Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

What’s new…

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May 2019   I had a phenomenal trip to New Zealand in February and March – Absolutely some of the best backpacking and hiking I’ve ever done in my life!!  There is so much more I still want to see and explore there, I wish I could get on a plane and go back.  Click on the New Zealand 2019 page to the right for photos.

This year I’ll be re-visiting the Redwoods in northern California as well as the Eagle Cap area of eastern Oregon, and I’ll do more exploring and traveling with my Hiker trailer (www.hikertrailers.com).  Of course, always more hiking around Mt. Rainier, my home base 🙂  Here’s to a happy and adventurous 2019!!!

~~ Andrea ~~

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Steamboat Rock and Dry Falls State Parks, WA

Last week a friend of mine and I packed up the Hiker Trailer and headed for sunny skies in Eastern WA. It had been 25+ years since I’d been to Steamboat Rock State Park. I like heading east of the mountains in April to chase the sunshine, and to hike before the rattlesnakes wake up! The campground at Steamboat Rock was lovely, right on the waters of Banks Lake.

We hiked up to the stop of Steamboat Rock the next morning. There’s a section of trail that’s more of a scramble than a hike, but it’s short and actually pretty fun. The Rock is about 800 feet tall and 600 acres total. Wildflowers were just starting to open up and we spent several hours just wandering, looking at the incredible views, crouching down to see the tiniest of wildflowers, saying hello to a couple of fat marmots, and just sitting cliffside and taking it all in.

Dry Falls State Park is 30 minutes away from Steamboat Rock, and I’d never been there, so of course we had to explore. This is another place that makes me realize I should have been a geologist. The geologic history here is fascinating! Dry Falls was the result of the ancient Missoula Floods, and is believed to have been the single largest waterfall in the history of the planet. When it was flowing, it would have been many many times larger than Niagara Falls. We drove to Dry Falls Lake and from there hiked back to another “alcove” to Alkali Lake. Standing there looking up at the sheer size of the cliffs was amazing, and something that is impossible to describe through photos alone.

If geology is something that interests you, look up the Missoula Floods, Dry Falls, and the Scablands. Our planet is a pretty amazing place 🙂

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The Adventure Wall

I collect postcards and stickers from all of my travels… They’re inexpensive, easy to carry, and a lot of fun. This wall has a double meaning for me – It’s a daily reminder of the incredible places that I’ve been fortunate to visit, and it always has space for adding more, and more, and more. To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

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New Zealand

I recently got home from a phenomenal trip to New Zealand. It’s been on the top of my bucket-list for many years, and I finally spent 5 weeks exploring both islands. I’m so thankful I was finally able to get there.

I hiked the Milford Track, much of the Abel Tasman Track, and I did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I also spent time visiting geothermal areas, going on riverjets, swinging on ziplines, kayaking, walking through redwoods canopy, visiting with family, and hiking several areas around Kaiteriteri and Takaka.  Overall I hiked over 92 miles. The Milford Track was the best multi-day hiking/backpacking trip I’ve ever been on, and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was the best dayhike I’ve ever done in my life. Click on the “New Zealand 2019” page to the right for more photos and comments.

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Another from Mary Oliver…

She was so brilliant at capturing a feeling with her words

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Mary Oliver’s words

Our world lost an amazing woman last week, Mary Oliver. She had such a wonderful way with words, not overdone, not too little, just right (kinda like Goldilocks). She spent decades out in nature just observing and being part of the amazing world around us. Many people never stop to appreciate the small things, but she saw them all and wrote about them. I like hiking alone, AND with friends. It’s a balance of both for me. But when I’m feeling introspective, I swear she wrote this poem just for me 🙂 Thank you Mary Oliver for sharing your gift. 
 
How I go to the woods
 
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
unsuitable.
 
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
 
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
 
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”
 
― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
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MTTA Bruni’s Snowbowl Hut

The MTTA (skimtta.org) hut system south of Mt. Rainier is a true gem!  There are 3 huts and 1 yurt that are available by reservation (sno-park permit required at the parking area). All are heated and have fully equipped kitchens and sleeping spaces. They are accessible year round, but winter is my favorite time to snow-shoe up and stay at one of the huts. Bruni’s Snowbowl has space for 14 people. It’s a shared space with whoever else has reservations for the same night. The beauty of these huts is that you only need to bring your sleeping bag, clothes, and food. And of course, you need to pack out everything, including your own trash.

Weather was perfect a few days ago, and there were openings at the Snowbowl hut, so I went for it!  It was a 3.5 mile snowshoe to the hut, then I spent a lazy afternoon reading and enjoying the spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. There is a lovely gazebo and fire ring near the hut, and at sunset all of us staying there (even though we were strangers) went to the gazebo to share the sunset together. We had lovely conversation over dinner, all brought together by our love of being outdoors and enjoying the beauty of Mt. Rainier.

This is what recharges my batteries and fills my soul up. So much beauty!

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Mt. Rainier

I’ve lived here for over 30 years, and I see Mt. Rainier every day that isn’t overcast. Sometimes she surprises me and is still able to take my breath away! We woke up to the Winter Solstice with this amazing sunrise.  What a fitting way to celebrate a little bit more light every day 🙂

sunrise

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Winter Forest Therapy

It’s harder to hike in winter. Finding a day in Western Washington where it isn’t rainy is hard, so when they come you have to grab them and go! We had a lovely 7-mile hike from Greenwater to The Dalles campground and back with V. and J. and their new pup Tooka, who is quite the adventure dog! We even got about 3 minutes of sunshine!

Beaches and oceans are beautiful, but I am definitely a forest and mountain girl to the core. There is nothing better than a day of forest therapy in good company, surrounded by Mother Nature.

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Paradise – It’s all in the name

Paradise at Mt. Rainier truly is a winter paradise. Tuesday was a bluebird day spent snowshoeing with good friends. It never got above freezing, but the sunshine was wonderful enough to be in a tank top for a short while. How am I so lucky to be able to do this? 

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Summerland, Mt. Rainier MRNP

10 miles R/T, 2500+ feet elevation gain, beautiful sunshine, autumn colors, spectacular views, hours of complete solitude. So peaceful!

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