Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

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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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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Subway – Zion National Park

We got lucky and won the lottery for a Zion Subway permit, so had a quick trip down to Utah and back last week 🙂  This whole national park is incredible, and deserves more than just 2 days, but at least we got to see some of the best of it!

The Subway is a 9.5 mile hike/scramble from the trailhead, down steep canyon walls to get to the river, then up the canyon formed by the Left Fork of North Creek to an amazing area of waterfalls and rock formations. Water gets cold this time of year, but the weather was nice and we ended up not using the dry pants we had rented from an outfitter. Canyoneering boots and neoprene socks do come in very handy here, since your feet are continuously wet from hiking in and out of the river.

It’s a strenuous hike, with miles of rock scrambling and hiking inside the  river itself, but worth every single drop of sweat.  This place is pure magic. A loaded bacon cheeseburger and an ice cold beer are recommended after completing this one!

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Crystal Lakes, MRNP

It was a beautiful day for a hike, and I’ve never gone up to Crystal Lakes in Mt. Rainier National Park before.  I’ve hiked to the top of Crystal Peak and looked down on the lakes, so I decided to make it happen today. Up at 5:30 a.m., and on the trail by 7:15 a.m. It’s 2300 feet of elevation up up up in 3 miles. The lower part of the trail is through scrubby forest, not that exciting, but when you get near the top and to the lakes it’s a beautiful subalpine area. I was lucky enough to have the entire Upper Crystal Lake basin to myself for almost an hour before any other hikers showed up. I had my foldy-chair, a book, a thermos of iced tea, and brunch. I found a great rock outcropping to sit on, and I just kicked back and relaxed and enjoyed the amazing view!  Once other hikers started showing up it was time to leave, and I was thankful that I had a nice time of solitude for a while.

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