Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

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September 2017 – It’s been a summer of changing plans, as in every single trip and reservation and permit has changed, partly due to wildfire smoke and weather conditions.

I had a wonderful solo trip to Northern California to the Redwoods , Jed Smith State Park, Prairie Creek State Park, and Redwoods National and State Parks. DH and I did an impromptu trip to Crater Lake, Oregon, which was new to him. The boat tours weren’t running when we were there, but we still had a great time. I’ve hiked around Rainier as usual, and did a wonderful overnight trip up and over Spray Park, down thru Cataract Valley, and out Carbon River.

My highlight trip of the summer was a first for me, at Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon… WOW!  This is a very special place, and one I will definitely be going back to next summer for more exploring.

I just got back from 4 wonderful days at Pendleton Round-Up, which is a blast in an of itself, but when you combine that with a family reunion, it’s even better!

Next up – I get to pick up my new Hiker Trailer soon, which I’m very much looking forward to traveling with next summer!

~~ Andrea ~~


Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon

I’m still feeling amazed at my trip to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon. This place is pure magic! I camped along the FS road just before Two Pan Trailhead at the Lostine River, so I could get an early start the next morning. The hike up the E. Fork of the Lostine River toward the Lakes Basin is beautiful!  Trail is a bit chewed up by pack horses and rocky in spots, but still fun to hike. After the 1st set of switchbacks you break out into miles of breathtaking meadows in the E. Lostine River valley. It’s hard to watch footing here, because you are definitely not thinking about the trail, but instead about the views surrounding you on all sides.

After another shorter ascent, you get to the Lakes Basin area of Eagle Cap, with Eagle Cap Peak as the perfect backdrop. I found a nice campsite at Mirror Lake, and after an 8 mile hike and 2200 feet of elevation gain, I was happy to take a nap and sit and enjoy the amazing views for the rest of the day.

On Day 2, I day hiked from Mirror Lake thru the Lakes Basin to Moccasin Lake, Douglas Lake, Lee Lake, and Horseshoe Lake. Another wonderful 8-mile day, but fairly level for most of it and just stunning views the whole way. I had lunch on a little island at Horseshoe Lake, and had the entire area to myself. I sat for a long time and completely enjoyed the peaceful quiet and solitude. I was impressed with the amount of wildflowers still in bloom at the end of August. This whole area is like a hybrid between Yosemite granite and Cascade sub-alpine plants. In other words = Perfect!

On Day 3, I got a very early start back to the car, campsite all packed up and boots on trail by 6:30 a.m. It was hard to leave, the morning light and the reflections on the lake are superb. I’ll definitely be spending more time here next summer.

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Spray Park, MRNP

Yet another wonderful overnight backpack trip at Mt. Rainier, from Mowich Lake to Eagle’s Roost campground for a quick overnight (thanks to DH for driving me up that nasty road and dropping me off!). Early the next morning I continued on up to Spray Falls and then Spray Park, where I spent a long time enjoying the crazy lenticular clouds that were forming over Mt. Rainer. It was fun to sit up that high and just watch the clouds shift and morph. Not to mention the views of everything else – Mist Park, Mother Mountain, Seattle Park, Carbon River Valley, etc. This is one of my favorite areas of Rainier.

After lunch I started the steep and rocky hike down to Cataract Valley, where i had planned to stay a 2nd night. When I got there I realized that my water filter wasn’t working, so I kept on going down to Carbon River, over the bouncy suspension bridge, and to Ipsut Campground where my bike was waiting for me to coast back to my car. All in all it turned out to be an 11-mile hike/5-mile bike day, and my knees were very mad at me, but it was still worth it!

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Crater Lake National Park, OR

Fran and were supposed to backpack at Goat Rocks, but there was still snow where I wanted to camp so we changed plans and headed down to Crater Lake instead. We camped at Broken Arrow campground on Diamond Lake by Mt. Thielsen, just north of Crater Lake.

I’ve been before, but it was Fran’s first time. It’s such a beautiful and unexpected first sight, you would have no idea a massive lake was hiding up there. It has some of the clearest and purest water in the world. The secret geologist in me loves learning about how Crater Lake was formed. (It’s technically a caldera, not a crater.)  Unfortunately there was a far-off wildfire and the smoke made everything quite hazy, and our pre-paid boat trip around the lake and exploring Wizard Island was cancelled due to mechanical failure. We still managed to have a great time, and I hiked some trails that were new to me. I also got in a little bit of “dawn yoga” at Cloudcap overlook. Such an amazing place, and we’ll have to go back next summer when the boats are working so we can do the boat tour, it’s well worth it.


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Grand Park MRNP

Fran and I hiked out to Grand Park via Lake Eleanor on July 3rd, and we hit the perfect time because flowers were starting to bloom but mosquitoes were not hatched out yet. Perfect day! It was so good that we stopped at the ranger station on the way home and I got a permit to backpack there the next night. On July 4th, I packed up in the afternoon and drove back out. As I hiked up, all the other day hikers were leaving and I knew that I would have the whole place to myself… Apparently, Mr. Bear had the same idea in mind.

As I entered the meadow I saw him run across the trail in front of me and back into the trees. I decided to hang out for a while since I had about 3 hours of daylight left. As soon as I sat down, the mosquitoes swarmed. They had hatched within the last 24 hours and thought I was delicious. About 45 minutes later, I saw Mr. Bear again from a distance, in the general area where I had planned on pitching my tent. I decided that I’d head back to the car and not camp overnight alone in a bear’s home turf. Even though I didn’t stay as planned, I had a chance to break in my new Gregory Maven backpack and have some amazing solitude and peace in one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen.

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Carbon Glacier, MRNP

I hiked by the Carbon Glacier 5 years ago on my way around the Wonderland Trail, and I’ve been meaning to head back to the glacier for a few years, so yesterday I finally did it. Weather was perfect and I got a nice early start. I biked 5 miles on the Carbon River road to Ipsut campground where the bike was locked up, and then I hiked 3.7 miles to the Carbon River suspension bridge with views of Carbon Glacier. I could have gone a bit further and gotten a better view of the glacier, but a bad headache said otherwise.

The Carbon Glacier is the lowest elevation glacier in the lower 48 states. The water flowing in the Carbon River is really high right now with warm temps and snowmelt. Every time I crossed a foot bridge I was thankful for our Park Service who maintains these every year. One bridge was brand new, and it would have been impossible to cross the river without it.

A long but excellent day, and overall I covered 17.4 miles, home by 1:30 in the afternoon!

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Redwoods – Northern California

I just got back from an amazing solo trip to the northern California Redwoods. I was last there when I was 12, and I decided it was time to (((hug))) a few really big trees again. These trees are so huge that it’s hard to photograph them well. I had to put myself in a bunch of the photos just to show the sheer size of them. I camped at Jedediah Smith State Park campground, which was very nice. There are really no appropriate words to describe what it feels like to stand at the base of one of these trees and know that it’s 350 feet tall and 1000 years old. Incredible.  My 2 favorite hikes were the Tall Trees Grove on day 2, and the Cathedral Trees on day 3.

Day 1 – The afternoon I got to Jed Smith State Park, I walked through Stout Grove, and then hiked out to the Boy Scout Tree. It’s a beautiful hike, and since it was late afternoon I only saw a few other people. Just me and the trees…

Stout Grove:

Boy Scout Tree

Day 2 – I drove to the Thomas Kuchel Visitor Center in Orick and got a permit for the Tall Trees Grove, which is limited to 50 people per day. I was looking for solitude, and this was by far my favorite hike of the trip. At one point, the tallest recorded tree on the planet was in this grove. From the Tall Trees Grove a trail accesses Redwood Creek, and I stayed out on the banks for a couple of hours enjoying the quiet, the solitude, the sun, and a little bit of yoga thrown in for good measure.

I stopped at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and did a bit more yoga IN a tree. Even though the tree was completely hollowed out, it’s still very much alive and well with a huge canopy, and seemed quite happy to have a yoga “tree” in it for a moment.

Day 3 – I drove out to the Gold Bluffs road and hiked through Fern Canyon, did a bit of log-jam scrambling over trees only to find the trail was closed on the other side once I got through the jumble of branches. The canyon is beautiful and so green!

Last but not least by any means, I drove along the scenic Drury Parkway and hiked out to Cathedral Trees. It’s very obvious why this cluster of trees are called “Cathedral,” they are huge and beautiful and I had them to myself for the afternoon 🙂

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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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