Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

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May 2017 – I’m so ready for this gray, wet weather to be over with so we can get on with the business of summer! This winter and spring, sunny days have been few and far between. We’ve broken a 122-year record for rainfall and gray days. Thank goodness for yoga, it’s the only thing that has gotten me through the last 6 miserable months.

For this coming summer, I’ve been plotting and scheming and planning as many backpacking trips as I can squeeze in. I’m going to visit the Redwoods in Northern California for the first time since I was in 6th grade. I’ll be backpacking the Northern Loop at Mt. Rainier, Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon, the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood, and the Goat Rocks Wilderness. I’ll also be spending time in North Cascades National Park, since I’ve never explored that area of Washington State. I’m hoping for a backpack trip high in the Olympics as well.

My summer trips will be challenging as I’ve recently found out I have a large rotator cuff tear in my left shoulder. I’m going to put off surgery until October, since it’s a long miserable recovery and if I do it now, I won’t have a summer. Wish me luck!

~~ Andrea ~~


Goat Yoga – Yes, it’s a real thing.

Not necessarily a hiking entry here, but it sure was fun!  Yoga is what gets me through our horrible, gray, wet, cold winters here in Western Washington. If not for yoga, you could all be visiting me at the State mental institution right now.

I bought some goat feta cheese from a new vendor at our local farmer’s market, and noticed  the words “goat yoga” on their business card.  That was enough for me to hop on the Internet and immediately buy a ticket for one of their classes (laughing to the point where the husband and kid wondered what was wrong with me).

I’ve always thought goats are amazing creatures, very curious, friendly (usually), and generally adorable.  Especially the ones with floppy ears. No boundaries of personal space, “in your face.”  I’ve said for years that I want pack goats. What better way to get to know them than spending an hour attempting yoga with baby goats jumping all over me???

I spent that hour of goat-yoga laughing, and basically didn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day. I’ll admit, there wasn’t much actual yoga going on, as there was too much laughing and being knocked over or jumped on to really concentrate on down dogs. Avoiding piles of goat poo became an essential skill. Scratching those amazingly soft and floppy ears was the icing on the cake. I think that particular yoga mat will never be used again. Would I do it again? Absolutely!!!!

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White Bluffs – Hanford Reach

This has been one of the dreariest, rainiest, most gray winters on record in Western Washington. In 6 full months we have had only 9 (yes, nine) days of sun. Being desperate for sun and vitamin D, we packed up on Thursday afternoon and headed east, camping at Sand Hollow Campground near Vantage. We spent all day Friday wandering for miles around the White Bluffs area of Hanford Reach. It was sunny , very little wind, warm enough to be comfortable in a tank top. It’s a gorgeous area overlooking the Columbia River and Locke Island. There are large sand dunes that are fun to walk around on, and we busted out some yoga up there to finish off a wonderful day 🙂 Can it be summer now????

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Paradise, Mt. Rainier NP

After countless times heading up to Rainier, I still never EVER get tired of it. I am so blessed to be able to call this place my backyard playground!!  Since we had the wettest, gloomiest October on record, when the sun broke last Friday I headed straight to Paradise for a Washington-style tanning session with my Mountain. Not enough snow yet for snow-shoes, but still an amazing day spent alone away from politics, work, cell phones, Internet, etc.  Mt. Rainier is the best sunny-day attitude adjustment one could hope for 🙂

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Zion National Park – Narrows

The Zion Narrows is a must-see for anyone visiting Zion National Park.  The hike starts with a 1-mile paved trail, then when the pavement ends, the in-river hiking begins!  IMO, it’s well worth it to rent canyoneering boots and neoprene socks, along with a walking stick, to do this hike, though plenty of people just use regular sneakers. The canyoneering boots give a lot more stability on the wet river rocks that you will be walking on for miles.

In the Narrows, you can go as far out and back as you want, whether it’s 1/2 mile or several miles. Most of the hike is actually in the river, with 800-foot-tall canyon walls on either side. Some parts have a bit of dry land that you can walk on, but be prepared to get wet for the majority of it. Water levels depend on season and weather conditions. Of course, if there is any chance of rain, this is a hike to avoid because of the threat of flash floods.

There really aren’t words to describe what it’s like being in this canyon, so I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

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Subway – Zion National Park

We got lucky and won the lottery for a Zion Subway permit, so had a quick trip down to Utah and back last week 🙂  This whole national park is incredible, and deserves more than just 2 days, but at least we got to see some of the best of it!

The Subway is a 9.5 mile hike/scramble from the trailhead, down steep canyon walls to get to the river, then up the canyon formed by the Left Fork of North Creek to an amazing area of waterfalls and rock formations. Water gets cold this time of year, but the weather was nice and we ended up not using the dry pants we had rented from an outfitter. Canyoneering boots and neoprene socks do come in very handy here, since your feet are continuously wet from hiking in and out of the river.

It’s a strenuous hike, with miles of rock scrambling and hiking inside the  river itself, but worth every single drop of sweat.  This place is pure magic. A loaded bacon cheeseburger and an ice cold beer are recommended after completing this one!

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Lake Ingalls and Headlight Basin – Alpine Lakes Wilderness

The autumn golden larch season in central Washington is amazing!  Headlight Basin is a perfect spot to backpack and enjoy the show, with Mt. Stuart as the backdrop and Lake Ingalls a short scramble away from camp.  J and I headed out on a Monday to avoid the crowds that swarm here on weekends during larch season, and backpacked up to Headlight Basin to spend 2 wonderful nights there. On our down day I finally got out to Lake Ingalls for the first time, and spent a glorious morning up there by myself – so beautiful and peaceful! It’s a fun, short scramble to get up there, and very worth it. Unfortunately we didn’t see any of the mountain goats that almost always live here, but that was the only downside to the entire trip. So glad to be able to experience such beauty and to have great friends to share it with 🙂

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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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