Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Palouse Falls and Eastern Washington State

J. and I spent a wonderful 3 days in Eastern Washington State, following the sunshine. We started by driving to the Richland/Hanford area in search of burrowing owls and were lucky enough to find one of these very elusive birds before it flew away. Then on to Palouse Falls State Park where we set up camp and spent the rest of the day wandering around, flirting with yellow-bellied marmots, birding, and soaking up the sunshine. We had a wild turkey walk right past our campsite that evening.

Next day we hiked out to a ledge below the falls, along the Palouse River, in search of wildflowers, but were a bit too early in the season and only saw a few. We then drove to Lyons Ferry State Park, which is closed, but we spent a while walking around the area looking for birds, and found a bald eagle next on the way back that we were able to get photos of. In the afternoon we hiked to Upper Palouse Falls, not nearly as much of a drop, but very wide with churning water that looked like it was boiling. Recent rains and all the runoff meant a LOT of water flowing through, and even though it was muddy it was just gorgeous.

Clouds rolled in the 2nd evening, and unfortunately so did an extremely rude, obnoxious, loud, disrespectful group of 14 who thought that they could camp wherever they wanted to, even though all the sites were taken. They pitched camp in the dark on top of everyone else, and proceeded to be loud and absolutely horrid the rest of the night, so loud that we could hear them through the wind and rain that pelted us all night long. A boyscout troop actually packed up and left in the middle of the night because of them. So… not a good ending to a wonderful 2 days, but still very glad we spent time there!

On the way home we hiked at Columbia National Wildlife Refuge near Potholes, saw a lot more birds and some absolutely beautiful scenery, before heading home. We were going to stop and hike at Whiskey Dick, but the wind was so strong by that time we could barely get the car doors open, much less hike in it.

Overall, a wonderful 3 days (minus the pond scum people at the campground) and I finally got to check Palouse Falls and Potholes off my wish list 🙂

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Mowich Lake in Winter – MRNP

I’ve never been up to Mowich Lake in the NW corner of Mt. Rainier Park in wintertime. It’s only been summertime hiking for the amazing wildflowers and views from Tolmie, along with blood-sucking mosquitoes and far too many people crowding the trails. With the light snowpack this year, I finally decided it was time 🙂

The gate is still closed at Paul Peak trailhead. I biked about a mile up the road and then locked up my bike. After 2.5 road miles, the Grindstone Trail cuts off the last two huge road switchbacks and is a great way to get up to Mowich Lake. It’s an “unmaintained” trail but still in pretty decent condition, considering the time of year. Quite a bit of mud, but nothing that a good pair of hiking boots can’t handle.

The Grindstone Trail comes out on the road about 1/4 mile before the Mowich Lake parking lot, short-cutting 1.5 road miles. On the day I went, I had the entire place to myself and it was heavenly!!  A lot of sunshine, a picnic lunch at the edge of the frozen lake, silence that was almost deafening, huge views, and not a single other person. Solo days like this do wonders to recharge my batteries and I always head home feeling so calm and peaceful afterward 🙂

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Ranger Falls and Green Lake, MRNP

I haven’t been on a bike in at least a century, but last weekend was so nice that S & S and I decided to break out the bikes and head up the Carbon River Road on the NW corner of Mt. Rainier National Park. The road is in good condition for bikes, considering how may times it’s been washed out.  It’s a gorgeous 3.5 miles through old growth rainforest to the Ranger Falls/Green Lake trailhead, where we locked up the bikes and headed out on foot. Ranger Falls was much fuller than last year, since it had recently rained. After photos, we headed further up to Green Lake where we spent an hour sitting on logs in the sun, drinking coffee and tea and having a picnic at the lake, and skipping stones on the frozen lake (rather unsuccessfully).

Back down to the bikes, and since the road has a slight grade to it, the ride from the trailhead back the car was a wonderful glide back through the rainforest.  If you like huge trees, moss, draping ferns, and river views, this is a must trail!

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