Let’s just get something out of the way: I do not recommend carrying your infant up Mount Pilchuck. I’ve been on this trail many times before my baby-toting days and in my delirious, sleep-depraved state, I thought it would be a nice hike to take Evie on. It was the first summit for my husband and I when we moved to Seattle, and I wanted it to be her first, too. Well, that’s nice and all, but I failed to recall that the entire trail is constructed of rocks measuring the perfect size to break every bone in your leg from the knee down. I did remember the ladder to the lookout and thought I could handle that no problem, but I completely forgot that you have to scramble up many large boulders to get to it. Ugh.
The hike started off well with Evie in her new position facing forward in the ergo. This is accompanied by screams of joy and excitement at trees? Flowers? Fellow hikers? It’s hard to tell… The forecast called for partly sunny skies and as I drove to the trailhead it was clear that we would be in the clouds on the mountain. While this may bother most people, it made me really excited. I love climbing through the mist and getting above the clouds. There is a sense of mystery. You don’t know if you’ll get views or not and it is so exciting when a cloud disappears to reveal some nearby jagged peak only to cloud up again leaving you watching intently for the next clearing. Its nature’s version of peek-a-boo.
I was just starting to wonder how the heck I didn’t remember any of this ridiculous steep and rocky trail when Evie began to fuss. She was tired and I think my jostling her around to climb up rocks was not the kind of rocking she needed to fall asleep. I stopped and turned her around in the ergo to make it easier for her to nap which did the exact opposite and made her full on cry. I’ve taken Evie on a number of hikes in her short little life but she has never cried like this on the trail. There is something very jarring and unnatural about hearing a baby cry in the otherwise silent and peaceful wilderness. I was pretty sure her sad little wails were being heard in a multitude of valleys below. I had to make her stop.
So I stopped and nursed her and it helped a little, but she was still tired. I continued on, tiptoeing up the rocks and singing twinkle twinkle little star one word at a time in between breaths. I made it a little farther and then she started to cry again. I apologized profusely to my fellow hikers and tried going faster. I eventually gave in though and plopped down right next to the trail to nurse again. The bugs, an annoying mixture of mosquitoes and black flies, descended on us en masse. At first I tried to be all zen mom and not let the bugs bother me and just concentrate on keeping Evie from getting bitten. That lasted all of 5 seconds before I covered her up with my flannel shirt and used her little polka dot jacket to whip around my head like I was in a rodeo. Yeehaw.
People didn’t seem to care because they just mindlessly trudged on by murmuring things like, “I hate nature”, “yuck, I just ate another bug”, and “why did we come up here again?” At least Evie and I weren’t alone in our misery.
I couldn’t take the bugs anymore so I got Evie back in the ergo as quickly as possible and climbed on. We were getting close to the top and the clouds were starting to give a little. As I got to the last scramble Evie was finally asleep. I considered scrambling up the rocks for a minute, determined to get her to the lookout, then decided that I would be doing it more for me than her. Instead, I sat gently on a large boulder as not to disturb her and carefully and quickly ate my lunch.
On the way down the high clouds began to burn off revealing a marine layer below. We were above the clouds now, just as I had hoped for. Evie slept most of the way as I again cursed every rock and boulder on the trail. When she woke up she looked up at me intensely for a long time. I melted and smiled at her thinking maybe she was appreciating that I just carried her up to the top of a boulder infested mountain. It was a sweet moment. Then she began to cry.
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