Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Another from Mary Oliver…

She was so brilliant at capturing a feeling with her words

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Mary Oliver’s words

Our world lost an amazing woman last week, Mary Oliver. She had such a wonderful way with words, not overdone, not too little, just right (kinda like Goldilocks). She spent decades out in nature just observing and being part of the amazing world around us. Many people never stop to appreciate the small things, but she saw them all and wrote about them. I like hiking alone, AND with friends. It’s a balance of both for me. But when I’m feeling introspective, I swear she wrote this poem just for me 🙂 Thank you Mary Oliver for sharing your gift. 
 
How I go to the woods
 
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
unsuitable.
 
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
 
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
 
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”
 
― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
P1060935
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Mt. Rainier

I’ve lived here for over 30 years, and I see Mt. Rainier every day that isn’t overcast. Sometimes she surprises me and is still able to take my breath away! We woke up to the Winter Solstice with this amazing sunrise.  What a fitting way to celebrate a little bit more light every day 🙂

sunrise

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Wyoming and South Dakota

I just got home from a wonderful trip with my new Hiker Trailer to Wyoming and South Dakota.  Please click the “Wyoming and South Dakota” button on the right side of the page to see more!

IMG_6889

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Isles of Mull and Iona, Scotland

One of the days we spent in the Scotland Highlands in May was a trip to the Isles of Mull and Iona, in the Inner Hebrides. It was a long day, a 1 hour car ride from our Airbnb, 1 hour ferry, 1.5 hour bus ride across the Isle of Mull (one lane road with turnouts, kinda fun in a huge double-decker bus!), and another short ferry across to the Isle of Iona – then everything in reverse. But the weather was wonderful, the scenery was amazing, and it was well worth every minute of the trip.

The final destination was the Abbey of Iona, which has been beautifully restored. It’s believed that the Book Of Kells (now in the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland) might have been originally produced here close to the year 800. It was also in Fionnphort, Isle of Mull, that I took a rather embarrassing tumble in a pile of seaweed and was soaked from the waist down – luckily I dried out in the sunshine in time for the bus ride back across the island!  Mull is known for its pink granite, and Iona is known for beautiful light green marble.

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Newgrange, Ireland

My family and I had a fantastic 3-week trip to Ireland and Scotland in May. Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne) isn’t a hike per se, but it’s one of my favorite places in all of Ireland and I wanted to share it here. It’s a passage tomb/mound built around 3200 BC. The exterior has been rebuilt, but the interior is still in perfect condition and has never been rebuilt or repaired, still watertight. No photos are allowed inside, but I encourage people to look online for photos of the interior. On the winter solstice sunlight shines into the interior for about 15-20 minutes; this is the only time of year there is natural light inside. Going inside is by tour only, from the excellent visitor center nearby.

This place gives us all goosebumps, in a very good and amazing way. It is older than Stonehenge or the pyramids of Giza. To be able to stand inside of thousands of years of history is very humbling and awesome. We love this place so much that my daughters and I all have a triskelion tattoo inspired by the swirls that are carved on the entry stone of Newgrange. If you ever get to Ireland, this is the ONE place I always suggest to people. The final photo is of Knowth, another nearby mound with excellent rock carvings, but not accessible on the inside to the public.

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John Muir

Not only was John Muir an incredible naturalist, he was also a wonderful writer. I have one of his most famous quotes tattooed around my ankle: “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

Here’s another one that calls me to the mountains time and time again…

“I don’t like either the word [hike] or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.” – John Muir

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Hiker Trailer

I’m changing the game up a bit – This spring I ordered a teardrop trailer, and we were able to pick it up just in time for my birthday at the end of September. The brand is Hiker Trailer, built in Denver, Colorado ( http://www.hikertrailer.net ). The company is absolutely wonderful to work with, and will customize so that you only pay for exactly what you want. Each trailer is custom-built, and I am so thrilled with mine!!!

I got a 5 x 8 foot size. It’s small enough that I can tow it easily, and it’s so light I can even move it around by hand if I need to. The inside fits a queen-size mattress perfectly, so I have a folding mattress that can lie flat for a bed, or fold up into a couch – perfect for reading! Perfect for one person, but plenty of space for 2 also. The back galley has large shelves, a pull-out table, as well as a detachable side table that is perfect for cooking on. Eventually I will have an awning installed, hopefully next summer.

I take so many road trips and do so much camping, this trailer is going to make those trips so much better. I won’t have to pack and unpack for every trip. I’ll be able to  comfortably get out of bad weather and sleep in an enclosed, secure, weather-proof space instead of a tent. I’m in love!

I took my trailer out alone to test it at a Kanaskat-Palmer State Park, and it was so comfy I slept for 10 hours that night. It’s now tucked away in the garage for the winter, but I’ll be planning and scheming road trips for next spring and summer with it while I’m recovering from shoulder surgery 🙂

 

 

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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!!!!

Links to newspaper articles about this class below the photos.

http://www.theolympian.com/entertainment/article151175952.html

http://www.thurstontalk.com/2017/05/17/goat-yoga-olympia/

 

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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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