Minimal, stark, wide open landscapes dotted with numerous waterfalls, craters, and rivers. A beautiful place unlike any other place else on Earth. The coziness of small European towns intermingled with the natural beauty to rival that of the American West.
Winter is my favorite hiking season.
No roots, no rocks, no mud - just a clean, sparkling, magical path through the winter wonderland.
Natalie and I opened our winter hiking season on Mount Cardigan a couple weeks ago, but we decided to have a more proper entry with a winter ascent up Mount Starr King and Waumbek.
At the center of the fight for public lands, lies the most stark, and arguably the most beautiful landscape in the continental United States - Utah.
Many think of the desert as wasteland - a place of death, nothingness. That is far from the truth - sure, there may be few trees, few lakes, and seemingly little wildlife in the desert. But when we look closer, we find that the desert is teeming with life, diversity, beauty.
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.
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.
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).
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..