t want to add any stress to my body by being dehydrated.
We passed alpine marmots, eyeing us suspiciously. The views were some of the best I’ve seen, like ever. I never wanted to leave and it helped that it was so beautiful because the hike started to show signs of slowing me down.
Even though we were nearing June we expected and trampled through tons of snow on this hike. Once we near the camp the climbing steepened on the snow fields and I quickly wished I owned waterproof pants or gaiters. We saw loads of people hiking with a snowboard or skis and some even passed us as the gracefully boarded down the mountain. It looked like such fun! About thirty minutes from Camp Muir I started feeling pretty sick. My head was starting to hurt despite having a filling breakfast and energy bar only a few minutes earlier. I knew I was drinking enough water because I had to pee constantly.
I told myself I could do this, and attempted in vain to hype myself as best I could. Before long I realized I just didn’t have it in me—even though quitting is something I just don’t do. I was devastated. As each step became harder I knew I had a decision to make. I made a plan to make it at least to a set of rocks not too far up a hill we were battling. My fiancé decided to push on and I would wait on the rocks. I watched him climb much faster as I fell into the background. I envied him at that moment. Why couldn’t I climb like that? I tried one last time to motivate myself and push forward faster, my body said hell no. After numerous breaks and some prayer I made it to the sanctuary of the rocks.
Once seated comfortably it dawned on me that my feet were finally showing signs of defeat as well. They were wet and numb and my fingers achingly cold. Besides being exhausted I felt dizzy and as though I might vomit. Not a fun feeling but I was so thankful to be on solid ground—even rocky ground—I didn’t care too much about my physical state. I settled into the rocks and after drinking some water decided to have lunch. After my sandwich was devoured I started taking pictures and thinking of the rest of the hike. I stared at the top of the mountain which wasn’t that much higher than me. I felt accomplished rather than defeated. So what I didn’t make it to Camp Muir, I made it pretty close (I later found out from the fiancé ). Why couldn’t I be happy that I made it so far on my own? As I reflected on the art of being thankful for the little things, I was suddenly in a state of euphoria. It was divine.
Fifteen minutes later I saw a figure that looked like my guy and was pretty excited. The break did me good and ultimately I’m glad I listened to my body and stopped when I did. We began our descent down to the hotel and slid (quite literally). I couldn’t believe how fast it was going down. I slid down one huge steep hill and it was so much fun. Then I slid down others not so intentionally but it was still fun. On the way down we saw quite a few alpine marmots and a black fox! The fox was most surprising as they’re usually pretty elusive. He or she was sleeping among the trees curled up, and I think we woke it. The sleepy amber eyes stared at me uninterested.
If you happen to plan a trip to Mt. Rainier let me offer you some advice. Wear suitable clothing! There is a ton of snow and even if it’s not cold starting out unless you have waterproof shoes and gaiters your feet will be absolutely soaked. This wasn’t a deal breaker for us, but it could make the hike miserable for you. You don’t want that. Also, if I ever did this again, I’d bring a sled on my back—a small one. It’s much faster going down. Lastly, pack more energy bars, sandwiches, etc than you think you need. Because you’re climbing the entire way to the camp it’s absolutely exhausting—and calorie zapping! The way down is easier but still tiring. You will want something to replace the energy.
This is such a long post so if you made it to the end kudos to you and thank you for reading! All in all I think it was a success. If you’re interested in our stay (Paradise Inn) just let me know and I’ll post about that–otherwise it’s not that interesting. Stay active my friends!
Living in Maryland means my life is void of mountains—sad I know! As a native Californian I live for the outdoors, and it’s something I’m not ready to give up. Of course, we do what we can in Maryland such as hiking the trails that do exist near our home. Aside from that I’ve given up any hope of finding real mountains or ideal camping conditions though it hasn’t stopped us from trying. Needless to say, when we travel and happen to end up in a place with either a beach or a bad ass mountain range we gravitate towards that. Continue reading →