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Andrea's adventures on the trail…

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2021 – A better hiking year!

I’m glad you’re here! I invite you to travel with me to some of the most beautiful places in the world via the Internet. It’s not perfect, but it’s what has sustained me for the last year and a half!

So far, 2021 has offered up more opportunity for traveling, exploring, and hiking to make up for lost time last year. Thus far in 2021 I’ve revisited Eastern/Central Oregon, had a lovely time walking among the giants at Redwoods National and State Parks, and ventured on an incredible 9-day backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierra (button to the right that says “Ansel Adams Wilderness – 2021” for photos).

As always, yoga will be a part of my travels and I’m learning Qigong and love bringing that into Mother Nature as well. To learn more about my yoga journey, visit YogaForRealPeople.

Happy Trails!!!!

~~ Andrea ~~

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Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA

I just got back from an incredible 9 days backpacking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of the Eastern Sierra mountains – click Ansel Adams Wilderness – 2021 or choose the button to the right or menu item to see the full post!!

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Redwoods State and National Parks, CA

There is something magical and timeless about standing among the tallest trees in the world, something that is impossible to put into words. There is an energy here that’s difficult to describe until you feel it for yourself – A connection to something infinitely bigger than we are. Some of these trees are over 3000 years old, imagine the stories they could tell. Walking through these forests is like walking through the giant cathedrals of Europe.

I’m not much one for including myself in my photos, but with the sheer size of these trees, it’s impossible to understand the scale without a human for perspective.

One of my favorite nature-related books is The Wild Trees by Richard Preston, about how these giants were first climbed (safely) and the amazing hidden world that lives up in the canopy. It’s also incredibly sad to know that only about 3% of these living beings are still standing, the rest were logged without consideration that it takes literally thousands of years for them to grow to this size.

These forests demand respect and reverence. We can’t begin to imagine how many generations of humans it will take to rebuild just ONE generation of these trees. We need to protect those that are still standing tall.

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Smith Rock State Park, OR

I’ve had Smith Rock State Park on my radar for a few years, and we finally managed to add it to our Eastern/Central Oregon trip in May – so very glad we did. Smith Rock is heaven for rock climbers, and while I don’t do any climbing, there are also wonderful hiking trails here.

Feeling adventurous, we opted for the Misery Ridge Trail – very aptly named!! If you look closely at the photos, you can see the switchback trail we climbed up from the Crooked River, then another set of switchbacks to get to the top of the rock. From the top we found a small spur trail with a beautiful bench, and spent at least an hour looking down across central Oregon and counting the line of mountains and volcanoes in the distance: Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, the Three Sisters, Black Butte, and Mt. Washington.

But what goes up must come down, and we most definitely took our time on the descent. I would have never made it without hiking poles. The trail was steep and covered in loose pebbles that act like marbles, easily slipping your feet out from underneath. On the way down we paused to watch climbers on Monkey Face, a column of rock that must be wonderful to climb – if you’re into that kind of thing!

The final section of the hike was flat and followed the Crooked River back to the entry point, with huge cliffs on one side and the river on the other. If Misery Ridge is not your cuppa tea, it’s well worth it to still walk the flat trail that follows the river.

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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Quite different the second time around! When I was here 2 years ago temperatures were nearing 100, and hiking was a slow, sweaty ordeal. This time around weather was perfect!! There are 3 units of the John Day Monument in Central/Eastern Oregon, and Sheep Rock is the main one with a fantastic visitor center that we were very pleased to find open. It’s well worth a stop if you ever get the chance.

My favorite hike is to Blue Basin, an other-worldly short hike up a canyon prone to flash floods, thus at least a dozen sturdy bridges to cross to get to the end. Don’t think you’ll make it to the moon in this lifetime? Hike the Blue Basin trail! I didn’t do the larger loops when I was here before because of the heat, but this time we did do the full loop up and behind, where we were able to look down into Blue Basin – with views stretching far and wide along a large part of the area.

If geology and dinosaurs are your thing, the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is definitely worth a visit.

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Hells Canyon – Oregon/Idaho

I love rugged, wild areas. Hells Canyon on the border of Oregon and Idaho fits that description quite well. I was here 2 years ago, but didn’t hike because of high temperatures. This year the weather was perfect and we were able to hike up the canyon from Hells Canyon Dam and enjoy more scenery and watch rafters navigating the river.

That night we found an amazing campsite on the Oregon side of the canyon, with our own private beach overlooking the Snake River, where we spent hours sitting, reading, and just staring out across the water — Exactly what a vacation is supposed to be like!

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Dungeness Spit / New Dungeness Lighthouse, WA

The Dungeness Spit near Sequim, WA, is the longest natural sand spit in the United States at just over 5 miles long. The hike out to the New Dungeness Lighthouse (built in 1857) is 11.2 miles round trip, and well worth it on a beautiful day. This area is also within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

Dungeness Spit with Mt. Baker and the New Dungeness Lighthouse in the distance to the right.

Mama Nature called me, and I listened 🙂 I spent a glorious 2 days hiking on the Olympic Peninsula, total 17 miles hiked. The highlight was the hike out to New Dungeness lighthouse, 11.2 miles R/T, with 10 of that beach walking. The lighthouse is normally open for public tours, but due to COVID is currently closed. There is a restroom open, though.

I started at first light, it was overcast, and then ended up being a most amazing and incredible sunny day. I saw about a dozen people all day on the Dungeness Spit, more near the parking area ~ but to be able to walk miles and miles alone with nothing but the waves and driftwood for company filled my happy-meter up to FULL. So beautiful. Part of my hike out was during high tide, and though I had to hop away from a couple of waves, the beach is accessible 99% of the time.

Mt. Baker decided to show off in the afternoon, framing the lighthouse. Icing on the cake 🙂 I didn’t realize how much I needed quiet solitude, time outside to think and disconnect from civilization for a day, the sound of the ocean, and wide open sky. I imagine it can get crowded during the summer, but during the week on a sunny January day was pretty much perfect.

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Reflection Lake Snowshoe – MRNP

In winter season, I live for those perfect bluebird days at The Mountain (a.k.a. Mt. Rainier) to tide me over during the gray, wet PNW winters. Yesterday was one of those days. In lieu of heading to Paradise, we decided to snowshoe to Reflection Lake instead, hoping to avoid crowds ~~ and we were right! It was brrrrrrr cold! My thermometer read 26 degrees, but the sunshine, leftover turkey sandwiches for lunch, hot tea/coffee, and time spent simply listening to silence and taking in the beauty of Mother Nature more than made up for the cold.

I’m sometimes asked why I spend 4 hours driving in a car (2 hours each way) to spend a few hours snowshoeing. I believe these photos answer that question. This is how I refill my cup, restore my happiness, recharge my batteries, and fill my soul up to full. I love both the grand and expansive views of Tahoma and the beauty of individual ice crystals. Mother Nature rocks!

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William O. Douglas Wilderness

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ~ John Muir

I get restless this time of year, knowing hiking/backpacking season is coming to a close. I crave wilderness time, solitude, Mother Nature, wild beauty, silence, connecting with the natural world around me. It’s how I recharge my batteries, replenish my soul, and give myself a much-needed break from civilization. Time slows out here as the light changes throughout the day.

Spending days away from people, sleeping in a tent, staring at a campfire, waking up to incredible views like this… it’s where I’m the best version of myself.

Food tastes better out here. Air smells so much fresher. Everything looks crisper, colors are more vibrant. I hear whispering breezes and birds and insects I would not be able to pick up at home. All senses become more heightened.

The first night it got to freezing, and the 2nd night it was 28 degrees. And I was warm and cozy with my layers of fleece and down, tucked inside my extra-puffy down sleeping bag in my tiny little cocoon of a tent. I usually sleep deeply in the wilderness, one more way it helps me restore and refresh.

I can’t describe how glorious it was to see the full moon rise over the mountains and to feel the morning sunshine reflecting off the lake as it warmed me up.

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Mazama Ridge, MRNP

It’s a 2-hour drive from my house to the Paradise area at Mt. Rainier, one I usually avoid in the non-snow months because of crowds. But, every once in a while I make the drive to look for wildlife, and this trip did not disappoint, even though there was haze from wildfires.

I first stopped at Reflection Lakes to take in the beautiful views of Rainier, and then headed to Faraway Rock, which is a fantastic place to look down onto Louise Lake and across to the Tatoosh Range south of the volcano.

I headed up toward Mazama Ridge and the Sluiskin/Van Trump/Stevens Memorial, commemorating the first climb of Mt. Rainier in 1870. Though wildflowers were spent for the season and fall colors were setting in, the views are wide open and beautiful from this area.

Near the memorial I saw the biggest, fattest black bear I’ve ever seen in my years of hiking these trails, foraging for berries and getting ready for his long winter sleep. I saw him again in a different area on my way back to the car some time later, still working his way through fields of berries. I also played peek-a-book with a beautiful deer near Faraway Rock.

Mt. Rainier – every time I hike here, I have a feeling of coming home, of being in the place where I’m the best version of me and where I belong. I never take her for granted.

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