Apr 12 2019
Hiking in a tropical paradise with panoramic views, breathtaking waterfalls and volcanic landscapes is on the bucket list of many, especially when considering the island of Hawaii. With trails ranging from family-oriented or easy to skilled or expert,this chain of volcanic islands offers opportunities to explore unlike any other place on Earth.
One of the most famous hikes is the Kalalau Trail. This 22-mile round trip hike located on Kauai, traverses through five valleys and across cliffs. Here you will find epic views on the NaPall Coast. It leads to Kalalau Beach, which is only accessible via this hike. It is a tropical paradise where you will enjoy panoramic views, turquoise water and white sand. However, please beware. Trails are narrow and quickly flood. Falling rocks make for unsafe swimming. Always remain cautious, but what an experience! It’s an outstanding hike.
Kaena Point is another popular destination. This is an easier hike with some folklore attached. It is said to be the place where souls go after death to leap into the otherworld. This wraps around Kaena Point on the western tip of Oahu where a lighthouse oversees a serene beach. Here there are natural tidepools, stone arches and stunning views. Often monk seals can be seen lounging in the tidepools. Little shade can be found on this hike, so remember to pack plenty of water and sunblock.
Diamond Head Trail is another easier hike on Oahu on the edge of Waikiki Coast. This three-mile round trip hike has a 500’ elevation gain with two sets of steep stairs, which can be strenuous, but it’s worth it. It winds inside an extinct crater where volcanic rock covers 450 acres. At the summit you will reach the Diamond Head State Monument where on a clear day you will see a spectacular view of Oahu’s popular south shore.
Another great hike is the Koko Head Crater Trail, which is also on Oahu. Depending on your ability, this hike will be thirty minutes to an hour, but it is one of the best. Be sure to take breaks as you climb the 1,000 steep stairs. This trail can be a grueling workout, but the panoramic views of Diamond Head and lava rock beaches are most rewarding!
The easy to moderate Manoa Falls Trail traverses through lush vegetation with spectacular scenery. Much wildlife may be observed including many varieties of birds. Please take extra care in the rain as trails may quickly become slippery. Also keep in mind that while the falls are quite a sight to experience, swimming may be hazardous and is not recommended.
Also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike winds along the Kaiwa Ridge on Oahu. It leads to a stunning view of Lanikai Beach and the Mokulua Islands. Its nickname “pillboxes” come from the boxes scattered along the trail. This hike is especially recommended for beautiful coastline sunrise views. If hiking with the sunrise in mind, begin early and bring a flashlight.
One of the more dangerous or adventurous hikes is the Olomana Three Peaks Trail on Oahu. Caution is especially advised here as there is no room for error. It is very steep with many drop-offs. Do not attempt this hike if you have any fear of heights. Dry days are the best to plan this hike. Peak One is strenuous with drops on both sides. Peak Two is less challenging with stunning views. Peak Three is only for the most experienced mountaineers. This trail is popular with mountain bikers and rock climbers alike.
Before undertaking any hiking trip in Hawaii, there are a few unofficial rules for all hikers as even the easiest hike may be dangerous. Preparation is key to success. Always tell someone where you are going! Proper footwear is a must. No sandals. Considerations for changeable weather is on the list. Flash flooding remains a constant threat, so beware of that possibility. Pay attention to ground conditions as slippery mud can be treacherous especially on steep slopes. Be sure to pack enough water for each hiker (½ liter per mile) and include plenty of snacks as well as sunblock. Also, there are many areas that are sacred to locals, so treat all areas with respect. Always make note of trail difficulties and only traverse those you know you can handle. Some hikes include dangerous cliff walks, where fatalities have occurred. Personal safety needs to be a priority. One last thought, beware of the temptation for the ultimate selfie. Use care when planning your photos.
Choices for hiking seem endless in Hawaii, so before you leave for your trip, be sure to research. Only a few hikes are summarized here, but there are many. When planning, in order to make the most of your trip, know your strengths and consider carefully. Most of all enjoy this spectacular experience!
Feb 15 2019
Boots, gloves, goggles…check. All packed and ready to go–off for Steamboat. After a mild winter in North Carolina, we were finally headed for quality family time in the Colorado snow.
Steamboat Springs is known for its Champagne Powder®, which we have learned makes the best snow for skiing. Unlike ski resorts in the east, this snow is so light and powdery that snowballs don’t stick. Skis and snowboards seemed to glide effortlessly down the 165 trails on the mountain and the out of bound glades. Steamboat was the perfect ski destination for our family who range from intermediate to expert, but even beginner skiers or boarders will find comfortable trails throughout. Raised in the east with plenty of ice skiing, Champagne Powder® was a delight–a joy–for all of us.
It’s hard not to compare this resort to mountains in the east, but knowing the difference makes one appreciate the experience even more. Not only were trails free from ice, but they were free from crowds as well. Most times the trails felt as though they were our own. What a sense of freedom we enjoyed! No ice, no crowds–just free flowing, silent trails of powder and fun.
Blessed with two days of blue skies and the rest of the days getting blasted with snow. We had the best of both, and it truly was a winter wonderland. Riding the gondola gave the opportunity to soak in the landscape. Mountain homes topped with several feet of sparkling white powder, layered snow-covered Rockies in the distance, and the small western town of Steamboat resting below all added to the beauty. Aspens rustled in the breeze and pines held tight to the snow…what a peaceful sight.
We highly recommend Steamboat Springs for anyone looking for the total snow experience.
Jan 18 2019
Just north of Vancouver, British Columbia, lies Whistler–home of the 2010 Olympics and one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Often called a Winter Wonderland, Whistler adventurers enjoy pow-filled fun with skiing, snowboarding, ziplining, snowshoeing, heli-skiing/boarding, nordic skiing and more. With 8,100 acres of slopes, 200+ marked trails, 16 alpine bowls, 3 glaciers, not to mention the world class terrain parks, Whistler is a certainly a “skiers dream destination.”
Activities abound for skiers and non-skiers alike in this family-friendly resort. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers sightseeing reaching a 360º breathtaking view of Whistler Blackcomb. Take a break and dine on the rooftop before heading back to base. For an adrenaline ride, try the glass bottom gondola! After the ride, explore Whistler Village. Easy to access, this Chalet-style village creates a unique atmosphere to enjoy shopping, dining, art and culture.
For a once in a lifetime experience, consider a helicopter tour to explore forests, rivers, summits, peaks and glaciers. Stopping at a glacial ice cave is an awe-inspiring destination where ice illuminates, where it is said that “time bends and minutes dissolve.” Along with helicopter tours, guided snowmobiling trips are another popular way to explore the backcountry. Ice climbing is yet one more way to adventure in Whistler. Even beginners may experience the excitement of ice climbing with classes available for all.
Activities in Whistler are year ‘round. The slopes remain open through the end of May. In spring, summer and fall, biking, hiking, paddling, and ziplining are plentiful. In summer, along with helicopter excursions, golfing, swimming, floatplaning and sightseeing are popular.
Whistler Mountain Bike Park provides trails for all levels and abilities. Lift access is available for the ultimate downhill experience with jump trails and more. For more adrenaline rush, try the two-hour Whistler Sky Walk. Clip into a cable and explore Whistler Mountain and brave the suspension bridges. Another exhilarating experience, said to be a Canadian tradition, is the 4×4 off-road tour which explores a network of old roads and logging trails.
Dec 28 2018
Dec 14 2018
Located in Central Europe, the alpine country of Switzerland, with its crystal lakes, quaint villages and mountain peaks, provides a plethora of choices for adventurers. Switzerland is more than cuckoo clocks and yodelling. From skiing to hiking, paragliding to parachuting, adventure abounds with outdoor activities.
With 13,000’ peaks and year round skiing, Switzerland’s Alps have become known as one of the world’s top alpine ski destinations. Favorite resorts include St. Moritz as well as the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Summer skiing at the Matterhorn offers 13 miles of runs!
Adventure in Switzerland is not limited to skiing. Interlaken has become known as Switzerland’s adventure capital. Along with hiking and biking, canyoning, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, heli-skiing, paragliding, parachuting, rappelling and jet boating are all popular in this Swiss town. Local tour operators help with all levels so that even first timers can experience these thrills.
For James Bond fans, bungee jumping from the 220 meter Valle Verzasca or Contra Dam is a favorite destination. The opening scene in the film Goldeneye shows a stuntman jumping this bridge. This bungee jumping experience will thrill all 007 adrenaline seekers.
The Swiss National Park offers 107 square miles of lush mountains and idyllic valleys. With trails marked in five languages (including English), and with levels ranging from beginner to advanced, hikers and bikers will have much to explore.
From the Rhine Falls, which is Europe’s biggest and Switzerland’s top natural attraction, to Lauterbrunnen, also called King of the Swiss Cascades, waterfall destinations are many. Several authors including JRR Tolkien and poet Goethe have been inspired by the towering peaks and falls.
Travelling in Switzerland is easy by rail, but with 2,800 miles of mountain bike paths, biking is another option. The Heart Route climbs Lake Geneva and travels through scenic countryside and vineyards. For those who want to skip the challenge of the climbs, Ebikes are a popular choice. Swiss Trails provide luggage services for those journeying overnight.
With skiing, boating, hiking and biking, the breathtaking country of Switzerland provides outdoor adventure for all travellers. Offering extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Switzerland is a must-do for all adventurers.
Nov 30 2018
Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often.” –Susan Statham
What is your story? We create stories every day. Why not stop to consider what you are writing? Are you taking charge as the author or are you letting each day slide by? Sometimes we need reminders that tomorrow is not promised. We must choose to live with passion and purpose. Our life journey, our story, must be cultivated to have meaning.
Consider your story. What are you writing? What changes can you make to embrace life? You can certainly begin with kindness, compassion and service to others. Be thankful and strive to be better. At the top of the list, with all of life’s obligations, remember the importance of making time for yourself. Make time for that vacation you’ve been dreaming about. Create that adventure.
Be sure that your story is one to be shared.
Nov 15 2018
Adventuring by Backpack? Whether you’re going to Peru, Thailand, Nepal or the Grand Canyon, destinations by backpack may be the best way to experience our world–to see nature at its best. Packing that pack the right way though, may make all the difference in comfort during your trip.
The key to comfort for multi-day packing is with organized balance and keeping your essentials to a bare minimum. We all know the concept of balancing needs vs. wants. Packing your pack is similar in that we need to choose what we bring with focus: essentials vs accessories. You will find that careful selection of what to pack and where to place it in your pack will keep unwanted aches and pains at bay, thus making your trip so much more enjoyable.
Once you’ve narrowed down your trip and know the climate and terrain, you will have a good idea of what is needed. Take all the gear you think you will need, and spread it out all across your room. Arrange everything in piles of essentials vs accessories. Place the accessories to the side and group the essential gear by category and weight: cooking, sleeping, clothing, toiletries and so on. Don’t overpack, and try to save some room for trail souvenirs.
When packing your pack, think first in, last out–meaning your sleeping bag should be the first item to pack because it will be the last out. Also, your base layers such as long underwear and shoes should go in the bottom of the pack. Lighter gear should also be placed in the bottom. Most importantly, be sure to choose a pack with solid back support.
Helpful tip: Use an extra large, heavy duty garbage/leaf bag to layer the inside of your pack to protect from moisture.
Remember the importance of center of gravity in keeping balance. For men, it is usually a bit higher than for women, so you may need to personalize by placing items at different heights to see what feels best. Even so, generally you will want to pack your heaviest items centered between the shoulder blades and closest to your back. Heavy items will be your bear canister (filled with food), cooking equipment, pots (stuffed with food or other), and the water bladder (fill first and then pack).
After the heavy items are well centered, carefully fill in the empty spaces and pack to the corners. Clothing should be rolled to be long and thin to maximize space and minimize wrinkles.
Helpful tip: If packing cooking fuel, place it upwards and under your food in case of leaks.
The top of the pack should be saved for items needing quick access such as first aid or for a bulky coat. Raingear or an extra layer should be accessible. Organize your side pockets so that you know where everything can be found. Compass and trail map, flashlight, sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, swiss army knife, toilet supplies and cash should all have easy access.
Consider separating your tent from poles. Use the body of the tent to wrap clothes or to create support by filling in empty spaces in the pack. Poles can be removed and tied to the center or sides of the pack.
Helpful tip: Leave a trip itinerary with family or friends.
Suggested Items to Pack for Multi-day Backpacking
- Tent or camping hammock
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Compass and trail map
- Stove and fuel
- Matches or lighter
- Cookware, dinnerware, utensils
- Dishwashing kit with biodegradable soap
- Dry bag for electronics
- Backpack cover for rain
- Freeze dried food and snacks
- Water bladder
- Water treatment
- Clothing with quick dry fabric
- Cushion socks
- Fleece, beanie and gloves
- Rain jacket and pants
- Hiking boots
- Bear canister
- Headlamp, flashlight with spare batteries
- Multi-tool (Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman)
- Expandable Towel
- Insect repellant
- Ziplock bags
- Journal and pen
- cash/credit card
- camera/phone/portable charger
First Aid Kit suggestions:
Bandages, safety pins, tweezers, wipes, antiseptic, antidiarrheal, antacid, ibuprofen, oral rehydration sachets, etc.
To get the most out of your trip, be sure to pack smart. Be organized, keep weight distributed and remember to have fun. Enjoy the adventure!
Nov 08 2018
Travel Insurance: To buy or not to buy? That is the question.
Think about Travel insurance as a safety net to catch you if you need it, just like belaying in climbing.
Once you’ve narrowed down your travel adventure, there’s the last question about purchasing travel insurance. Is it really necessary? Well, that depends on your comfort level. For some, just having the insurance takes that edge of stress away from the journey. While most travelers never need that insurance, for those few cases with emergencies, having it in place makes all the difference.
When considering travel insurance, be sure to choose the right plan for your needs. Policies differ for families, single travelers or thrill seekers. For adventure travelers, special policies may need to be purchased. Often bungee jumping, caving or other extreme adventure sports may not be covered under medical, so be sure to inquire and to read all fine print.
The insurance company should include how they will help in an emergency. Are they available 24/7? Will they help with finding a flight if you miss a connection? In a medical emergency, can you go to any doctor or do they have a network? Are cell phones covered if lost? Make sure you know how they will help before you travel.
Another consideration may be to check with your homeowner’s insurance and credit card companies. Often these policies cover lost or stolen luggage (check deductibles though). You’d be paying double with travel insurance if you’re already covered. Also consider your primary health coverage. Will you need a high medical insurance? Modifying to a higher deductible should lower the travel insurance. Be wary of expensive upgrades.
Choosing the right insurance can be confusing. The fine print varies from one company to the next, and defining what is covered or not needs to be clarified before you travel. Comparison websites help distinguish cost and coverage differences, but even with all the reviews available, your best resource may just be your adventure advisor or adventure agency.
Oct 24 2018
If you look back in time, the railroad was once the main source of transportation, but time has brought much change. Replaced with planes, cars, and buses, the railroad has since become more associated with moving freight than people. Most may be unaware though, but traveling by railroad is still a great mode of transportation, and actually, it is one of the best ways to see the country.
There are many railroads that are specifically designed for explorers to experience scenery that is otherwise inaccessible. Traveling by train allows a totally new perspective, providing views that those who choose cars, buses, or planes will never get to experience. Keep your options of travel open, and consider taking your next adventure by train.
Fall is here, and what better way could there be to take in all the foliage. Any time of the year though, the railroad offers once in a lifetime experiences. From sea to shining sea, coast to coast, the options are many. Spectacular views will take your breath away whether in West Virginia, the Smoky Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, Banff, America’s Heartland, the Colorado River Valley, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore or Niagara Falls. There is even a Polar Express in Ontario.
Contact your adventure agent to help narrow down and personalize your railroad experience. Book early for the best dates. You will be able to experience pristine forests, untamed rivers, and snow-capped mountains. Having so many route options, it sure makes it a hard choice, but the railroad is considered to be one of the best ways to soak it all in. Make sure you get the chance to do so.
Oct 17 2018
This weekend the USNWC kicks off its Outdoor Market! With so much to do at this great facility, it can be overwhelming to choose where to start. When the USNWC puts on an event, you can be ready sure there will be tons of activities for you to join. Luckily for you, they have everything scheduled so you can participate in a bit of everything! If you like adventure, this is the place for you. You’ve gotta come hang out with us and check out all the festivities!
Friday October 19: 2:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Saturday October 20: 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday October 21: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Outdoor Market offers a unique setting for guests to get hands-on experience with gear from top brands in the outdoor industry. Over three days, this festival offers guests the opportunity to demo bikes, trail running shoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, climbing gear and more throughout the 1,300 acre facility at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. During the festival, guests can also participate in group rides, runs, and paddles, as well as yoga practices and educational, participatory, and tech clinics. Opportunities to unwind from the festival’s active nature include live music, craft beer, food, and outdoor films.
As with all USNWC Festivals, Outdoor Market is open to the public and does not require tickets. Majority of the clinics and workshops are free to participate in, however, a select few have spatial limitations or registration requirements. See each activity for specific details.
Outdoor Market provides you with a unique opportunity to demo the latest and greatest outdoor gear. Exhibitors will be set up throughout the facility ready for you to give a good taste of their newest products on the market. Whether you want to try out a new mountain bike, pair of climbing shoes, trail runners, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard… it can all be done at the Outdoor Market. These opportunities are available to entry level enthusiasts and experts alike. Exhibitors include industry leaders such as Specialized, Niner, Black Diamond, Liquidlogic, Salomon, Inov-8, Strider, Hala Gear, La Sportiva, and more.