Like mosquitoes attacking you in the woods after a hard rain, the rigors and responsibilities I’d accumulated over the years were stinging me from every direction and on just about every part of my body. I knew I needed a break. I escaped to North Cascades National Park for a solo overnight.
The ranger gave me a site he said he personally loved and I made my way to peel apart the layers of my defenses to rediscover who I was beyond the tasks that had too oft come to define me. When I arrived at the site, it was epic: a mixture of tranquility, loneliness, and natural cacophony.
After writing a post about 10 of my favorite large U.S. city parks, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorites from other countries. These are parks that I’ve visited outside the USA, that are all larger than 100 acres, and that are absolutely delightful. Here are the first 5:
Backpacks are one of those integral pieces of gear that can make or break an adventure. Whether you're looking to spend a few hours on the trail or even a few months on an epic thru-hike, your pack needs to be comfortable. In order for it to be comfortable, it needs to fit right. That's why taking the necessary time before your trip to ensure that you have the pack that is right for you is imperative. Otherwise your weekend backpacking trip might just turn into an experience you'll remember for all the wrong reasons.
Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of doing a number of different trips using Osprey's Exos 58 backpack. My longest trip was a 120-mile loop in the Wind River Range of the amazing state of Wyoming. The pack held up great and is extremely comfortable for long days on the trail.
See a detailed video review here: Osprey Exos 58 backpack review.
The Airspeed suspension provided the perfect amount of tension while allowing free-flowing air to cool and dry off my back as I perspired. Our most demanding trek during this trip was a 17-mile section of hard-hitting trail. The trek included summiting two peaks and mistaking an elk path for the main trail…this led to a few miles of unbelievably nasty terrain and about a half-mile of wandering around looking for the trail after our trusted elk path dissipated into some dangerous rock formations. Needless to say, we learned our lesson!
If you’ve ever traveled overnight more than a couple days away from your home, you know how difficult and stressful it can be to interact with the world in the same way that you do when you’re home. There are oodles of reasons for this, but there are also some easy—but vital—steps you can take to mitigate those when you travel (whether it’s to visit family on the opposite coast or to backpack around Asia). All you have to do is focus on the simple things:
Some of the best trails in Central Florida can be found in Seminole State Forest in Eustis, Florida. With over 23 miles of multi-use trails (8 miles of which are part of the Florida Trail) this is a great area that you will return to again and again, whether it be for hiking or trail running.
It's common knowledge that people who love their Chacos really love their Chacos. They'll wear them anywhere while doing just about anything—from rock hopping, to running errands, to participating in life events many would deem as 'non-Chaco' as they come (like getting married, for instance). The original Chaco sandals were designed for river guides, and to this day they still perform exceptionally well in water. But true “Chaconians” love to wear them across all disciplines (hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, etc.) and in all seasons.
Traveling is certainly many things to many people, and few places is that evidenced more than at Travel Country, where people come in to visit places all over the world for myriad different reasons. And that is great, because there are few things more rich than experiencing a new culture for the first time. For me, it is the best thing about travel and, ultimately, I don’t think travel is healthy unless it is rooted in the traveler immersing himself/herself in the local culture. This can be quite difficult and definitely takes work. But when you choose to do it, it can make such a difference in your experience and—more notably—the experience of those whom you interact with on your visit. A nice byproduct is that when you do this, you can fit in quite nicely and experience a truer version of that culture.
Mike Plante credits the summers he spent with this family on the road in a motorhome for his love of the outdoors.
“I snored a lot, so typically I was sleeping in a tent most nights. We all spent a lot of time sitting around campfires,” recalls Plante, the family member now managing Travel Country Outfitters in Alamonte Springs, FL. “And we were always reading guidebooks and going hiking and fishing. We were extremely lucky to get to do that together for a decade or so.”
One of my favorite off-radar purchases of the last few years is a Coolmax Adaptor Travel Liner from Sea to Summit. I had no idea how critical it would be to my trip as I traveled around the U.S. There were a few particulars that made the liner so critical and that cause me to now encourage most travelers to carry a sleeping liner: