Ski Season!

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Bring on the snow!! And let’s go skiing! I’ve come to realize in adulthood that winter is the time I am often happiest. As a mother, some of the moments I feel most confident and joyful are when I am taking my kids skiing, either alpine or nordic. It’s such an important part of our lives.

This year we started out alpine skiing with one completely independently skiing kiddo. Three cheers for that!!

And our Hannah girl, true to form, hadn’t been ready to be skiing on her own. Physically she was there, and had been since last season, but she likes for us to somehow be connected. The least back-breaking way for that to happen is for Alex or me to hold one end of a ski pole with Hannah next to us, holding the other end, and skiing down together.

We could tell that she was at a breakthrough moment and managed to get her into a private ski lesson at Stevens Pass. The timing was perfect and by the end of her private lesson she was an independent skier! And now she is absolutely crushing it!!

Ben joined the local nordic team again, and Alex is coaching. We absolutely love that our community drops everything to support the ski team and rally around these kids. The spirit of our small rural, mountain community is filled with love, support and connection. We feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

This year Ben competed in two WA Nordic Cup races, classic skiing without poles in both. Especially at his first race he did exceptionally well. The lack of poles did not do him any favors, though! He’s a great little skier and was so proud of the ribbon he was given for his participation.

We’ve been skiing as much as possible as a family, both alpine and nordic.

Alex and I managed to get a ski day at Stevens in while both kids were simultaneously at ski school. We had so much fun skiing together!

I set a goal to ski at least 100 days this season. As of writing this, I’m at day 54 {and 28 consecutive!}. Luckily for me, we got such an early start to ski season I think I should be able to make this happen! It’s been a really fun challenge.

Our winter has been so incredible so far, and we still have so much of it left to enjoy! It feels like we’re living and breathing skiing right now, which is so much fun. We surely belong in the mountains and are so happy to be here.

Holiday Season

Now that the holidays are behind us we’re diligently focused on ski season. We had such a lovely holiday season, though it felt a little different this year.

The lead-up to Christmas felt so long this year. This is due, mostly, I think, to the wildly early start to winter. We’ve had snow covering the ground since November 3rd. It kick-started our winter and the anticipation of Christmas and the holiday season.

It felt weird to have a snow-covered ground and pumpkins and fall decor, but I just couldn’t bring myself to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. We waited until the day after Thanksgiving to bring out all the holiday things. This is my absolute favorite time of the year, so, it was hard to not dive right in and start doing all the Christmas things right away.

New this year was our fake tree. Ack! I can hardly say it. Really, it was beautiful and it filled our space perfectly, but still, it’s not a real tree. Despite my disdain for fake trees, I am glad we did it, and dang it was nice not stringing the lights this year!

As December carried on, we filled our days with baking and eating cookies, skiing, ice skating, sledding, shoveling and drinking hot chocolate. We did SO much.

Ben finished up school mid-December, then recessed until after the new year. Alex had the same timeframe off of work, too, so we had two entire weeks off at home together. It was so special.

Amidst the fun was a whole lot of chaos as we were racing to the finish line to try to get the guesthouse done and ready for its first occupants: Alex’s parents! Trucks lined our driveway and the crew was in and out, working tirelessly to finish up the loose ends, get the cabinets finished up, install the last of the things and get the tile set in the bathroom.

The guys turned the guesthouse over to us, temporarily, on December 23rd and we scrambled to move in and get everything settled for Alex’s parents to arrive on Christmas day. There are still a few projects to complete, like the kitchen backsplash and finishing the railings in the stairway, but it’s livable now!

Some of our Christmas Eve traditions include making cinnamon rolls, making lasagna and reading The Night Before Christmas by the fire. This year we took the loveliest stroll via snowshoes – I hope to make that a Christmas Eve tradition.

The enthusiasm and anticipation of Christmas was so high among our eldest. Ben is truly like a real-live Buddy the Elf – he loves Christmas more than anyone I have ever met. Unsurprisingly, he was up at 4:48 on Christmas morning, eager to investigate and enjoy the day!

Christmas morning was delightful, despite the rain outside. We opened gifts, savored Alex’s cinnamon rolls {a new recipe this year!}, played together and FaceTimed with family across the country.

The delight waned when we received word that Alex’s family’s flight, originally scheduled for Christmas Day, had been canceled. We had been so excited for their arrival and it was such a disappointment that their trip was to be postponed several days.

While we awaited their delayed arrival the weather turned from rain to ice and we ultimately lost power. Always an adventure! We ended up camping out at home for several days while the roads crews literally chipped away at the ice. The mountain passes ended up being closed for days on end.

Finally, late in the week, Alex’s parents, sister and her family arrived! The kids instantly re-connected like no time had passed. They also couldn’t wait to tear into their Christmas gifts.

We had such a fun long weekend with everyone. We skied, sledded, ice skated, played together, rang in the new year and had such a lovely time.

After we said goodbye to Alex’s sister and her family we switched gears to getting back into the swing of things in the new year. The kids went back to school and Alex went back work. Alex’s parents are still here for the next few weeks and we’re getting into our new groove. And that’s a wrap!

2022 Recap… A Year in Review

This last year has been one of my absolute favorites. We are getting settled in our life in the mountains, we’re all making new friends, figuring out a balance and enjoying so much time together as a family. It helps that our kids are in such a golden age right now – they still like us, they like each other and they’re getting more independent and resilient and their stamina continues to grow.

Our 2022 kicked off with a massive snow dump. It was intense! We got somewhere around 55″ of snow in about 36 hours.

After we dug ourselves out of that snowstorm, it was as though Mother Nature was done with snow for the winter. She just gave it to us all at once, then not again until it all melted in April.

The huge snowstorm set us up for a very long ski season. I didn’t keep track of all of our ski days, but I had around 65 last year, the kids around 55.

I absolutely fell in love with skate skiing {a type of Nordic skiing where it’s like you’re skating on skis – you can get going quite fast and it is tremendous exercise!}.

Ben joined the Nordic ski team in our little community. He competed in his first ski race and just loved the fanfare and spectacle of the event.

Our base of snow eventually gave way to clear pavement and melted out trails in town and we started having dual-sport days – skiing and biking!

Much to my reluctance, Alex bought me a mountain bike for my birthday. I really thought I’d hate it – you know, flying down the hill making sharp turns, trying to avoid hitting a tree. I figured I’d be too anxious to enjoy it, but actually, I loved it. I have a tremendous amount to learn and so much practice to get under my belt!

Ben is also the proud new owner of a real-deal mountain bike with disc brakes, a suspension and a bunch of gears. It is so beautiful. He actually hated how it looked and refused to ride it. Our friend, Amanda, found these incredible rainbow bike graphics and gave them to Ben as a birthday gift. Now it’s perfect!

Early in the spring our little 3-year-old-at-the-time Hannah made up her mind that she was ready to ride a two-wheel pedal bike, so off she went!

The spring was dubbed “sprinter” {spring-winter} and was very cold – it just never seemed to warm up. Like ever.

We broke ground on our very own garden this spring! Alex set up irrigation and fencing, and together we prepared the soil. Hannah was my helper to plant all of the starts. The garden ended up being wildly successful and one of the coolest things I have ever done before. It brought so much joy to all of us to go and check what was growing and then harvest our bounty. Unsurprisingly, we learned a tremendous amount, too.

Summer eventually did come, though not until mid-to-late June. We had the busiest summer of all-time. It was ridiculous. Fun, but way, way too much. Memorial Day weekend was spent celebrating Ben’s 6th birthday in Winthrop, Washington.

We took our first family of four camping trip to San Juan Island in early June. Several families from Ben’s school were at the camping trip as well – it was so lovely. We loved taking the kids out to the Sound {Puget Sound} and letting them see a completely different environment than our mountain valley. Plus, the camping was a blast!

After Ben’s school year wrapped up, we squeezed in a week-long trip down to Bend, Oregon. A highlight was seeing Crater Lake. Ben was sick the whole time we were there {don’t worry, the rest of us got it eventually, too} and was just suuuuper low energy. We still made the most of it – we visited Mt Bachelor Ski Resort, The High Desert Museum, went kayaking, and at the very end, he had enough stamina to do a mountain bike ride.

Here and there, throughout the summer, we were able to fit in trips to the pool, a couple of camp sessions for Ben and a few trips to the farmers market.

Much of the summer was spent hosting visitors and taking regional trips here and there. We had the pleasure of seeing so many wonderful friends and getting to know their children.

Hannah’s fourth birthday was celebrated in Seabrook, Washington, a darling town on the Washington coast. She had her first-ever birthday party, complete with a watermelon theme. It was such a special time for her!

We put an end to our air travel hiatus and flew to Wisconsin to catch up with Alex’s family. We hadn’t seen our nephews for 2.5 years. It was such a special week together!

While we were in Wisconsin, Alex got to visit his grandmother, Nana. A month later she passed away. We all have so many memories and stories of Nana. What a special human she was.

Shortly after we returned from Wisconsin, I turned around and took the kids back to my hometown and family cabin in Minnesota for Labor Day weekend. We also got to see my BFF, Sarah, and one of her daughters. It was such a lovely end to the summer.

September arrived, and with it, the new school year. Ben transferred to the main public school in town, 30ish minutes away. Hannah returned to the nature preschool she attended last year – this year she’s going four days a week.

Along with the school year, the smoke arrived. There were multiple wildfires within 15-20 miles of our house and the smoke from the blazes infiltrated our valley. It was awful. Our air quality was horrendous nearly every day, and it lasted for more than two months.

We had to be very strategic about our outdoor outings during “smoke season.” We managed to escape the smoke a few times and went camping with some friends, we checked out a new state park and went on a family mountain bike ride and made it to the Chelan County Fair.

Mostly, though, our fall was spent indoors. We did a lot of baking, coloring, had lots of story time, and relaxed. We would have much preferred the air to have been fresh; however, we did appreciate the opportunity to catch up on some rest and focus on projects at home after our bonkers summer.

{Pantry overhaul!!}

The stars aligned for Alex and me one day to get the kids off to school and then make a bee-line for Colchuck Lake, which is located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We didn’t have much time to make the nearly 9-mile hike to the lake, so we ran it. It was one of my favorite days of all-time. The run was the most challenging physical pursuit I’ve ever undertaken and the reward at the lake was absolutely worth it. And! Somehow, the air was clear and we made it back for pick-up!

By mid-October the weather pattern finally changed and the smoke dissipated. We jumped at the opportunity to get our house and yard ready for winter, we played in the leaves, went for hikes, spent time down by the river and tried to get in as much time outside as possible.

Little did we know, winter would be arriving at the very beginning of November! We were surprised to receive about 8-inches of snow in the first week. The temps stayed cold, and the snow never left. We have been Nordic skiing since the second week of November!

Our early start to winter has been a blast. The kids are loving the snow play and Alex and I are getting out to ski most days. I have a goal to ski 100 days this winter {Nordic and alpine combined}, and Ben’s ski team coach is pushing all the kids to try to ski 50 days this year. I think we can do it!

Throughout the year slow and steady progress has been made on our garage and guesthouse build. It was a mad dash to the finish line and it’s almost complete now. We have our first guests currently staying there, actually! It has been a very long process, which we have enjoyed, and we’re so excited to have a garage and guesthouse.

The holidays are my absolute favorite time of year. I relish in the nostalgia of going through our Christmas decorations, watching the kids delight as they trim the tree. I just love baking cookies and making gifts for friends and family, and it brings me so much joy opening holiday cards from friends and family around the world. I do keep our holiday cards and love looking back on them year-to-year.

As 2022 comes to a close, I am looking to 2023 with a calm smile. Of course none of us know what lies ahead, what challenges or opportunities will come down the pike. Wishing you all a 2023 filled with joy, good health, fun adventures and community.

An Early Start to Winter

This fall was truly the strangest. We had three months of smoke, followed by literally two weeks of fall weather, then, just a few days after Halloween we got 8 inches of snow! The first weeks of November were unseasonably chilly, so the snow stuck around and is here to stay. I’ve lost count, but I’m positive we’ve had more than 50 inches of snow so far.

The early snow caught pretty much everyone off guard, us included. I think we were more ready than a lot of people, but there is truly so much to do to prepare for the snow around here.

Hannah had a really easy transition to wearing her snow gear to school and being outside all day in the cold. Thankfully her body runs pretty hot, so I’m sure that worked in her favor when the weather changed so abruptly. I buy her gear from Reima, which is an incredible Scandinavian company.

Within a few days of the first big snowfall the Nordic ski trails near us miraculously opened! I still can’t believe it. Not only did they open on November 11th, they stayed open.

I set a goal for the winter to get 100 days on skis in. I’m really glad I was able to get such an early jump-start, as it’s harder to squeeze in a ski than I expected! I am at 20 days so far. Now that winter is really here I’m hoping to ski most days.

The kids have already had several days on skis, too!

I’m so impressed, particularly with Hannah, this year. On the first Nordic ski day we were able to make it so much farther and Hannah had so much more endurance than she did last year. I really can’t wait to see how that translates into downhill skiing this year.

It took a few extra weeks for the resorts to open up alpine skiing, and by now, they’re open.

We were also able to get our skating rink up and running!

Both kids are skating so well! These are Hannah’s first days of ice skating unsupported on her own and she is so sturdy and stable. Ben is figuring out that if he slows down, he falls less. Alex is working on his hockey stop.

Now that winter is officially beginning this week, it feels like it’s been here for almost two months! The snow has truly been so much fun. I’m also not usually the one on the working end of the snow blower or shovel {thank you Alex!}. Here’s to a snowy, white winter filled with adventures and skiing!!

Ali’s Favorite Things 2022

Every holiday season for the last several years I have pulled together a list of some of my absolute favorite things. I love sharing recommendations and things I just love. Here’s this year’s!

Household Items

Ceramic pans – you may have seen these advertised on Instagram – they’re the pans you can cook scrambled eggs in without any butter or oil and they won’t stick. And it’s true!! I’m actually going to say these pans are life changing. {This is a link to the pans I have – there are several other options and brands.}

Milk frother – this was a Christmas gift from Alex last winter and I use it daily. I love this frother in particular because you can steam/froth more than 8 oz of milk.

Molly’s Suds – this may seem like a funny thing to share, but this laundry detergent is fantastic. I have been using it for years and it works *so* well. Try the stain remover, too.

Sidio Crates – a must for garage or gear organization! These are truly revolutionary stackable crates for organization. We just love them.

Books/Magazines

This year I read some absolutely delightful books. Here are some of my favorites:

Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson

The Bookwoman’s Daughter by Kim Michelle Richardson

Good Inside by Dr Becky Kennedy

Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen by Annabel Abbs

Magnolia Journal – a quarterly publication I enjoy tremendously. This is the most thoughtful magazine I’ve ever encountered.

Cookbooks

Half Baked Harvest Everyday by Tiegan Gerard

Baking School from King Arthur Baking

Attire

Cotopaxi coat – Have you heard of Cotopaxi!? They’re a pretty fantastic company. And they make darn good gear. I got this coat last winter and absolutely love it!

Snow boots – these boots may be my all-time favorite! I have been on a quest for the last few years to find the best pair of boots. These are lightweight, cozy, slip-on, have great traction and are waterproof. They’re exactly what I was looking for.

Athleta leggings – I’ve moved on from Zella and really feel strongly about Athleta leggings. I think they’re just amazing. I like the Salutation Stash Tight (I love the 7/8 for not winter), and the Rainier Tight is a bit thicker for winter and great, in my opinion, for running. Also! They have a fleece lined legging which is perfect for chilly winter days.

LL Bean sweatshirt – I’ve had these for years. I just love them. You can wear with anything and I love that there’s a pocket.

Vuori joggers – Ok I was skeptical about these because Vuori advertises so heavily on Instagram. Gosh I love Vuori and these joggers are the absolute best I’ve ever had.

Summersalt swimsuits – it’s not exactly swimsuit season here, but I still wanted to share this for resort season. I just *love* Summersalt suits – I’ve transitioned to mostly wearing a one-piece these days and they have an incredible variety. They are amazingly flattering. I sized up two sizes from my everyday size, though, so beware that sizes may not be as expected.

Personal items

Exfoliating face wash – this is beyond luxurious and nourishing on my skin. I just love washing my face with this. The best part is it’s extremely reasonably priced.

Body cream – so, so, so nourishing.

Kids

Fun Things

Magnetic Tiles – these were a gift from my dad on Ben’s first or second birthday and we all play with them and enjoy them *so* regularly. This is the absolute best open-ended kiddo gift. We have several of the expansion packs, too.

Giant coloring posters – we’ve had a few of these and they’ve kept my kids so engaged for hours on end. It’s a great way to delay the gratification of finishing something, too. They’re so much fun to roll out on the floor and color together as a family.

Ooly art supplies – gosh these are so much fun. My kids have a big art kit with tons of bits and bobs, as well as a variety of their markers and paints. Their temporary tattoos are such a hit with my kids. Also, their coloring books are among our favorites. {beware: their paint sticks are NOT washable!}

Peaceable Kingdom Games – I absolutely love these games, and so do my kids. They encourage teamwork, connection and problem solving, rather than winning and competition.

Gear

Reima outerwear – we run gear through the ringer and Reima is absolutely incredible and withstands forest school in the mountains, ski team and backyard snowy play. It is just the best. Our favorites are: snowsuits, waterproof mittens {truly the best mittens} and bib snowpants!

Bogs boots – the absolute best boots! My kids wear their winter boots and they keep their little toes toasty warm – even Hannah’s when she’s at school outside all day. The traction is excellent, too, and they’re easy to get on/off.

Kids Backpacks – REI just came out with a new kiddo backpack in 12 and 18 liter sizes. Hannah uses the 12L for nature school and it is the perfect size for her. These are designed *so* well.

A final closing note: while I’m always searching for the best gear and products, this year more than ever before, I’ve found myself focusing on the things that bring me the most joy. Of course those things are not things at all. More on that to come.

Halloween 2022

This was probably the most fun of any Halloween we’ve had so far! Ben and Hannah are at such a fun age to experience and enjoy the holiday.

Leading up to the big day, Ben helped me create his pine tree costume and was *very* specific about how he wanted it to look. It took a few iterations, lots of wrong Amazon purchases, and a ton of patience, but in the end, the actual creation of the pine tree costume was very quick and simple.

Hannah chose to be a witch again, preferring to wear the same costume as last year. Bless her. I opted to twin with her, again, and be a witch too.

I love to make holidays last more than one day, so we indulged in some fun cookie decorating, pumpkin painting, pumpkin carving and Halloween crafts in the weeks approaching Halloween.

On actual Halloween both kids had school and got to celebrate by wearing their costumes and having a party. They both had a wonderful day.

We had so much fun trick-or-treating in town. The businesses in our charming downtown all pass out candy for the kids. It felt extra safe since there are no cars, so that’s a bonus!

We grabbed dinner after hitting the business district, then headed for the neighborhood. Leavenworth really knows how to celebrate Halloween and goes all out! It is SO fun to see a community coming together in such a big way.

Folks were parked on their front lawns in front of a fire, spooky decorations adorned more houses than not, and all the kids in town were out trick-or-treating together. It is such a special experience.

And the best part! They’ve already forgotten about their candy 🙂

Fall 2022

This should be a fairly short post since fall was about two weeks long this year!

We missed out on the best fall weather during smoke season, which was such a disappointment. If the smoke hadn’t been there, our fall would have been just spectacular. But, alas, towards the end of October, finally, the weather changed and blew out the smoke for good, and eventually dampened the fires.

The autumn colors we get are just striking. I live for the drives along the windy mountain roads, ooing and aahing at the clusters of ruby-red vine maples or the stands of chartreuse Aspens. The contrast of the changing leaves against the rocky mountainside or along the banks of the Wenatchee river are stunning.

We weren’t able to do many hikes this fall, given the short-nature of the season, but I got several walks along the river in town and a few hikes and runs at Ski Hill. Just enough to scratch the itch of enjoying the cool weather and the striking beauty of the autumn leaves.

It felt like we spent more time inside this fall than we have literally ever spent inside before. The kids adapted really well, and I was honestly nervous it was going to be hard to motivate them to go back outside when the smoke cleared. Thankfully that was not the case!

We had to squish all of our outdoor fall tasks into a matter of only a few weeks. Thankfully with some help from Alex’s dad, we made it! Our yard looks absolutely fantastic – Alex has really dialed it in.

We had a lovely visit with Alex’s parents, who were here basically for the 10 nice fall days we had this year!

One particularly smokey weekend we loaded up the car and headed two hours east to camp at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park. It was so mild, the air was clear and we had a great time with our friends!

Another “escape the smoke” adventure took us to Squilchuck State Park, where we had an absolutely fantastic time mountain biking together.

We made the obligatory pilgrimage to a pumpkin patch. The kids had a blast.

Ben and Hannah had the best time getting into the Halloween spirit. Trick-or-treating was so much fun. More on that to come!

The day before fall ended the kids and I had an ice cream celebration in honor of us being fully-vaccinated! Hannah got her final Covid vaccine – woohoo! I got my booster {Ben already had his booster}, and we all got flu shots. We’re ready!

And now, winter is here! As far as I can tell, it might be here to stay!? We woke up to 8″ of snow yesterday and it is still coming down……..

Our Garden Project: 2022

This summer I was able to turn my years-long dream of having a garden into a reality. We bit off a *lot* this summer, and frankly I’m not sure how we pulled this project off in the midst of travel and visitors. We made it a priority and it ended up truly being one of the coolest things I’ve {we’ve?} ever done.

I did a blog post about the creation of the garden, along with a few snippets and previews mixed into other posts, but never a big update on how things went after they went into the ground.

Growing

Lessons learned/things for next year

-fertilize

-learn about diseases

-learned about when to harvest

-plant what we want to eat

-victory garden/homestead/mindfulness in planting to get appropriate yields

-more pumpkins!

Frost

Compost

Putting the garden to bed

Summer 2022 Recap

Now that we’re well into fall, I’ll close our our summer posts. Our summer was filled with making oodles and oodles of memories, but it was WAY too busy. We were playing catch-up from postponing travel during more serious Covid-times, and many of our friends had the same idea. We packed way too much into an already short summer.

Our summer travel started with our Memorial Day weekend trip to Winthrop to celebrate Ben’s birthday.

While Ben’s school year was winding down we went to San Juan Island for a family/school camping trip. This was our first camping trip as a family of four!

We managed to squeeze in a week in Bend, Oregon in late June. All of us ended up getting sick with a stomach bug either on the trip or upon our return. It really put a damper on the trip and what we were able to do; however, we still had a lot of wonderful moments and made it to Crater Lake National Park, did a mountain bike ride as a family and visited Mount Bachelor.

Swimming lessons took place for both kids whenever we could squeeze them in. Ben made tremendous progress and is swimming well independently. He is extremely comfortable in the water and absolutely loves to swim.

Hannah has, in her own way, also made amazing progress with her comfort in working towards being an independent swimmer. She is getting comfortable jumping in and getting her whole head wet, but when it comes to doing a back float or actually putting her face in she just didn’t get there this summer. We are continuing private swimming lessons this fall and winter.

Hannah’s school is year-round, so when we were in town she continued to attend school twice a week. I’m pretty sure her school days consisted of running through the sprinklers, eating ice pops and going for hikes. Kid paradise!

Ben signed up for two weeks of summer camp – one week was at Hannah’s school {flower camp} and the other was mountain bike camp in combination with an environmental/wilderness camp. He was living his best life while at camp!

Somehow, despite being completely over scheduled, we have managed to be pretty successful in our garden endeavor. We started with literally nothing – Alex built a four-zone irrigation system with drip lines in 12 garden beds, along with installing a fence. Ultimately, we harvested green beans, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, 4 varieties of squash, pumpkins and sweet peppers. Our garden unexpectedly succumb to a surprise mid-September frost.

We had so many visitors this summer. It was so, so wonderful catching up with friends we hadn’t seen in several years. If only that guesthouse would get finished!

One of Alex’s best friends from high school moved to Western Washington late this spring and came to stay with us one weekend, along with his family.

Just after the school year wrapped up, our friends, The Millers, came and visited us from Colorado. Another family, The Buffingtons, came to take part in the reunion. We had so much fun catching up – The Millers and The Buffs were some of our best friends when we lived in Seattle. Fun fact – we took an annual trip to Leavenworth together for 8 consecutive years!

Alex’s parents spent two weeks with us in mid-July and were here to celebrate Hannah’s birthday. Donna returned in late-August to help watch the kids for me while I volunteered at an event for the farmers market.

In early-August two of my high school girlfriends, Kailey and Cammy, along with their families, came to spend a long weekend in Washington with us. They live in Minnesota and their kiddos hadn’t been to the mountains before. It was so fun showing them around and seeing all of the littles play together.

Alex’s good friend, Chris and his girlfriend, Veerle, came to visit us from the Netherlands. Alex and Chris were roommates during their internships in college and have maintained a wonderful friendship, despite the miles.

While the kids and I were in Minnesota, Alex’s good friend from high school, Kelly, and her family, including her two babes, came to visit from Bozeman. They were joined by another family, as well.

In addition to the craziness, another theme for the summer was really disappointing weather for our trips! We only had good weather on one trip {Minnesota} the entire summer, which of course complicates things when you’re hoping to be outside and active the whole time.

This was absolutely a summer to remember. We were bonkers busy, but we made oodles of memories. One of my biggest takeaways is to never schedule that much stuff again! 🙂 And now, onto fall, a season where we rest and I thank the parenting gods that Ben decided he did *not* want to sign up for soccer this fall.

Colchuck Lake Trail Run

This summer Alex caught the bug and is officially a trail runner – a very good one, in fact! He’s been venturing out on trail runs nearby with a local running group. It’s provided new friendships, adventures and a wonderful way to explore local trails. It turns out he loves to run – as long as it’s on a trail 😉

This newfound love has forged some new ideas for adventures together. We’re amassing quite a list of big runs to do. We started with a very steep run at Ski Hill this fall and then somewhat spontaneously ran to Colchuck Lake a few weeks ago.

Colchuck Lake is in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, just outside of Leavenworth, and is the gateway to The Enchantments. We had hoped to do the 20-mile hike through The Enchantments this summer but it didn’t work out with our schedules. We had a window of time recently and decided to go for a shorter adventure instead of the full thru-hike.

It was a smokey morning in Leavenworth and just as we rounded the corner toward the Alpine Lakes Wilderness the skies opened up. It was clear!!

We opted to run to Colchuck in lieu of hiking simply due to our limited amount of time. It’s just shy of 9-miles round trip with 2,500 feet of elevation gain, so a hike would have taken most of the day. Our run was 2 hours 55 minutes.

The scenery throughout the whole adventure was spectacular. The fall colors were in their splendor. The terrain was a lot rockier than we expected and it was surprisingly crowded for a Monday!

When we arrived at the lake I was in awe. It is truly a breathtaking sight.

We had so, so, so much fun. It was a highlight of the year for me, without a doubt. It was a very challenging run – probably the most difficult I’ve ever done.

We’ve got several more trail runs on our minds to help keep us active, busy and seeking adventures for the next several years.

Our proverbial village really showed up to help make this happen for us. Hannah’s teachers were cheering us on as we dropped her off, and our friend Lauren picked up Hannah early {her school closed early that day due to the smoke} from school and brought her out to lunch. Bri and Morgan were ready to meet Ben at Spanish and make sure he was set and ready to go! Thankfully we made even faster time than we had expected and didn’t run into any issues.

Here’s to the next big adventure!