D•CURVE Snowboard Goggles

D Curve women’s snowboard goggles pink and teal.

D•CURVE Women’s Snowboard Goggles

I wanted to not like these goggles. Shallow, I know, as the reasons for not wanting to like them were… the name—D Curve. And the branding—not my jam. See? Shallow. But not really—I’m someone who embraces fashion and style as a means of expression (of the self, of the body, of politics and voice and femme-ness) and resistance.

Also, however superficial, names and branding are how we gravitate towards or repel from a known quantity. How we come to self-identify and align with a thing, at least initially. I mean, chances are D Curve is not all about the name Eat Gold Snow, nor our photo shoot with Lisa Left Eye (Lisa’s the sweet chicken here, and she had been missing her left eye for years… until she fucking grew it back). And that’s fine. Celebrating our differences is important.

BUT. And this is a huge but. Like a “180 degree turnaround but’“ in which I say: I was wrong and/or I stand corrected. The women’s snowboard goggles I tested out from D Curve were phenomenal. I couldn’t not like them.

The Scoop On These High Quality Women’s Snowboard Goggles From D•CURVE

I love it when I assume one thing, and then come to experience a different story. It’s like when you judge the man in the MAGA hat standing in line at the DMV, and then actually start a human conversation with him and come to find out that, indeed, he is a real person with a heart and feelings and thoughts. And he practices watercolor in the evenings after laboring on the farm all day. Neither of you have to agree with one another’s politics in order to acknowledge that you’re both alive, both valid, both wading through this weird thing called life.

Basically, I judged these high quality women’s snowboard goggles, hard, before ever getting to know them. And I am very happy to have had my doubts squashed and my assumptions dismantled. No, the branding still isn’t for me. But, I don’t fucking care. Having snowboard goggles that I can see crisply and clearly out of, without peripheral hindrance or fogging or any of the other drawbacks usually associated with snowboard goggles, is more than fine by me.

With UV+ eye protection (Nastek P3 lens technology that protects against UVA, UVB, UVC, and harmful blue light), antimicrobial foam that’s (holy shit) removable, washable, reusable and replaceable, and pricing that’s not trying to crush you, D Curve ‘s snowboard goggles for women are very worth it. Ever have a pair of snowboard goggles long enough to where the foam either starts disintegrating or leaving your skin feeling dirty after every wear? Yeah, somehow D Curve is offering washable, replaceable foam. Which is almost unheard of. Nice work, DC.

D Curve Nuptse 133 women’s snowboard goggles

A Little More About D•CURVE & Their Women’s Snowboard Goggle Lineup

While Andrew, the owner of D Curve, sent Gold Snow four sets of women’s snowboard goggles to test run, I was most drawn to the pink and teal versions of the Nuptse 133. Their minimalist frames and color-ways are aesthetically closer to the styles I most like in other goggle brands, and they fit oh so nicely on the face. A lot better than the big-name goggles I’ve ridden over the years. And with my Giro Ledge MIPS snowboard helmet, there was no gaper gap. In fact, there were no gaps at all. The face/foam/frame relationship was seamless.

Clarity and line of sight were also unexpectedly crystalline and unrestricted. I could see lines through the trees, and look down and up, without the frame a constant reminder my peripheral vision. I even cried in these goggles, and they stayed as clear as the night sky full of stars in winter. Once I stopped crying that is.

A final note on the maker and the name of these women’s snowboard goggles.

Except for a few email exchanges, I do not personally know Andrew, the owner of D Curve. I did, however, appreciate his ability to humor me, even joke a little, when I inquired about the name. Here’s what he has to say about the meaning behind D Curve:

  • It’s where 2 leading edges intersect on an airplane wing. (Aeronautics, cool)
  • It refers to the double-lens curve on our signature goggles, which creates a thermal barrier that reduces fogging and enhances your peripheral view. (The double curve is real, folx! Like a double rainbow I felt it!)
  • It’s slang for parts of the human anatomy. (THIS is where my mind went. And still goes. Oh, well.)
D Curve women’s snowboard goggles

By Laura Winberry

Colorado has 53 mountains over 14,000 feet with an additional five summits that make most peakbaggers’ 14ers rosters (the rule is that mountain tops must have 300 vertical feet of prominence between neighboring summits). While they are all scenic, some are less-than-wonderful to scale: rotten rock, tedious boulder fields, and private land ownership issues make some of the Colorado's highest peaks a chore.

So when it comes to selecting the best 14ers to ascend, the journey is every bit as important as the destination. These ten summits range from simple hill walks to thrillingly exposed class 4 scrambles and they embody some of the most enjoyable, challenging mountain adventures in Colorado.

1. Mount Elbert – ** 14,433 feet – Class 2**

From the summit, Twin Lakes, and Pikes Peak on the horizon.
From the summit, Twin Lakes, and Pikes Peak on the horizon.

Michael W. Murphy

Colorado’s highest summit is a grandfatherly gentle giant, at least by Rocky Mountains standards. Elbert’s large, rounded dome is easily accessed by several trails, all of which begin in vanilla-scented pine forests and emerge from treeline with stunning views of the Sawatch Range. That’s not to say it’s a walk in the park — there’s a matter of 4,400 feet of elevation gain over 4.5 miles to deal with — but the paths are well maintained and easy to follow. Reach the top and you’ll be in the heart of the highest mountain range in the lower 48 US states.

2. Capitol Peak – ** 14,130 feet – Class 4**

The famous knife edge on Capitol Peak.
The famous knife edge on Capitol Peak.

James Dziezynski

Amongst the most challenging 14ers, Capitol is tough for the right reasons — solid rock, heart-in-your-throat exposure and tricky but fair route finding. It’s an 18 mile round trip to complete this epic journey — and that’s part of the joy. A long approach along Capitol Creek passes through gorgeous aspen forests and ends at Capitol Lake, where the real work begins. After navigating a steep pass, honest class 4 rock makes for a spectacular path to the summit, including the notorious knife edge traverse. Savvy climbers know the top is only the half-way point — the way down is just as fun and demanding as the ascent.

3. San Luis Peak –** 14,014 feet – Class 2**

On the approach to San Luis Peak on a cloudless day.
On the approach to San Luis Peak on a cloudless day.

James Dziezynski

San Luis Peak is located in a remote portion of the San Juan Mountains near the town of Gunnison, Colorado — almost smack dab in the middle of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Its isolation is part of its charm. A summer venture to San Luis follows several peaceful creeks and the area is regularly festooned with a vibrant field of wildflowers. Views are expansive throughout the adventure and as the alpine grasses yield to the rocky terrain of the summit block, the trail remains in tact and easy to navigate. The summit views are pristine, rolling and nearly absent of any man-made landmarks.

4. Crestone Needle – ** 14,197 feet – Class 3**

Crestone needle Colorado
Scrambling on Crestone Needle.

James Dziezynski

Crestone Needle is a stunning mountain to behold and a vexing peak to navigate. Despite sporting a well-worn trail to its upper reaches, the rocky gullies that offer passage to the summit are easily confused. However, the knobby stones that make up the hide of the peak are impressively solid, and the standard scramble to the top is arguably the best in the state. Vigilant navigation will unlock the secrets of the Needle’s imposing passage — one nearly all climbers brag about after the experience.

5. Longs Peak – ** 14,255 feet – Class 3**

Hiking the narrows on Longs Peak.
Hiking the narrows on Longs Peak.

James Dziezynski

Longs is far and away the most popular difficult 14er — most climbers would put it around the 10th most challenging summit on the list. Yes, there will be crowds and only 50% of those who attempt Longs make its broad, flat summit. But the adventure of this Front Range classic is without peer. After a long 5.5-mile approach, hikers go through the magical Keyhole rock feature and enter a new world of dark rock bands, steep scrambles, narrow ledges and a wild crawl to the final summit. Despite over 14 miles on the round trip standard route, most people will attempt this burly mountain in a single day.

6. Blanca Peak – ** 14,345 feet – Class 2**

Blanca Peak.
Blanca Peak.

pdsphill

A trip to Blanca Peak is as much about the approach as it is the actual peak. At the foot of this impressive massif are the great dunes of Sand Dunes National Park (a feature easily admired from the summit on a clear day). Hikers must travel through a wonderful shift of eco-systems, starting with desert-like tundra all the way to lush, alpine lakes. A rocky, rugged trail to the top brings hikers to the ultimate view of all the landscapes they have traversed along the way — not to mention contrasting vistas of gentle farmland and the rugged summits of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

7. Windom Peak – ** 14,082 feet – Class 2**

The summit blocks on Windom Peak.
The summit blocks on Windom Peak.

James Dziezynski

Windom is one of a trio of officially ranked 14ers (and one unofficial summit, North Eolus) in Chicago Basin. Its neighboring 14ers — Sunlight Peak and Eolus Peak — are class 4 and 3 ascents respectively, so modest Windom sits alone as the “everyman” mountain in the area. What makes this one a true classic is the access — most often done by the coal-powered train that runs along the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Midway through the adventure, hikers disembark into the mountain-goat friendly San Juan mountains. Windom itself is a steep climb, accented by blocky boulders and easy scrambles. While easier than its counterparts, it may have the best views and the most enjoyable route to the top.

8. Uncompahgre Peak – ** 14,309 feet – Class 2**

Uncompahgre Peak's distinct profile.
Uncompahgre Peak's distinct profile.

James Dziezynski

Uncompahgre’s famous sinking-ship profile is flanked by rolling fields of deep green grass and patches of colorful wild flowers. Because it is located in the San Juan range, it tends to get more rain than northern and central peaks, meaning it is awash in color. Trails to the summit travel along long, expansive meadows and fun, scrambly corridors. Atop the peak, nearby 14er Wetterhorn Peak cuts a crooked profile and southwestern hues of yellow, bronze and orange stripe the landscape in amazing relief.

9. Pyramid Peak – ** 14,018 feet – Class 3/4**

Traversing below the Green Gully on Pyramid Peak.
Traversing below the Green Gully on Pyramid Peak. James Dziezynski

Pyramid Peak may not be as scenic from a distance as its neighbors, the iconic, beautiful Maroon Bells , but up close it’s quite a treat. Whereas the twin summits of North and South Maroon peaks are made up of crumbly, unreliable rock, Pyramid is made of slightly sterner stuff. The upshot is a solid scramble that is less unpredictable and stays along a path that minimizes exposure (though there are a few spots that will get your attention). Handholds and footholds are always available and the summit is often shared with resident mountain goats, who make scaling the cliffs of Pyramid Peak seem way too easy.

10. Huron Peak – ** 14,003 feet – Class 2**

Descending Huron Peak.
Descending Huron Peak.

James Dziezynski

The final 14er in this list is cut from the classic, mountainous contour of the Rockies — a high, triangular peak that juts into the clouds. Huron has one of the best trails to any summit in the state. As it runs through pine forests and into broad, alpine meadows, views of nearby Sawatch Peaks and Hope Pass are pure Colorado. In the autumn, the colors in this area are a photographer’s dream. The last section of the trail to the top has a few easy scrambles that politely lead climbers away from from the drafty edges of the peak. Summit views are of course glorious, especially for those ambitious enough to catch a sunrise or sunset from the apex of Huron Peak.

Written by James Dziezynski for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by James Dziezynski

A healthy body is one of the most valuable assets you can have. With proper exercise and nutrition, you can wake up every day feeling more vibrant than ever before. While maintaining your health can be easy, getting started is much more challenging. If you want to have the body you always dreamed of, make sure you avoid these 5 common excuses.

I Don’t Have Time for Exercise

When you’re looking into a fitness program, you’ll see plenty of people that dedicate hours to the gym every day. But there is a big difference between being a body builder and making a few healthy changes to your lifestyle. Even though it’s hard to balance your family, your career, and your personal time, everyone can find the time to squeeze in a little workout into their day. All it takes is a very small change in your lifestyle such as walking to work or going for a twenty-minute run. While this won’t take much extra time, you’ll surely notice a major difference.

I Don’t Know How to do The Workouts

There is no doubt that some of the exercises take the time to learn the proper form and procedure. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get started today. There are plenty of fitness guides that give you step by step directions on how to properly complete a workout. There are so many resources available, that not knowing where to get started is a poor excuse.

Healthy Food is Too Expensive

Walking through the aisles of Whole Foods can make you feel as if healthy eating is a luxury reserved only for the wealthy. But you don’t have to eat only locally sourced organic foods to make a healthy change in your diet. Getting the nutrients your body needs can actually be much more inexpensive than eating pre-made, processed foods. When you shop carefully, eating well can cost the same as buying junk food, and you’ll save plenty of money on healthcare in the future.

I Don’t Have the Right Body Type

Sure, not everyone can look like a supermodel. But that doesn’t mean that health is out of your reach. No matter what type of body you have, you can always strive to be healthier. There are hundreds of examples of people who have gone from severely overweight to slim and happy in as little as a few years. The most important thing is to take that first step, and you’ll find that everything else comes naturally.

Results Take Too Long

The important thing here is to decide what you consider results. When many people first start working out, they don’t see themselves losing weight right away. But muscle weighs more than fat. Although the numbers on their scales stay the same, they’re actually losing a lot of fat while getting stronger and healthier. When you first start to make healthy choices, you can start feeling better within a week. Start with small goals. Try your new lifestyle for a day. Then two days. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier.

Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Djim Loic

A long distance hiking path is typically defined as anything that takes longer than one or two days to complete. Well, what if we took that idea one (to five million) steps further and proposed a list of 10 of the world’s most epic long distance backpacking trips longer than 500-miles? Sure, we’d leave off quite a few amazing hikes across the globe, but we’d be left with a list of some of the most insanely beautiful, geographically intoxicating, culturally stimulating, and physically demanding treks this planet has to offer.

Note: We’re not responsible for any ensuing desire for adventure or debilitating sense of wanderlust.

1. Appalachian Trail

First, one that you’ve all probably heard of: the Appalachian Trail. The AT is a classic American walk in the woods, stretching 2,185 miles from lowly old Springer Mountain in Georgia to the grandiose summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Along the way, hikers pass through 14 states, 8 National Forests, 2 National Parks, and countless rural resupply points. This ancient mountain range, once the size of the Himalayas, has since been weathered and whittled down over time. But hiking the entire route is still equivalent to summiting Everest 16 times; so don’t underestimate this sleeping giant.

2. Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,663 miles of diverse and epic hiking, which begins in the desert and follows the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges through California, Oregon, and Washington. It passes through some of this country’s most spectacular parks and wilderness areas, including Yosemite, John Muir, Crater Lake, and Goat Rocks. The trail itself is graded for horses, meaning that hikers can typically bag high mileage days. But lack of water and infrequent resupply points pose their own set of inherent challenges.

3. Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail is a transcontinental route, which stretches 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the craggy spine of the Rocky Mountains. While technically considered only about 70% complete, there are still a handful of hearty adventurers who set out each year to conquer what many consider to be the toughest leg of the US Hiking Triple Crown (the other two legs being the AT and the PCT). The CDT is a rugged trek with high elevations, exposure to the elements, and wildlife hazards, yet the wild western landscapes are truly jaw dropping.

4. Greater Patagonian Trail

This trail is so underdeveloped, isolated, rigorous, and remote that only a few hikers have ever attempted it, never mind completed it. Requiring just as much orienteering, map reading, and logistical planning as actual physical endurance and hiking, this roughly 800 mile route, comprised of horse trails, local paths, country roads, and even pack-raft river sections, traverses the Patagonian Andes along the border of Chile and Argentina. It is an unofficial route in its early infancy, but the pristine natural beauty of this region will surely attract intrepid backpackers in the years to come.

5. Grand Italian Trail

For a whopping 3,832 miles, the Sentiero Italia (or Grand Italian Trail) extends from the Northeastern port town of Trieste, into the Alps, and all the way down the Apennine spine of the Italian peninsula, before island hopping to Sicily and then Sardinia. The subalpine scenery along much of this route is simply spectacular, featuring jagged peaks, glacial tarns, and gouged out valleys. Add to that the bonus of quaint hamlets and ancient Roman history, and you’ve got yourself a bella formula. Oh, and of course, carbo-loading will never be a problem.

6. Wales Coast Path

Officially established in 2012 as the world’s only footpath to cover an entire country’s coastline, the Wales Coast Path is an 870-mile trek that combines some of the UK’s most romantic aspects. As it snakes its way up the shore, along coastal cliffs and verdant hillsides, past medieval castles, and through sleepy seaside towns, hikers get to experience the magic of this area in a truly intimate way. Just imagine wrapping up a rain-soaked 20-mile day with a bowl of warm lamb stew and a porter at a small local pub.

7. Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail

One of the only officially documented sections of the proposed Great Himalaya Trail, the GHT High Route in Nepal is a roughly 1050 mile trek scaling the world’s highest peaks from the eastern edge of the country to the western border with Tibet. Hiking this trail is a demanding adventure requiring mountaineering experience and roughly five months of time, but the rewards of passing through rarely visited villages, reaching some of the planet’s highest altitudes, and sleeping under unfathomably starry skies makes it an unforgettable experience.

8. Great Wall of China

Didn’t expect this one, did you? Sure, the Great Wall of China has sections that are jam-packed with khaki-clad tourists, but this celebrated structure also has some very remote sections with rarely seen beauty, including deserts, mountains, bamboo forests, and more. Government restrictions, time requirements, extreme weather conditions, and the sheer enormity of this 5,500-mile trek across China makes a thru-hike an extremely obstacle-laden adventure, but if the Mongols and other nomadic tribes could overcome their barrier to entry, so can you.

9. Tokai Nature Trail

Japan is increasingly becoming a world-class place to recreate. With its mountainous terrain, powder-packed ski destinations, and unprecedented biodiversity, it’s only natural that there should be a long distance trail. And the Tokai Nature Trail fits the bill. Running 1,054 miles from Tokyo to Osaka, this generally level and easy footpath takes hikers past iconic Mt. Fuji, through Imperial gardens with cherry blossoms and Japanese maples, and along fertile hillsides, lush wetlands, and hollowed out river canyons.

10. Te Araroa

Ah, the Te Araroa Trail (Maori for the Long Pathway). Obviously, any long distance footpath that’s located in New Zealand is always going to make the list — especially one that so fully encompasses the diverse natural beauty of both islands. Beginning at Cape Reinga in the north and winding 1,864 miles to Stirling Point in the south, this trail almost has too much to savor. Beaches lined with seals and penguins, impossibly lush rainforests, frequently active volcanoes, precipitous mountains, and electric blue glacial lakes. To coin a local Kiwi phrase, this trail is truly “Sweet As!”

Written by Ry Glover for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by David Evans

Skywalker Couloir

Mid- to late spring is prime time for Colorado’s snowy couloirs (“couloir” is a term of French origin that refers to the deep, often steep gullies that cut into a mountain). While avalanche danger isn’t completely gone, the warmer conditions and prolonged sun exposure in spring stabilizes snow fields, making them much less likely to slide. When conditions are at their best, climbers are treated to literally thousands of vertical feet of accommodating snow, perfect for kicking in crampons, thus creating a personal staircase to the summit. And for lower-angle couloirs, the heat of the afternoon sun can soften conditions enough to enjoy an exciting glissade (sliding on your butt) down the length of the gully.

If the prospect of challenging these ephemeral snow lines appeals to you, read on to learn how to get started in this exciting method of scaling the mountains.

1. Take a class on snow climbing.

Dead Dog Couloir Torreys Peak
A climber nearing the end of the Dead Dog Couloir on Torreys Peak.

James Dziezynski

Not to sound like a crummy commercial, but solid knowledge is a critical part of snow climbing. Doing it right will improve your decision-making and help keep you safer in the process. Despite being a rather straightforward sport, the gear, techniques, and ability to read snow are all important aspects of a successful adventure. Both the Colorado Mountain School and Colorado Mountain Club offer excellent, affordable classes. Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills remains the benchmark publication for those looking to read up on mountaineering skills.

2. Master the self-arrest.

Using an ice axe (more on those below) to stop a fall is the single most important skill to master for climbing snow couloirs. Stopping a slide with confidence will give climbers an edge in nearly every terrain and situation. Make sure you are using the correct hand position so that you can roll over into the snow and drive the pick in while kicking your feet. Sounds easy? Try it when you are sliding headfirst on your back with a heavy pack or desperately trying to to catch a crampon spike—or worst of all, trying to stop on hard snow or ice. Practice makes perfect: St. Marys Glacier has a year-round snowfield that is a great place to practice self arresting.

3. Start very early.

Snow couloirs are not for the lazy. You should plan to be at the base of your gully before sunrise, which often means either camping out or starting your hike in pre-dawn (also known as the “alpine start”). Early morning snow tends to be firm and consistent, whereas mid-morning and afternoon snow can turn into a slushy mess. Add to that the inevitable thunderstorms that brew daily in the mountains after noon, and you have all the more reason to get out early.

4. Know the forecast.

When aiming for a snow climb, you’ll need to know the normal forecast conditions: rain, lightning, and snow. With snow climbs, however, you want to pay attention to the overnight lows to gauge how well consolidated the morning snow will be, as well as wind conditions. Winds can form dangerous cornices that can break into a couloir as well as amplify avalanche conditions (which are still a slight but possible danger). It’s also good to factor the forecast into your descent. Some couloirs you head back down, while other mountains offer easy walk-offs.

5. Learn to place gear.

Not all snow climbs require ropes and protection, especially those at a slope of 40 degrees or less. But steeper climbs, mixed terrain, and hard snow can all warrant placing protective pieces and using a rope. Some climbs will have placements for traditional rock climbing gear, but in many cases you’ll be placing snow pickets and snow flukes, which are buried in the snow. Besides gear, it’s also worth knowing how to build a safe snow bollard, which is a natural anchor made by looping a rope around a round of carved-out snow.

6. Get comfortable with your crampons.

Approaching the Juliet Couloir on Mount Neva.
Approaching the Juliet Couloir on Mount Neva.

James Dziezynski

Crampons are essential to maintaining good grip in the snow, and let's face it: Walking around with sharp metal spikes on your feet is a pretty cool feeling. But crampons are also good at shredding your pants and getting caught and twisting your legs in all sorts of unfortunate angles. And more than one climber has kicked a front point directly into the rope. Learning to use your crampons is key to efficient climbing and this includes being able to put them on and take them off without taking too long—the last place you want to be fumbling with metal spikes is when a lightning storm is closing in.

7. Glissade like a pro.

Not all snow climbs are suited for glissading but when they are, it’s a ton of fun. Using your ice axe as a rudder, a controlled slide can make hundreds of feet of descent go by in seconds. Make sure the slope isn’t too steep, there is a safe run out, and you (and your partners) are in control. Glissading is also a great reason to buy snow pants with a reinforced butt, as spring corn snow can shred nylon (and your skin) with ease.

8. Sometimes, no rope is better.

As mentioned, lesser-angle couloirs can be safer and quicker without a rope. While climbers should be proficient with ropes, it’s also good to know when to leave them in your pack and head up unencumbered. The best conditions for no rope climbing, besides low angle slopes, are soft snow that is easy to self arrest in or shorter, less demanding couloirs.

9. Know the difference between axes.

Snow axes aren’t to be confused with ice axes. Ice axes are shorter, usually curved tools that are used in technical, vertical ice climbing. Snow axes are designed for travel on snow, across glaciers, and couloir climbs—in other words, all-around mountaineering. The length and weight of your snow axe is important (you can learn more about axes here ). One common mistake in Colorado is purchasing a snow axe of the correct length that is superlight or has a small pick and adze. While these axes are good in some applications, they can be too light and flimsy to really bite into snow during a self-arrest. Consider purchasing a snow axe that is burly enough to really grip in a pinch.

10. Pick a good place to start.

An inviting line on the Goatfinger Couloir on Mount Edwards.
An inviting line on the Goatfinger Couloir on Mount Edwards.

James Dziezynski

One of the best books for snow climbs is Dave Cooper’s Colorado Snow Climbs . If you’re looking for some of the better beginner routes (which are still serious undertakings), consider the Queen’s Way Couloir on Apache Peak (Indian Peaks), the Crooked Couloir on Mount Audubon (Indian Peaks), Edwardian Couloir on Mount Edwards (Front Range), or Lost Rat Couloir on Grays Peak (Front Range). For intermediate climbs, consider the Dragon’s Tail on Flattop Mountain (Rocky Mountain National Park, Front Range), Skywalker Couloir on South Arapahoe Peak (Indian Peaks), Dead Dog on Torreys Peak (Front Range), or the Juliet Couloir on Mount Neva (Indian Peaks).

Written by James Dziezynski for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by James Dziezynski

Columbine, by D•CURVE Optics

We’re fortunate to live in a small mountain town that boasts awesome hiking trails out our back door, and a 7-mile paved trail along the river that’s perfect for a mellow bike ride. So it’s not unusual for my husband and me to spend time in both places — on the same day.

I’m somewhat of a minimalist, so I look for outdoor gear that can take me seamlessly from one activity to the next. The good (and bad) news is that there’s a lot to choose from these days. To make it easier, I’ve come up with 3 cross-over essentials, whether I’m in my hiking boots or on my bicycle. Here they are:

1. Healthy snacks

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Healthy snacks aren’t gear.” But if you’re prone to low-blood sugar like I am, you don’t underestimate the importance of having some noshing goodies on hand. There are a lot of energy food and drinks branded separately for cyclists and for hikers. But I’ve found that my essential healthy snacks for both activities can be broken down into to what I like to eat, what’s easy to carry in my pack (see #2), and what won’t melt in the hot sun. My current go-to snacks include raw almonds, dried apricots, and BoBo’s oat bars.

2. Hydration pack

In addition to being preoccupied by food, I am a water-drinking junkie. So it’s super important to make sure I have enough of the precious liquid close at hand during all my outdoor activities. Although my bicycle is equipped with a couple of water bottle cages, I prefer using a small backpack with a bladder. It’s much easier to drink from, plus it gives me a place to store the ever-important snacks (see #1). As for the cross-over piece, a good hydration pack will work just as well for a short day hike. I really love my small hydration pack from Osprey.

3. Sunglasses

No matter the activity, you can’t beat a good pair of shades. It can be hard to choose the right ones because there are so many options, but I have a checklist here, too. First, I prefer polarized sunglasses because of the reduced glare and enhanced visibility they provide. Next, I look for a style that will sit comfortably below my brimmed bicycle helmet and the various ball caps I wear hiking. And finally, I like a pair that is stylish enough to wear post-hiking or biking. My current faves are the Columbine from D·CURVE Optics because they fit all three criteria.

What outdoor activities do you participate in and what’s your favorite cross-over gear? We’d love to know. Please share your thoughts and comments below.

20180117_Desert Runners Movie

In the dead of winter, the desire to get outside can be tempered by sub-zero temperatures and the lure of a cozy couch. But there’s no better cure for stoking your adrenaline and getting after it—no matter how chilly it is—than being inspired by others doing just that. To that end, here are our picks for 10 gripping, critically acclaimed outdoor documentaries that each tell a remarkable story about the outdoors and the adventurers, athletes, and environmental icons who run, climb, race, and row their way to glory (most can be streamed on Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu). Grab the popcorn and get ready to get inspired (and then outside).

1. Desert Runners

Desert Runners, which was released in 2013, follows a group of amateur runners as they attempt to complete the 4 Deserts race series, one of the most difficult endurance series in the world, in one year. The races take place over the course of 155 grueling miles in the Gobi, Sahara, and Atacama deserts, with the final race in Antarctica. Runners compete over the course of several consecutive days, sleeping at designated camps and slogging on the next day. You’ll have a newfound appreciation for gear like gaiters that keep sand out of shoes and feel intensely connected to the featured runners.

2. Unbranded

Wild mustangs have become a political and social symbol of land management in the American West. To call attention to their treatment and management, as well as the future of the public lands where they roam, four college buddies adopted and trained 16 wild mustangs from a BLM adoption program, before packing them across 3,000 miles of public land from Mexico to Canada. Their ambitious quest is documented in this compelling 2015 film which is beautifully filmed across stunning landscapes and highlights the important narrative of how government is working to manage wild horse populations, shrinking public lands, and seasonal livestock grazing.

3. 180 Degrees South

Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard has been a prominent figure in the outdoor industry since the company’s inception and is seeing renewed relevance with his public disapproval of today’s political climate. Which makes it an excellent time to revisit this 2010 film, which follows adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the 1968 journey to Patagonia of Chouinard and conservationist and outdoorsman Doug Tompkins. Chouinard’s tale is told through scenes of his initial inspiration, and the environmental story is more relevant than ever. More than the history of a company and entrepreneur, the film weaves modern-day adventure with Chouinard’s rise to become a prolific and important environmental advocate.

4. Maidentrip

By the time she was 16, Dutch high school student Laura Dekker had become the youngest person to sail around the world alone, completing the journey over the course of 17 months. The feat is mindboggling, but the real joy is watching Dekker’s transformation—a time-lapse coming-of-age on a 38-foot boat. The 2013 film also covers the drama unfolding in her native Netherlands as the media labeled her delusional, and the government took partial custody in an attempt to prevent the trip.

5. Valley Uprising

Valley Uprising, which was released in 2014, spans the 60-year history of climbing in Yosemite. Anyone familiar with the history of climbing will love seeing icons like Royal Robbins, Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold, Dean Potter, and the other colorful characters who pioneered the scaling of Yosemite’s big walls, and then took it to the next level. The film focuses on the three generations of counter-culture outdoorsmen who set up camp in the Valley and, much to the dismay of law enforcement, transformed the big wall landscape into what it is today.

6. Meru

World-famous photographer Jimmy Chin’s compelling film, which won the coveted U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of climbers Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk, and Chin as the trio attempts the first ascent of Meru’s notorious “Shark’s Fin.” After a failed attempt in 2008, the three men are determined to return and conquer this peak, and the film delves into the near obsession the world’s most elite mountaineers face as they tackle these death-defying expeditions.

7. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats its Young

Starting out as a backwoods run loosely based on the 1977 escape of James Earl Ray from a state penitentiary, this now-famous race fills its 40 slots within a day of registration opening. Boasting only 20 finishers in the first 25 years, the race consists of five loops totaling (supposedly) 100 miles through the woods of Pennsylvania. The course is so challenging that racers are given a 60-hour deadline, and each loop has more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain. The documentary, which came out in 2015, is a hysterical peek into the grueling absurdity of the race and the dedication of the joyfully suffering runners.

8. Finding Traction

Released in 2014, Finding Traction follows this ultrarunner as she sets out to break the speed record on Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. The effort is grueling to watch as the cameras capture the highs and lows of this extreme endurance undertaking. The Long Trail is brutal at any pace, with exposed peaks, roots and boulders strewn across the trail, and sections so steep they require ladders. Kimball is an inspiration, as are her efforts to help women assume their equal place in professional sports across the board.

9. Under an Arctic Sky

Think surfing was limited to coasts lined with palm trees and warm sandy beaches? This 2017 film follows six intrepid (insane?) surfers as they travel to the northern coast of Iceland in the middle of winter in search of perfect waves. This region sees only three hours of daylight during the winter months, which would make for enough of a story, until the worst storm in 25 years hits and turns their excursion life-threatening.

10. Made to Be Broken

In 2016, Karl Meltzer broke the supported Appalachian Trail speed record after making it from Maine to Georgia on foot in under 46 days. This 2017 documentary follows Meltzer on his 2,189-mile journey, and he’s a real kick to watch. A superb athlete who doesn’t take himself too seriously, Meltzer is entertaining and self-deprecating—and falls down a lot. Red Bull, which produced this film, did a phenomenal job telling the story of this personable, quirky, and altogether astounding athlete from start to finish.

Written by RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Desert Runners Movie

20170427 Hungover Hiking 0030

I haven’t even put my truck into park before Derek swings the door open and jumps out. He post-holes his way through knee-deep snow over to the tree line and doubles over, retching into the pines. The trailhead hurl has become something of a tradition for Derek. The rest of us barely acknowledge it. We’re dealing with our own demons.

As I see it, this problem begins at home. Specifically, the distance between home and the trailhead. We live in Chicago, and that means driving great distances to get to our destinations for any true wilderness trip. We can’t just gear up after breakfast and be on the trail by 10AM.

The nearest wilderness area is 6 hours away.

Getting to the backcountry requires driving up and finding local accommodations the night before. That means there’s time to kill that evening, and the default method for the killing of said time is… to drink.

Among our group of friends, the “Hike-In Hangover” has become as much a part of our wilderness adventures as GoreTex or freeze-dried food. Whether we killed a growler of Founders around a campfire the night before a Manistee River paddling trip, or bar-crawled our way through Marquette, Michigan the night before snowshoeing into the Ottawa National Forest, it’s inevitable that most of us will wake up that first morning with some degree of regret. Sure, we still want to get close to nature—even if this sometimes means lying down on the cool ground and staying very, very still.

The Hike-in Hangover seems to get worse with age. And since simply “making better choices” is not in the cards, I will instead take a mature, scientific approach to this problem.

I’ve tapped the expertise of two qualified experts in the field: My friend and long-time drinking buddy, Dr. Michael Sullivan MD—a family practitioner and avid outdoorsman living in Watertown, Wisconsin; and Morgan Delaney—a fellow backcountry enthusiast and professional bartender at Spotted Bear Spirits, a community-minded craft distillery in Whitefish, Montana. Their shared wisdom might just be the tonic we’re all looking for.

4u9J4KMGGsoyMY4cGoAs6i
Bleary-eyed hiking in the North Carolina High Country.

Evan Castellano

Plenty has been written about hangover remedies. But, specifically for the outdoor adventurer, is there an approach that you’d recommend?

Dr. Mike: “As a physician, I obviously must warn against excessive alcohol consumption. Men should keep intake to 2 drinks daily. Women should keep this to 1.5 servings daily. The best approach to hiking with a hangover is avoiding a hangover in the first place.”

Bartender Morgan: “Chasing every drink with a tall glass of water – it won't kill your buzz, but it will make you a happier, more hydrated skier the next day.”

Are sports drinks any better than just drinking water?

Dr. Mike: “Water is always a good choice. Sports drinks can be better when you plan to be active, since you’ve depleted not only calories, but electrolytes.”

Bartender Morgan: “Sports drinks have a lot of sugar, so I find it is best to chase them with water. And then a shot of bourbon.” 

What about coffee?

Dr. Mike: “If you regularly consume coffee, skipping it may add to your hangover symptoms, like headache and shakes. However, I’d recommend consuming only a cup or two. Since coffee is irritating to the stomach and dehydrates, try to avoid.”

Bartender Morgan: “In the backcountry, coffee can be a blessing and a curse. It helps get camp broken down quickly, and gets you on the trail… But it is a diuretic.”

RBlJun9MaIWckSGgqmg6q
Did someone in this photo just make a beer toot? It's likely. Very, very likely.

Evan Castellano

Do bready carbs help soak up alcohol?

Dr. Mike: “Carbohydrates do not ‘soak up’ the alcohol. But carbs are a good source of fast calories, and their bland nature tends to be easy on the gut. Since we are calorie deprived and our stomach is inflamed, carbs are typically a good choice for the day after.”

Bartender Morgan: “Whip me up some biscuits and gravy, flap jacks, eggs, and a side of bacon. But don't expect me to go anywhere the rest of the day.”

That’s the perfect segue into the ‘greasy food’ approach? A good idea before hiking or paddling with a hangover?

Dr. Mike: “The scientific answer is no. Going back to the idea of alcohol causing inflammation and irritation in the stomach, greasy foods are not recommended for a hangover, especially if you’re planning a 6-hour canoe or kayak trip. Let alone the availability of reliable facilities!”

Bartender Morgan: “Again, you want to be mindful of the weight you are carrying with you, be it on your back or in your bowels.  Once you hit the trails, dehydration and a heavy belly will make for a slow hiker.”

What about pain meds?

Dr. Mike: “In general, it is okay to take OTC pain relievers, but it’s important to avoid acetaminophen, as this is broken down by the liver and potentially toxic. Not a good idea considering you’ve just stressed your liver with alcohol.”

Bartender Morgan: “The best medicines to carry are Aspirin and, for those living in states where it's legal, cannabis.”

A big thing now is Pedialyte. Thoughts?

Dr. Mike: “Pedialyte is along the same lines as sports drinks. It has sugar and electrolytes which, again, you are depleted of. But I would strongly question a person who would bring Pedialyte on a backpacking or kayaking trip.”

Bartender Morgan: “Pedialyte is best utilized for the really bad hangovers. But in that case… The Baby's Alright cocktail: 1. Fill your cup with a handful of that slushy Spring alpine snow… 2. 2-3oz Pedialyte 3. 1oz vodka 4. Seltzer water or Ginger brew. If you have a water filter and/or trust your water source, that will work fine as well. Add a tab of Alka-Seltzer for carbonation.”

Does vomiting that morning help or hurt with a hangover?

Dr. Mike: “Vomiting only helps you if you feel nauseous and need to get it out. This occurs because of inflammation in the stomach, and high acid content. While it may temporarily make you feel better, it won’t speed things up. Do not induce vomiting. If nature takes its course, so be it.”

Bartender Morgan: “Vomiting the morning after is never a good sign. If you're going to hurl, do it the night before and then drink a lot of water.” 

Let’s pause here for a moment, because this brings up an interesting question. If—like us—you are a proponent of Leave No Trace ethics, then what exactly are the Leave No Trace guidelines for puking in the pines? Horking in the hills? Barfing in the bush? It’s not a situation we plan for, but it is human waste after all. So, I contacted Katie Keller, a Leave No Trace Master Educator based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

18d60HyKnKM2SIQgMwQwog
According to Leave No Trace principles, this would be an incredibly inappropriate place to hurl.

Liz Fieser

What are the Leave No Trace guidelines for upchucking?

Katie Keller, LNT Master Educator: “The principles behind ‘Dispose of Waste Properly’ with Leave No Trace still apply. If you have enough time, dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep, that is at least 200 feet from all water sources, trails, and campgrounds. Or, if you have access to a bag or container, you could pack it out until you can properly dispose of it. Make sure that your disposal method is compatible with where you are. It is always a good idea to read Leave No Trace information related to specific ecosystems before you go.”

Turns out Derek has been doing it wrong for years. Words to ralph by, thanks Katie. Now, back to our interviews.

What about exercise? Sweating it out?

Dr. Mike: “Most of the data actually discourages exercise due to the fact that you are dehydrated, calorie depleted, and your GI system is inflamed. If you do exercise then you should overhydrate to compensate not only for your initial fluid depletion, but to account for fluid loss due to activity. Get calories as well.”

Bartender Morgan: “Extreme dehydration from a mix of outdoor activities and a night of drinking can cause substantial mental and physical fatigue, leading to poor decision making, injury, or worse…a Trump presidency.”

1tvDMUKTEQwyU0WK662s8Y
When you've reached the headache stage of the Hike-in Hangover, you know you're in trouble.

Evan Castellano

Does the temperature outside affect a hangover?

Dr. Mike: “The hotter it is, the more fluid you’ll lose. But be very careful in the winter as well. Our bodies don’t always give the same signs of dehydration in winter. You may not feel as thirsty, or sweat as much, but you’re still losing fluids.”

Bartender Morgan: “I've drunk during the summer in the desert and I've drunk in the winter above the tree-line. I prefer the latter, as the cold does seem to have anti-inflammatory effects. And being out in the dry, hot sun while hungover is not my idea of a good time.”

So, there we have it. Thanks to Dr. Mike and Bartender Morgan we can now approach our next backcountry bender with some degree of knowledge and preparedness. Fluids and calories: good. Acetaminophen and bacon sandwiches: bad. The only thing left to do is to field-test what we’ve learned. Whitefish, Montana is only 25 hours from Chicago. Last call at Spotted Bear is at 8PM. I sense a plan coming together.

Written by Patrick Burke for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Evan Castellano

20180215_kilimanjaro

The planet is crisscrossed with epic trails, from the Alps to the Andes. There are snowy summit trips for fleet-footed peak-baggers, long and leisurely rambles for wildlife lovers, and everything in between. While the options are almost infinite, here are a few epic hikes to add to that ever-expanding life list.

1. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

View this post on Instagram

Dette er soloppgangen vi fikk i det vi passerte Stella Point på vei til Kilimanjaro i forgårs 13.02.18…😍 Da er vi ca 40 minutter fra Afrikas tak, og det er tungt for folk flest å bare finne fram kameraet… Heldigvis har jeg for vane å fange disse magiske øyeblikkene, så minnene blir foreviget og kanskje havner i en ramme…👍 Dette bildet er rett fra kameraet mitt, helt uten noe form for filter eller justering…👍 Er det rart rart jeg driver med dette? Ps. Ny tur på gang 18.juli og 2.januar😉 . #eventyrturer #kilimanjaro #mountain #mountainlovers #mountainlocals #thegreatoutdoors #mittfriluftsliv #friluftsliv #utemagasinet #hektapåtur #fjelltid #utno #liveterbestute #dreamchasersnature #welcometonature #exploringglobe #properadventure #nature #discoverer #dreambig #earthpix #7summits #turistforeningen #tanzania #africa #machame #machameroute #stellapoint

A post shared by Tommy Steinsland 🇳🇴 (@eventyrturer.no) on

One of the planet’s Seven Summits, 19,341-foot Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain on Earth—and Africa’s loftiest peak. Despite the distinction, the glaciated summit is accessible courtesy of a number of a non-technical routes, leading climbers through five distinctly different climate zones. On the path to Uhuru Peak, trekkers traverse a lowland rainforest inhabited by colobus and blue monkeys, ascend the scrubby montane moorland of the Shira Plateau, cross hulking glaciers, and catch glimpses of the megafauna-loaded grasslands of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. At basecamp, vividly colored tents dot an unearthly moonscape, and climbers rest in the shadow of toothy 16,893-foot Mawenzi.

2. Table Mountain, South Africa

While the flat-topped mesa soaring above Cape Town is accessible by cable-car, the climb to the apex of 3,569-foot Table Mountain is one of the planet’s most spectacular treks—and a must-do for a visit to this dynamic city. Routes to the top of the 500 million-year-old massif treat ascending climbers to panoramic vistas of the pointed peaks of the Twelve Apostles, the azure water of Camps Bay, knobby Lion’s Head, and Cape Town’s bustling City Bowl. There are plenty of half-day routes to the mesa’s highest point, Maclear’s Beacon, including the three-hour slog through Skeleton Gorge, allowing hikers to encounter Cape dwarf chameleons, stealthy caracals, and vibrantly colored sunbirds. The climb can also be done as a multi-day trip along the Cape of Good Hope Trail or the Hoerikwaggo Trail, beginning at Cape Point.

3. Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand

Meaning "the long pathway," in Maori, New Zealand’s 1,864-mile Te Araroa Trail is the Kiwi version of America’s Appalachian Trail. Bookended by the Pacific Ocean, between Cape Regina and Bluff, the route runs through the heart of New Zealand, traversing both North and South islands and leading backpackers through a staggering diversity of landscapes: sun-drenched coastlines, subtropical rainforests, snow-dusted alpine passes, and river-braided glacial valleys. The epic trek also showcases many of New Zealand’s geological gems, including the Southern Alps, famed backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the still-active Tongariro volcano.

4. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Besides Everest, the most idolized Himalayan foray is Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit. The nearly 130-mile route horseshoes the Annapurna range’s sea of glaciated summits, capped by 26,545-foot Annapurna I. The high-altitude tour takes hardy trekkers through highlands terraced with rice paddies, across surging whitewater rivers, through shadowy rhododendron forests, over otherworldly mountain passes, and past Buddhist gompas and Hindu shrines. While backpackers on the circuit must tackle challenges like 17,768-foot Thorung La, the route is dotted with cozy tea houses affording creature comforts like brief but heavenly hot showers and steaming plates of dal bhat, a traditional meal of steamed rice and cooked lentil soup.

5. John Muir Trail, California

Named for legendary naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, the John Muir Trail strings together two of California’s most spectacular natural wonders: the Yosemite Valley and 14,496-foot Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. Tracing the spine of the High Sierra, the 211-mile route moseys through three national parks and two federally designated wildernesses, leading hikers through a landscape of high peaks and passes, glassy alpine lakes, and sun-drenched mountain meadows. The trail skirts Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, and showcases natural wonders like the Devil’s Postpile National Monument and Evolution Basin in Kings Canyon National Park. Plus, hikers have ample opportunity to encounter black bears, mule deer, and curious marmots along the route.

6. Four Pass Loop, Colorado

The most photographed spot in Colorado, the snow-stripped twin peaks of the Maroon Bells are best celebrated on the epic Four Pass Loop through the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness. The aptly amed 26-mile circuit begins at turquoise-toned Maroon Lake, just west of Aspen, and takes backpackers over four alpine passes each higher than 12,000 feet, across airy meadows dusted with wildflowers, through spruce forests and copses of white-barked aspen, and past backcountry waterfalls and peak-framed lakes. Besides the Maroon Bells, the Elk Mountains sampler also provides trekkers the chance to gape at a handful of celestial fourteeners, including Pyramid Peak and Snowmass Mountain.

7. Beara Way, Ireland

Ringing Ireland’s wind-pummeled Beara Peninsula, a 48-mile sliver of land bisected by the Caha and Slieve Miskish mountains, the Beara Way provides a quintessential taste of the Emerald Isle and forms part of Ireland’s longest hiking trail, the Beara-Breifne Way. The 122-mile trek cobbles together bucolic country lanes, highland tracks, and ancient roads, offering a glimpse of the peninsula’s colorful past. Following the path taken by Beara’s last chieftain, Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare, as he fled hotly pursuing Elizabethan troops in 1603, the Beara Way takes trekkers past Neolithic and Bronze Age sites, through charming towns, and over craggy highlands. Fortunately, the lung-taxing climbs and knee-grating descents are greeted with panoramic vistas of the rugged coastline, including the shimmering waters of Bantry Bay, staging point for Theobald Wolfe Tone’s infamous but ill-fated 1786 rebellion.

8. Cotopaxi, Ecuador

One of the peaks in Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes, 19,347-foot Cotopaxi soars above the high Andean páramo of Cotopaxi National Park. Although the peak is the second highest in Ecuador—and one of the loftiest active volcanoes on the planet—Cotopaxi is scalable without prior mountaineering experience. Ropes, crampons, and ice axes are required to reach the snow-capped pinnacle, but with the help of local guides (and after a quick hands-on introduction to mountaineering), the crater-pocked peak is reachable for most reasonably fit trekkers. Along the way to the summit, hikers have the chance to spot wild horses, llamas, and spectacled bears (the ursine species credited with inspiring the fictional character Paddington).

9. Inca Trail, Peru

The most celebrated trek in South America, this Andean excursion takes hikers from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu, the stone-hewn urban center crafted by the Incas during the 15th century, a World Heritage site since 1983. Along the way to Machu Picchu, the 24-mile trek follows paths forged by the Incas more than 500 years ago, meandering through cloud forests studded with 300 types of orchids, over three cloud-shrouded mountain passes, and past pre-Columbian ruins. Stashed away at 7,972 feet, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is also a biodiversity hotspot, serving as an ecological corridor linking the Andes, Sacred Valley, and Amazon, and affording trekkers the opportunity to spot 370 different types of bird, including mammoth Andean condors.

10. Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

Soaring above other peaks in Malaysian Borneo’s Crocker Range, 13,435-foot Mount Kinabalu is the loftiest summit in Southeast Asia. Gunung Kinabalu, as the peak is known in Malay, is also the country’s first World Heritage site, a global hotspot for flora and fauna. The mountain’s ecosystems harbor more than 5,000 types of plants, over 300 species of birds, and 100 different mammals. Along the path to the granite-tipped summit, which typically takes two to three days round-trip, lush lowland rainforests give way to cloud-bathed montane and coniferous forests, providing the chance to spot orangutans, Bornean gibbons, and long-tailed Bornean Treepies. The mountain’s six different vegetation zones also support a thousand different orchids and five endemic species of carnivorous pitcher plants, including the largest on earth, Nepenthes rajah.

11. Tour du Mont Blanc, Western Europe

While scaling 15,781-foot Mont Blanc requires extensive mountaineering knowhow, more casual hikers can still get an eyeful of Western Europe’s loftiest summit from three different countries—France, Italy, and Switzerland—on the Tour du Mont Blanc. The 105-mile route rings the entire snow-frosted massif, traipsing over seven alpine passes, past storybook alpine hamlets, along colossal glaciers, and through wildflower-freckled meadows. Besides the spellbinding scenery, the Tour du Mont Blanc also provides a snapshot of regional culture, taking hikers through historic locales like medieval Courmayeur. Best of all, while physically taxing, the route is scattered with cozy alpine huts, affording plenty of opportunity to swap freeze-dried fare for fondue.

12. Torres del Paine Circuit, Patagonia, Chile

View this post on Instagram

The classic Torres shot #TorresDelPaineCircuit

A post shared by Patagonia Adventure Cycling (@patagoniaadventurecycling) on

Towering above the guanaco-grazed steppes of Chilean Patagonia, the trio of granite pillars dubbed Torres del Paine comprise one of the most iconic massifs on earth. The blue-hued granite cathedral tops out at 10,656 feet and crowns Torres del Paine National Park, a former sheep estancia declared a World Heritage site in 1978. Backpackers can gape at the granite monoliths from every angle imaginable along on a circuit trek on the national park’s non-technical trails. The more heavily trafficked ‘W’ configuration can be done in less than four days, while the more extensive ‘O’ circuit, takes about a week. Despite the rugged landscape of glaciated granite peaks, raging rivers, and iceberg-strewn alpine lakes, the Torres del Paine circuit can be done without forgoing creature comforts by cobbling together a route linking the park’s cozy refugios.

13. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

View this post on Instagram

Take me to the mountaintop #kalalautrail #napalicoast #kauai

A post shared by Maxwell (@maxwellrcraig) on

Showcasing Kauai’s rugged Nā Pali Coast, where fluted mountains meld into the glistening Pacific Ocean, the Kalalau Trail is among the most spectacular coastal treks on earth. But, the 11-mile trek is no walk on the beach. Between Ke’e Beach and Kalalau Beach, the trail winds through five different valleys, across more than a half-dozen streams, and along precipitous cliff sides, including a vertiginous stretch aptly dubbed Crawler’s Ledge, for the hikers duly daunted by the 500-foot drop. Grit and determination are mandatory, but trekkers are rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the Pacific and gems like the 300-foot Hanakapi’ai Waterfall. While the 22-mile out-and-back trip can be done in a day, the route is scattered with stunning camping spots, like the area near 1,400-foot Hanakoa Falls, about halfway through the trek.

14. Mount Fuji, Japan

Located southwest of Tokyo, the solitary summit of 12,388-foot Mount Fuji is one of the planet’s most recognizable peaks. Dormant for just over 300 years, the snow-dusted stratovolcano has served as an artistic muse for centuries, revered as one of Japan’s Three Holy Mountains. Religious pilgrims have been scaling the sacred mountain since ancient times, and the climb remains exceedingly popular. Climbing season for Mount Fuji only runs from the beginning of July to the end of August, but more than 300,000 trekkers make the approximately six-hour trip every year. While there are celestial views on the way to the summit, the trek has the distinction of being one of the few climbs on the planet that is more cultural experience than wilderness excursion. Each of the four routes to the top offers mountain huts peddling food and drinks, and there is even a post office at the summit where you can drop a postcard to a lucky recipient.

15. Sunshine Coast Trail, British Columbia

Rambling along the wild Sunshine Coast in southwest British Columbia, the Sunshine Coast Trail is a less-frequented alternative to the West Coast Trail. Built entirely by volunteers and maintained by the non-profit Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society, the 112-mile trail ambles from Desolation Sound to Saltery Bay, taking trekkers through old growth rainforests roamed by black bears, grey wolves, and cougars. Wildlife watchers also have the chance to spot the blubbery bodies of Stellar sea lions and harbor seals along coastal stretches of the trail, and the route’s highest point—4,821-foot Mount Troutbridge—is a hotspot for seafaring marbled murrelets. Best of all, the Sunshine Coast Trail is Canada’s only free hut-to-hut track, with no reservations or permits required.

Written by Malee Baker Oot for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Stig Nygaard

coral-1

Nobody needs to explain to kids why Kanab’s Coral Pink Sand Dunes are a wonderland. To them, it’s one hundred percent self-explanatory: gigantic sandy hills are a blast to run up and somersault down. You can catch the bug too, of course—add and ATV, mountain bike, or hiking shoes to the mix, along with nice cameras to catch some mind-blowing shots of a glowing desert studded with little wildflowers and determined junipers, and you’re guaranteed to be hooked.

Beyond the normal din of giggling kids and vrooming ATVs bustling over the sand, these dunes bear a special draw for ski and snowboard enthusiasts too. You can bring your own skis or board, or rent a special sandboard from a local company.

If you are a snow-starved skier or boarder, this is serious fun in the summer months. It is a total joy to carve big smooth turns down a balmy-warm desert hill on a July morning. While it’s not exactly the same quality of turns as snow skiing, the activity bears more than a novelty factor—its skiing/boarding in a comfy dry, warm environment, which will deeply appeal to you if you are cold-adverse.

Here’s the down-low on how to do it and what you need. If you’ve never skied or boarded before, this might be a funky way to learn. (But never fear: you can always snag a simple sled instead.) If you’re already a competent skier or boarder, get ready for a total ball.

2FcrpcfeBaUkSg48CyMqmG
Pick a line and go for it!

Mfairlady

How to Get to the Park

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park lies 30 minutes outside Kanab, UT. The drive to get there is nearly as pretty as the park itself. You’ll drive about seven and a half miles north on highway 89, then turn left onto Hancock Road, which you’ll continue on for nine and a half miles until you get to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes road at the entrance of the park. You’re now just a hop and a skip away from the Arizona border. Toasty territory.

The Dunes

Once you’re inside the park, prepare for your jaw to drop. It contains 3,730 acres of rolling sand dunes that have ammassed over thousands of years. Geographically this spot is perfectly situated to have gathered all these little sand grains blown in the wind from surrounding sandstone formations.

The park contains trails and nature walks aplenty, so if you don’t want to propel yourself down a hill, there are still entertainment options aplenty.

What to Bring for Sand Shredding

For gear, option one is to rent a $20 sandboard at the park; it rides like a snowboard but with simple bindings you can just slip your feet into—no special boots necessary. This is good and bad: it’s highly convenient but if you’re an experienced rider, you’ll notice you’re sacrificing the level of precision and control you’re used to with snowboard boots and bindings.

Option two is to bring your own (old!) skis or board, with bindings and boots you don’t mind getting a lot of sand in. (Let us repeat: bring an old setup that’s ready to be sacrificed to the rock gods.) Sand will trainwreck your bases and get lodged in your bindings, but this approach will give you a fairly normal skiing or snowboarding sensation.

6ISqLIuHRe00OOisW2KM06
In lieu of a ski lift, ATVs will have to do.

Mfairlady

You can even rent a sand sled (also $20) if you don’t feel super confident with your carving skills—also, a great option for kiddos and newbies.

Whatever setup you ride on, you clearly don’t need to bother with snow clothes—but long pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt will feel nicer if you fall. Goggles can be a pleasant touch to keep the wind out of your eyes. (‘Round these parts, wind comes with sand, free of charge.) If you have poles with larger powder baskets, those will feel better in the sand than race-type pole baskets.

Don’t bother with a bunny hill grade; you need a steeper hill to get going, as your ski bases were designed for a snow surface, not sand. You’ll probably find it helps to keep your weight shifted back as you would when powder skiing.

You’ll get a great workout hiking and riding down the dunes, so be sure to wear comfortable clothes and bring tons of water. If you’re riding in proper boots, you might want to strap them on your pack for your walk up the dunes—it’s a little more comfy that way. And obviously, avoiding the hottest part of the day will make the experience about 1,000% more fun.

So hike up, let ‘er rip, and enjoy an incredibly special, unseasonal sensation of carving down a hill, hollering with joy—and soaking in the sun.

Written by RootsRated for Utah Office of Tourism and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Mfairlady