Tag: Hiking

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Small Town Travel: Four of America's Most Iconic Trails Converge in Damascus, Virginia

April 8, 2014 at 11:03 AM | by | Comments (2)

When this writer went to the small town of Damascus in western Virginia to research a few stories, I basically ran myself into the ground, hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail in the morning and biking the Virginia Creeper Trail in the afternoon. Before my visit, when I was explaining to friends where I was going, I told them that Damascus sat alongside the App Trail. I was wrong about that. Turns out, the trail goes right through it.

Like, really through it, as in the sidewalk down the center of town is part of the trail. This in itself is what makes Damascus such an interesting place. Every person that hikes the Appalachian Trail - which is 2,184 miles from Georgia to Maine and takes the average person 6 months - must walk through the town of Damascus. You meet some interesting characters to say the least, from the hikers to the people in the town who help them out. It's not unusual to see tents set up in front yards, locals taking in the weary walkers for a night or two.

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Five More Awesome Things about the Caribbean Island of Saba

March 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

We told you about the lack of beaches, the memorable airport, and the pristine, world-class diving, but there’s much more to love about Saba once you scratch the surface and go beyond the headlines. Here are five more awesome things we discovered that helps to define life on this tiny Caribbean island:

You Can Hitchhike Without Worry

If you walk down the road outside the main drags of town, you probably won’t even need to stick out your thumb – locals will most likely pull over and ask if you need a ride. During our trip, we met a Canadian who told us a great story about arriving to Saba and hitchhiking to his first day of work. He found himself in the back of a truck, sitting on the metal floor next to a goat, the animal sliding against him in the moving vehicle. When the driver asked where he was going and what he did on the island, the man said he laughed out loud before responding, his hand on the goat to keep it at bay, “I’m a doctor. I’m going to the med school.”

A doctor might be a respected and prestigious position in North America, but no one is above riding in the back of a pickup with the local wildlife on Saba.

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These Photos of Saba Will Make You Forget All About the Lack of Beaches

February 27, 2014 at 12:03 PM | by | Comments (0)

As we learned, Saba certainly isn't known for its beaches, shooting straight up from the sea in dramatic, volcanic fashion. On the coastline, you will definitely see the rocky nature of the island, but at the center of Saba sits lush rainforests.

On our recent visit, we hiked to the highest point on the island and were rewarded with sweeping views of the town of Windwardside on southeast corner of the island. Coming down on the other side, we caught a glimpse through the trees of Saba's capital, The Bottom. The view from the hills above the airport is a great one, too, especially if you can time it with the landing of a plane. It is from there that you can also see up to a half dozen islands in the distance: St. Maarten, St. Barth's, Anguilla, Nevis, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius.

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Where the World’s Shortest Commercial Runway is Also the Local Hangout

February 26, 2014 at 1:03 PM | by | Comments (0)

Question: When was the last time you went to an airport for a drink when you didn’t have a flight? Turns out, Saba’s claim that it has the shortest commercial runway in the world isn’t the only reason to visit its airport – it’s also a damn good place to grab a drink and chat up some locals.

But first, the runway itself. It’s one of the main reasons, in conjunction with the fact that it has no beaches, why the island has remained so protected from mass tourism. At a mere 1,312 feet long, nothing larger than a small prop plane can land (as a comparison, Denver has the longest commercial runway in the U.S. at 16,000 feet).

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Photos: A 360-Degree View of St. Maarten from Its Highest Point

Where: St. Martin
February 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM | by | Comments (0)

Pic Paradis is the highest point on St. Martin (1,391 feet), and those who make their way to the top are rewarded with 360-degree views of the island. You can either hike or drive to the top, so the beauty is open to all ages and abilities.

The view was a bit hazy in certain directions on our recent visit, but it is an absolute must-do for visitors with a few days to explore. You have to change positions at the summit to see the whole island -- it will be obvious -- but its perspective will not only show you the beautiful green-blue contrast of the land and the sea, but allow you to gain a feel for the different corners and layout of the island thanks to a labeled map at top.

We start with a above and below looking southwest towards Simpson Bay and Maho Beach:

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Would You Brave This Ridiculously Terrifying Hike for a Cup of Tea?

Where: Mount Hua , Huayin, Shaanxi, China
January 10, 2014 at 11:27 AM | by | Comments (0)

Mount Hua, or Mount Huashan, in Shaanxi isn't exactly the tallest mountain in the world (about 7,000 ft), but it definitely houses one of the more "exciting" hikes we've come across in terms of climbs that have popular public trailheads.

There are various trails that lead to the top that require various levels of cajones courage, including incredibly steep staircases and the now-infamous "plank trail" you see in the photos. The daredevil trek takes you across a "boardwalk" and up a series of "ladders," ultimately ending at a Taoist teahouse. Man, that must be some good tea!

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The Best Kept Destination Secret of 2013 is...

December 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2013 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Needless to say, we're ready to get going into 2014, but first we're taking a brief look back at the best of 2013 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,—or as we fondly refer to them—The Jauntys.

Everyone's hip on the fact that Hawaii has some of the world's best beaches to go along with volcanic interiors and incredibly lush rainforests, but this year's best kept secret is that the State harbors its own "grand canyon" on Kauai.

Known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is ten miles long and 3,000 feet deep (to give you some perspective, the real Grand Canyon 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep). "Waimea" is Hawaiian for "reddish water," and is no doubt a reference to the color of the canyon and the tint the water takes on as it runs through.

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The Most Scenic Hike in Hawaii is 11 Miles of Postcard Perfection

Where: Na Pali Coast [map], Kauai, Hawaii, United States
November 19, 2013 at 11:49 AM | by | Comments (0)

When people talk to potential (and current) tourists about the Na Pali Coast of Kauai, one of the first things they do is spout off about how many movies it has been in and what famous people grace its shoreline with their presence. To that, we roll our eyes. Seriously, Daffy Duck could materialize and waddle through the water for all we care, and it'd still be the same surf, right? It leaves us wondering: Does scenery this amazing really need any justification?

The Kalalau Trail is 11-miles of postcard photography and awe-inspiring vantage points, and it's not just about the ocean-mountain combination - it's the way it presents itself. See, lots of places have oceans and mountains, but few combine in such dramatic fashion. The tropical setting surrounds you with thick, bright, and colorful vegetation, much of which is edible, be it fruit trees of mango, avocado, guava, and orange or edible herbal trailside supplements. The ocean comes to life too in a way that's different from, say, the coast of California. You can see it in the photo above. The blues, the greens. The in-betweens.

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Who's Ready to Help Build a Trail on an Active Volcano?

September 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM | by | Comments (0)

September is one of the best times of year to visit Mount St. Helens thanks to cooler temperatures and clear visibility. It's also the perfect time to help the staff complete a much needed one-mile trail to the nearby Ape Cave, the famous lava tube just south of the active volcano.

Volunteers from the Washington Trails Association and the Mount St. Helens Institute have finished all but the last few hundred feet, which they hope to finish this month with the help of some intrepid travelers.

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Martha's Vineyard on a Budget: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Around

June 26, 2013 at 11:38 AM | by | Comments (0)

The Chappy ferry!

Welcome to summer! Let's talk island, hm? We just got back from a spur-of-the-moment trip to the notoriously expensive Martha's Vineyard and this week we'll share with you all the awesome, not-so-spendy stuff we loved on the sandy bit of land off the coast of Massachusetts. Pack your wayfarers, your preppiest pants, boat shoes (no socks!), and away we go!

Part 1: Getting there by air
Part 2: Getting around

At 100 square miles, Martha's Vineyard is no tiny island. In fact, it can boast of the fact that it's the "largest island not connected to mainland by a bridge or tunnel on the East Coast of the United States." As such, there's a plethora of ways to get around and see all rose-covered picket fences, lighthouses (5 still standing!), cottage bakeries and ocean vistas your heart desires.


Each individual town is very walkable, and the island offers many trails and hiking-friendly areas. There actually is an annual cross-island hike if you're really keen on seeing the entire island by two feet and two feet only, but we'd recommend you stick to that official event (next scheduled for June 7, 2014).

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Here's the Best Place to Watch the Sun Rise over Hollywood

April 19, 2013 at 10:37 AM | by | Comments (0)

Yesterday, while the rest of Hollywood slept, we were up at the crack of dawn, lacing our Merrell hiking shoes, filling up a bottle of water, and setting off along Los Feliz Boulevard towards Griffith Park, aka the Central Park of Los Angeles.

Griffith Park ranks as the second-largest city park in all of California (though that doesn't include much larger state parks like Yosemite and Joshua Tree), and it is incredibly easy to access from multiple LA neighborhoods, such as Los Feliz, Franklin Village, Atwater Village, Glendale, and, of course, Hollywood. Its attractions include the Greek Theatre, Griffith Observatory (which is best visited at night, for obvious reasons), and the LA Zoo.

Oh, and off to the south, on Mount Lee, there's a little thing called the Hollywood sign. Ever hear of it?

We set off at 6:15am from our friend's apartment, and in fifteen minutes, we had arrived at the park's western entrance, Ferndell Nature Center. Here, a woodsy hiking trail winds along a small babbling brook (complete with the little footbridges), under a canopy of California sycamores and over 50 different species of fern.

What struck us most was the tranquility of the place: though we had just come off a busy main road populated by impatient commuters trying to beat the morning traffic, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of pure, noiseless nature.

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Where To Go With Your Tax Refund: Costa Rica

Where: Costa Rica
April 2, 2013 at 1:58 PM | by | Comments (0)

Tax day is coming, and you're probably excited...but not because you look forward to sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

Whether you're into eco-travel, surfing, zip lining, hiking, swimming/snorkeling/Scuba, hanging out with exotic animals (like the Coati), learning Spanish or just lazing on a sandy beach, Costa Rica can make it happen. Regardless, you're in for sun and warm temperatures.

If you're interested in the Caribbean side with all its eco-tourism or you'd like to scratch a visit to Arenal volcano off your bucket list, fly into San Jose International Airport. For trips to the Pacific side's beaches, surf spots and giant national parks, Liberia International AIrport is the best bet (and it's got a brand-spanking-new terminal).

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