By Deanna Duff, Special to The Herald
Following in Andy Boos’ footsteps will lead you to untold adventures and rewards. Since 1995, the local hiking hero has led nearly 1,800 trips for Everett Parks and Recreation’s Outdoor Program. People of all ages and abilities clamor to participate in his outings, which often fill up within 20 minutes.
“Andy is the best find I’ve ever had,” said Jane Lewis, Everett Parks and Recreation supervisor.
Boos is an independent contractor for the Outdoor Program, now in its 36th year. He specializes in walking and hiking trips, and leads snowshoe and cross-country ski outings.
“Being in nature and enjoying its rewards creates a special bond between people,” Boos said.
Originally from Wisconsin, Boos came to the Northwest in 1986, partially because of the outdoor opportunities. One of Boos’ first truly challenging hikes was scaling the Cascades’ Three Fingers mountain.
“It’s a difficult trip that takes all day,” he said. “When I got there, I was blown away by the spectacularness of the place and made a vow to try to return every year. It’s become an annual tradition that I’ve done 26 years since.”
It is also where he earned the nickname Alpine Andy.
“There is a cabin you can stay in with a list of housekeeping suggestions. One thing is to leave some snacks for Alpine Andy, who is the resident pack rat. So I stole it from him!” Boos said with a laugh.
Boos continued to develop his skills after joining the Mountaineers and eventually began sharing his passion as a guide. “Nature can be a humbling place, but is also so enriching,” he said.
Through the Outdoor Program, Boos leads about 140 trips annually. He always includes tried-and-true destinations, and embraces the challenge of exploring new locations.
Most are day trips ranging from the Canadian border to Mount Rainier and the slopes of the Cascades to Wenatchee.
“The hiking program is a great introduction to the area if you’ve just moved to Washington or Everett where most of the walking tours happen,” Lewis said. “We take you to all the best places.”
What makes Boos exceptional is his ability to create a sense of community. In 2011, more than 1,120 people, from kids to seniors, participated in the walking and hiking programs.
“We actually have a lot of people who are active in the program who are in their 70s and 80s,” Boos said. “A few participants have even been in their 90s. That’s really inspiring to me. It’s important to be active as we get older and hiking and walking are great opportunities.”
Giles Shepherd’s introduction to hiking was courtesy of Boos and Everett Parks and Recreation. Shepherd began hiking in his 50s after retiring from teaching at Everett Community College.
“Thanks to hiking, I put on about 15 pounds of leg and shoulder muscle since I retired,” Shepherd, 70, said. “Regardless of what ails you, having this kind of experience is good when it comes to fending off some of the things that can afflict us in our older years. I’m certainly appreciative of the positive effects.”
The sense of camaraderie and accomplishment are equally important. Every year, Boos creates certificates congratulating hikers on how many miles they have covered. The award’s background is filled with photos commemorating the trails and scenery along with the smiling, proud faces of participants. Shepherd’s most recent certificate celebrates 1,300 total miles hiked.
It is almost impossible to estimate how many miles Boos has logged. This year he will make his annual trek to Three Fingers and visit the “other” Alpine Andy. Another goal is to finish climbing the 100 tallest peaks in Washington. He has conquered 92.
Boos turned 50 years old in January and celebrated with a hiking trip to New Zealand, where he scaled the 10,000-foot-peak Mount Aspiring.
“It’s really a great name (Mount Aspiring) for the idea of forging ahead with the rest of your life,” he said.
Andy Boos’ hikes
Everett Parks and Recreation offers a wide variety of events including walking, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, cultural activities and more. Prices and times vary.
If you have limited or no hiking experience, the walking program is an appropriate introduction. Excursions are generally four hours, leave from local parks and use easily accessible trails. Costs average $25. All ages welcome.