The idea of racing to get a camping spot in a hammock or inside a hardly-washed tent to spend an evening in Tayrona National Park was never particularly appealing to me. Although witnessing a sunrise and/or sunset on its magnificent beaches would be amazing, I decided that the conditions under which you spend the night were not appealing to me. So, along with a new friend, I daytripped to Tayrona National Park all in one day, and though it was a busy day, it can be done!
The Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park is at the top of many hikers’ lists – so much so, that when reservations for the season open up at the end of January, you’d best hope you’re online when it opens to secure a campsite for your choice of dates.
The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States, and a must-see for any visitor to Southern Peru. There isn’t a ton of detailed information in the guidebooks about how to get to the Colca Canyon or actually do the hike. Tours can be booked in Arequipa, which is 160 km southeast of the canyon, but if you’re a) On a budget, b) Don’t want to spend your whole tour waking up super early for a bus, or c) Want to do the hike without a guide, I have some tips for you!
Many of Banff’s most serious hikers will tell you to avoid the Lake Agnes Teahouse hike at Lake Louise due to the crowds. The four hour round trip is appealing to families and those with less endurance, though the first two hours are definitely a fairly solid uphill. The truth is, some of the prettiest views in the world (not all) you will likely never see alone. The Lake Agnes trail has gorgeous views of the azure waters of Lake Louise as you ascend, along with a waterfall that cascades from Lake Agnes down the mountain below. And while there are multitudes of people at Lake Agnes, lined up out the door for tea and biscuits, and while the lake does not have the same distinct blue as Lake Louise, the water’s clarity made for a pretty mountain picture.
After recovering from the dizziness from being on a rocky scramble two feet wide with a thousand foot drop on the ledge, I finally felt brave enough to get my camera back out. This is the view of the hanging valley as you descend from the ultimate destination of Crypt Lake on this Waterton hike. The mountains of the western Americas all result from the same tectonic plate, and yet the differences between the ranges and even within the ranges are so vast. In the Rockies, Waterton’s mountains have a red underlay while Banff’s are greyer in tone. The Andes mountains of Peru are jungled while those of Patagonia are jagged. While I quest for more mountains and more mountaintop views, people have asked why I seek out mountains in other countries since we already have the gorgeous Rockies for just a short (or long, in Waterton’s case) drive away. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain it, so there’s a Robert MacFarlane quote to do it for me: “Those who travel to mountain-tops are …
Once considered the most dangerous hike in the world, the Caminito del Rey (a.k.a the “King’s Path”) originated as a path for miners in the El Chorro gorge, which is an hour outside of the city of Malaga.
The Crypt Lake hike in Waterton Lakes, National Park, Alberta is one of the most challenging day hikes I have ever done, both physically and mentally. Physically partly because I was in a bike accident four days before I did the hike and my knees were already wrecked, and partly because of the 32 Celsius temperatures. Mentally, it was a challenge because of my fear of steep drop-offs, especially when you’re scrambling on a two and a half foot-wide ledge with nothing but a bolted-in wire to hold on it. The end-point of the hike, before you descend and do it all again, is this gorgeous lake, which the hottest and most daring of hikers braved the ice cold temperatures and dived in to escape the heat. It made for a lovely spot to eat lunch and recover from the panic I felt while looking straight down into the Crypt Valley.
After a thousand metre elevation gain on the Bourgeau Lake trail, which consists of an upwards walk through dense forests before a wet and/or gravelly scramble, you reach Harvey Pass and the small Harvey Lake. If conditions permit, you can make the ascent to the top of Mount Bourgeau to unbelievable views. Or just go a bit further from Harvey Pass, and if you’re lucky and it’s autumn, get an incredible view of the larches in their full fall colours. By all accounts, there’s nothing particularly impressive about Harvey Lake, it is just another beautiful lake among many in the Canadian Rockies. But there was just something about the light that day, and the quietness of the trail (we were a group of eight but we only saw four others), and the stillness of that beautiful lake hidden amongst mountains that just really struck me. I didn’t make it to the summit due to the rain and wind, but I still saw this view, among others, that suited me just fine.