Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Dungeness Spit / New Dungeness Lighthouse, WA

The Dungeness Spit near Sequim, WA, is the longest natural sand spit in the United States at just over 5 miles long. The hike out to the New Dungeness Lighthouse (built in 1857) is 11.2 miles round trip, and well worth it on a beautiful day. This area is also within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

Dungeness Spit with Mt. Baker and the New Dungeness Lighthouse in the distance to the right.

Mama Nature called me, and I listened 🙂 I spent a glorious 2 days hiking on the Olympic Peninsula, total 17 miles hiked. The highlight was the hike out to New Dungeness lighthouse, 11.2 miles R/T, with 10 of that beach walking. The lighthouse is normally open for public tours, but due to COVID is currently closed. There is a restroom open, though.

I started at first light, it was overcast, and then ended up being a most amazing and incredible sunny day. I saw about a dozen people all day on the Dungeness Spit, more near the parking area ~ but to be able to walk miles and miles alone with nothing but the waves and driftwood for company filled my happy-meter up to FULL. So beautiful. Part of my hike out was during high tide, and though I had to hop away from a couple of waves, the beach is accessible 99% of the time.

Mt. Baker decided to show off in the afternoon, framing the lighthouse. Icing on the cake 🙂 I didn’t realize how much I needed quiet solitude, time outside to think and disconnect from civilization for a day, the sound of the ocean, and wide open sky. I imagine it can get crowded during the summer, but during the week on a sunny January day was pretty much perfect.

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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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A (virtual) Journey To New Zealand

I’ll be hosting a virtual presentation of my 2019 trip to New Zealand:

Nov. 15 @ 6:00pm Pacific time

If interested please comment on this post or get in touch via DM on Instagram at https://instagram.com/takeahikeyoga ~~ I’d love to have you join me!!

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William O. Douglas Wilderness

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ~ John Muir

I get restless this time of year, knowing hiking/backpacking season is coming to a close. I crave wilderness time, solitude, Mother Nature, wild beauty, silence, connecting with the natural world around me. It’s how I recharge my batteries, replenish my soul, and give myself a much-needed break from civilization. Time slows out here as the light changes throughout the day.

Spending days away from people, sleeping in a tent, staring at a campfire, waking up to incredible views like this… it’s where I’m the best version of myself.

Food tastes better out here. Air smells so much fresher. Everything looks crisper, colors are more vibrant. I hear whispering breezes and birds and insects I would not be able to pick up at home. All senses become more heightened.

The first night it got to freezing, and the 2nd night it was 28 degrees. And I was warm and cozy with my layers of fleece and down, tucked inside my extra-puffy down sleeping bag in my tiny little cocoon of a tent. I usually sleep deeply in the wilderness, one more way it helps me restore and refresh.

I can’t describe how glorious it was to see the full moon rise over the mountains and to feel the morning sunshine reflecting off the lake as it warmed me up.

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Mazama Ridge, MRNP

It’s a 2-hour drive from my house to the Paradise area at Mt. Rainier, one I usually avoid in the non-snow months because of crowds. But, every once in a while I make the drive to look for wildlife, and this trip did not disappoint, even though there was haze from wildfires.

I first stopped at Reflection Lakes to take in the beautiful views of Rainier, and then headed to Faraway Rock, which is a fantastic place to look down onto Louise Lake and across to the Tatoosh Range south of the volcano.

I headed up toward Mazama Ridge and the Sluiskin/Van Trump/Stevens Memorial, commemorating the first climb of Mt. Rainier in 1870. Though wildflowers were spent for the season and fall colors were setting in, the views are wide open and beautiful from this area.

Near the memorial I saw the biggest, fattest black bear I’ve ever seen in my years of hiking these trails, foraging for berries and getting ready for his long winter sleep. I saw him again in a different area on my way back to the car some time later, still working his way through fields of berries. I also played peek-a-book with a beautiful deer near Faraway Rock.

Mt. Rainier – every time I hike here, I have a feeling of coming home, of being in the place where I’m the best version of me and where I belong. I never take her for granted.

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Let’s talk Yoga

Not exactly about hiking and traveling, but as many of you know another passion of mine is teaching yoga. I’m so thankful to be back to teaching in-person at my local YMCA, and I’m also now offering classes online via Zoom.

I teach Hatha and Yin yoga, with a realistic approach that works for anyone regardless of age, size, or ability. I encourage a lot of yoga props, and offer alternatives and options for poses so that you can decide what works best for YOU.

If you’re interested, please register here for any of my weekly classes (Pacific Time). I’d love to meet you on the yoga mat!!

Online Hatha and Yin Yoga class schedule

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Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Joshua Tree National Park rests in the mountains above Palm Springs. Some of the most interesting rock formations I’ve ever seen are here, along with Joshua trees, cholla, ocotillo, and many other desert plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh environment. Since I love scrambling on rocks, Joshua Tree NP is a perfect playground for that.

We played on the rocks around Arch Rock, but unfortunately it was very crowded and many people were intent on climbing the arch, not allowing photos for the rest of us.

We next headed to Split Rock Trail, and had a wonderful time watching rock climbers, exploring the area, and getting off the main trail for a quiet lunch spot in the rocks.

We drove to Keys View, only to find that it was so crowded we had to wait 20 minutes to park, with no way to turn around. The view down into the Palm Springs valley is impressive, but also many times covered in a haze that is a combination of marine air and L.A. smog.

We ended our first day by wandering in the cholla cactus garden and the ocotillo area. Very surreal, and also incredibly easy to impale your shoes with cholla barbs!!

On our second day we decided to try to get away from crowds, so we chose to explore the Wonderland of Rocks area, and it was a great decision! We started on the Boy Scout Trail, veering to the right on the Willow Hole Trail. We saw very few people, and spent the day exploring the area. The trail was very easy, and we spent a long time scrambling on rocks and taking in the views.

Like Death Valley, Joshua Tree can be brutally hot in summertime. February was a perfect time to visit, sunny skies, mild temperatures, and a surreal and beautiful landscape.

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Death Valley National Park, CA

Death Valley National Park stole my heart! I never imagined that more than 3,000,000 desolate acres could be so beautiful and amazing. Our timing was perfect in February, with cold mornings but wonderful afternoon temperatures and a lot of sunshine. In summer the heat is brutal, so late winter/early spring is a perfect time to visit.

We love scrambling through canyons, so our 2 choices for this trip were Mosaic Canyon and Desolation Canyon. We also walked miles in Badwater Basin, drove the scenic Artist’s Palette Drive, and visited the Devil’s Golf Course. So much to see and do here, and this is a park I will definitely get back to some day!

Mosaic Canyon was our first hike, with 2 roadblocks of a boulder jam and a dry falls that we knew ahead of time how to get past thanks to information from the Death Valley NPS website. In this canyon the rock is incredibly slick, the walls have been scoured smooth by millennia of flash floods. If you take the time to stop and look around, you’ll see many different rock colors that are beautiful!

Zabriskie Point is definitely worth a 10-minute drive to get to a viewpoint above the valley floor.

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. The ground looks like snow, but it’s a huge salt flat that goes for miles and miles, and is wonderful to walk around on. Walking a few miles out into the basin helps to give perspective on how huge this valley really is. There is a sign on the cliff above the parking area that is sea level, helps put things into perspective.

Artist’s Palette Scenic Drive showcases beautiful colored soils and rocks. Mother Nature truly is an artist, and she shows it off here. This is a one-way drive, take your time and take it all in.

Desolation Canyon is aptly named, and a beautiful hike that involves scrambling up two 6-8 foot walls that are easy enough to maneuver, especially with help from a hiking partner. Once you get to the ridge up top, there are expansive views of the valley below, and you realize that you are literally standing right above the Artist’s Palette Scenic Drive. For being so desolate, this was a phenomenal canyon hike and one we would definitely recommend.

Natural Bridge is a great easy hike if heading far into rocky canyons is not your idea of fun. It’s easy and short, we saw many people with children on this hike and would suggest it for anyone. The most impressive dry fall we saw was just after the Natural Bridge – it goes to show the incredible power of water in the desert.

Devil’s Golf Course is named very well … these spikes of heaved soil and salt deposits are 1 to 2 feet high and as sharp as razors. A fall here would not be fun. It was surreal walking among these formations.

Lastly, I can’t finish without mentioning the local wild burros that greeted us early one morning as we were driving to the park 🙂

Overall, Death Valley was a huge YES for us, a place we will definitely spend more time exploring sometime in the future.

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Brilliant words…

I just finished reading a book by Katy Bowman called Move Your DNA about movement, and how the human body is designed to be out in nature moving naturally, not confined to a chair all day long. I loved her brilliant words at the end of the book, and I think this pertains to spiritually as well as physically. Get out there and be a part of it…

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Digging for fossils in Fossil, Oregon

There’s a tiny town in Central Oregon named Fossil because… you guessed it, there are a lot of plant fossils in the area! Behind the high school field anyone is welcome to wander up a small hill and dig for fossils. There is a little shed with tools for use, so with shovel and pick and plastic bag in hand, I headed up. Even by 8 am it was hot out, but I dug for about 45 minutes 🙂 I still have a bag full of rocks to clean and look through, but one I know for sure is the tip of a Dawn Redwood from millions of years ago. I think this is so fitting, considering the northern California redwood forests are one of my favorite places on earth!

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