Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Clarno Unit – Oregon

Maybe my favorite of the John Day Fossil Bed Units – this is where plant fossils are up close and personal on the trails and you can see many of them. All 3 units of John Day are impressive in their own way. I hiked all 3 short trails here, the Geologic Time Trail, The Trail of Fossils, and the Arch Trail. Again, very HOT, but worth it. Sunscreen, big hat, a lot of ice water.

The Geologic Time trail runs parallel to the road and has many interpretive signs showing what life was like in this area up to 40+ million years ago. From this trail there are excellent views of the Palisades, wonderful rock formations that change in the light and depending on what angle you’re looking from.

The Trail of Fossils has many signs that point you toward leaf fossils in big boulders, with specific instructions on where to look, since they’re hard to find. I had so much fun fossil hunting along this trail. It’s amazing to think that some of these plants are preserved from tens of millions of years ago!

Last but not least I hiked uphill on the Arch Trail, to the base of the Clarno Arch in the Palisades. There are 2 large petrified logs in a T-shape on the cliff walls as you hike up. Again, signs point out where to look and what to look for. Wonderful!

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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Painted Hills Unit – Oregon

After the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, I drove to the Painted Hills Unit. It was late afternoon and the heat had taken a lot of energy out of me, so I didn’t hike much here. Fortunately, not much hiking is needed to see some beautiful scenery. I stopped at the Painted Hills Overlook and hiked the Painted Cove Trail. This area is fairly small, and the roads are gravel. It’s a quick but beautiful stop.

The Painted Hills Overlook is mesmerizing. It almost looks fake, like someone spray-painted the hill in stripes. Different minerals in the soil make up the different colors. They also show different climates and weather patterns through history. Again, Mother Nature is simply amazing.

After stopping at the Overlook, I drove a bit further to the Painted Cove Trail (1/4 mile stroll). It’s a small section of other-worldly-looking hills in several different colors, again from different minerals in the soils creating the color palette.

Beautiful. Just beautiful…

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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Sheep Rock Unit – Oregon

More photos from my recent road trip with my Hiker Trailer 🙂 I spent 2 days exploring the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, which is made up of 3 different units. I didn’t hike as much as planned, it was 100 degrees and just a wee bit hot! But still very fun to explore. I also didn’t want to venture too far out because this is also rattlesnake territory.  A lot of sunscreen, a hat, and a never-ending supply of ice water came in very handy.

This is the Sheep Rock Unit, where the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is. I stopped at the Mascall Overlook first, before driving through Picture Gorge toward the Visitor Center. There are excellent displays of 45 million years worth of fossils, dinosaur bones, etc. And air conditioning.  Let me say that again… Air Conditioning.

Across from the visitor center, I wandered around at the historic Cant Ranch. I can’t imagine a more harsh but beautiful place to raise sheep and homestead.

After the Cant Ranch, I drove north to the Blue Basin area and hike the Island in Time Trail. This area is surreal, I felt more like I was on the moon than in Oregon. Again: hot hot hot, but sunscreen and a lot of cold water did the trick. The scenery here is fantastic.

The last place I hiked in the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds was the Foree area, on the Story in Stone and Flood of Fire Trails. I was withering in the heat by this time, so these short but sweet hikes were just right for me.

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Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, Oregon

From Lewiston, Idaho, I went on a 6-hour jetboat trip up the Snake River, through Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon (when using drainages to measure the high and low points). It’s very desolate, and HOT in the middle of July, but still incredibly scenic and beautiful. We saw bald eagles, osprey, pelicans, geese, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. After the jetboat trip, I think I need to look into rafting this next summer in a multi-day trip 🙂

After the boat trip I drove from Lewiston to Joseph, Oregon, and then on Forest Service Road 39 to the Hells Canyon Overlook. There were many wildflowers blooming, but I really want to go back in springtime to see what this looks like when it’s all green. It’s a beautiful drive with several campgrounds along the way. I camped that night at Copperfield Campground at Oxbow, Oregon, but there are many areas to disperse camp along both sides of the river between Oxbow and Hells Canyon Dam.

The next morning I drove up the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, over Hells Canyon Dam, to the visitor center. The views all along this road and from the visitor center are stunning, well worth the drive 🙂  After visiting the dam I headed to Baker City, Oregon, to visit my niece, going through the small towns of Halfway and Richland along the way.

I need to go back in springtime when it’s not so hot and the canyon walls are green, and I definitely need to raft this!

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Eastside Trail, MRNP

Forest. Waterfalls. Ferns. Flowers. Friends. Yep, that just about covers it!

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Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor, SW Oregon Coast

After spending a few days soaking in the incredible energy and beauty of the Northern California Redwoods forests, my husband and I spent a day exploring the Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor on the southern Oregon coastline. It was cloudy and cold, but still a beautiful day. The coastline is rugged and wild, and was not at all crowded this time of year. Just the way I like to hike.

We stopped at the many viewpoints and beaches along the corridor, exploring and hiking as we went along. Our favorite was hiking down a sketchy and steep trail to the Natural Bridges. While we didn’t go out onto the actual bridges, we hiked to the base of them and enjoyed the view for a while before climbing back up.

We had a picnic lunch on Waleshead Beach and spent a long time walking the sands, exploring rocks, finding caves, listening to the pounding waves, and feeling the peace one gets from spending time at the ocean.

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Redwoods State and National Parks, CA

The Redwoods have been calling my name since I was there 2 years ago. I was fortunate to go back recently, this time with my husband and friends, none of whom had been there before.

There is something magical and mystical about the northern California Redwood forests that is hard to describe. There is a sense of time and history there that I’ve ever only felt before when visiting ancient places in Europe. It’s very humbling to stand at the base of a 2000-year-old tree and understand that we are only a very small part of a much bigger picture. These forests are Mother Nature’s natural cathedral. To quote John Muir, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” I definitely believe this to be true.

Over several days we hiked to and visited the Boy Scout Tree, Stout Grove, the Cathedral Tree, the Tall Tree Grove, the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, and Carruthers Cove. I can’t say how many trees I hugged, or simply paused to touch briefly while walking through the woods. Their energy is palpable and beautiful.

I highly recommend reading the book The Wild Trees by Richard Preston about these majestic beings. It will forever change the way you think of them.

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Steamboat Rock and Dry Falls State Parks, WA

Last week a friend of mine and I packed up the Hiker Trailer and headed for sunny skies in Eastern WA. It had been 25+ years since I’d been to Steamboat Rock State Park. I like heading east of the mountains in April to chase the sunshine, and to hike before the rattlesnakes wake up! The campground at Steamboat Rock was lovely, right on the waters of Banks Lake.

We hiked up to the stop of Steamboat Rock the next morning. There’s a section of trail that’s more of a scramble than a hike, but it’s short and actually pretty fun. The Rock is about 800 feet tall and 600 acres total. Wildflowers were just starting to open up and we spent several hours just wandering, looking at the incredible views, crouching down to see the tiniest of wildflowers, saying hello to a couple of fat marmots, and just sitting cliffside and taking it all in.

Dry Falls State Park is 30 minutes away from Steamboat Rock, and I’d never been there, so of course we had to explore. This is another place that makes me realize I should have been a geologist. The geologic history here is fascinating! Dry Falls was the result of the ancient Missoula Floods, and is believed to have been the single largest waterfall in the history of the planet. When it was flowing, it would have been many many times larger than Niagara Falls. We drove to Dry Falls Lake and from there hiked back to another “alcove” to Alkali Lake. Standing there looking up at the sheer size of the cliffs was amazing, and something that is impossible to describe through photos alone.

If geology is something that interests you, look up the Missoula Floods, Dry Falls, and the Scablands. Our planet is a pretty amazing place 🙂


The Adventure Wall

I collect postcards and stickers from all of my travels… They’re inexpensive, easy to carry, and a lot of fun. This wall has a double meaning for me – It’s a daily reminder of the incredible places that I’ve been fortunate to visit, and it always has space for adding more, and more, and more. To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”


Another from Mary Oliver…

She was so brilliant at capturing a feeling with her words