Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

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July 2018 –  I had a wonderful 3-week trip to Ireland and Scotland in May – I got to cross off hiking in the Scotland Highlands from my bucket list, it is so beautiful there!

My daughters and I just spent several days at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. I’ll get to spend time at Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens with my niece and nephew, which will be a first for them. Backpacking the Eagle Cap Wilderness is on my list again this year as well. Hopefully I’ll finally get up to North Cascades National Park this year, those plans all were cancelled last year due to extreme wildfire smoke. I also got a permit for the Northern Loop Trail at Mt. Rainier for this fall.

I’ll be heading to Wyoming and South Dakota for a trip this summer (again, with my new trailer) and I can’t wait to spend time exploring areas new to me: Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, and Devil’s Tower.  I’ll be taking my kayak with me, and am looking forward to learning a new way to travel with my little home on wheels.

UPDATE: I’ve just booked permits for 3 of the New Zealand Great Walks for next year: Abel Tasman, Milford, and Heaphy. MAJOR BUCKET LIST TRIP!!!!  I’m still pinching myself that this is real 🙂

~~ Andrea ~~

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Diablo Lake, North Cascades NP

I finally made it to North Cascades National Park! K. and I decided to kayak Diablo Lake instead of hike because of the heat, and it was a great decision. On our second day it was 98 degrees, the cold water felt wonderful for cooling off 🙂  Yes, the water really is that amazing color.

On day 1 we put our kayaks in at Colonial Creek campground where there is a nice boat launch area with plenty of parking. We kayaked that arm of Diablo Lake, taking in the amazing color of the water and the surrounding mountains. On day 2 we put our kayaks in at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center near Diablo Dam. You have to drive over the dam to get there, which is fun in itself. We spent hours paddling around the lake, had lunch on a nice island, and then went even further toward Ross Dam. The wind tends to pick up by early afternoon, and we had to really paddle hard to make it all the way back across the lake to our cars. It was so hot, so of course we had to dunk in the water several times to cool off.

We stayed at Newhalem campground both nights, which is nice and shady and made the heat bearable. The morning I left, I hiked down to Ross Dam, but it was already hot out so I decided to head home… too hot to hike!

Such a gorgeous place, I need to do a lot more exploring out here, just not when the temps are in the high 90s.

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Eastside Trail, Mt. Rainier NP

After a lovely (but tiring!) day of yoga and hiking at Crystal Mountain Resort the day before, V. and I hiked the Eastside Trail at Mt. Rainier. It was hot, so spending time hiking through shady old-growth forest with a lot of waterfalls was perfect! We left one car at the Grove of the Patriarchs parking lot, and drove up to the Owyhigh Lakes trailhead on Hwy 123, and hiked downhill. We didn’t see another human for over 6 miles, which is just the way I like it! There are so many beautiful waterfalls along this trail, there is a wonderful choice of picnic lunch spots all along the route 🙂 We ended the hike by taking in the huge old trees in the Grove of the Patriarchs, which makes me desperately want to get back to the Redwoods soon!

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Crystal Mountain Hike + Yoga retreat

Another beautiful yoga + hike retreat at the Crystal Mountain ski resort 🙂  It was hot, but so clear and beautiful!  Nothing is better than a couple of hours of yoga on the platform at the top of Crystal after riding the gondola up, then lunch and hiking back down!!

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Skyscraper Pass, Mt. Rainier NP

I know, I know… more photos of Mt. Rainier!  I can’t help myself, I love it up here so much.  I don’t care for crowds and I prefer to hike alone or with just 1 or 2 other people. The best way to do this is to get up at 5 a.m. on a weekday and head out, with my goal being boots on trail by 7 a.m. I had a wonderful, early, human-free hike out to Skyscraper Pass from Sunrise. Skyscraper is my favorite place in the whole park to just sit quietly and take it all in. I’ve been known to brew up a pot of tea and sit and read here for hours. I was hoping for mountain goats, but instead I was kept company by 7 marmots along the trail, one who decided to keep me company at the pass for quite a while.

So, yes, more Rainier photos. This is my happy place, where my heart is full and I’m content to just be in the present moment.

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Walupt Lake kayak and Silver Falls hike

I had a lovely visit with friends in Packwood this week. We hiked to Silver Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park, and the next day took the kayaks to Walupt Lake for a lovely paddle and picnic lunch.  Good good times! I can’t say enough how much I love my Point 65 North modular kayaks because they are ridiculously easy to load and unload – I can fit 2 full kayaks in the back of my Rav4 without having to lift them up onto a roof rack, which would never happen with my shoulder issues.  Life is good….

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Isles of Mull and Iona, Scotland

One of the days we spent in the Scotland Highlands in May was a trip to the Isles of Mull and Iona, in the Inner Hebrides. It was a long day, a 1 hour car ride from our Airbnb, 1 hour ferry, 1.5 hour bus ride across the Isle of Mull (one lane road with turnouts, kinda fun in a huge double-decker bus!), and another short ferry across to the Isle of Iona – then everything in reverse. But the weather was wonderful, the scenery was amazing, and it was well worth every minute of the trip.

The final destination was the Abbey of Iona, which has been beautifully restored. It’s believed that the Book Of Kells (now in the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland) might have been originally produced here close to the year 800. It was also in Fionnphort, Isle of Mull, that I took a rather embarrassing tumble in a pile of seaweed and was soaked from the waist down – luckily I dried out in the sunshine in time for the bus ride back across the island!  Mull is known for its pink granite, and Iona is known for beautiful light green marble.

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Glencoe Valley, Scotland Highlands

We spent a week exploring and hiking around the Glencoe area of Scotland in May. This is one of those places where photos don’t come close to doing justice to the beauty of the area. We were incredibly fortunate to have a streak of warm and sunny weather while there, and we made full use of it! We stayed in a small town south of Fort William called Ballachulish, which used to be the site of an old slate quarry. From here, it’s a short 15 minute drive to the gorgeous Glencoe Valley area, with stops everywhere for exploring and hiking. It’s a very desolate-looking area, in a very beautiful and surreal way. It’s either rocky or boggy, with not much else for miles and miles. It’s also close to the Inner Hebrides Islands along the coast of Scotland. Some day I’ll go back here, there is still a lot more exploring to be done here!

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Newgrange, Ireland

My family and I had a fantastic 3-week trip to Ireland and Scotland in May. Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne) isn’t a hike per se, but it’s one of my favorite places in all of Ireland and I wanted to share it here. It’s a passage tomb/mound built around 3200 BC. The exterior has been rebuilt, but the interior is still in perfect condition and has never been rebuilt or repaired, still watertight. No photos are allowed inside, but I encourage people to look online for photos of the interior. On the winter solstice sunlight shines into the interior for about 15-20 minutes; this is the only time of year there is natural light inside. Going inside is by tour only, from the excellent visitor center nearby.

This place gives us all goosebumps, in a very good and amazing way. It is older than Stonehenge or the pyramids of Giza. To be able to stand inside of thousands of years of history is very humbling and awesome. We love this place so much that my daughters and I all have a triskelion tattoo inspired by the swirls that are carved on the entry stone of Newgrange. If you ever get to Ireland, this is the ONE place I always suggest to people. The final photo is of Knowth, another nearby mound with excellent rock carvings, but not accessible on the inside to the public.

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Kalaloch and Ruby Beaches, ONP

Every once in a while we get an amazing few days of weather in early spring, and I took full advantage of that last weekend, hitched up my trailer, and headed to Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park on the Washington Coast. I managed to get one of the best sites in the entire campground with a perfect view. To be able to wander the beaches in March barefoot, in shorts and a tank top, is such a treat and I loved every minute of it.

After getting set up at the campground, I headed north to Ruby Beach for the afternoon. Ruby is by far my favorite beach on the Washington Coastline. I spent all afternoon walking miles barefoot in the sand and soaking up the sunshine. Back to Kalaloch campground for dinner and watching the sunset from my incredible campsite before snuggling into my trailer for a wonderful night’s sleep.

The next morning after a refreshing sleep, I walked Kalaloch beach, found an amazing huge driftwood log, and did some yoga to start my day. What a wonderfully restorative, peaceful, beautiful trip 🙂

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MTTA Bruni’s Snowbowl Hut

My husband and I along with 3 friends had a wonderful 3-day snowshoe trip to MTTA’s Bruni’s Snowbowl Hut in perfect snow conditions (MTTA = Mount Tahoma Trails Association). MTTA is south of Mount Rainier, and when it’s not snowing with white-out conditions, the view of Mt. Rainier from the Snowbowl hut is incredible! We were lucky to get a 30-second window of time where we could see the mountain. It’s approx. a 3.5 mile snowshoe up to the hut along forest service roads. We had several inches of beautiful fresh powder, and it snowed most of the time we were up there.

The hut is a fully stocked, heated cabin that sleeps 14 people in an open loft on the upper floor. There is a propane heater/stove and a propane cooking stove. Water comes from collecting snow from outside and melting it by the propane heater, then filtering it. Works great if everyone who is staying there helps out to do their part. The kitchen has everything you could possibly need. The best part about staying here is that you don’t have to backpack your tent, cooking stove or utensils, etc. Bring your food, clothes, and sleeping bag and everything else is there waiting for you!

I can’t wait to get back out there again with friends, we had a great time in an absolutely beautiful setting. Topping the trip off with lunch at Cooper Creek Inn was a perfect ending.

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