Outdoor adventures are my favorite, but it’s nice to wander around a beautiful city like Montréal once in a while, especially when special events are taking place.
Every autumn, Montréal hosts “Jardins de lumière” or “Gardens of Light”. For two months, September through the end of October, part of the Montréal botanical garden becomes illuminated with lanterns and various Chinese mythology characters. The show is amazingly beautiful.
21 miles is easy. Easy when you are hiking on perfectly compacted, rock-free, root-free trails of Yosemite, Glacier, or Olympic national parks. When it comes to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, 21 miles is a grueling marathon, an improbable, if not impossible ordeal even for seasoned hikers.
I took a bit of a hiatus from backpacking last summer so hiking the Wild River wilderness was my first backpacking trip since Glacier National Park two years ago.
The Wild River Wilderness is located at the northeast corner of the White Mountain National Forest, on the border between Maine and New Hampshire. It is very remote and rugged with but a few trails segmenting the wooded landscape. There are not a lot of campsites in the entire Wild River Basin, and only one on the Carter Range - Imp Campsite.
I've been coming to this magical place for almost 3 years. The Cape Anne area is probably the most beautiful spot on the New England coast. Few places offer such sweeping views of the water, marshes, islands covered with trees and hills, historical New England cottages, antique shops, and a plethora of local seafood options.
Sebago Lake in Maine is a special place. I've made a habit of visiting almost every year. The lush forests surrounding the lake, the wide open water, bald eagles, world-class lake kayaking, fishing, and pristine sandy beaches are all the things that make it worthwhile coming back to year after year.
The New England seacoast is a magical place. Small fishing towns, beaches, miles of marshland, islands and inlets. The seacoast is a source of income for many local fishermen, business owners hoping to cater to the bustling summer beach industry, as well as a source of inspiration and creativity. Many antique shops and galleries are scattered throughout towns like Essex, Portsmouth, and York.
Colorado doesn't need a ten paragraph blog post to explain the awesomeness of this place. So this time around, I won't bore you with the details. Not to say that there isn't much to talk about when it comes to my trip to Colorado a few weeks ago, but I figured this time, I'll let my photos do the talking.
Fall is awesome. Pacific Northwest is beautiful. Pacific Northwest in autumn is awesomely beautiful. Epic.
Few places in the world offer such pristine landscapes where glaciers meet the oceans, wild animals roam freely unafraid of people, and endless forests stretch as far as the eye can see. Alaska has a lot going for it, and I am glad I finally decided to check it out. A couple of my friends, Larisa and I started planning our trip earlier this year. Sometimes, when going to other parks, things are certain - go here, go there, hike this trail, hike that tail. Easy. Planning for Alaska was a whole different kind of beast.
Alaska has eight national parks, scattered across a landmass the size of eastern continental US. Transportation and amenities in Alaska are generally expensive compared to other destinations in the lower 48. Visiting as many different places as possible is usually in most people’s interest. After long deliberation and many days of research, we all agreed on three core places to visit: Kenai Fjords, Denali and Katmai National Parks over the course of ten days.
Alaska is known for the number of national parks and national forests and their size. For most people visiting the 49th state, Denali and Kenai Fjords national parks are at the forefront of the places to visit and are the most-visited national parks in the the northern part of the state.
When Larisa and I were originally planning our trip to Alaska, we didn't even consider any other parks due to their remote locations, high cost, and low popularity. I started doing more research and talking with people who have been to Alaska, I've discovered that the true gem of a park is actually located several hundred miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula - Katmai National Park and Preserve.
Katmai National Park, established only 35 years ago in 1980 to protect the area of extreme geological interest and the prime salmon and costal brown bear habitat is located 235 air miles from Anchorage and getting there isn't easy.
With an area larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, Denali offers enough space to cover the distance as far as the eye can see in all directions. Denali is the king of all the National Parks. We were slated to spend three days in the park - a tight schedule considering the sheer geographic area.
Denali National Park and Preserve is located about four hours north of Anchorage. Having been warned about wildfires along the Parks Highway, we made sure to leave early on Monday morning to make it to Denali at a decent hour. Luckily, there wasn’t much traffic, nor wildfires on the way up, and we even got a glimpse of Mt. McKinley from a viewpoint just south of the park. We were hoping that we’d get a much closer view of the mountain from inside the park, but later we’d be grateful for having at least seen it on the way in.
Located a couple hours south of Anchorage on the mountainous Kenai peninsula is Kenai Fjords National Park. Most of the land area of the park is actually covered by a massive glacier, a remnant of the ice sheet that covered much of North America as recently as 10,000 years ago. While Harding Icefield stretches over 300 square miles and flows out through 40 glaciers of varying types, it is rarely seen by most park visitors. For most people visiting Kenai Fjords Nat’l Park, the experience is all about marine wildlife and tidewater glaciers, seen by boat from the bays and inlets surrounding the park.
So I’m going to Alaska in July with my girlfriend and a couple of friends. This is a trip I’ve wanted to take for many years. After all, Alaska is that special, magical place everyone talks about, kind of like Iceland.
We’ll be gone for 10 days from July 3rd to July 13th. In the week and a half that we are there, we will be going to four key areas of the state: Anchorage (think cool galleries and shops), Kenai Fjords National Park (think whales and glaciers), Denali National Park (think sweeping views of tundra and Mt. McKinley), and Katmai National Park (think bears, lots of bears).
This summer is definitely turning into a “Maine Road Trip Series” kind of summer as Larisa and I keep coming up to the pine tree state almost every other week. There’s no denying that Maine’s “worth a visit, worth a lifetime”, so this past weekend, we decided to come up and visit once again. On the agenda - staying at Lake Sebago State Park and kayaking on the lake.
Amusement parks are for kids? I don't think so. Or perhaps I'm a kid at heart. Because I love visiting a good amusement park once in a while, especially one like Universal, with great state-of-the-art rides with special effects and high quality sets and acting.
This year, for Larisa's 24th birthday, I decided to surprise her with a surprise getaway, so I told her that I'm getting her a weekend vacation to an undisclosed location. As the date approached, she kept trying to guess where I was taking her, and somehow I slipped and said that it was Florida. As frustrating as her finding out was for me, all wasn't lost, since there are countless possible destinations in Florida and countless things one can do.
Not many people can say that they've been skiing since they were three. I can. I'm extremely grateful to my parents for putting me on skis at such a young age. In my 22-year skiing career, I've skied in 6 different mountain ranges across Europe and North America and got to experience all of the possible types of skiing.
Living in the northeast, I feel lucky to have so much great skiing terrain at my doorstep. My typical ski season these days looks something like this:
- 6-9 days of skiing in the Northeast
- 5-6 days of skiing in British Columbia
- 3-4 days of skiing in Colorado
That spreads my skiing evenly between the somewhat more on-piste groomer skiing and tree skiing in the northeast, and the powder and open alpine skiing of the west. Haven't been to the Alps in a few years, but love skiing in Austria as well.
I meant to write about my ski trips before the season ended, so I suppose this write-up is a bit delayed. Whistler's still open until June 7th, so it's still "in season". My two main ski trips this winter - a weekend in Colorado skiing Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, and Beaver Creek and a week in Whistler..
Sweeping 360-degree views consisting of azure-blue water, islands, mountains and trees, rugged coastline, the ringing of the lighthouse in the fog, endless carriage roads and hiking trails - those are the things that define Acadia National Park.
Acadia was the first National Park I've ever been to. As an 11-year old kid, I was mesmerized by the rugged coastline, the evergreen-covered mountains, and numerous, crystal-clear lakes of Mount Desert Island, and most importantly, the fall foliage. That was my first visit to Acadia in 2001. Since then, I've visited the island several times and this spring, while trying to figure out what adventure to go on for Memorial Day weekend, I've stumbled upon the last remaining campsite at Blackwoods campground in Acadia. I asked Larisa if she wanted to go and given her love of Maine, she couldn't be more excited.
So we packed up the car, loaded up the bikes on the roof, and headed up to Maine on early Saturday morning.
An early-season beach walk at Crane Beach in Ipswich is a perfect way to kick off a birthday weekend. Larisa's birthday weekend is a combination of low key, relaxing beach strolling and a night with a few friends.
We drove up to the Cape Ann area on Friday night, and spent the night at the rustic Ipswich Bed and Breakfast. After a delicious breakfast of eggs and home made granola, we decided to drive out to the beach for a short walk.
There's something extraordinarily special about sunset and sunrise hikes - not only being one with nature and experiencing the scenic wonders of the world, but also celebrating the goodbyes and hellos that the sun gives to the landscape.
I've done a few sunset and sunrise hikes in the past, and every time, I am more and more tempted to make it a more regular ordeal.
Last weekend my friend asked me if I was down to head to Mt. Monadnock, an hour west of where I live, and two hours west of where I work - after work. I'm no stranger to hiking at odd times of the day, so I said, why not.