Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon

I’m still feeling amazed at my trip to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon. This place is pure magic! I camped along the FS road just before Two Pan Trailhead at the Lostine River, so I could get an early start the next morning. The hike up the E. Fork of the Lostine River toward the Lakes Basin is beautiful!  Trail is a bit chewed up by pack horses and rocky in spots, but still fun to hike. After the 1st set of switchbacks you break out into miles of breathtaking meadows in the E. Lostine River valley. It’s hard to watch footing here, because you are definitely not thinking about the trail, but instead about the views surrounding you on all sides.

After another shorter ascent, you get to the Lakes Basin area of Eagle Cap, with Eagle Cap Peak as the perfect backdrop. I found a nice campsite at Mirror Lake, and after an 8 mile hike and 2200 feet of elevation gain, I was happy to take a nap and sit and enjoy the amazing views for the rest of the day.

On Day 2, I day hiked from Mirror Lake thru the Lakes Basin to Moccasin Lake, Douglas Lake, Lee Lake, and Horseshoe Lake. Another wonderful 8-mile day, but fairly level for most of it and just stunning views the whole way. I had lunch on a little island at Horseshoe Lake, and had the entire area to myself. I sat for a long time and completely enjoyed the peaceful quiet and solitude. I was impressed with the amount of wildflowers still in bloom at the end of August. This whole area is like a hybrid between Yosemite granite and Cascade sub-alpine plants. In other words = Perfect!

On Day 3, I got a very early start back to the car, campsite all packed up and boots on trail by 6:30 a.m. It was hard to leave, the morning light and the reflections on the lake are superb. I’ll definitely be spending more time here next summer.

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Goat Yoga – Yes, it’s a real thing.

Not necessarily a hiking entry here, but it sure was fun!  Yoga is what gets me through our horrible, gray, wet, cold winters here in Western Washington. If not for yoga, you could all be visiting me at the State mental institution right now.

I bought some goat feta cheese from a new vendor at our local farmer’s market, and noticed  the words “goat yoga” on their business card.  That was enough for me to hop on the Internet and immediately buy a ticket for one of their classes (laughing to the point where the husband and kid wondered what was wrong with me).

I’ve always thought goats are amazing creatures, very curious, friendly (usually), and generally adorable.  Especially the ones with floppy ears. No boundaries of personal space, “in your face.”  I’ve said for years that I want pack goats. What better way to get to know them than spending an hour attempting yoga with baby goats jumping all over me???

I spent that hour of goat-yoga laughing, and basically didn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day. I’ll admit, there wasn’t much actual yoga going on, as there was too much laughing and being knocked over or jumped on to really concentrate on down dogs. Avoiding piles of goat poo became an essential skill. Scratching those amazingly soft and floppy ears was the icing on the cake. I think that particular yoga mat will never be used again. Would I do it again? Absolutely!!!!

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Zion National Park – Narrows

The Zion Narrows is a must-see for anyone visiting Zion National Park.  The hike starts with a 1-mile paved trail, then when the pavement ends, the in-river hiking begins!  IMO, it’s well worth it to rent canyoneering boots and neoprene socks, along with a walking stick, to do this hike, though plenty of people just use regular sneakers. The canyoneering boots give a lot more stability on the wet river rocks that you will be walking on for miles.

In the Narrows, you can go as far out and back as you want, whether it’s 1/2 mile or several miles. Most of the hike is actually in the river, with 800-foot-tall canyon walls on either side. Some parts have a bit of dry land that you can walk on, but be prepared to get wet for the majority of it. Water levels depend on season and weather conditions. Of course, if there is any chance of rain, this is a hike to avoid because of the threat of flash floods.

There really aren’t words to describe what it’s like being in this canyon, so I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

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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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Palouse Falls and Eastern Washington State

J. and I spent a wonderful 3 days in Eastern Washington State, following the sunshine. We started by driving to the Richland/Hanford area in search of burrowing owls and were lucky enough to find one of these very elusive birds before it flew away. Then on to Palouse Falls State Park where we set up camp and spent the rest of the day wandering around, flirting with yellow-bellied marmots, birding, and soaking up the sunshine. We had a wild turkey walk right past our campsite that evening.

Next day we hiked out to a ledge below the falls, along the Palouse River, in search of wildflowers, but were a bit too early in the season and only saw a few. We then drove to Lyons Ferry State Park, which is closed, but we spent a while walking around the area looking for birds, and found a bald eagle next on the way back that we were able to get photos of. In the afternoon we hiked to Upper Palouse Falls, not nearly as much of a drop, but very wide with churning water that looked like it was boiling. Recent rains and all the runoff meant a LOT of water flowing through, and even though it was muddy it was just gorgeous.

Clouds rolled in the 2nd evening, and unfortunately so did an extremely rude, obnoxious, loud, disrespectful group of 14 who thought that they could camp wherever they wanted to, even though all the sites were taken. They pitched camp in the dark on top of everyone else, and proceeded to be loud and absolutely horrid the rest of the night, so loud that we could hear them through the wind and rain that pelted us all night long. A boyscout troop actually packed up and left in the middle of the night because of them. So… not a good ending to a wonderful 2 days, but still very glad we spent time there!

On the way home we hiked at Columbia National Wildlife Refuge near Potholes, saw a lot more birds and some absolutely beautiful scenery, before heading home. We were going to stop and hike at Whiskey Dick, but the wind was so strong by that time we could barely get the car doors open, much less hike in it.

Overall, a wonderful 3 days (minus the pond scum people at the campground) and I finally got to check Palouse Falls and Potholes off my wish list 🙂

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Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground, MRNP

J. and I decided to take a long, steep way up to the Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground patrol cabin to see it in wintertime. Loooong. Steeeep. I’ve been through in summertime while on the Wonderland Trail, and in that season it’s a riot of wildflowers (and mosquitoes). Adding cold temps and a good amount of snow in November, it was a hard day, but still a lot of fun and The Mountain cooperated by letting us see her for about 2 minutes before clouding over. It’s 12 miles R/T from the Kautz Creek trailhead, with about 3200 feet of elevation gain, most of it through dense forest with no views, but still beautiful.

We crossed several small high meadows before getting to the actual Indian Henry’s meadow. We were just about to call it a day and turn around when we saw the patrol cabin on the far side of the meadow. It has to be the most beautiful little cabin  I’ve ever seen. We only spent about 15 minutes resting on the front porch before heading back, not wanting to end up hiking after dark.

After the 6-mile hike back down 3200 feet of elevation loss, our legs were jelly by the time we got back to the car, but still very worth it and we felt like we were on top of the world for a little while. 🙂

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Yosemite National Park

DH and I did a trip to Yosemite in July, one day as a “tourist” in the Y.Valley, then a 3-day through hike from Tuolumne Meadows via Cathedral Lakes and back out at the Valley. We spent a day hiking around Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, gorgeous views from up here! Stayed at Curry Village one night, which is loud and messy and overcrowded, but the pizza is great and we got to watch one of the World Cup games here 🙂

Next day, we left the car at Y. Valley and took the YARTS bus up to Tuolumne Meadows with our backpacks and stayed at the car campground there. We set out the next morning for Cathedral Lakes, had lunch and went swimming in the lower lake, then moved on to the upper lake to set up camp for the night. We had fun watching a few people who had set up a slackline between the two peaks. This is by far my favorite place in Yosemite NP…

The second day we hiked south (in HOT weather) from Upper Cathedral, thorough Sunrise High Sierra Camp, down to Sunrise Creek near the base of Half Dome. We had a bear *almost* break into our BearVault bear canister here, it managed to pop the first tab and almost had the second tab open, when we found it quite a ways away from where we had left it the night before.

Last day… we hiked from just north of Half Dome on out to the Y. Valley via the John Muir Trail, saw Vernal and Nevada Falls. Such a gorgeous gorgeous area, I’m fortunate to have been able to do this two years in a row 🙂

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Mt. St. Helens – Norway Pass and Windy Ridge

On the last clear day for a while, Janelle and I decided to head out to Mt. St. Helens for a little hiking and scenery… We definitely got the scenery part, it was an incredible day! Even better since while we were there, the area was being prepped for shutting down for wintertime, and will be closed in a couple of days for the season.

We started hiking toward Norway Pass, with great views of the top of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Spirit Lake. Fall colors were mostly gone, but still a fantastic hike. We saw a large elk herd resting in the sun and eating… good to know the area has grown back enough to support such large animals again. This area really is an amazing science classroom, seeing how it’s going from a dead blast zone to very much alive again.

After enjoying the views of St. Helens and Spirit Lake for a while, we headed to the end of the road to Windy Ridge and climbed the 435 stairs to the top. The views here took my breath away. It’s hard to describe from this point how close you are to the crater, the new lava dome and glacier, and Spirit Lake. There was a constant column of steam at the lava dome, reminding us that she’s still an active volcano. Views from here also include Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood, and a full view of Spirit Lake.

All in all, a most excellent day, and much-needed attitude adjustment for me, some vitamin D even though it was cold out, time spent with friends, and mind-blowing views (pun intended).

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Comet Falls – MRNP

Quick dayhike out to Comet Falls last weekend, the tallest waterfall in Mt. Rainier National Park. I’ve wanted to get out here for a couple of years, but the trail has been closed due to avalanche and trail damage. WTA.org has done a fantastic job of re-building and re-routing part of the trail. The trail is quite rocky and steep in a few spots close the waterfall, and unfortunately coming back down that section made my knee/IT band syndrome kick in again, but it was worth it to eat lunch at the base of the falls and enjoy the incredible view.

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Another book recommendation

The Wild Trees by Richard Preston… it’s about the incredibly adventurous (and possibly suicidal??) people who first decided to climb and study the tallest trees in the world in the California Redwood forests. There’s a whole world up there we’re just now learning about, akin to deep sea exploration.  Read it….

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