Some of the greatest joys in life are the simplest things:
- Reading! I’m in the middle of reading The Firm now for about the 100th time. I could spend 8 hours a day with books, magazines and newspapers.
- The beach: What is better than watching the waves roll in? I’d be happy on a beach anywhere.
- The smile of a baby: Just kidding. I hate it when people say stuff like this.
- Exploring on foot: A great hike is yet another joy and this is what I’ll be talking about today.
I love long walks. Putting your feet to the pavement and hitting the open sidewalk or rocky trail is one of my favorite things. I open my mind, camera lens, shut my mouth and observe.
A good walk hits the reset switch of the brain. If something is bothering me or I need to work a problem out, by the end of a walk, I’ve usually found a solution. I also come up with some of my best ideas on a walk. I wasn’t surprised when a Stanford study revealed that a good walk boosts creativity.
Have you checked out Frugalwoods yet? If not, you should. Mr. and Mrs. FW are relatively new on the scene and are already writing some really great stuff. They also have a greyhound* and their blog features some highly amusing pictures of her dressed in various garb.
Anyway, it turns out that the Frugalwoods also really enjoy hiking. So today, the Frugalwoods and I both present our favorite hikes. Please flip over to their site to read about some of their favorites.
My Favorite Hikes
Mist Trail (Yosemite National Park, California)
Yosemite National Park is one of the greatest places on Earth.
I have never seen a place more beautiful. Standing in the valley and looking up at the towering granite walls is amazing. You won’t be able to wipe the smile from your face!
Yosemite is best experienced in the spring or early summer when the snowmelt powers immense waterfalls. Yosemite Falls, the highest in North America, is awesome at full force.
One of the best ways to experience Yosemite is on the Mist Trail. The hike starts at the floor at the valley and at first, follows a raging river. You’ll also pass by a couple massive water falls, so prepare to get soaked! After you get to the top of Nevada Falls, you’ll walk past the back of Half Dome, a view not many have seen. The hike ends with a climb to the top of Half Dome itself. You’ll cling to cables as you make your way to the top of the granite slab. It’s slightly terrifying, but loads of fun.
Note: The hike is 16 miles round trip with 5000 feet of elevation gain, so be in shape and start early. Also note that the final Half Dome portion of the hike now requires a permit. Get it early! Also, make a reservation in the park 1 year in advance; it books up fast.
Mt. Whitney (California)
Coming in at 14,505 feet, Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the continental United States. The great thing is that you can walk all the way up to the top. It’s a 22 mile round trip that gains 6,100 feet in altitude, so make sure you’re ready. We left at 4am, summited at noon and got back down at 6pm (would have been 4pm, but my knees were protesting mightily).
The hike starts out in forest. You’ll be doing this part of the hike in the dark. Be sure to rest for a couple minutes and watch the sun rise over the desert.
Later on, you’ll get above the tree-line and the trail turns rocky. People dread the switchbacks, but I didn’t think they were so bad. After you complete them, you’re on the home stretch. Get to the summit and admire the view for a while.
Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast** (Kauai, Hawaii)
Kauai is a spectacular island. It isn’t as populated as some of the other islands in the Hawaiian chain and it’s abundant rainfall makes it super lush and green. It was also where parts of Jurassic Park were filmed, but don’t worry, the dinosaurs have since been removed from the island.
While I love my state of Colorado, hiking the jagged peaks can sometimes be trying. Often, I get pelted by hail (looking at you Longs). Other times, I have to turn around because of lightning or dangerous snow fields. Hiking in Kauai is the opposite of all of that.
The Kalalau Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes as far as I’m concerned. It hugs the Na Pali Coast on the northwest edge of Kauai and is simply spectacular. Who in the world wouldn’t like hiking through a beautiful rainforest with waterfalls right next to the ocean? And wait, don’t order now, there’s more! If you’re hiking the trail at the right time, you’ll see whales. This one is a must do.
My own ‘hood (Northern Colorado)
After I’m done with work and the kids are out of school, our family has a walking tradition. We head out of the house and go where our feet take us. Sometimes, the walk ends abruptly when we start chatting with the neighbors and don’t get more than 100′ from our home. Other days, we’ll end up playing in the river or walking a couple miles, exploring new parts of the town.
I learn all kinds of things on a walk. Sometimes, I fire up the Zillow app on my phone so I can learn a bit more about real estate values. Other times, I learn some pretty neat things chatting with neighbors. Our street is nondescript and the homes are modestly priced (176K (ours) – 425K (Dead Harold’s)), but I know that there are at least 3 millionaire households on our little avenue of just 29 homes. More on that in a future post.
Wherever I happen to be in the world
Whether I’m in downtown Chicago or camping in the forest, I always get out and explore on foot. I love biking as well, but you discover so much more on foot. I try to take different routes and challenge my brain to notice new stuff.
I’ll be in lovely Madison (Wisconsin) and Chicago at the end of the month. If you see a pale, skinny guy, just short of 6′ wearing a Warren Buffett cap walking down the sidewalk, please wave…
Remember to check out the Frugalwoods favorite hikes now! Do it, now! What are you still doing here?
*Greyhounds crack me up. With some dogs, their purpose on Earth isn’t obvious. Look at a greyhound and you can immediately tell they were bred to go very, very fast (45 mph!!!). They are the SR-71 of the dog world; perhaps clumsy and awkward at low speed, but poetic at full throttle.
**I didn’t read the Frugalwoods post beforehand, but from informal conversation, I’ll bet you’ll be reading about this hike on their blog as well.
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