Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Reflection Lake Snowshoe – MRNP

In winter season, I live for those perfect bluebird days at The Mountain (a.k.a. Mt. Rainier) to tide me over during the gray, wet PNW winters. Yesterday was one of those days. In lieu of heading to Paradise, we decided to snowshoe to Reflection Lake instead, hoping to avoid crowds ~~ and we were right! It was brrrrrrr cold! My thermometer read 26 degrees, but the sunshine, leftover turkey sandwiches for lunch, hot tea/coffee, and time spent simply listening to silence and taking in the beauty of Mother Nature more than made up for the cold.

I’m sometimes asked why I spend 4 hours driving in a car (2 hours each way) to spend a few hours snowshoeing. I believe these photos answer that question. This is how I refill my cup, restore my happiness, recharge my batteries, and fill my soul up to full. I love both the grand and expansive views of Tahoma and the beauty of individual ice crystals. Mother Nature rocks!

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Mazama Ridge, Mt. Rainier

Sometimes Mother Nature calls, and I just have to listen!!! I struggle with S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) in our PNW winters with short daylight hours, and even then usually it’s gray and dull even in daylight. When I get a chance to head to Mt. Rainier and get some sunshine, make some vitamin D, and fill up on beauty and peace and solitude and that INCREDIBLE BLUE SKY – I just have to go for it.

I started my morning early with 40 minutes of stretching on my yoga mat, then drove to Paradise and had hours to myself taking in the beauty around me. Ohhhhh… so good.

What do you do to restore your soul and make your heart happy? If you have SAD, what do you do to take care of yourself in the winter months?

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MTTA Bruni’s Snowbowl Hut

The MTTA ( hut system south of Mt. Rainier is a true gem!  There are 3 huts and 1 yurt that are available by reservation (sno-park permit required at the parking area). All are heated and have fully equipped kitchens and sleeping spaces. They are accessible year round, but winter is my favorite time to snow-shoe up and stay at one of the huts. Bruni’s Snowbowl has space for 14 people. It’s a shared space with whoever else has reservations for the same night. The beauty of these huts is that you only need to bring your sleeping bag, clothes, and food. And of course, you need to pack out everything, including your own trash.

Weather was perfect a few days ago, and there were openings at the Snowbowl hut, so I went for it!  It was a 3.5 mile snowshoe to the hut, then I spent a lazy afternoon reading and enjoying the spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. There is a lovely gazebo and fire ring near the hut, and at sunset all of us staying there (even though we were strangers) went to the gazebo to share the sunset together. We had lovely conversation over dinner, all brought together by our love of being outdoors and enjoying the beauty of Mt. Rainier.

This is what recharges my batteries and fills my soul up. So much beauty!

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Paradise – It’s all in the name

Paradise at Mt. Rainier truly is a winter paradise. Tuesday was a bluebird day spent snowshoeing with good friends. It never got above freezing, but the sunshine was wonderful enough to be in a tank top for a short while. How am I so lucky to be able to do this? 

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Tanning in Washington in Jaunary

It IS possible to work on a tan in January in Washington State… you just have to hit the mountains on a bluebird day, wear a tank top, bring an air mattress and a picnic lunch, and enjoy the day!!!  This was above Paradise at Mt. Rainier this past weekend.

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Paradise snowshoe – MRNP

There’s a saying in Washington, “We don’t tan, we rust.”  I certainly feel like that often, but sometimes we get lucky and have a few glorious winter days where it’s much warmer up on Mt. Rainier than it is in the lowlands. In wintertime, I live for those weather inversions! THIS is how I like to get a winter tan, and get a little bit of vitamin D to get through these short winter days 🙂 I only wish I’d had shorts on.

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Mt. Rainier Snowshoe

Mt. Rainier keeps calling me back, and I never get tired of spending time with her. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of snow up there yet this season, but enough to snow-shoe and spend a day in the sun 🙂

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Another day in Paradise…

Last week Frani and I headed back up Rainier to Paradise – can’t get enough of the beauty up there! We headed up the Skyline trail, up and over Panorama Point, and up a bit further from there before starting our glissades down toward Mazama. It was another tank-top day on the mountain, and 5 days later I’m peeling from sunburn like a snake loses it’s skin. Note to self—- next time, RE-apply sunscreen several times, and use at least SPF 1,000!!!

We had a hard time finding the trail down from Mazama Ridge to the road, so ended up doing a few crazy short glissades down a nice and steep embankment before finally getting down.  All in all, another wonderful day in Paradise 🙂

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Panorama Point in the snow

Fran and had a most glorious, wonderful, fantastic, warm, sun-burning day on Easter snow-shoeing up and over Panorama Point from Paradise at Mt. Rainier. I’ll admit, I had tried snow-shoeing up to the top of Panorama Point a few weeks ago and chickened out, turning around and sliding/clawing my way back down, vowing that I WOULD get up there some day. Easter must have been magic, because I got to the top and it was amazing (like French-onion soup or coconut cake).

We got to the parking lot at Paradise just before 8 a.m. and started the nice hike up Skyline Trail, then followed a bunch of others up the Panorama hill. We were very very blessed to have nice long, sharp fangs on our snow-shoes, because it was basically a 45-degree ice slope and others without snow shoes or micro-spikes were having a hard time. Hard to describe the view from the top, other than to say it’s incredible !!

Coming down the other side of Panorama, we got into a kind of sketchy traverse and ended up doing our first fun glissade to get out of it, then of course, since we were already wet and snow-covered, we just had to glissade down every nice hill we could find between Panorama and Mazama Ridge 🙂  Too much fun, think of it as an analogy between surfing vs. body-surfing and sledding vs. free-butt-sliding.

We stopped and had a picnic with incredible views of the Tatoosh Range, Goat Rocks, Mts. Adams, Hood, and St. Helens, then wound our way down Mazama Ridge and back to the Lodge. All in a a most glorious way to spend Easter, and one more check off of the ole’ Bucket List.

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White Pass Nordic Area – Snowshoe

The Nordic Ski area at White Pass (Hwy 12) has dedicated snowshoe trails as well as x-country skiing. It’s beautiful starting at the Yurt at Leech Lake, snowshoeing around the lake and through the forest or along the groomed trails. You can also connect with the PCT here and snowshoe for miles and miles…. It’s a great winter escape for those of us whose knees will not ever ski 🙂

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