Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

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August 2016 – I visited Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP in May, which were both firsts for me and were amazing!  Of course I’m doing a lot of hiking this summer at Mt. Rainier National Park, as that’s my backyard playground. I had a wonderful 3-day backpack trip to Young Lakes in Yosemite in July, which was jaw-dropping gorgeous!  I also just got back from the Goat Rocks area, I need to do so much more exploring there!  And I’m headed back to Zion National Park this fall for some slot canyon hiking. It’s a good good year🙂

~~ Andrea ~~


Goat Rocks – Snowgrass Flat and Goat Lake

I spent a fantastic 2 days in a solo trip in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. I’m not sure why I haven’t explored this area more, I’ll definitely be going back!  I hiked 5 miles from the trailhead and camped near Alpine camp, just west of Snowgrass Flat. After setting up camp next to a wonderful spring and relaxing for a while, I took a 4-mile afternoon stroll across Snowgrass Flat and north a ways on the PCT, with Old Snowy Mtn. and Ives Peak as my backdrop. Wide open spaces describes this area perfectly, and the wildflowers were at peak bloom. Views south include Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.  Stunning! (see day 2 below)

After a good night’s rest at camp, I got up the next morning and hiked up to Goat Lake, which is just spectacular. There are some campsites at the lake that I will definitely be going back to. The views from Goat Lake south down the valley with direct views of Mt. Adams are wonderful, and again the wildflowers were putting on a huge show. I ate a leisurely brunch at the lake and just soaked in all the amazing views🙂

When I got back to camp, after a 5.5 mile r/t to Goat Lake and back, my campsite was so swarmed with biting flies that after 5 minutes I knew I couldn’t stay there. They were horrible, going in my ears, up my nose, biting my arms and legs. I could not get away from them, so I decided to pack up and head back to the car. The little buggers followed me from camp 5 miles back to the trailhead. Other than the flies, though, it was an excellent trip and I’ll definitely be going back again!

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Upper Palisades Lake, MRNP

I’ve posted this hike before, but it’s one of my favorites at Rainier and I got some great photos this time, so here it is again!  Wildflowers were at PEAK bloom, it could not have been better!  Mosquitoes were not nearly as bad as I thought they would be, so that was another bonus. We got to camp, read for hours, wandered around the lake, and had a very relaxing, lazy afternoon.

We were up at 5 a.m. the next morning and headed to the meadow above the lake, to watch the dawn light hit the Palisades cliffs (along with Jetboil, coffee, and tea). The pink only lasted for a couple of minutes, but it’s so totally worth it, especially with the acres and acres of lupine in full bloom in the foreground.  LOVE this place!!!

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Young Lakes, Yosemite NP

I had a wonderful 3-day backpacking trip to Young Lakes in Yosemite with S&S last week. Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite is gorgeous, and though it’s crowded, it’s not nearly as much like Disneyland as the Yosemite Valley is. We hiked north toward Glen Aulin, then veered northeast toward Young Lakes and left most of the crowds behind. It’s a 7.25 mile hike up to the first lake, which is at 9,850 feet. Raggedy Peak steals the skyline at the first lake, and we camped at the base of it, but the real show is at the 3rd lake.

On day 2 we day hiked to the 2nd and 3rd Young Lakes, and it was just stunning! There’s a small scramble up to the 3rd lake (at almost 10,200 feet elevation) through a small waterfall, but it’s easy and short, nothing a pair of hiking poles and good boots can’t handle. The payoff is very much worth it. There are 360-degree views at the 3rd lake, it’s beyond words in the English language :)  So very very glad we took a day to explore this area before heading back to camp at the 1st lake.

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Coldwater Lake Kayak, Mt. St. Helens

J. and I had a great 2 days camping at Seaquest State park, kayaking Coldwater Lake by Mt. St. Helens, and hiking for wildflowers by Johnston Ridge Observatory. Coldwater Lake used to be a little creek, and was formed when St. Helens erupted and a natural dam blocked the valley, creating a beautiful 5-mile lake perfect for kayaking. We ‘yaked 3 miles out, and turned as weather started to change and get windy, so 6+ miles overall. By the time we got close to to the dock, sun was out and it was HOT, but perfect for being on the water.

The next morning we were up at 5 a.m. to hike Harry’s Ridge trail, but were in low, heavy cloud cover and only ended up hiking a couple of miles. No crater viewing today, but the wildflowers were putting on a beautiful show for us.


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Crystal Lakes, MRNP

It was a beautiful day for a hike, and I’ve never gone up to Crystal Lakes in Mt. Rainier National Park before.  I’ve hiked to the top of Crystal Peak and looked down on the lakes, so I decided to make it happen today. Up at 5:30 a.m., and on the trail by 7:15 a.m. It’s 2300 feet of elevation up up up in 3 miles. The lower part of the trail is through scrubby forest, not that exciting, but when you get near the top and to the lakes it’s a beautiful subalpine area. I was lucky enough to have the entire Upper Crystal Lake basin to myself for almost an hour before any other hikers showed up. I had my foldy-chair, a book, a thermos of iced tea, and brunch. I found a great rock outcropping to sit on, and I just kicked back and relaxed and enjoyed the amazing view!  Once other hikers started showing up it was time to leave, and I was thankful that I had a nice time of solitude for a while.

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Packwood Lake, G.P. National Forest

First backpack trip of 2016, first backpack trip since my shoulder surgery in February, and first time to Packwood Lake!  S & S and I headed out on a gorgeous Friday morning on the 4.5 mile trail to Packwood Lake. It’s a huge, beautiful lake with a nice island and great views of Old Snowy Mtn. in the Goat Rocks  Wilderness.

Our first campsite (with picnic table!) was nice, until I discovered that we were camped close to a mosquito bog and I was ambushed by the little blood-sucking critters. We packed everything up and moved to a much nicer campsite a short distance further along the shore, so glad we did. It was a perfect site, right on the shore, good fishing spot, protected from wind.

Saturday morning was gray, good chance of rain, so we packed up and headed out by 11, and took a different dirt bike road back to the car. The shoulder did quite well, it was a perfect trip to test out how things would go, both with carrying a backpack and sleeping on the ground. Now… I want to get out even more!

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Dog Mountain – Columbia River Gorge

Frani and I had an excellent hike up Dog Mountain. It’s 2800 feet up in 3 miles, but the expansive views and fields of wildflowers up top are worth the effort!  There are views east and west along the Columbia River, Wind Mountain, and the tip of Mt. Hood from the summit of Dog Mtn.  Acres of balsamroot are blooming, along with Fritillaria, larkspur, paintbrush, phlox, trilliums, Calypso orchids, and dozens of other flowers all along the trail. And, of course, the ever-present poison oak!!!  We saw a lot of people in shorts, but I’d advise long pants and long-sleeve shirt for this particular trail. This is a great trail any time of year (except for when there’s a lot of snow), but it’s especially beautiful when the balsamroot is in full bloom (and it also means the parking lot and trail are a lot more crowded this time of year.)

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Grand Park, MRNP

I’ve always looked down on Grand Park from the upper trails, Mt. Fremont and Skyscraper Pass, and I hiked out once in a round-about-sort-of-way that was beautiful, but didn’t afford the huge, jaw-dropping views that you get when coming in via Lake Eleanor. Time to fix that, and I’ve been out twice now in the last week.

The trail starts from a Forest Service road, and gently takes you to Lake Eleanor in just under a mile. There is a nice MRNP camp here, and the lake itself is beautiful. From the lake, it’s a fairly easy trail through forest for another 2 miles to the beginning of Grand Park. Once in Grand Park itself, you can wander for several miles through this huge meadow, with amazing views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Fremont, Skyscraper Mountain, and Willis Wall. Wildflowers up here must be amazing at the right time of year, but with that of course are the mosquitoes and flies, which I’ve heard can be fierce. The only downside of Grand Park is that at this time of year there is no water anywhere near, which means you have to carry in plenty for the trip.

This is the kind of hike where you want to bring a chair or hammock, plan on spending the day wandering the meadow, exploring, taking in the incredible views, and not being in a hurry.

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Goat Rocks Wilderness

I’ve been wanting to backpack at Goat Rocks for several years, and finally got out there this summer. J. and I hiked from Walupt Lake up the Nannie Ridge Trail to camp at Sheep Lake for 2 nights. It was a lifesaver being at the lake and being able to swim because of the heat. A lot of other water sources around the area were dry from our crazy weather this year.

On day 2 we day-hiked north on the PCT toward Cispus Basin, nice and early in the cool of the morning. Such a gorgeous area! The huge basin before Cispus Pass is gorgeous and we spent a lot of time just taking in the views. Then heading over Cispus Pass and into Cispus Basin it was jaw-dropping views all over again. That afternoon was spent back at Sheep Lake, floating in the water and keeping cool in the afternoon heat.

The hike back out to the car next morning was much easier than the steep hike in. I definitely need to do more exploring in this area, I want to visit Snowgrass Flats and Old Snowy Mtn, but that will be another trip.

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Spray Park and Cataract Valley, MRNP

I spent a wonderful 2 days with J.H. and S.H. on a backpacking trip at Rainier. We headed to Mowich Lake campground in the evening, where the wind kept us awake most of the night. Next morning we packed up and headed up through Spray Park and Seattle Park. Gorgeous weather and very few mosquitoes, but plenty of biting flies :(  I was hoping for Mr. Bear, and near the top I walked right past him without seeing him, until J. called my name and told me to look to my right. Mr. Bear was in a thicket right on the side of the trail. He ambled away from us, not in a hurry, and we were able to follow at a safe distance for a few minutes and get some great photos (keep in mind I have a zoom lens, we weren’t too close!) before he headed into the trees.

At the top of Spray/Seattle Parks, the terrain changes dramatically into a lunar landscape, which is absolutely beautiful. We only had 2 tiny snow crossings, which is remarkable for this time of year. The views of Rainier from here are spectacular. Then we headed down down down into Cataract Valley to the Cataract Valley backcountry camp. The trail heading down was very rocky, uneven, with big steps, and it torqued my ankles with every step, but it was worth it. Cataract Valley is a nice campsite with a stream running right through the middle of it, which is very handy. We pitched tents and had an afternoon siesta before dinner. The biting flies were annoying at first, but disappeared in the evening and it was perfect weather for us.

The next morning we headed further down to the Carbon River suspension bridge, which is always a lot of fun! At the Ipsut Pass trail, J. and S. headed back up to Mowich Lake, and I headed to Ipsut Campground where I had left my bike so I had a nice 5-mile glide back to the Carbon River gate where Fran was waiting to pick me up. An absolutely wonderful 2 days spent with my Mountain🙂

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