trip report: Australia & New Zealand – decisions & planning, December 2019

In the travel enthusiast game, it is all about jumping on opportunities. This specific opportunity we took advantage of were a couple of one way flights from Auckland, New Zealand to the U.S. for 6000 American Airline Miles each, which is as close to free as you can get. The final result was my first visit to Australia to dive the Great Barrier Reefs and a return to the south island of New Zealand over the winter holidays. Reflecting now on that trip, which took place just before the 2020 pandemic and the travel restrictions, the notion of jumping on opportunities to travel when we can do so safely again in the future seems all the more important. For now, all I can do is to reflect on our adventures down under.

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This is the first entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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virginia hikes: McAfee Knob, September 24 & October 29, 2017

This report was reposted on October 17, 2020 to include a video, new photos, and updated formatting.

McAfee Knob is among the most popular hikes in southwest Virginia and said to be the most photographed place on the Appalachian Trail with its own wikipedia page. The popular nature of the hike is a reason I avoid this hike typically and head over to Tinker’s Cliff unless I am doing a sunrise hike. When Keith visited last year, I had planned to write about our sunrise hike and even took a GPS track on it. However, that hike was completely in the fog.

About 1 year to the day, Keith visited us again so we gave sunrise another shot. As you can see, it was quite a nice success. Given we hiked mostly in the dark, I headed up there again to take some updated pictures of the trail for this report a month later during the peak foliage season. With Amtrak restarting train service to Roanoke from D.C the week I’m publishing this post, hopefully this will be just in time for you to plan a southwest VA getaway.

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virginia hikes: Little Schloss – September 19, 2020

When a group of friends were looking for some camping time near D.C., I remembered some prime spots along Little Stoney Creek during our hike of the Big Schloss, Mill Mountain, and Little Stoney Creek loop. While the discussion begin as car camping, they didn’t mind the mile walk along Stoney Creek to reach the best campsite

along the creek.

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Don’t worry, our food choices were still inline with car camping.

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We ended up base camping for two night giving us a free day to do a hike in the area, which ended up being Little Schloss. What was a surprise with the amount of wildflowers along the trail from a recent burn.

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virginia hikes: Buzzard Rock North – August 18, 2020

Here in Virginia, especially northern Virginia within the reaches of Washington D.C., the best way to avoid crowds on the popular hikes is to hike over the weekdays. So we visited the popular Buzzard Rock to break up the drive down I-81 on a Tuesday.

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virginia hikes: Carvins Cove & Hay Rock – May 30, 2016 & July 30, 2020

The Triple Crown of Virginia is a small portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) near Roanoke, Va. It includes the proment points of Dragon’s Tooth, Tinker’s Cliff, and the most photographed outlook on the AT of McAfee Knob. For the typical backpacker of the Triple Crown of Virginia (RATC), it is hiked in a loop that involves rather mundane North Mountain (alltrails). However, I would recommend setting up a shuttle for a point to point hike instead so you can include a lesser known outlook through this section of the AT, Carvins Cove & Hay Rock.

The original hike report of Carvins Cove & Hay Rock was of an early summer hike in 2016 where we were joined by our friends Kevin, Shannon, Mat, and Vrushali. This re-post includes new pictures of the trail since then, a video, and updated formatting.

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Our friend Mat at an overlook of Carvins Cove in 2016

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trip report: Canadian Rockies – final impressions, top 5, & budget, August 2019

On our road trip through the Canadian Rockies, we completed a total of 12 hikes that spanned 4 national parks and 3 provincial parks. I can confidently say I’ve seen very little of the canadian rockies, so confident that I will write the top 5 hikes of the Canadian Rockies that we experienced now. Don’t worry, it is accompanied by some future ideas.

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This is the final entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series. You can navigate to the other previous parts of the series in the index.

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trip report: Banff National Park – Lake Louise, Beehives, & Plain of Six Glaciers loop, August 2019

Our final hike on our roadtrip through the Canadian Rockies was a return to the place that inspired this roadtrip and perhaps my entire hiking career, thus this webpage. The place is Lake Louise and Moraine Lake region within Banff National Park.

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2011 roadtrip stop at a less crowded Lake Louise with Jared, Miguel, and Matt

However, sometimes impressionable memories are better as memories. While a return to this popular regions was still good, it just didn’t have the same magical feeling that we had on our first time through.

This is the twelfth entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our twelfth and final hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Yoho National Park – Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit, August 2019

Lake O’Hara can seem so out of reach with limitations on the number of campsites and seats on the access buses. But that is just an illusion if you are willing to make the extra 7 mile road walk. That’s all it takes to bring you to the sharp peaks and emerald lakes of Lake O’Hara wonderland.

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This is the eleventh entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our eleventh hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Banff National Park – Bow Summit Outlook & Peyto Lake, August 2019

Peak season on the Icefields Parkway can be incredibly busy and it’s understandable based on the world class views. The places you’ll feel the crowds the most are at the popular viewpoints, such as Peyto Lake and the Toe of Athabasca Glacier. It doesn’t help that these are also the stops the tour buses makes, especially the Chinese ones — I know how my people travel.

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However, this also means the crowds are gathered mostly at these outlooks and a short hike will take you to an equally impressive view without the traffic.

This is the tenth entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our tenth hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Jasper National Park – Wilcox Pass, August 2019

Near the border of Jasper National Park and Banff National Park sits one of the crown attractions of the Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Glacier spewing off the Columbia Icefield.

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While many tourist pay to take the buses to walk on the glacier itself, the best view of the motif is across the valley at Wilcox Viewpoint.

This is the ninth entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our ninth hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip video: Jasper National Park – Skyline, August 2019

This is the companion videos to our trip report detailing 2 day and 1 nights hike on the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park. The highlight of the hike were the high alpine meadows and vistas of the Athabasca River drainage and Maligne River drainage.

You can find the detailed report of our hike linked in the index below.

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