Washington has so many great hikes that we never did any hiking in Oregon until last summer. The Cascade and Olympic ranges in Washington are wonderlands of flower-filled meadows, glaciated peaks, and scrubbed granite lake basins. So why should we spoiled Washington hikers visit Oregon? Volcanoes!
Yes, Washington has a chain of snowy volcanoes from Baker to Adams. But they are mainly the domain of mountaineers. The volcanoes of the Three Sisters Wilderness near Bend in central Oregon are less glaciated and more accessible to regular hikers like us. With trailheads at around 5000 feet, you can get to higher elevations more easily than any volcano in Washington. Crater Lake National Park, south of the Three Sisters Wilderness, is a natural wonder with no peer in Washington: the country’s deepest lake filling the base of what was once a massive volcano.
I first found out about the volcanic wilderness of central Oregon on a flight from Seattle to Santa Barbara. I looked out the window and saw that the expanse of forest was broken up by a cluster of jagged cones with snowy slopes. The gnarly knot of peaks and ridges, punctuated by forest-ringed lakes, intrigued me. Later, I found … Read more
Just over a year ago, Paul and I were finishing up our amazing three-week trek to Everest Base Camp and Gokyo in the Nepal Himalayas. We are seasoned trekkers and we are hard to impress. Combined, we have spent months hiking in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, the Sierras, Alaska, and Washington State. We hiked the Annapurna Circuit in 2007. One of the highlights of our recent trip was our 19-day trek to Everest Base Camp and Gokyo. We can absolutely say that Nepal tops the list for scenic beauty and overall fantastic trekking.
The Nepal Himalayas also offer incredible reward for effort. The Everest region has a well-developed network of lodges and outfitters supplying you with food, lodging and gear. With minimal planning, cost, and red tape, you can have the trek of a lifetime.
Still, there are some things to consider before you sling on a backpack and set off into the hills. We met a lot of travelers who were confused about how to go on their Everest trek of a lifetime. Some people thought that they couldn’t afford to trek to Everest Base Camp, or that they had to take an expensive guided tour. Others liked … Read more
I am always traveling. That is what restless, intelligent, and curious people do. When I tell people ‘I have spent the last year and a half traveling’ I feel a little disingenuous. Why? Because, when I am at home I am always looking for a new adventure. I always want to hit the road when I am not working. In essence, I feel like we are always traveling.
We are eternally thankful that when we left London we decided to live in Washington State. It really is one of the most gorgeous places on Earth and curiously under-traveled. This is a shame. There is so much to do here. So, we will be your gateway. We will continue blogging about our travels at home and, hopefully, persuade a few more to check out this magnificent corner of the world.
First up, our lovely 5-day backpack to Whatcom Pass, Tapto Lakes, and Copper Ridge in the North Cascades National Park in late August. I won’t bore you with the tiny details. There are plenty of excellent trail guides to the region. But, I will try my damnedest to inspire you to go!
In Up To Our Necks: South Inylchek Glacier Trek, August 2013
A good travel story is worth telling even if the events took place nearly three years ago. We also noticed that there wasn’t too much information out there about this trek from the perspective of non-expeditionist backpackers. We hope you enjoy the crazy tales and awesome photos.
What better way to prepare for a friend’s wedding in South Kazakhstan than going on the demented Inylchek Glacier trek into the heart of the Tien Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan? Yes, it sounds rather ridiculous to us now too in hindsight! But, that is precisely what we did.
We super excited when our friends, Eric from Seattle and Assela from Kazakhstan, told us they were to be wed in the bride’s hometown of Kulan, 400km west of Almaty. The wedding and related activities would take up four days but we weren’t going to fly all the way there and not check out more of the area. We had always wanted to do an extended Central Asia trip and this was a perfect opportunity to test the waters.
We looked at the map and figured we could visit the Tien Shan mountains across … Read more
You know your Akha hill tribe trek is authentic when your guide is struck down by black magic! Welcome to Phongsali in far northern Laos, where even experienced guides are terrified by ghosts and spirits.
Getting off the beaten track in Laos is much tougher than on my last visit in 2000. Back then, the whole country was off the banana pancake trail! Undeterred, Laura looked for the phrases ‘terrible road’ and ‘difficult to get to’ in the Laos Travelfish guide and all signs pointed to Phongsali (Phongsaly) in the north. The area is linked to the rest of Laos via a rickety local bus on a winding mountain road. There are no backpacker hotels or restaurants. But there are two organizations, the local tourist office and Amazing Laos, that offer moderately adventurous hikes to some of the most authentic hill tribe villages in Southeast Asia. Seemed like a place for us. … Read more
Day Thirteen: Thore (Elevation 4300m Walking time 4 hours)
Thore? Thare? Where the hell were we today? It turns out that the map is wrong. It switches the locations of these neighboring, similarly named villages. And, Cameron’s map was wrong too. Who checks this shit? Anyways, today we had grand ambitions to hike all the way to Gokyo. We didn’t get very far! Thankfully.
The day started beautifully with some wonderful lenticular clouds billowing up like giant jellyfish over Aba Dablam. Like yesterday, we were pretty much on our lonesome. Cameron gamely hobbled a few meters behind but still burning up the track a lot quicker than Kate who likes to take it very easy. We saw two other hikers all day.
The trail was high over the Dudh Kosi River and a real upper and downer. We seemed to get nowhere slow. The underfoot conditions were not great either. We really didn’t fancy slipping into the river several hundred feet below. The trail was practically deserted and we passed through a couple of sweet little villages on the … Read more
Day Ten: Gorak Shep (Elevation 5665m at Kala Pattar, sleeping altitude 5164m at Gorak Shep) Walking time: two hours)
It was another bitterly cold night in Lobuche and Laura was less than impressed that the posh expensive lodge did not stoke a fine fire in the morning. It is a short walk through meandering moraine to Gorak Shep, at 5164m the highest place we slept on the trek. This was the first day that the trail felt crowded. At times there was a conga line of yaks, guides, porters, and trekkers. It was difficult to get into a good walking groove. We were glad that we were here on a low traffic year since we heard that this type of traffic jam was typical for the Everest trek. We stayed at the Himalaya Lodge, which was a hive of activity with lots of hustle and bustle, doors slamming, and trekkers bumping into each other. More annoyingly, you had to go outside for a pee since they only opened the internal toilets at night. You pee a lot at altitude so … Read more
Day Six: Tengboche to Dingboche (Walking Time- 4.5 hours. Elevation-Dingboche 4360m)
We got a nice early start on a bright, sunny, and clear day. We swiftly headed down the hill to Deboche and at the foot of the hill we stopped to take off our outer layers. It was here that we first met Kate and Cameron, two Brits who kept us company on many subsequent legs of the hike along with Kate’s trainee guide Chum. Kate was a forthright Child Protection worker on the NHS payroll who was taking a well-deserved year long sabbatical. Cameron was a former Forestry Manager who was taking a five month break before embarking on a change of career to yacht skippering. Kate was keen for us to join her crossing a few of the high passes that link the valleys in Khumbu but we were happy with the easier trails and lack of stress!
At Milinggo, a rickety bridge brings you over the Imja Khola River and leads you on to a fairly steep and precipitous trail up to a … Read more
After much deliberation, we finally took the plunge and booked our flights to Nepal. Hiking in Nepal has always been a highlight of previous long trips to Asia and we were really looking forward to going back. Nepal always seemed to be bedeviled by strife and this year seemed no different. The devastating earthquake has been well documented at home but the recent fuel crisis (or blockade by India) has garnered considerably fewer headlines. It seemed that Nepal would be a no-go this year.
But something kept nagging us to go. Media images of post-earthquake Nepal seemed to suggest a country in total ruin. The current fuel crisis suggested a country on the verge of running out of vital commodities. As ever, Nepal always seems to cope with whatever shit is thrown at it. For sure, we saw plenty of collapsed buildings and the lack of gas pushed up transport and food prices but, on the whole, life went on as usual. Sadly, when Nepal is really in need of a ‘business as usual’ attitude from foreigners, … Read more
We stayed on Gili Air for 8 days. This was a few more days than intended but we could have stayed for weeks. However, the call of the mountains is always nagging us for attention so having looked at Gunung Rinjani for a week, we figured it was time we climbed it.
We arranged our Rinjani climb with the original trek leader for the mountain, Mister John. His outfit is not the cheapest but we were impressed that they were a little more environmentally aware than many of the competitors. Mister John picked us up at Bangsal, the mainland port opposite Gili, and took us up to his mountain lodge in Senaru. The lodge was a little more deluxe than we are used to but it was included in the package. The lodge was perched up on a ridge with great views of the rice fields and forests below.… Read more