Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Dusty Lake, Eastern Washington State

We’ve been blessed with some incredible spring weather this year, and I’ve been taking full advantage of it!  J. and I headed out early Thursday morning to the Ancient Lakes area near Quincy. J. thought it would be better to hike a little bit further to Dusty Lake, that we’d have a better chance of fewer crowds, and she was definitely right. We set up camp near the lake, and some kind person had left a bit of firewood for us to use, so we were able to have a nice fire that evening. We spent the afternoon exploring the coulee, looking for birds and animals and wildflowers. We saw many different species of birds, a few wildflowers, a yellow-bellied marmot, turtles, and a lot of bats (I LOVE bats!). After a very lazy evening, I crawled into my tent and slept pretty well, like I always do when backpacking.

The next morning we packed up early and headed to Beezley Hills Nature Conservancy. Wow!  Weather was perfect and wildflowers were at their prime. This is one of the largest concentrations of hedgehog cactus in the state, and they were just coming into bloom. A gorgeous area to wander around and enjoy a different side of Washington than I’m used to.

Next we drove out to Rock Island Grade and drove several miles up a steep dirt road for some beautiful views of the canyon and the Columbia River Gorge, with more wildflowers. There was a beautiful herd of free range horses that I had to stop and get photos of too.  All in all, a wonderful April backpacking and wildflower hunting trip.

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Mt. St. Helens – Hummocks to Loowit Lookout

I spent a wonderful day going on a solo hike out at Mt. St. Helens. Started at the Hummocks TH since the road is still closed up to JRO until next month. I hiked through the Hummocks area to Boundary Trail 1 and then up the ridge to Loowit Lookout. Gorgeous day!  I could see JRO, but my view was so perfect at Loowit that I didn’t feel the need to go another 3/4 mile.  Sunshine, quiet solitude, a picnic lunch looking out over a gorgeous volcano – THIS is why I love to solo hike.  I always feel so recharged after a day like today 🙂

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Ginkgo Petrified Park and Wild Horse Wind Facility – Eastern Washington

What a fun day in the sun!  I met a fellow “Washington Hikers and Climbers” member for the first time, and she, my husband, and I drove to the other side of the Cascade Mountains for a bit of desert wildflower and sunshine therapy 🙂  We started with quiche and cookies from the Cle Elum Bakery, yum!  Then drove to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park at Vantage, right on the Columbia River, and explored the bluffs above the river and took a lot of wildflower photos. It was a bluebird day and the sun felt wonderful.

Next we hiked an old deserted Jeep road for several miles, on the hunt for more wildflowers and bighorn sheep, which unfortunately we never saw.  More sunshine and vitamin D…

Finally we ended up at the PSE Wild Horse Wind Facility, where we had planned on a last short hike for wildflowers before heading home. We walked in the visitor center to get a hiking permit, completely unaware that a tour was about to start. We had hard hats and safety goggles handed to us and were asked to join in, and we had so much fun!  It was completely unexpected, and a wonderful bonus to our day. We got to see the inner workings of the huge wind turbines, and got to go inside one of the towers.  These guys are HUGE, and photos can’t even begin to explain what it’s like to stand next to one of these… the tower is 220 feet tall, each of the 3 blades is 128 feet long, and the “box” at the top is the size of a full-size bus. At full speed, the tips of the blades are traveling at 150 miles an hour.

We ended our day with a short hike in a beautiful area in the wind facility, again in search of more wildflowers. Then the long drive back home, totally tired out, and totally worth it.  Such a wonderful change of scenery!

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