Hiking Half Dome in June 2012

August 18, 2012

In June I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for the weekend and do a short side trip to Yosemite to hike Half Dome.  Prior to the trip I had very little knowledge what Half Dome was and I had no idea what the cables were leading up to the top of Half Dome.  This hike was one of the craziest things I’ve done so far in my life and it was one of the funnest weekend trips I’ve done in a while.

Over the next week I’m going to write different posts about the trip so for this post I’m going to write an introduction about what Half Dome is and where it is.

The day after finishing the hike we drove 25 miles to another vantage point to get this view pictured above.  Half Dome is the rock on the left of the image and the waterfall on the right is the area where we hiked.  The valley below is the floor of Yosemite where most tourists visit.  The surrounding area for miles and miles each way is Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park is located in Northern California about 3 hours East of San Francisco.  Half Dome is located in the main tourist area and is one of the main attractions that many tourists go to see.

Backside of Half Dome

The cables.  The last 1,000 feet to get to the top of Half Dome consist of climbing up this steep piece of granite holding on to the cables and slowly moving from plank to plank.

The top of Half Dome. Worth every ounce of effort to get here.


International Appalachian Trail

August 11, 2012

I have a friend whose parents one day decided to sell their house, put all their belongings in storage, and hike the Appalachian Trail from the beginning in Georgia to the end in Maine.  My friend’s parents didn’t give him much warning so he was equally as shocked as we were to learn of this when he shared it with us shortly after finding out.  My friend wanted to join them but he wasn’t able to leave so quickly.  He waited a few months and took a bus to Virginia to meet with them and finish the journey the rest of the way to Maine.  He ended up hiking about half of the trail and was gone for about 4 months.  Even though it’s been over five years since returning, every time I hang out with him we talk about hiking and mountains and his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Recently I learned something new about the Appalachian Trail.  More than 200 million years ago, the mountain range that spans the East Coast (the Appalachian Mountains) used to be part of a larger mountain range that now lies in Canada, Europe, and Northwestern Africa.  Hundreds of millions of years ago these different mountain ranges were connected as one back in the Pangaea Era when there was only one large land mass.  The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) project was initially started by the Governor of Maine to create an international partnership with Canada by extending the Appalachian Train from where it ends in Maine further into parts of Canada that are part of the same mountain range.  Slowly, the project grew to include other countries and the idea is now to “connect all of those mountains that were created when the ancient continent Pangaea was formed 300 million years ago.”

As part of the international agreement between Maine and Canada in relation to the International Appalachian Trail, in September 2008 Resolution 32-6 was formed which “commits the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Labrador ‘to continue to work closely with the various organizations that are developing and maintaining these trails, in order to maximize their positive impact on our tourism industry and further promote the feeling of connectiveness that exist between our respective jurisdictions.'”

The mission of the International Appalachian Trail is to establish a long-distance walking trail that extends to all geographic regions once connected by the “Appalachian Mountain” range, formed more than 250 million years ago on the super-continent Pangea.

In addition to connecting people and places, the goal is to promote natural and cultural heritage, health and fitness, environmental stewardship, fellowship and understanding, cross-border cooperation, and rural economic development through eco and adventure tourism.


National Geographic included the International Appalachian Trail as one of the World’s Best Hikes in their recent article.  The series by National Geographic includes 20 amazing hikes from around the world.  The “World’s Best Hikes: Epic Trails” article was written by Doug Schnitzspahn who has worked for the National Park Services in Montana and Idaho.  He is currently the editor-in-chief for Elevation Outdoors magazine.

A truly great trail winds into the essence of a place, so when assembling this list of the world’s great hikes we kept an eye on more than the footpath. We looked for walks that travel deeper into a location’s history and culture. Sure, there’s outdoor adventure on each of these 20 hikes, but the trails also tell a rich story. So here they are, the holy grails of trails across the world. —Doug Schnitzspahn

Link:  http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/trips/best-trails/worlds-best-grail-trails/#/chic-chocs-mountains-international-appalachian_56330_600x450.jpg


Flagler Films recently released a 6-minute video on YouTube about the IAT in Ireland.  They are in discussions with PBS to produce a 3-hr segment about the International Appalachian Trail so I will keep my eye out to see what developments come in the future.

Other Links:

Flagler Films, IAT News:  http://iat-sia.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=61&cntnt01returnid=15

IAT Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Appalachian_Trail

Intelligent Travel Blog:  http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/intelligenttravel/2009/03/appalachian-trail-heads-north.html

GORP Article:  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/0508/walk_the_walk.html

National Geographic Series at the Straz Center in Tampa

August 7, 2012

A few years ago I sat next to a guy on a flight who was traveling back from Indonesia to his home in Sarasota.  I don’t recall the exact flight we were on but I think it was somewhere around Los Angeles to Albuquerque, but it wasn’t to Tampa.  So it was somewhat of a coincidence that he lives in Sarasota, about an hour south of Tampa where I am from.  The guy next to me is an underwater photographer and he told me about what he does.  He has a ton of experience spending 3 months at a time in the South Pacific.  Because of the limitations of the visas, he spends three months at a time in the region and then he travels home and takes a month or two off.  He makes a living selling his photographs and video to magazines and other companies to be used in print.  I’m very interested in scuba diving and the ocean in general so I really enjoyed sitting next to this guy and hearing his story.

The Straz Center in Tampa is hosting a speaker’s series next year presented by National Geographic.  The first speaker on January 22, 2013 is an underwater photographer in the South Pacific, the same region the guy I sat next to spends most of his time.  Below is the description and a video of what the presentation will be about.

Tickets go on sell on September 12th and are $18 each.

National Geographic Live! Secret Edens with underwater photographer David Doubilet

National Geographic Live! Journey with photographer David Doubilet into hidden Edens from the heart of the coral triangle in Raja Ampat, Indonesia to Africa’s Okavango Delta, where seasonal floodwaters transform a desert into flowing rivers filled with crocodiles, hippos and a lily forest. Considered the world’s leading underwater photographer, Doubilet has introduced a generation to the mystery and wonder of the deep, photographing coral reefs, historic shipwrecks, ocean predators and exotic marine creatures for more than 70 stories for National Geographic. For David Doubilet’s official website, click here.

January 22, 2013: http://www.strazcenter.org/Events/1213_Nat_Geo_Live_Speaker_Series/Secret_Edens_with_underwater_photographer_David_Do.aspx

(photos from National Geographic’s website)

Flight deal by fly.com: NYC to Tel Aviv, Israel

August 6, 2012

Today, fly.com posted a special for roundtrip flights NYC to Tel Aviv for $335-350 after taxes and fees.  Normally, this ticket would go for about $1,000+.  They had dates available ranging from November to February and as predicted, the special sold out within two hours.

My sister is in Bahrain right now so I thought maybe this would be a good chance to get a ticket to go see her.  But by time I factor in 200+ to get to/from NYC and then also Tel Aviv is still a long ways away from where she is.  I’d meet her either in Bahrain or Dubai which is another $600+ ticket.  So all in all, it would cost over $1,000 to piece together the ticket and it’s still so far away it’s too early for me to begin planning.  I’m hoping to visit her in December or January after I graduate from school.


Sorry to neglect you, blog

August 6, 2012

I took a short break from writing on my blog this summer because I was taking a tough summer of courses.  Well, the summer term is over so now it’s time to catch up…


Practical Traveler: Up Close, but Doing No Harm

June 26, 2012

The New York Time’s Practical Traveler series posted this article last week about eco-friendly traveling.  The article advises on things to look for when considering an eco-friendly trip and has three examples of programs around the world that meet this criteria.  They discuss an elephant camp in Thailand, visiting Ecuadoran villages, and adventure travel in Costa Rica.

“While tourism is a vital source of income for many developing countries, it can also result in pollution, deforestation, inefficient energy use and cultural exploitation,” said Ronald Sanabria, vice president of sustainable tourism at the Rainforest Alliance, an environmental group based in New York. The best sustainable tourism businesses not only recycle, conserve water and energy, and use locally produced goods, they also hire local employees, support community projects and preserve cultural heritage.

Link: http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/travel/up-close-but-doing-no-harm-while-traveling.html?ref=travel

Budget Travel: Beautiful Sacred Places

June 16, 2012

This piece by Budget Travel highlights 10 natural sites around the World and gives some insight into the history of each place.  There are different components to the overall piece including a slideshow of one or two pictures of each site and an in-depth article describing each site and giving information on the best way to get there.  Be sure to check out the two links below to get the full scope.

When we modern folks visit a beautiful natural site, the experience may evoke a sense of peace, a feeling of awe…or just the need to snap a million photos. For our ancient forbearers, though, these places were so much more. Throughout history, civilizations all over the globe have attached spiritual or religious importance to natural spots that played key roles in their respective cultures. From the mythological homes of powerhouse gods like Zeus and Shiva to the serene spot where the mortal Buddha achieved enlightenment, these are the places of legends. Some are still used for age-old rituals, others have been lost to time, but all crackle with a special energy and, if you’re lucky, just a little bit of leftover magic…


Article: http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/sacred-places-vacation-ideas,8497/

Slideshow: http://www.budgettravel.com/slideshow/photos-worlds-most-sacred-places,8479/