Trekking in Nepal – A Personal Recollection

I ended up trekking in Nepal via those famous last words “It's your birthday; you choose what you want to do”. For a long time I'd wanted to go trekking in Nepal – specifically to Everest Base Camp. And so my wonderful family granted me my wish – and you know what else they say,…

I ended up trekking in Nepal via those famous last words “It's your birthday; you choose what you want to do”. For a long time I'd wanted to go trekking in Nepal – specifically to Everest Base Camp. And so my wonderful family granted me my wish – and you know what else they say, be careful what you wish for.

Not being one to go back on my word I started on a strict training program of going to the gym three times a week, walking in the Brecon Beacons and Snowdon. My theory on this territory was that the SAS train in these areas, so it must be similar to Nepal..wrong!

We opted for staying in tea-houses, it's got to be more comfortable than camping..wrong again! Tents do not have mice and rats, and the toilet facilities have got to be at least 100 times cleaner.

The first few days up to Namche Bazaar were hell on earth. I knew that I was not super fit, but I felt like I was running on half power. It did not help either that most of the others in the group appeared to have no problem at all laughing and joking along the way, and already half way through their cup of tea by the time I eventually arrived at the next stop red faced and breathing heavily. Still, remember the hare and the tortoise fable, keep your head down and carry on.

Namche was where the splitting headaches started; it was also the first non-walking day, a day to explore and acclimatise. Now you may get the impression that I was not really enjoying this, but it did have its moments, the first of these was a wonderful German bakery which served a superb apple strudel.

It might have been my imagination, but from here the walking was a lot less steep, for me it seemed to get easier. Do not get the wrong idea, easy is probably not the right word, and for some, the altitude began to bring on blinding heads and nausea. What's the cure? Lots of garlic, garlic soup, roasted garlic, anything, and everything contained garlic; that included the strudel.

Now for the serious bit. One thing which really stuck me was that fitness is important, but it's not everything, especially when you get higher, luck plays its part too. Three people in our group, all fit, plus a Sherpa who did the route regularly, suffering from symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and had to descend quickly, thankfully everyone fully recovered as soon as they reached a lower altitude. The hare and tortoise fable resurfaced again; take it slowly and acclimatise.

The second memorable moment was when we got back for our final night on the edge of the airstrip at Lukla, the party was incredible; it must have been all that oxygen, or was it the thought that tomorrow there might be an opportunity for a good long bath!

For me my first Nepalese trek was extreme and it was not really wise to choice as my first serious trek. Having said that, it is still something I remember with a feeling of pride as I did it! So, whether you are marking one of those 'special' moments in your life, or you just enjoy a challenge, trekking in Nepal is an experience you'll never forget and never regret.

Guided Trekking Holidays – A Beginners Guide

Trekking holidays are not always easy, especially if they are guided. Sometimes you just want to be on your own, to see what you want to see, and not waste time at looking at pointless things that do not interest you – sound familiar? Well yes, sometimes it can be like that, and if you've…

Trekking holidays are not always easy, especially if they are guided. Sometimes you just want to be on your own, to see what you want to see, and not waste time at looking at pointless things that do not interest you – sound familiar? Well yes, sometimes it can be like that, and if you've had experience of guided treks you may also have come across some of those people who really get on your nerves, or maybe nationalities that you simply can not stand!

But it does not have to be like that, there are some very positive things about taking a guided tour, and sometimes the benefits out weight those little niggles. Here are a few ways of making the best of a guided trekking holiday.

  • Do your research. Read the itinerary, how many days are spend doing things that you do not like? Most people concentrate on the things that they like to do and sometimes do not see the hidden statements such as, 'en route to our hotel this afternoon we stop off at a handmade carpet cooperative' which means that you will probably spend a good 2 or 3 hours being sold something you really do not want. Do not expect to be able to opt out, or persuade the others not to go, it may be the highlight they have been waiting for.
  • Be honest with yourself. How much walking do you like to do, is half a day enough, do you want to spend three whole weeks on the road with only a couple of rest days? If you choose the wrong trip you may end up being one of those people who gets on everyone's nerves because in the afternoon you are too tired to do anything. Vice-versa, do not go booking a guided tour which does not have enough activity and hope to chivvy the other along either.
  • If you are traveling on your guided trekking holiday with family and friends who are not as active as you are; choose an itinerary that will favor you both. Perhaps try an itinerary with a few days walking and rest days in between where you can go off on your own, and they can relax.
  • Get involved, but do not go overboard. If you choose a guided trek that evolves 'chores' then be prepared to lend a hand and do anything, but do not go upsetting the others by doing everything, or refusing to do things such as the washing-up because it chaps your hands !
  • Try and make light of little 'annoying' things with a joke. There's always one person who's up for food first, always late in the morning because they stayed up, or someone who always wants the toilet! When you're spending time with others it's easy to get frustrated, after all it's your holiday too, but humour goes a long way and helps lighten the mood, you never know the person might just take the hint.

They point here is that to enjoy your guided trekking holiday you just need to research and get involved just a little, and then you really can not go wrong.

Hiking Tips for Beginners – A Guide to Preparing For Your First Hike Inexpensively

Hiking is annually increasing in popularity as families and individuals discover this relatively inexpensively way to enjoy nature and get in shape. Although it is true that one can spend hundreds of dollars on high-tech outdoor gear, it is not necessary to have the latest-and-greatest gadgets to get started on the trails. Anyone who is…

Hiking is annually increasing in popularity as families and individuals discover this relatively inexpensively way to enjoy nature and get in shape. Although it is true that one can spend hundreds of dollars on high-tech outdoor gear, it is not necessary to have the latest-and-greatest gadgets to get started on the trails. Anyone who is able to walk even a moderate distance, including young children and older adults, can find a trail to match their abilities and fitness levels.

Comfort and safety are very important, and can be the difference between calling it quits after your first hike or pursuing many future outdoor adventures. The following gear list is suitable for an afternoon of exploring well-marked trails, with tips on how to cut down on initial cost.

Clothing

Leave your cotton clothes at home. Wear and take clothing that is made from wool or synthetic material. These materials are still able to keep you warm when wet and dry quickly. Wet cotton can quickly chill you on even a cool summer day, leading to a risk of hypothermia. Search the thrift stores and watch for sales. Outdoor clothing is easily accumulated this way at a minimum cost. You should begin with the following list:

  • Hat
  • T-shirt / long-sleeve shirt
  • Wool / fleece sweater
  • Jacket
  • Nylon pants / shorts
  • Wool / synthetic socks
  • Rain jacket
  • Extra pair of dry socks

Safety

Even on a short hike a first-aid kit should be included in your backpack. It only takes an hour or two for a blister to begin to develop, or one tumble to scratch your knee. You may either put together your own first-aid kit or buy a ready-made one. A small kit suitable for a short hike close to home will only cost a couple of dollars. For an afternoon hike, include in your first aid kit:

  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Mole skin
  • Antibacterial cream
  • A few allergy tabs and
  • Tensor Bandage

Other Safety-related items:

  • Whistle
  • Matches
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Map and compass
  • Small flashlight
  • Travel plan left with friend or family member
  • At least one hiking partner

Food and Water

For an afternoon of hiking, you do not need to worry too much about specifically planning your diet. Raid your pantry for food already on hand and make your own granola bars to keep the cost of food down. Do not forget a bottle or two of water.

  • Healthy snacks
  • Some sweet snacks
  • Extra food
  • Water

Footwear

Arguably, the most important gear is what is on your feet. If your feet are miserable, the rest of you will be, too. It is fine to begin your hiking adventures in a good pair of running shoes that fit well, but as the length and difficulty of your hikes increase, along with the load on your back, you will want to invest in a good pair of hiking shoes / boots that will support your ankles. Unfortunately, hiking footwear will probably be the most expensive part of your initial investment, but this is not the place to skimp on quality and fit for the sake of cost. You can start a change jar labeled “Hiking Boot Fund” and throw all your change in there until you are able to afford good footwear.

Backpack

Lastly, you will need something to carry everything you are not wearing. Any backpack you have around the house will serve the purpose until you find something you like better. Hip belts and chest straps are nice and add to carrying comfort, but they are not necessary for a light load. Again, watch for store sales, the classifieds and maybe even the thrift shops for an inexpensive backpack.

The above is a list of physical items you need to start hiking, but perhaps more important than all the right gear is a positive attitude. If you are determined not to enjoy hiking, then spare your trip partners the grousing and stay home. However, if you are willing to give it a chance, pack up your gear, load your friends in the car and head out for an afternoon of fresh air and exercise; you may surprise yourself and find you've discovered a favorite pastime!

Copyright October 2010

Hiking in the Cascade Mountains

The trail up to West Cady Ridge was one of my earlier Northwest adventures, yet remains one of the most colorful hikes I've been on. You're ultimate destination is a collection of beautiful open meadows surrounded by snow covered peaks, and if you go in the early fall like my group did, the explosion of…

The trail up to West Cady Ridge was one of my earlier Northwest adventures, yet remains one of the most colorful hikes I've been on. You're ultimate destination is a collection of beautiful open meadows surrounded by snow covered peaks, and if you go in the early fall like my group did, the explosion of colors will be awe inspiring. In recalling the experiences of that day, in addition to the colors two other things stick out most in my mind; the hordes of berries and the long drive in to the trailhead.

This hike introduced me to Washington State's forest service roads. When reading your guide book, make a note of whether or not the trailhead is off of one, as most of them are, and take note of just how many miles you have to cover before reaching your destination. Depending on your vehicle, you will be going no more than 15-20 miles an hour, and much of the time you'll be moving at a crawl regardless of what you're driving. These are (mostly) un -aved gravel roads used to connect the National Forests to the more heavily used state highways. You will learn that they do not lack for potholes, some looking big enough to have been formed by meteorites, and at some points they are only wide enough to accommodate one car at a time. Some spots get so narrow, that if two cars moving in opposition directions arrive at the same point, one will have to reverse to an area where they can move to the side. I did not know any of this when we set out, and by the time we reached the turnoff from Highway 2 at Beckler Road in Skykomish I felt like we were there and was relieved. I had no idea I'd be driving for another hour, and beating up my less than all-terrain zipcar no less. But it was cool to travel deeper and deeper into the forest. At many points you find yourself on a ridge where there is nothing but a wall of trees in every direction and you can feel yourself being cut off from the rest of the world. It brings on a very eerie sense of isolation.

So we traveled deeper and deer into the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness until we reached the trailhead for West Cady Ridge, which sits right next to a very pretty creek that makes for a nice camp site if that's on your agenda. It was a spectacularly clear and warm day, perfect hiking weather, especially considering we picked a hike that promised great views. It was easy to be excited. Almost as soon as you leave the trailhead, you cross over the Skykomish River on a large wooden bridge, and the first of many photo opts presents itself. Throughout the majority of the hike, you are deep in old-growth forest, which provided us with much appreciated shade on this particularly clear and sunny day.

The trail climbs at a moderate grade for as long as you are under tree cover, and encounters a few small streams and mini cascades along the ridge. At the two mile mark, you come to a saddle with Excelsior Mountain, and its here that the switchbacks begin. As is the case with most trails, the switchbacks climb at a much more steep rate than the preceding 2 miles, but you cover a lot of elevation in a short span, and before you know it you are out of the trees and into the start of amazing big sky meadows. I can remember marveling at all of the colorful blueberry and huckleberry bushhes everywhere I looked.

At about the 4 mile mark, we reached another ridge, and from here a dirt trail winds and weaves it's way through the bushes. When you look up, beyond the evergreens that line the meadows, beautiful snow covered peaks remind you of just how high in the sky you are. It was Glacier Peak just to our north that stood out most prominently and left me the most in awe. Then I looked west and saw three more impressive peaks one after another. These were Keyes, Monte Cristo, and Sloan Peaks.

We had seen enough. There was no doubt in any of our minds that it was not going to get much better than this, so we dropped our packs, picked our spot and had a long lunch under the clear blue sky. The scenery remains one of the most stunning I've seen in all my ventures into the mountains. The way down was slowed by our berry picking, as it's a really hard temptation to resist. I found myself emptying any bag or plastic container I had from lunch and filling it with more and more berries. By the time we got back to the trailhead, my pack was full with 5 bags of that took a few months to polish off.

We managed to drive out just as dusk was settling in, and seeing that wall of trees surrounding us once more as we descended, with the sky growing darker, was enough to make me feel very small in comparison. So an hour later we were back on Highway 2, the skinny, windy gravel road behind us, almost hidden from sight until daylight makes its turn-off visible again, and another group can wind their way deep into the mountains to enjoy one of the Northwest's many tucked away gems.

Trekking Holidays – Tips for Choosing The Right One

Trekking holidays have always been popular. In the past they were the domain of either the professional trekker who scaled the heights of K2 or Everest, or people who enjoyed walking as a hobby and walked locally in places such as Ben Nevis or Snowdon. Today the idea of ​​trekking holidays and guided trekking holidays…

Trekking holidays have always been popular. In the past they were the domain of either the professional trekker who scaled the heights of K2 or Everest, or people who enjoyed walking as a hobby and walked locally in places such as Ben Nevis or Snowdon. Today the idea of ​​trekking holidays and guided trekking holidays has become popular with many different types of people, from the very young to the very old, and there are lots of different types of holidays to be enjoyed by all.

But what if it's your first time how do you go about choosing the right trekking holiday for you? Here are a few tips which will hopefully put your right on the right track (no pun intended).

Where would you like to go, do you want to stay in your home country, or would you like to travel to somewhere different?

If you stay at home there are no passport or flight expenses, you may be able to drive or take public transport to your starting point, and most things will be familiar to you. On the other hand, if you travel abroad you will experience different scenery, customs, food, and maybe better weather!

When you've decided where you might like to go, or at least narrowed it down, decide whether you want to trek alone, with friends or sometimes a group of people that you do not know.

There are benefits to all these and it depends on what sort of person you are. If you are traveling alone for the first time it's probably best to join a group with a guide.

It's easy to get lost, and with a guide you will no doubt see things which you may miss if you travel alone, on the other hand a group may restrict you if you have a particular interest such as photography or ornithology. If this is the case choose more specialist company who deal with these kinds of more tailor trekking holidays.

Do you have fixed holidays for your job, or are you flexible?

If you are traveling abroad on your trekking holiday some regions have optimum times for visiting, for example you would not want to be trekking in the Alps in December, unless you were skiing of course!

Many European destinations are excellent in May and June because the weather is warm, its not too hot for walking, and the fluora and fauna is also at its best. If you are in the UK then July and August can be good because until then the weather can be unpredictable and very wet and windy.

Lastly choose your travel company or type of accommodation.

If you've decided to join a group trekking holiday then ask around for recommendations and check out reviews on the internet. There are lots of companies out there if you're not sure then contact them direct, they will tell you what sort of people your fellow traveling companions are likely to be, give you an idea of ​​how much walking and how many days there there are , and what sort of nationalities your companions will be.

They will also be able to give recommendations as to which trips to choose. If you have decided to go it alone or with a friend independently, check out what sort of accommodation is available locally along your route, if there is not much choice you could always take a tent!

Theses are just a few considerations for choosing your first trekking holiday, and although they are by no means a definite list of questions to ask yourself, it's a good place to start.

Trekking: Consider Trial Trail Trekking Tip 3

If you're one of those type of people that just likes to get out there and take in nature alone and you are totally inexperienced when it comes to hiking, backpacking or even camping do some trial trail trekking first to get some necessary experience. Being inexperienced is one thing, being foolish is another. Let's…

If you're one of those type of people that just likes to get out there and take in nature alone and you are totally inexperienced when it comes to hiking, backpacking or even camping do some trial trail trekking first to get some necessary experience. Being inexperienced is one thing, being foolish is another. Let's use this example: if you do not know how to swim and you want to go with a friend to the neighborhood swimming pool, are you going to immediately jump into the deep end first or are going to stay in the part of the pool where you know you'll be safe. Common sense dictates the answer here. Swimming lessons would be the smart thing to do if you want to go into the deep end of the pool of course. Well hiking and backpacking are reliably the same to that end. If you want to get out there and ride and backpack like some of your experienced friends then you have to learn how to be and stay safe and learn about what kind of equipment to take and weight limits and survival techniques and so on.

Lets take the weights limits for example. You do not want to go out on a trek with your backpack 'stuffed' too full of equipment of non-essentials that are going to make the trek unbearable for you That's where the trial trail treks come in. Start out with short day hikes first with just a little weight in your pack to get the feel for the weight. When you get used to that try adding more weight taking into consideration the weight limits of your pack also. After you've gotten used to carrying weight on your back graduate up to a full backpack and start over. This does not have to be just a training lesson. By you taking those day hikes you are also building up your tolerance for not only a pack with different amounts of weight in it at a time but your building up your muscles and breathing as well which will go a long way toward those longer distances that may want to travel later on. And besides it gives you the opportunity to get out in the sunshine and breathe fresh air and see things that you may not have known were even around you. So trial trail trekking serves multiple purposes. In the event that you may be older and have been pretty sedentary for a while you might want to take it a little slower. Do the light day pack for a shift distance and do not take as much weight until you build up to it over a longer period of time. Sit down and rest for a period of time to catch your breath if you need to. There's no shame is taking it more slowly. It's the prudent thing to do.

After you feel that you have built yourself up to where you can take on a longer distance still do the day hike. Just keep adding more distance and more weight and do it multiple times, not just once or twice. It takes time to build up stamina even for younger people sometimes.

If you do not have any trails where you live go to a park and walk around with the pack. Make sure you are packing the necessary items in your pack first like an alcohol burning backpacking stove and compass and utensils, survival knife, emergency kits and so on and then add the non-essential things as you take your trial treks. If you are planning on using trekking poles are part of your backpacking equipment, take those with you also to learn how to use them properly in conjunction with the backpack, the motion and the weight because if all the dynamics are right it will be a pleasant and fun experience. If it is not you'll feel it, all over.

The bottom line is do the trial trail treks while still being able to enjoy the outdoors as you're preparing yourself for a much longer hike, each time going further and further. Make sure to check out survival techniques too because having this knowledge can only benefit you.

Fabulous Karimun Java: Super Cheap and Adventurous Tricks for You Backpacking Lovers

Indonesia is an archipelago country which consists of thousandsands islands. People all around the world have known Bali Island with its beautiful culture and tourism spots. Who can forget the sunset in its white sand beach? People may recognize Bunaken as a world class diving spot. However, Bali and Bunaken are not the only “watery”…

Indonesia is an archipelago country which consists of thousandsands islands. People all around the world have known Bali Island with its beautiful culture and tourism spots. Who can forget the sunset in its white sand beach? People may recognize Bunaken as a world class diving spot. However, Bali and Bunaken are not the only “watery” place with beauty in Indonesia. Have you ever heard about Karimun Java Islands?

Karimun Java Islands is located at Java Sea approximately 83 kilometers north Java Island. To reach the islands from Jogjakarta, people must go to Jepara first and get on boat to cross the sea. There are some transportation choices to get there, but to experience super cheap and adventurous trip, motorcycle could be chosen. By using this vehicle, we do not spend more than 75.000 rupiahs for gasoline for about 4-5 days tour. You will adventure 5-6 hours ride from Jogjakarta to Jepara. Please enjoy the view around the road. Do not be shocked when you find the road getting crowed at noon. If exhausted, you can stop once or twice during the ride.

After arrive in Jepara, you have to go to Kartini Beach and find your ferry. By paying 28.500 rupiahs per person for economic class seat and 27.500 rupiahs each motorcycle, you will find yourself floating on a medium size ferry. You will be shaken for a little while, but after dropped on the main island of Karimun Java, the wonderful view and atmosphere will replace that “tiny” pain. Then, it is the time to fully enjoy the islands.

To get cheap place to stay overnight, you can go to some government office, such as police office. Just be friendly with the officer and they will very please to give you place to sleep and bath. There are some citizens who sell food for tourists with low price, so you do not have to worry about your stomach. Like I have say before, you just have to be friendly with the island people and sometimes you will find yourself roast fishes with them for free.

Karimun Java offers many kind of excitement even you do not bring much money. You can use motorcycle you bring along to explore the main island. There are some fabulous white sand beaches that you will not regret. If you want to go to another island, you can rent a fisherman's boat by paying 300.000-350.000 rupiahs (price could be cheaper if you get close with them). You will be free to dive, to swim, to sail, to explore the islands, or to sit and enjoy the sea. If do not have enough money to rent a boat, why do not “hitchhike” when the fisherman goes to work? It is kind of another adventure. It is all up to you.

So, if you do not have enough money, but want to get some adventurous trip in fabulous islands, sweep away your doubt and use this tricks. Enjoy.

The “Emily Post” Guide to Backpacking

For a new backpacker or beginning hiker, it is a good idea to educate yourself about basic backpacking etiquette. By following a few simple rules of the trail, you will ensure that both you, and those who come after you, will be able to enjoy the many incredible natural habitats at our disposal while leaving…

For a new backpacker or beginning hiker, it is a good idea to educate yourself about basic backpacking etiquette. By following a few simple rules of the trail, you will ensure that both you, and those who come after you, will be able to enjoy the many incredible natural habitats at our disposal while leaving a minimal footprint.

Camping
Look for a location which is already clear. Try to avoid erecting your tent in locations where grass or vegetation may be damaged by the tent. Make sure your campsite is at least one hundred feet from the nearest water source. By making sure you are adequately far from the water, you will reduce any chance of inadvertent contamination.

Campfires
Avoid building a campfire if at all possible. Fires are, obviously, a fire hazard in dry environments. In fact, some areas you visit may prohibit them altogether. A back packing stove is your best option for cooking on the trail. However, you must build a fire pit, be sure to take it apart once you are finished so the scenery remains undisturbed.

Trash
As you hike, try to produce as little waste as you can. Do not leave food remnants behind or bury them, they will attract animals and can be unhealthy for them. Be a good Samaritan, if you spy trash left behind by others along the trail, add it to your own collection. You will leave the trail cleaner than you found it, and improve others' experience.

On the Trail
Stay on the trail. By venturing off the established path you may damage the surrounding environment. If too many people stray from the trail it can lead to damage like soil compaction, erosion, and vegetation death.

Water
Be sure to purify, by boiling or adding tablets, any water you collect on your hike. Natural water sources can be contaminated with harmful parasites. Also, when emptying any waste water, for example your wash water, do so far from the natural water source. You do not want to accidentally contaminate the natural source.

Animals
Avoid interacting with wildlife. While watching for and spotting animals along the way is an enjoyable part of your hike, do not try to feed or pet them. Any animals you encounter are wild, and not used to humans in their environment. To prevent animals from being attracted to your campsite, do not store any food in your tent, cook in an area that is away from the tents, and try not to spill any food on your clothing, even a small amount may produce enough scent to attract an undesired visitor.

By respecting you environment and utilizing these tips, you will ensure that you have a fun, safe backpacking trip, while at the same time preserving the same experience for others.

Backpacker’s Best: The Grand Canyon Escalante Route

In the latest issue of Backpacker Magazine “The Best of Backpacker,” the editors made excellent choices when it came to choosing the top hikes featured in the 'Best Trips Ever' article in the current issue. Their choice for the number one trail is The John Muir trail which may not shock many people since Backpacker…

In the latest issue of Backpacker Magazine “The Best of Backpacker,” the editors made excellent choices when it came to choosing the top hikes featured in the 'Best Trips Ever' article in the current issue. Their choice for the number one trail is The John Muir trail which may not shock many people since Backpacker named it the “Most Beautiful Trail in America” ​​back in 2007 and anyone who has hiked even part of the trail will find it hard to argument.

The trail in second place took me by surprise at first, not because this trail is undeserving but, because I always thought it so under rated that it would not be considered in anyone's, away from avid Grand Canyon hikers, top ten. The trail is the Escalante Route in the Grand Canyon and it is definitely my favorite route from the South Rim and one of the best backpacking trips in the entire canyon.

On this trek, you follow the Colorado River for almost 10 miles, winding in and out of side canyons to three campsites along the river. The views are amazing and people are a rare find, but it does take extra effort to get these rewards. The Tanner Trail is the preferred trail down to the Escalante Route and the first 2 miles are so steep that they can make your thighs quiver with fatigue. On the lower portions of the trail, there are sections that are as narrow as one foot wide.

Parts of the Escalante Route are equally as tricky with the most difficult being the series of ledges that one must scramble up from the river at Papago Creek and the steep rock strewn slope you must descend on the other side. Technically, the Escalante Route ends at Hance Rapids and many hikers take the New Hance trail as the exit trail back to the South Rim. I'm glad that the Backpacker route includes the hike to the top of Horseshoe Mesa which is the home of the old Last Chance Copper Mine and Cave of the Domes.

For most people, the Rim to Rim hike is a must do Grand Canyon trek but this incredible 5 or 6 day backpacking trip should be placed on a bucket list of hiking trips as well. As I've stated in past articles, use the information in Backpacker magazine as a starting point and then continue your research through hiking guides such as Falcon Guides, and most importantly the Backcountry Office at the Grand Canyon National Park.

Canadian Rockies: Hiking to Lake O’Hara

“… by bringing myself over the edge and back, I discovered a passion to live my days fully, a conviction that will sustain me like sweet water on the periodically barren plain of our short lives,” Jonathan Waterman. This is how I feel every time I head out hiking to the superb Canadian Rockies. I'm…

“… by bringing myself over the edge and back, I discovered a passion to live my days fully, a conviction that will sustain me like sweet water on the periodically barren plain of our short lives,” Jonathan Waterman.

This is how I feel every time I head out hiking to the superb Canadian Rockies. I'm lucky. I live on the door step of Banff National Park where there are over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of trails perfect for hiking.

There's a long list of incredible hikes and backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies, but some of my favorite trails are those around Lake O'Hara. Technically, Lake O'Hara belongs to Yoho National Park but it's close to Lake Louise and near the boundary of Banff National Park.

Lake O'Hara is a protected alpine environment and has limited access. What does this mean? Motorized vehicles are prohibited. During the summer months, there's a shuttle bus to assist the curious but not so capable. For the remaining part of the year, you have to get in on your own steam. There are only 42 day users allowed to sign up and explore the Lake O'Hara area.

For the avid outdoors person, the Lake O'Hara hike is not so difficult. The main trail into Lake O'Hara is seven miles (11 km) long with about 1,650 ft (500m) of elevation gain. There are numerous trails around Lake O'Hara and plenty of distance to cover. From Lake O'hara, there are half a dozen short trails and a few longer trails.

This lake is an overnight destination and it's well equipped. There's something for every budget too. Parks Canada runs a campground, which is a wilderness site with no services. You need to be self sustaining and there are strict rules. The Elizabeth Park Hut is run by the Alpine Club of Canada and offers modest priced hut accommodation. And, there's the luxurious Lake O'Hara Lodge which is privately run and offers full service including your meals. I typically stay at the hut but am saving to stay at the lodge. It's truly a terrific location to relax and enjoy mother nature.

During the winter, there's terrific cross country and backcountry skiing in this area. The Lodge runs an all-inclusive package that includes a ski guide in the rate. If you have the avalanche skills, you can head out on your own. However, if you are not an expert, then it's best to use the services of a guide.

Through the year, you need to make reservations to head up to this fabulous lake. There are backcountry fees associated with going here. Parks Canada has a reservation line at 1.250.343.6433. During the summer, you can also book a shuttle at this reservation line. You can also arrange for all your needs through the Alpine Club of Canada.