Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

East Fork Quinault River

Well, the plan was to get all the way out to Enchanted Valley in the Olympics this weekend, 3 days off, gorgeous weather, but a migraine had other plans for me.  Still, I had an excellent half-hike (minus the headache) in a gorgeous rainforest, can’t complain about that!!

I started out at 3:30 Friday afternoon toward EV, extremely humid but sunny and beautiful. After crossing Pony Bridge, the headache started to set in and by about mile 5, I was desperate to find a flat clear spot to pitch my tent. Easier said than done, since virtually every square inch of surface is covered in vegetation out here… it’s a rain forest after all. The trail was extremely muddy in many spots from the downpour of a few days ago – my new Keen boots are thoroughly broken in now, I hardly recognized them for all the mud covering them.

Finally found an absolutely gorgeous campsite a bit before O’Neill Creek, right on the river. Thank goodness my Nemo tent goes up fast… I barely got the tent set up and then crashed and slept for about 10 hours!!

Woke up and everything that was wet or damp the day before was even more wet and damp. The humidity was off the charts, impossible to get anything to dry out there. The headache was gone but I still didn’t feel that great, so I decided to head back instead of push another 7 miles up to Enchanted Valley, then a 13-mile hike back out. I’m bummed I didn’t make it all the way, but my head was glad I made the decision to turn back. I woke up to spectacular light on the river right next to me.. light shining through the trees and onto the water was just beautiful.

I drove back to Lake Quinault and spent the next night at Falls Creek Campground right by the Quinault Lodge, read some of my book, took a nap, listened to music, wandered the lakeshore, and just laid low. Sunset over Lake Quinault was stunning.

Some day I’ll make it all the way out to EV, but for now I’m happy with half-way.

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More Zion Subway photos…

Got copies of my cousin Ken’s photos from the Zion Subway, since he was smart and had a waterproof camera 🙂  I had my not-at-all-waterproof camera tucked away in a dry bag for the middle part of the trip including the rappelling and swimming.  Thanks Ken for sharing!  (All photos in this post are credited to Ken Barnes)

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Zion Subway – Hike of a Lifetime!!!

A few months ago I got a message from my cousin asking if I’d be interested in hiking the Zion Subway with them… it took me about 3 seconds to say “Yes!!!”  I’m a Washington girl… I’m used to forests and huge trees and mountains and snow, etc. Going to Zion NP was like stepping onto another planet for me… one that I definitely want to see more of!

The Zion Subway is a hike I’d never attempt on my own, I didn’t know how to rappel, in many places there is no trail and you have to find your own way, etc. My cousin and his son were excellent guides and teachers, and I’m counting myself as one extremely lucky person to be able to go on this hike with them.

It’s 9.5 miles of some of the most incredible scenery on the planet (and I’ve been all over the world…). The hike starts out innocently enough, through some wooded area, over a gorgeous downslope of slickrock with great views… then you come to a point where you can see a small black crack in the huge wall ahead and realize THAT’S where you’re headed. There’s a lot of steep rock scrambling to get down toward the canyon opening.

Once in the canyon, it’s like stepping into a different world. My first time rappelling was a bit nerve-racking, but oh-so-much fun!!!  From the first rappel on we spent quite a bit of time hiking through the river, scrambling over rocks and boulders, and a few spots of swimming through pools of cold water. A good dry bag and waterproof camera/case are a necessity on this hike. After several short rappels and going through a series of surreal “rooms” and sections, we came into the Subway itself. Gorgeous!!!

Upon leaving the Subway, we hiked several miles down river… in the river itself, with some incredible waterfalls (that make good water slides). Spent quite a bit of time just playing and hanging out in the water, soaking wet, and it felt great in the heat.

The climb up and out of the canyon to the ending trailhead is a big rock scramble up up up… with some jaw-dropping views down into the canyon that we had just come through.

All in all… by far the best hike I’ve ever been on in my life. DO NOT attempt to do this hike if you’ve never rappelled before, if you don’t have the proper gear, and if you have any problems with route finding. Go with someone who already knows the way and who knows the “ropes” literally. I can’t say a big enough THANK YOU to my cousins for this once in a lifetime opportunity 🙂   I’m one lucky girl….

(p.s. there are a ton of photos for this hike… there’s no way to condense it all into a dozen shots)

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Zion NP – The Narrows

I’ve wanted to hike the Zion Narrows for a while, finally had my chance 🙂  DH and I ended up renting 5.10 Canyoneer boots for the hike, and glad we did, though we would have been fine in trail runners. The Zion shuttle dropped us off at the last stop down the valley, the Temple of Sinawava. There is a 1-mile paved path that ends at the point where you have to start hiking up the river itself.

Considering it had been over 110 degrees the day before, stepping into the water in a shaded canyon felt wonderful, and the temperature was perfect the entire day for us. Walking up the Narrows is like walking several miles over wet bowling balls, constantly crossing rocks and weaving from side to side of the canyon, sometimes walking on dry land depending on the water level, but mostly being in the water itself. It’s amazing being in this narrow canyon looking up at 800-foot walls to see a small crack of sunshine coming through from the top. Photos just can’t do it justice, it’s a must-see-in-person kind of thing.

We got as far as the Orderville Canyon fork and decided to go up that instead of continuing on the main Narrows canyon. Glad we did, it was smaller, much less crowded, and the perfect lunch spot on some big rocks near a log jam/waterfall.

One more hike I can now check off my bucket list….   one word of advice: GO!!!

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Zion NP – Weeping Rock

We had a most incredible 2.5 days at Zion National Park… not enough time to see it all, but enough to make me very happy that I’ll be heading back for more exploring in October. When we flew into Vegas it was a balmy 113 degrees, which is quite a shock coming from somewhere were 75 is considered a nice hot day 🙂  We didn’t have much time that afternoon, so we took the short Weeping Rock trail to ease into the heat and take in some of the jaw-dropping views throughout the park. The Zion shuttle system is wonderful, so glad that it’s in place to keep the park unclogged from thousands of passenger vehicles and big RVs.

Weeping Rock is a little oasis up a short paved trail, and a perfect spot to get wet and refreshed in the heat, plus some pretty amazing views down into the Zion valley. The water constantly drips out of the rock face above, so plants have an easier time here with a continuous water supply.

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