trip report: Australia – getting in to Cairns, December 2019

Flying to the other side of the world always take a few days especially since I was losing a day to the time zone change. At least I was able to do it in style this time around.

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While the topic of documenting our experienced getting somewhere was something I’ve always included in my past reports, I’m always hesitant to make this an entry for by itself or get too in depth. Unlike many travel websites out there, I am not an AvGeek. Personally, I see getting places as a means for us to see amazing things and not the point of travel. However, we travel a fair amount, and the lack of doing so during COVID shutdown, really made me appreciate the experience and the feeling that comes with the act of traveling somewhere. Whether that is the excitement of boarding a plane, the giddiness being in business class for the first time after we found out we were upgraded, or even the exhaustion of flying halfway around the world with a billion stops because of a cheap airfare. Call me a miles and points arsonist, I am very ready to burn through my points after this pandemic. Anyways, let me know if these posts are something you’d enjoy to read about. Also if there are anything regarding the actual process of travel you’d like to see in the future, I can put more effort in capturing those aspects of our trips.

This is the second entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering my travels into Cairns, Australia from Washington D.C. (2). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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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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trip report: Canadian Rockies – decision, planning, & getting in, August 2019

Ah Lake Instagram, rather Reddit Lake, I mean Moraine Lake. The last time I visited this beautiful spot was in 2011 on a road trip, when a group of us checked out the mountains and breweries around the Pacific Northwest that eventually ended up here.

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Our joke for our drive through the Canadian Rockies was that they must sprayed LSD in the air because the colors were so unreal.

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Jared overlooking the teal Lake Louise back in 2011

I’ve meant to head back to properly explore the backcountry since then, but it seems like the rest of the world had the same idea. With the crowds, must come the permits to protect the beautiful landscape from being loved to death and effects of overcrowding. Since this current trip was planned rather last minute, the initial prospect looked like I’d have to wait to see the best and most popular spots. But with some flexibility and constant checking of the permit websites, I got to have my cake and eat it too… a big LSD filled cake.

This is the first entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1) and our travels to the Canadian Rockies (2). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: French Polynesia – decision, planning, & getting in, March 2019

In the travel enthusiast game, change happens quickly. The best deals out there tends to go away or change quickly once more and more people learn of it. With the growing popularity of the game itself, the increase number of travel websites, and how technology information today can spread, it has lead to more people able to take advantage of great deals to travel the world but also subsequently lead to the death of many of these deals as well. This evolution of the game has caused many heated arguments on travel forums and comment sections. The future direction of the travel enthusiast game isn’t the purpose of this post, but rather how we put together a trip based on several expiring deals to visit a few islands in the middle of the Pacific. Specifically to experience an over the water bungalow and to swim with the sharks.

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This is the first entry of the French Polynesia trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1) and our travel into our first destination in French Polynesia (2). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Parque Nacional Queulat & Ventisquero Colgante, January 2019

The vastness of Patagonia contains many spectacular mountains, valleys, glaciers, and lakes. Many of these areas are untouched by trails and very difficult to access without extensive skills. It may be one of the hopes of the Chile’s Route of Parks initiative to eventually expand accessibility for hikers and tourists to these hidden vistas. But for now, we would only catch a glimpse of the glacier spilling out between the rock faces. That sums up my descriptions of the popular Ventisquero Colgante, one of the only established and open hikes in the area around Parque Nacional Queulat.

This is part 6 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Mirador Laguna Cerro Castillo, January 2019

Cerro Castillo is one of the rare multi-day backpacking (trekking) opportunities that is well established along the Carretera Austral. We had tentative plans to do just that, but lingering health issues and the logistics in planning a point to point backpacking trek that would rely on hitchhiking or buses when we didn’t speak Spanish brought us to the alternative day hike options. In the end, I don’t feel like I missed out and at the same time, I look forward to returning to do the trek.

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This is part 5 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.  Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Marble Caves & Glaciar Exploradores guided tours at Puerto Río Tranquilo, January 2019

Our southern most point on our Carretera Austral drive was the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. While we typically don’t partake in guided hikes or tours, we did here to see the highlight of the town, the Marble Caves on Lago Gral Carrera (Lake General Carrera).

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The other tour here is the guided glacier hike onto Glaciar Exploradores, spilling off the Northern Patagonia Ice Field. Having endured the last few days through sickness and car issues, we made the decision at this point to just enjoy ourselves and splurge on both tours. We did not regret it one bit.

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This is part 4 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – getting in & Huemul Circuit return, January 2019

On my first solo extended out of the country trip, I found myself at a pub in Bruge drinking with the a bunch of new friends I didn’t know the day before. A quote that stuck with me from that night was that you travel not to experience everything, but to find all the great things about a place to return to. In the travel atmosphere that is suggestive of the bucket list and country counting attitude, I am all for the counter viewpoint of also returning to a place that once put you in a state of awe. The Huemul Circuit is currently my favorite hike in the world, so a return trip to Patagonia meant I’d head back there.

As I start to write this, I am not sure how this report will go. This is the first time I’m writing up the exact same hike on this page and it didn’t deviate much from my first trip. Secondly, my SD card crapped out during this trip leading me to lose a good portion of my data unbeknown to be until I started going through the pictures post trip. To that end, I’m approaching this write up of the Huemul Circuit as a complement to the my first report with the insight that the trail has gotten much more popular.

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This is part 2 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – planning & research, January 2019

Two of my favorite hikes in the world at the moment is in Patagonia, the O-Circuit of Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile and the Huemul Circuit of Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. I would return to either places in a heartbeat, as our two previous week long trips out there during our spring breaks left us wanting for more. But these two hikes are just a small portion of the vast region of Patagonia with plenty that I’d looked forward to exploring in the future. So when I saw a USD$400 roundtrip flight from the United States to São Paulo, Brazil in business class, that future was much closer than I originally thought. Not to take away from what we had experienced in Brazil, but it was no question we’d be heading back to Patagonia.

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This is part 1 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Ausangate Circuit, August 2018

Making the decision to quit on a hike is one of the hardest things you may face on the trail. The last time I bailed on a backpacking trip was in the inhospitable landscape underneath the Peruvian mountain of Ausangate. I came down with a cold or sinus infection of some sort making it hard to breath without coughing heavily. The lack of ability for me to breath with the high attitudes that demanded me to breathe harder during the uphills forced me to recognize the fact that I couldn’t complete the circuit at that time.

When it comes to quitting, the biggest opponent was my own ego. Part of that ego preventing me from making the best decision for myself regarding quitting may be the desire to accomplish something for completeness sake. Perhaps the reason for such as desire is rooted in the fear of missing out, in that I know I didn’t miss anything if I complete it. In a sense, that completeness attitude may actually miss the real reason we head into nature, which is to experience nature. For me, hiking is about the means just as much or even greater than the ends. If it truly the experience and enjoyment of nature we are after, then there is no shame in quitting and returning to experience it when we are in a better situation.

Of course I was disappointed that I couldn’t compete the Ausangate Circuit. What helped was looking back at the experience we did have of climbing the grassy pass around Ausangate before navigating ourselves off the Ausangate Circuit to find our way to the Rainbow mountains off trail and realizing how great that was. It wasn’t the experience I was expecting, but it was amazing nonetheless. Secondly, I knew that I’d return someday and finish the hike for a brand new experience of the Ausangate Circuit. That day came two years later when I found a business class fare sale back to Peru.

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trip report: John Muir Trail, July 2018 – part 2, getting in & Yosemite National Park warmup

Do you remember your first backpacking trip? For me, it was with Jared, Matt, Will, and Arnold in Yosemite National Park during my last Memorial Day weekend in California before graduate school. Of course, we didn’t have permits beforehand or even thought of how busy it would be that weekend nor really knew much about what was really necessary for backpacking. Through that weekend of floods, rain, infinite hot dogs, and plenty of Gentleman Jack, we emerged as Poopanauts, which is a story that will have to wait for another time. The main point is that it is hard to recall the feeling and mindset of getting into the wilderness for the first time. It was something I had to try my best to relate to as I lead my California friends Arnold, Joey, and Miguel and new friends Becky and Doris back to Yosemite National Park. For Becky and Doris, it was their first time into the backcountry. Since these guys were willing to take the time off work to drive me up to Yosemite – where I would start my John Muir Trail (JMT) hike – and spend several days in the backcountry with me, I hoped that I was able to share my enthusiasm of the outdoors with my friends again and for the first time.

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This is part 2 of my John Muir Trail (JMT) trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: John Muir Trail, July 2018 – part 1, decision & planning

Sometimes you submit an application for a permit with a three day start window for one of the most popular trails in the United States Park system on a whim. And sometimes you’ll just win that golden ticket on the first try. That’s the short story of how I took a long unpaid leave in the summer of 2018 and spent it walking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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This is part 1 of my John Muir Trail (JMT) trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below.

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