Jun 10

Featured: Six Amazing Places To See In L.A.

Los Angeles is a vacation spot that I frequent often, for one I have close family there and I can’t resist a nice beach, but also because it has some incredible places to see!  Last week I decided to take a tour of some of my very favorite L.A. landmarks and share them here.

Mar 18

Why HWY 395 Is California’s Most Underrated Road Trip!

Scenic highway 395 through eastern Sierra mountains

Roads Trips have become a staple of American culture! There is no better way to see this great nation and spend time with family and friends, then locked in a car playing road trip games. Aside from wrong turns, crying kids, the A/C breaking and being trapped in the car for hours, there is something special about a road trip that brings everyone together. Most of those memorable moments happen outside of the car on hikes, bikes, or swims in places we have never been to before. One of my favorite drives in this great nation, with some of the most outdoor adventures, is the Eastern Sierra scenic byway on Hwy 395. Although Hwy 395 stretches from Washington to Southern California, this section of the drive packs the most adventure. This section offers endless amounts of lakes, like Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in the country, just 30 minutes off the 395. If an extreme climb is what you are looking for, Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in lower 48 is just one of many 14,000 foot peaks along the 395. And if checking off bucket list items is your thing, 4 of the nations 58 national parks are all within a few hundred miles. Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Death Valley are all along this section of the 395! I don’t know how much more adventure one road trip could handle! Once you work up an appetite, the 395 also offers some of the best BBQ in the country. Here are the top 8 Reasons To Drive Hwy 395 Along The Eastern Sierras!

Sunset over the Sierra Nevada mountains from Owens Valley. Owens Valley is the arid ranching valley of the Owens River in southeastern California.

1. The Surreal Mountains

The 395 runs right next to the eastern sierras and the White Mountains in the Owen Valley. The endless mountain views are on both sides for 300 miles. The snow capped peaks are some of the largest in the country. These Mountains offer picturesque views from both the valley floor as well as the summit. The infamous Mt. Whitney stands tall, 20 miles off the 395 and can be easily seen from Lone Pine, CA. Climb to the top to see a birds eye view of the 395! 12 other 14,000 foot peaks majestically line the 395. People travel from all over the world to climb and hike these famous peaks and trails. Access to the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir trail is easy from many different points along the 395. Don’t wait on the lottery, Hike Mt. Whitney in the winter and you can self issue yourself a permit, and also have the trail all to yourself!

Emerald Lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin

2. The Endless Lakes

You don’t need ocean front views when you drive the 395. Some of the most unique and beautiful lakes lie on, or near the 395. Both salt and fresh water lakes allow you the freedom to enjoy all our favorite water sports. Boating, Jet skis, swimming, cliff jumping and of course fishing are all a must on the 395. Scuba dive the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe, which is the second deepest lake in America. Explore the salty alien like shores of Mono Lake or fly fish Thousand Island Lake, a high altitude lake near Mammoth Lakes loaded with fresh trout. If there is one item you bring on this road trip, make sure it’s a fishing pole. Nothing will taste better than a fresh trout dinner cooked over the camp fire.

Inyo National Forest, California

3. The Epic Camping

With more campgrounds than hotels on this strip of highway, sleeping under the stars is easier and cheaper on this road trip. Trade in that HBO and room service for whiskey and a starry sky. The best part is, most of the campgrounds are self service and are always near a great outdoor opportunity. Every campsite also has an amazing mountain view! Camp just off the 395 or load up your backpack and hike into the Inyo National Forest for a more isolated camping experience! Prepare appropriately, most trails along this section of the 395 will need a wilderness permit and proper gear. Winters here call for zero degree sleeping bags and snow shoes. Where summers call for sunscreen and a bear vault!

Tule Elk (Cervus canadensis) in a wilderness at Point Reyes National Seashore, California.

4. The Rare Wildlife

Everything from deer to coyotes call this section of California home. But the must see, is the Tule Elk herd that roams the 395. There are 5 populations of Tule Elk that roam California, but there is one population that has found refuge in Owens Valley just South of Big Pine, California. The herd can easily be seen from the road during most of the year. The heard is usually sighted near the Tinemaha Reservoir area. Bring a high zoom lens for your camera and a good pair of binoculars. Be on the lookout for other motorists on the side of the road as a good indication of the Tuke Elk herd. Although Elk are a very beautiful and majestic animal, over population of the herd has been detrimental to the Elk and local area. A few California Elk tags are issued each year if you are one of the lucky few able to make this epic and rare hunt!

West Walker River

5. The West Walker River

This section of the drive is the most fun and awe inspiring sections of the drive. The 395 weaves its way along side of the West Walker River as it cuts a beautiful canyon from Sonora junction to the town of Walker. The canyon has sheer rock cliffs on either side which have been a favorite spot for rock climbers to boulder. The river itself is a great place to fly fish, camp, and spot a beautiful bald eagle flying above. Each July the town of Walker offers a free fishing derby. Catch the biggest rainbow trout between July 1st and July 31st, for bragging rights!

Mammoth Ski Resort Panorama Vista Eastern Sierra California

6. The Skiing and Snowboarding

With the highest mountain range in the lower 48 stretching 400 miles north to south and 70 miles across, The Sierra Nevadas are a skier and snowboarders dream. Snowfall some years can reach over 400 inches and winter sport enthusiasts can enjoy the slopes all the way until July 4th weekend! Some of the more popular Ski Resorts include Mammoth Mountain, Kirkwood, and Squaw Valley which hosted the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. If paying for a lift ticket isn’t your thing, some of the best back country and cross country skiing can be found in the Sierras. Pick any high alpine trail during winter and you will find plenty of snow!

Death Valley National Park

7. The Mountain Biking and Cycling

Obviously once the snow melts, we trade in our skis for the mountain bike. We race down those same slopes and trails on two wheels instead of skis. From the deserts of Death Valley National Park to the high altitude trails of the Sierras, there are endless amounts of trails to ride. Some of the best mountain bike trails, as well as parks with jumps to ride, is right there at Mammoth Mountain. The mountain transforms from a ski resort to a Mountain Bike Resort. If rough dirt trails and jumps aren’t your thing, the roads off the 395 are usually very isolated, smooth, and a great workout on a road bike. The 395 would also be a great challenge for any long distance biker.

Kings Canyon National Park, a U.S. National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California

8. The National Parks

On this section of the 395 you are never more than an hour from 4 of the most beautiful National Parks in the country. In the South, you have Sequoia National Park and in the East Kings Canyon National Park. In the West, Death valley National Park and in the North the legendary Yosemite National Park. You can hike, bike, climb or drive your way to all of these National Parks depending on the season. One of the best ways to visit Yosemite is over Tioga pass from 395. The pass climbs to over 10,000 feet and is only open in the summer for obvious reasons. The beautiful drive allows you to see the backside of Half Dome and the Beautiful Tuolumne Meadows. If you are looking for the challenge of a lifetime, try the Badwater Ultramarathon. Know as the worlds toughest race, the race starts at the Badwater Basin 279 feet under sea level and finishes 135 miles west at the base of Mt. Whitney!

The BBQ Reason!

The Double India Pale Ale is brewed by the Mammoth Brewing Company with Juniper berries and sage.

With all this hiking, biking, and climbing, you will be sure to work up a serious appetite. The 395 has its fair share of great food and drinks! Including the amazing sandwiches at Erick Schats Bakery in Bishop, to the 395 IPA at the Mammoth Brewing Company in Mammoth Lakes. But, the real hidden gem on the 395, that you would never expect in this part of the country, is the BBQ! According to Yelp reviewers in 2014, Cooper Top BBQ in Big Pine, CA was named the #1 place to eat in the entire country. That is some BBQ worth trying! If you miss Copper Top, don’t worry because Holy Smoke Texas BBQ in Bishop has mouth watering BBQ. And if you are headed down the 395 from the North, The Mountain View BBQ in Coleville, CA along the West Walker River is sure to satisfy your needs! Great BBQ is no longer only found in the south!

 

For more tips on camping, hiking, backpacking, inspiration for your next adventure, great places to eat, amazing photography or gear reviews, follow my blog at http://www.adventureupstream.com, on Instagram: @adventure_upstream, or on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/adventureupstre/

 

Mar 03

8 Reasons Why Kodiak Alaska Should Be Your Next Epic Adventure!

Town of Kodiak Alaska

Although it is the second largest Island in the United States, only around 10,000 people actually populate the Island. Only a few roads access the most eastern region of the island and that area is known as the road zone. The rest of the island can only be accessed through rough ATV trails, backpacking, a boat or a float plane. That area of the Island is known as the Remote Zone. This area, covered in dense brush, frozen streams and snow covered mountains, is an endless expanse of some of the wildest country in the world. It is truly, “The Last Frontier.” In this part of the world, the Kodiak Grizzly bear is found, which can grow to over ten feet tall and weight over 1200 pounds. The island is a Sportsman’s dream. Salmon runs last from June to September. Halibut are abundant along the coast and have been as big as 400 pounds in these waters. Sitka Deer, Reindeer and Mountain Goat hike along the mountain trails more frequently than backpackers. Kodiak Island even has its own wild Buffalo herds. The summer months allow for beautiful long days with 18 hours of light. This lighting is perfect for photography during Sunset and Sunrise. With the longer days comes dryer and warmer temperatures. But don’t let your guard down, because in Alaska the weather can turn in minutes. Although the wind can whip, the rain sting, and the temperature drop, this beautiful rugged landscape has everything a true outdoors man/woman is looking for! Here are 8 reasons you need to make Kodiak Island your next adventure vacation!

Fishing Boats in Kodiak Alaska

1. World Class Fishing

Kodiak Island has been a fishing community since the 1800’s and is home to some of the famous fleets that take on the deadly Bering Sea. Some of the boats from Deadliest Catch, even call Kodiak home. You won’t need to re-enact the deadliest catch on your visit, since all of the best fishing is near the coast. All of the best Salmon fishing is just miles outside of town. The Buskin River just 2 miles outside of downtown Kodiak has Red, Pink and Silver Salmon runs that last from June until September. The American and Olds River other sushi grade King Salmon, weighing on average around 20 pounds. If the open water is more your style, than Kodiak offers some of the best waters for Halibut and Rockfish. On our 12 day trip to Kodiak we caught over 150 pounds of Red Salmon and 200 pounds of Halibut. The halibut was all in one day.

Alaskan brown bear (grizzly bear) fishing for Sockeye salmon, seagulls in the background, Moraine Creek, Katmai National Park, Alaska

2. Larger Than Life Hunting

In Kodiak no animal is safe, even the famous Kodiak Grizzly can be hunted here. This doesn’t mean that all animals aren’t protected in some way. Although it is encouraged to hunt for food, many animals need special permits to be hunted. Certain tags such as a Bear tag can only be taken every four years. There are an abundance of guided hunts on the Island from, Mountain Goats to Sitka deer, but at a very expensive cost. The best way to hunt is to backpack up into the mountains with a good pair of binoculars and some stalking skills. Either way it isn’t hard to put some meat in the freezer for the family.

Cliffs at Kodiak Island, Alaska

3. Challenging Backpacking

The Island only holds whopping 3-4000 foot peaks, but they sure gain elevation quickly. Raising straight from the ocean at sea level, don’t let these peaks low elevation fool you. The hikes are usually steep, slippery, over grown in summer and covered in snow in winter. These mountains will surely put your backpacking skills to the test. On day one, you will hike on a beautiful 70 degree and sunny day. The next day it will be 50 degrees and rainy. By the third day, you will be in the middle of a snow storm. After you experience all the elements and seasons in one hike, you will definitely be rewarded with wildlife, great mountain views of snow capped peaks, and open ocean for hundreds of miles in every direction.

Bird Nest Rock by Kodiak Island

4. Rugged Landscape

This unique and rugged landscape allows you the ability to Surf and Ski all in the same day. Here you can fish for salt and fresh water species within miles. You can go from rugged mountains, to calm lakes and everything in between. The landscape provides you with the opportunity to take on any adventure endeavors. The open ocean provides SUP, Kayaking, Surfing, Kite boarding and boating activities. Where the mountains provide inland glacier travel, back country skiing, and snow shoe opportunities. This rugged landscape will not only test you, but also reward you with any outdoor activity you have in mind.

Whale Island from the ocean near Kodiak Island in Alaska

5. Unheard of Isolation

With only 10,000 people occupying the island and almost all of them living in one tiny corner of the island, it is very easy to find some peace and quiet. It only takes a short drive or hike to find yourself miles from civilization. If you are really feeling adventurous, rent a float plane or boat to reach the more remote sections of the island. People say when you step onto the beach in those parts of the island and the float plane or boat leaves, you truly feel like you are in a different world. No one is going to come to your rescue there, but that is part of the adventure right!

Fin Whale off Kodiak Island, Alaska

6. True American Freedom

Kodiak Island today is like America 60 years ago. It’s like a land trapped in time with everything we wish the lower 48 and the National Parks still were today. If there is a beach you want to camp on, than camp there! If you see a mountain you want to climb, than climb it! If there is water you want to fish, than fish it. Although a few rules apply, it is a much more laid back and wild atmosphere than in the lower 48. The Island allows you to still have the true freedoms we all want when we go out into the wild. Alaska doesn’t see the same amount of visitors as the lower 48 destinations, so the rules on camping, fires, or hiking permits hasn’t reached this part of the world yet! So, get up there and enjoy freedoms like you never have before.

7. Golden Hour Photography

We always seem to search for that golden hour near sunrise and sunset with the perfect natural lighting for our shots. Kodiak Island offers endless opportunities to capture that perfect shot. Every time I went for a hike, fishing or camping, there was an epic photo opportunity around every turn. The summer months offer the perfect lighting. The early morning light last a couple hours and the evening twilight last nearly 4 hours. The soft lighting creates this beautiful glow that silhouettes the trees, draping over the valley floors and glowing on the mountain meadows. The glass like lakes and snow covered peaks also add depth and color to the dramatic landscape. If wildlife photography is what you are into, then you need to book your flight now! In Kodiak a Bald Eagle is as common as a city pigeon. Kodiak Grizzly walk up and down the river just 2 miles outside of town. Sitka Deer and Mountain Goats can be seen high in the mountains of nearly every hike, and Buffalo roam the grasslands like cattle!

Spirit Bear

8. The Kodiak Island Brewery

This stop on your epic trip may be the best stop, especially if you just crawled out of the rough Alaskan wilderness. The Kodiak Island Brewing Co. has many craft beers on tap and is the only brewery on the island.The brewery only uses pure island water and the finest malts. The taproom located in downtown Kodiak offers plenty of seating and all ages and pets are welcome. Grab the kids and pups, then head down for a couple pints. You can even bring your own food and enjoy Kodiak like a local. The Brewery is open everyday from noon to 7 pm.

 

For more tips on camping, hiking, backpacking, inspiration for your next adventure, or gear reviews, follow my blog at http://www.adventureupstream.com or on Instagram @adventure_upstream

 

Jan 19

7 Reasons To Climb Mt. Whitney In Winter

View from the Summit of Mt. Whitney, Tallest Peak of the Lower 48 States, California, USA

Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the continental U.S., cradled in the boundary between California’s Inyo and Tulare counties, yet it is 84.6 miles west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park.

1 – The Challenge

Conquer the highest point in the lower 48 during the most difficult time of year. The two main trails are the Mountaineers route and the Whitney Trail. Both offer unique challenges this time of year. When you climb Whitney in winter, you are working for it using winter climbing techniques making the summit that much more special.

2 – The Photography

Capture amazing shots of the snow covered Sierras, especially during sunrise and sunset. The light of the Alpenglow as it strikes the mountains is breathtaking. The snow that covers the mountains adds amazing depth and contrast to your shots. Frozen lakes, and waterfalls add to the beauty of the area.

3 – Better Yourself

Hone your mountaineering skills with ice axe, snowshoe, and crampon use. Stop buying gear just to take cool photos with on snowy hills you can walk up in flip flops and boardshorts. Take a course, or teach yourself, and get up on a real mountain that challenges you to use the tools you have. Using crampons and an ice axe is pretty much common sense with a little practice. The trails have every condition to practice your skills. The trail has deep snow, long sections of ice and steep uphill grades, which are all near death defying cliffs.

4 – The Isolation

Avoid the annoying crowds of summer. Everyone can walk up a paved, pre-built trail, but only the brave few can climb up a mountain without a trail. Get out there this time of year when the trail disappears under snow and make your own route. You will have the mountain nearly entirely to yourself.

5 – The Night Sky

Camp under an amazing endless starry sky. The Sierras offer some of the most beautiful night skies. With so many major cities just hours away from Mt. Whitney, seeing the stars seems rare these days. Leave the city behind and fall asleep looking up at the TRUE night sky.

6 – Learn New Skills

Learn to camp In the snow. Anyone can camp in an RV or in the middle of summer, but what about winter? Bring a snow shovel to dig in for protection from wind, learn how to properly melt snow for water, learn how to keep your stove working, how to stay warm in frigid weather, and learn how to keep your wet wipes from freezing when nature calls.

7 – No More Excuses

Self Issue Permit means you won’t be able to use the excuse, “I wasn’t able to get a lottery permit to climb Mt. Whitney,” that I have heard a million times. (Because we all know the truth is you’re really just scared!) Everyone says how they want to climb Mt. Whitney, then always finds a reason to blame the Park Service for stopping them. Well if you really wanted to climb Mt. Whitney, then half the year is totally in your control. You can also probably get a walk in permit during the other 6 months of the year. Stop making excuses to friends and family on Instagram or Facebook, and leave now for the mountain. Just get up, get outside and do it! No more excuses. You have until April 30 to make it happen.

The Trip Details

Day 1: We arrived at the Lone Pine Visitors Center at the intersection of HWY 395 and HWY 136 just south of Lone Pine, CA. We issued ourselves our overnight permits to climb Mt. Whitney and picked up our Wag Bags. You can self issue yourself the free permit Nov. 2 through Apr 30. Climbing during this time of year allows you to avoid all the crowds and the lottery system for permits in the summer. After retrieving our permits we drove 2 miles North on HWY 395 to Lone Pine, CA and turned left/West onto Whitney Portal Rd. From here we drove 7.1 to the Lone Pine Campground at an elevation of 6,000 feet to get acclimated. The Campground is 20 dollars a night and you can self issue yourself a campsite. The campground provides water and restrooms. The campground offers a clear view of Mt. Whitney and the challenge that lies ahead.

Day 2: We drove 6 miles from the Lone Pine Campground to Whitney Portal at 8,300 feet, where the Whitney Trail starts. The Whitney Portal Campsite, Store and even the road can be closed this time of year. We were able to park right at the clearly marked trailhead free of snow. We threw on our 45 pound packs and headed for the summit. The First 1.5 miles of the trail was free of snow. The trail gains elevation quickly as it switchbacks towards Lone Pine Lake. About a mile before the lake, the trail disappears under the snow and foot prints go off in every direction. This is where a good map study and GPS come in handy. If you don’t want to work up a sweat or post hole your way through the snow, this is a good time to put on your snowshoes. You may only need them for a short time. You can follow the blaze marking on the trees and slowly make your way up the mountain, or you can cut straight up and save some time. Once you make it to Mirror Lake just.5 miles past Outpost Camp, you will want to fill up on as much water as you can, since this will be the last water you can get to before you have to melt snow. You will also want to put on your crampons for the next steep section and keep them on until you reach Trail Camp. Continue up through the trees to the south of Mirror Lake. After you break out of the tree line at around 10,200 feet, head west and stay to the left near the frozen Consolation Lake, at the 6 mile mark in your journey. Continue.3 miles to Trail Camp at 11,800 feet and find a nice spot out of the wind for the night. The sunset is incredible and offers an opportunity to capture a great photo.

Overall: 6 hours, 6.3 miles and 3,700 feet of elevation gain.

Day 3: I recommend waking up early at 530 or 6 and starting your climb. The snow will be firm, which is good for climbing. You will also be able to capture amazing sunrise photos. This will also help you beat any late evening storms that may roll in. I recommend bringing two, full 32 ounce bottles of water for the climb. From Trail Camp, you need to make your way up the steepest portion of the trail. Head west up the slightly steep snow chute towards the Trail Crest at 13,650. You will need to understand how to properly use crampons, an ice axe and the proper way to self arrest in case of a fall. A fall during this portion of the trail could be deadly. Once you have reached the crest, take a moment to soak in the majestic views of the snow covered western Sierras as far as the eye can see. Make sure you have wind and sun protection for this section of the trail. Continue your climb towards the North as the trail enters Sequoia National Park and descends 150 feet to link up with the John Muir Trail. Although there may be long sections of trail with zero snow, keep your crampons on! Certain sections along this 1.9 mile stretch towards the summit are very icy and on the edge of fatal cliffs. After about.5 miles on the trail you will see the first glimpse of the stone hut at the summit. Continue past the Needles and Mt Muir for the summit. Take a rest at the summit hut, sign the log, and cautiously make your way back down. If you understand how, you can glissade certain sections on the way down to make your descent faster. Once we were safely down to Trail Camp, we took off our crampons and quickly made it to the Whitney Portal trail head in 2 and a half hours. We stayed at Portagee Joe Campground the final night. It is a very easy self issue campground for only 14 dollars. It is only one mile from Lone Pine, so it was easy to eat dinner that night and breakfast the next morning in town.

Overall: 8 hours from Trail Camp to Summit Round Trip, 9.4 miles and 2,800 feet of elevation gain.

 

For more information on Tips for camping, Inspiration for you Next Adventure, Pack List or Gear Reviews, follow my Blog http://www.adventureupstream.com or @adventure_upstream on Instagram.

Dec 31

10 Reasons Hiking and Camping Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution!

Every New Year, we hear people say a million different resolutions that will change their lives for the better. Some of the classic, cliché resolutions are to get in shape, save more money, travel more, or even find love. I believe if you commit to getting off the couch, and into the outdoors, you can fulfill all of your resolutions and more! Think about the clean mountain air, the picturesque views, and the mountain man/woman skills you can learn by spending more nights under the stars! Here are 10 reasons Hiking and Camping Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution.

1. No Need for a Gym Membership

With everyone wasting their hard-earned money on a gym membership, that they will stop using in two months, make the change that will last. While wearing a 20 lb pack on an uphill hike, you can burn just as many calories as you would at the gym, if you put in the effort. Also by joining nature’s gym, you get to avoid all the selfie taking mirror meat heads and Kardashian wannabes. And the best part is that your membership is free, and way more rewarding.

2. Get Better Sleep

Sleeping under the stars with the sounds of the wild, will relax and reset your soul. Leave behind the stress from your 9-5 job and your loud, cramped city apartment, for a night out in the wild. I guarantee after one night’s sleep under the stars, you will wake up refreshed, with a renewed sense of life. Some of my best, full night’s of sleep have been on the ground, in a sleeping bag.

3. Eat Healthier

It’s hard to eat fast food when you are on a 3-day backpacking trip. If you resist the urge, you won’t even crave it anymore. With a little ingenuity, you can catch fresh fish, gather greens and nuts, all while on trail. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard to eat unhealthy on a camping trip, unless you pack a lot of whiskey and s’mores like myself.

4. New Challenges

Every year, I hear people talk about all the bucket list items they want to check off their lists. This is the year to make a list of challenges, and conquer them. You can hike a 12,000 foot peak, hike a famous trail, or just sleep for one night in a tent under the stars. Whatever your skill level, make sure you challenge yourself to conquer new adventures this year. Make some reasonable hiking goals you know you can accomplish this year, then push yourself a little further on each new adventure!

5. Save Money

Buying camping and hiking gear can be expensive at first, but once you have everything you need, you will save a boat load of money. It’s impossible to spend money when you are out enjoying the trail, on a multi-day excursion. Find used gear at garage sales, or borrow gear from friends to keep your investment low. You can also try carpooling with friends on your next adventure to save money on gas. A night out drinking beers around a campfire, is about 100 dollars less than a Saturday night at the bar.

6. Spend More Time with Family and Friends

Once a year at Christmas, I see the majority of my family and friends. Every year I hear how much my family and friends want to hangout or visit me more often. I say, just go for it! Plan a trip and get them out on the trail! You can even show them the new skills you’ve learned. Can’t get the kids around the dinner table for family dinner or get them to put their phones down for two seconds? The solution is to get outdoors around a campfire with no cell service! They might hate you at first, but they will love you after roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate.

7. Travel More

Every New Year, people talk about traveling to lavish locations like California, New York, Europe, etc. How about you take advantage of all the hikes and campsites in your own backyard first. Get off the couch and get outdoors more! Maybe this is the year to go to Europe, but if not, visit famous hikes like the John Muir Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or Appalachian Trail.

8. Detox! Quit Smoking and Drinking (or maybe just drink less)

If you enjoy smoking or drinking, and it doesn’t hinder your everyday life, then by all means do what makes you happy. But if you’re ready to quit, then this is the year hiking and camping will end that bad habit. If you leave those smokes in the car, and you hike in for a couple miles to set up camp, you will just have to do without them. Hiking and Camping can be so relaxing that it can take away the need for nicotine or alcohol. Breath that fresh mountain air and drink that clean mountain water.

9. Learn A New Skill

Whether you are an expert mountaineer or new to camping all together, you can never stop learning. Find a skill you find to be difficult or a skill you aren’t as proficient with, and find a way to get better. If you are just starting off, then the world is your oyster! Pick a hiking or camping adventure and get out there. It’s amazing how you will feel summiting your first mountain, making your first fire or just camping for the first time.

10. Find Love!

This is the year to find that significant other! Hiking trails and campfires are perfect places to meet new people with the same interests. People who like to get outdoors are usually more positive, upbeat, and in shape. And if you don’t find your one true love, at least you will fall in love with the outdoors! Win.Win.

Good Luck with your New Year’s Resolution, and I hope you have fun Hiking and Camping this year.

 

For more tips about hiking, camping, your next adventure, gear reviews, or just inspiration to get outdoors, follow my blog at http://www.adventureupstream.com/ or on Instagram @adventure_upstream

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Dec 31

Onward! 4 ways explorers can enjoy China’s ancient capital

The Sacred Path leading to the Ming Tombs at Purple Mountain in Nanjing, China

(BPT) – If you enjoy exploring new and unique cultures when you travel, you’re far from alone. In a 2016 Trip Advisor study, 47 percent of travelers worldwide chose foreign destinations to visit in hopes of being exposed to other cultures and people.

Learning the history of ancient cultures can be the most fascinating part of such trips, especially for visitors who measure the age of their own nation in hundreds, not thousands. That’s partly why the 1,800-year-old city of Nanjing, China is such an attractive destination for curious tourists from across the world.

The city of 8 million offers access to a wide range of awe-inspiring ancient sites along with multiple opportunities to experience the people, places and culture that make up the Jiangsu province present day. Visitors also enjoy the ease of transportation: An international airport and two train stations connect Nanjing to China’s major cities including Shanghai and Beijing, 90 minutes and 3.5 hours by bullet train, respectively.

Those wishing to immerse themselves in Nanjing’s ancient beauty and culture can enjoy the following attractions:

Historic sites: Among the most historically and architecturally significant are two mausoleums enshrining former Chinese leaders: the Ming Dynasty-era Xiaoling Tomb and Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, honoring the founder of modern China. Also compelling is the Presidential Palace, built in Neoclassical style in 1864 and transformed into the China Modern History Museum in 1980. Visitors are often inspired by the 600-year-old City Wall of Nanjing, built by 200,000 laborers over a 21-year period to ward off invaders. The structure encloses 55 square kilometers and is among the largest walls ever constructed in Chinese history.

City Wall in Nanjing, China

Cultural landmarks: A must-see for many tourists is the Confucius Temple Scenic Area. Tour the temple, visit former homes of historic figures then board the Qinhuai river sightseeing cruise while you learn about Nanjing’s history and take in performances along the river’s banks. Visit the opulent subterranean Buddhist palace and two different temples at the 197-acre Niushoushan Cultural Park, an ode to Buddhist beliefs built on a sacred site just outside the city. Don’t miss the Grand Bao’en Temple, a reproduction of a Ming Dynasty pagoda considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval Age.

Natural attractions: A popular choice is Xuanwu Lake Park, which features five islands interconnected by arched bridges and miles of enjoyable walkways. Within the park are temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens, teahouses, restaurants, entertainment venues, a small zoo and other attractions. Elsewhere, choose to walk Qixia Mountain, known for its beautiful foliage in the autumn months, crystal clear springs and multiple scenic spots, or relax at Tangshan Hot Springs, open to both day trippers and local resort guests.

Festivals: Mingle with thousands of locals and tourists alike while celebrating the city’s culturally rich traditions. Nanjing will kick off 2017 with New Year’s Eve Bell Ringing Ceremonies throughout the city. Other festivities include the Qinhuai International Lantern Festival (early January), the International Plum Blossom Festival (mid-February through March); the Rain Flower Stone Festival (September) and the Gaochun County Hairy Crab Festival (September through November). While sampling vendors’ offerings at such events, be sure to partake of Nanjing’s culinary specialty – duck, deliciously served up in myriad soups, appetizers, main courses, pastries, snacks and dim sum. The city’s claim to fame: The tender, fragrant and often crispy salted duck first popularized during the Qing Dynasty.

Ready to start planning your Nanjing adventure? Visit gotonanjing.com for more information.

Aug 06

The Ultimate Guide to Zhangjiajie

Imperial Pen Peak of Zhangjiajie

Imperial Pen Peak of Zhangjiajie

Most people visit the likes of Beijing, Shanghai, the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors when they go on a holiday to China, but not many people know as much about Zhangjiajie and its stunning beauty.

Zhangjiajie, for those that don’t know much about it, is an area in the northwest of the Hunan province in China and is renowned for being an area of outstanding beauty and for having breath-taking scenery.

Here is a guide about Zhangjiajie and what you should see and what you can expect to see during a visit to the area.

Why is Zhangjiajie so special?

Zhangjiajie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was also given “World Geological Park” status in 2004.

This is for good reason as Zhangjiajie is not only China’s first-ever national forest park, but is also home to over 3,000 striking limestone pillars. The park also boasts beautiful gorges, streams, waterfalls, natural bridges and caves.

The forest park is also a popular destination for travellers who love wildlife as the site is home to a number of endangered animals and plants.

What are the main attractions in Zhangjiajie?

Wulingyuan Scenic Area is just north of Zhangjiajie and is a hugely popular destination with holidaymakers the world over. Wulingyuan is where some of the most iconic mountains, valleys, caves and forests are and this area has been dubbed as “fairyland” by many of its visitors.

Tianzi Mountain Reserve is a part of the Wulingyuan region and is another area that just has to be explored. Tianzi Mountain offers stunning views of surrounding peaks and the forests down below to those brave enough to walk up it.

Golden Whip Stream in Zhangjiajie is beautiful and the 4.7-mile long stream is renowned for its pristine waters. The stream is surrounded by spectacular steep cliffs and pretty green mountains, which often leave visitors in awe of its natural beauty.

Zhangjiajie’s history

If the natural beauty does not impress you then the history of the area certainly will as the region can be traced back to the Neolithic Age.

Zhangjiajie is also home to three main ethnic minorities; the Tujia, Bai and Miao. In total there are an estimated 29 minority groups that live in the region and travellers often get to experience the different cultures of these groups – from their different clothes to their different foods.

Travel

Despite the region being very mountainous it is surprisingly easy to travel to and around the area. Zhangjiajie has had many new roads built and a recently-built superhighway. There is the ever expanding Zhangjiajie Lotus Airport and the improved train routes, which means travelling to the area is a lot easier than it used to be.

 

This article was written by Thom Sanders on behalf of Wendy Wu Tours, who offer a range of affordable China holidays, that include trips to see the beautiful Zhangjiajie region, Beijing and Shanghai.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Aug 06

What to Do During a Day Off From the Theme Parks in Orlando

Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Orlando is renowned for its incredible theme parks, such as Universal Orlando, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld Orlando and Epcot, but if you are having a day off from the theme parks then there are plenty of other activities that you can do instead.

Here we take you through some of the activities that you and your family could easily do on a day off from all the theme parks.

Excursions

If you are really keen to see other parts of Florida then an excursion is something that should seriously be considered.

The Kennedy Space Center is easy to travel to and from within a day and is perfect for a great family day out. You and your family can hire a car or catch the bus quite easily from Orlando to The Space Center.

The Everglades and Miami are two more places that can be easily visited within a day or two, while Florida offers some of the best marine adventure tours in the US.

If you would prefer more relaxing trips then there are a whole host of fishing trips or shopping trips on offer in Orlando.

Shows

Orlando also has a burgeoning reputation for its shows as the city is home to some world-renowned performances.

The likes of the Cirque Du Soleil La Nouba is regarded as one of Orlando’s best shows and visitors can expect to see a dazzling evening full of spectacular entertainment and breathtaking performances from gymnasts et al. Tickets for the Cirque Du Soleil cost from as little as £49 as well.

Another must-see show in Orlando comes courtesy of the Blue Man Group. The Blue Man Group entertains crowds with live music, comedy routines and a load of multimedia theatrics in a multi-sensory circus. The show has been described by people that have watched it as “hysterically funny” and “wildly inventive”.

Relax

If you are theme-parked out then you can always laze about on the number of beaches that are quite close to Orlando.

Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach and the Canaveral National Seashore are all beaches that are around an hour away and all offer white sands and sea for people to relax on.

Another way to relax on a day off could be to take a walk around the city, which, unlike New York and other major cities, is reasonably relaxing.

Great dining experiences

If you want a great dining experience then Orlando certainly will not disappoint you as it boasts a whole host of amazing restaurants and cafes.

After a long day at the theme parks, or a day off from them, all you and your family want is a relaxing and delicious meal and you will certainly have a number of options to choose from.

The very best restaurants include Planet Hollywood, which offers eaters classic American food whilst being surrounded by memorabilia from the most iconic Hollywood movies.

Another great restaurant for the evening is the Hard Rock café. This café offers the best American cuisine and a great rock ‘n’ roll theme. It truly is an experience that just has to be had by all holidaymakers.

 

This article was written by Thom Sanders on behalf of Orlando Ticket Deals who offer a number of Florida park tickets for great prices. Some of their most popular tickets include Universal studios tickets and Disney World tickets.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Aug 05

Top Sights to See in the Netherlands

Netherlands

Netherlands

The Netherlands is a popular holiday destination as it boasts a number of attractions and offers visitors a number of things to do.

If you are heading on any river cruises or another type of holiday in the Netherlands in 2014 or 2015 then you will want to know what the top sights are – here we have chosen our top sights to see.

The canals & waterways of Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal at sunset.

Amsterdam canal at sunset.

Amsterdam is a must-see place for all visitors to the Netherlands as it is the capital of the country and is a stunning city too.

One of this beautiful city’s most iconic landmarks is its canals and waterways. The Dutch capital has over 1,500 bridges crossing more than 100 kilometres of canals and waterways, which offer some of the world’s best river cruising experiences.

An Amsterdam canal cruise really is a must-do activity and during your trip to this mega-city you will see countless numbers of people cruising down large and small canals.

Bulbfields & Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof park in Netherlands

Keukenhof park in Netherlands

The bulbfields outside of Amsterdam during spring are awash with colour as tulips sprout out from the ground and turn the farmers’ fields around the city into seas of red, pink, purple, orange and yellow. A river cruise is the best and most relaxing way to see the fields during spring and it will take visitors just an hour to travel to these spectacular fields.

Alternatively, visitors can head to the Keukenhof Gardens to see an estimated seven million perfectly planted plants. Keukenhof is the world’s biggest flower park and offers lucky visitors a number of gardens to explore that are home to tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises and more.

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam.

The tulips are only available to see during part of the year, but the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is an attraction that is available throughout the year.

It is the best art museum in the whole of the Netherlands and has a jaw-dropping collection of over 200 masterpieces. The museum shows off the city’s and the country’s rich history, which is probably why millions of people visit the attraction every year. Highlights include The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk

This is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has 19 windmills beside canals that cut through the surrounding landscape.

July and August are the months where all of the windmills are in full operation and offer sightseers an unforgettable experience, but some of the windmills are in operation throughout the year.

The region is also renowned for its abundance of wildlife as a number of wild birds call Kinderdijk home.

 

This article was written by Thom Sanders for The River Cruise Line, who offer fantastic deals on some of Europe’s finest trips, including a great Amsterdam canal cruise.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Rijksmuseum: Nattee Chalermtiragool / Shutterstock.com

Aug 04

Top Gardens of China

The Lion Grove Garden

The Lion Grove Garden

China has been known for its ability to create beautiful spaces for thousands of years, which is nothing new, but the ability to go on a tour of China that embraces such great sights is something that is taking the China tourism market by storm.

The Chinese Garden is a landscape garden style that spans the past 3,000 years, and today there are a number of tours that specifically look at iconic China gardens and offer visitors the chance to see some of the country’s most beautiful horticultural sights. This article looks to introduce you to the best examples of this art form to see whilst in China itself.

Summer Palace

Imperial Summer Palace in Beijing, China

Imperial Summer Palace in Beijing, China

The Summer Palace in Beijing is an impressive place to visit in itself, but the Palace’s gardens are something truly special. As a UNESCO World Heritage site it is protected and visited by many who come to China for its beautiful location and the stunning buildings positioned on Longevity Hill. The Palace covers 2.9 square kilometres consisting of the gardens, palaces and lakes, making for a unique and varied place to visit.

Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City

Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City

Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City

The emperor’s Imperial Garden is relatively small when bearing in mind the rest of the Forbidden City, but it contains many elaborate landscaping features that make it well worth a visit. While it is not known by many, the garden is a great example of history as well as superb garden design.

Xian Botanical Gardens

This beautiful garden dates back to 1959 and is a great example of scientific research as a public service. With over 3,000 different kinds of plants covering 20 hectares it is a great way to see a huge variety of plant life during a tour of China.

Guilin Botanical Garden

Another garden home to thousands of different species of plant life, the Guilin Botanical Garden is one of ten of the earliest gardens to be created in China. Established in 1958, it covers 67 hectares and is a particular point of interest along the Guilin-Yangshuo tourist route.

Suzhou’s UNESCO World Heritage gardens

Chinese garden in Suzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Chinese garden in Suzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The classical gardens of Suzhou date from the 11th-19th century and are an incredible example of Chinese horticulture. Offering a great example of Chinese landscaping where natural elements are recreated in miniature, it is enough to satisfy any appetite for the Chinese Garden.

Shanghai’s Chenshan Botanical Garden

Situated on the suburb of Songjiang, Chenshan Botanical Garden covers a wide open space that is home to numerous species of plant and wild life. This particular garden is well worth a visit for its multiple gardens showcasing different themes, from the Australian and Asian plants to the rose garden and children’s garden.

 

This article was written by Thom Sanders on behalf of Wendy Wu Tours, who offer a great range of China tours that offer the chance to see some incredible sights, including the Yangtze River and the Forbidden Palace while enjoying some fantastic horticultural sights.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

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