Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Eastside Trail, Mt. Rainier NP

After a lovely (but tiring!) day of yoga and hiking at Crystal Mountain Resort the day before, V. and I hiked the Eastside Trail at Mt. Rainier. It was hot, so spending time hiking through shady old-growth forest with a lot of waterfalls was perfect! We left one car at the Grove of the Patriarchs parking lot, and drove up to the Owyhigh Lakes trailhead on Hwy 123, and hiked downhill. We didn’t see another human for over 6 miles, which is just the way I like it! There are so many beautiful waterfalls along this trail, there is a wonderful choice of picnic lunch spots all along the route 🙂 We ended the hike by taking in the huge old trees in the Grove of the Patriarchs, which makes me desperately want to get back to the Redwoods soon!

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Crystal Mountain Hike + Yoga retreat

Another beautiful yoga + hike retreat at the Crystal Mountain ski resort 🙂  It was hot, but so clear and beautiful!  Nothing is better than a couple of hours of yoga on the platform at the top of Crystal after riding the gondola up, then lunch and hiking back down!!

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Skyscraper Pass, Mt. Rainier NP

I know, I know… more photos of Mt. Rainier!  I can’t help myself, I love it up here so much.  I don’t care for crowds and I prefer to hike alone or with just 1 or 2 other people. The best way to do this is to get up at 5 a.m. on a weekday and head out, with my goal being boots on trail by 7 a.m. I had a wonderful, early, human-free hike out to Skyscraper Pass from Sunrise. Skyscraper is my favorite place in the whole park to just sit quietly and take it all in. I’ve been known to brew up a pot of tea and sit and read here for hours. I was hoping for mountain goats, but instead I was kept company by 7 marmots along the trail, one who decided to keep me company at the pass for quite a while.

So, yes, more Rainier photos. This is my happy place, where my heart is full and I’m content to just be in the present moment.

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Walupt Lake kayak and Silver Falls hike

I had a lovely visit with friends in Packwood this week. We hiked to Silver Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park, and the next day took the kayaks to Walupt Lake for a lovely paddle and picnic lunch.  Good good times! I can’t say enough how much I love my Point 65 North modular kayaks because they are ridiculously easy to load and unload – I can fit 2 full kayaks in the back of my Rav4 without having to lift them up onto a roof rack, which would never happen with my shoulder issues.  Life is good….

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Glencoe Valley, Scotland Highlands

We spent a week exploring and hiking around the Glencoe area of Scotland in May. This is one of those places where photos don’t come close to doing justice to the beauty of the area. We were incredibly fortunate to have a streak of warm and sunny weather while there, and we made full use of it! We stayed in a small town south of Fort William called Ballachulish, which used to be the site of an old slate quarry. From here, it’s a short 15 minute drive to the gorgeous Glencoe Valley area, with stops everywhere for exploring and hiking. It’s a very desolate-looking area, in a very beautiful and surreal way. It’s either rocky or boggy, with not much else for miles and miles. It’s also close to the Inner Hebrides Islands along the coast of Scotland. Some day I’ll go back here, there is still a lot more exploring to be done here!

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Kalaloch and Ruby Beaches, ONP

Every once in a while we get an amazing few days of weather in early spring, and I took full advantage of that last weekend, hitched up my trailer, and headed to Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park on the Washington Coast. I managed to get one of the best sites in the entire campground with a perfect view. To be able to wander the beaches in March barefoot, in shorts and a tank top, is such a treat and I loved every minute of it.

After getting set up at the campground, I headed north to Ruby Beach for the afternoon. Ruby is by far my favorite beach on the Washington Coastline. I spent all afternoon walking miles barefoot in the sand and soaking up the sunshine. Back to Kalaloch campground for dinner and watching the sunset from my incredible campsite before snuggling into my trailer for a wonderful night’s sleep.

The next morning after a refreshing sleep, I walked Kalaloch beach, found an amazing huge driftwood log, and did some yoga to start my day. What a wonderfully restorative, peaceful, beautiful trip 🙂

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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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