This year, I haven’t done as much hiking as I did the year before. Painting, biking, and working on my novel were three hobbies that competed effectively with my hiking time. Nevertheless, I’ve spent my fair share of time on the trails and can’t wait to tell you all about it. This is also the first year of blogging about my top hiking trails that I’ll be able to include one trail outside the United States. Yes, I finally made it out of this country—and back, in one piece, immigration pending status be damned!
Now, let’s get started on this list.
5. Mount Juneau, Alaska, USA
In July of this year, one of my bi-annual trips with Tristan took us to Alaska. While visiting, a local suggested we hike up Mount Juneau. This is the second mountain I have ever hiked: the first being Lone Mountain in Vegas. After talking to other hikers who did this trail, the recommended time they gave was around six hours. Well, by the Grace of Bondye, I forced my way up there and back in two hours.
We were pressed for time and I was determined to make it to the top. This was no easy hike. Tristan still considers it as the absolute hardest we have ever done. It’s also the only time I have ever hiked with him where we lost each other on the trail, or rather, I got so far ahead that shouting, “Tristan! TRI-I-I-ST-A-A-A-N!” was no longer an effective way of communication.
Ironically, however, though I am proud of making it up the mountain so quickly, what I love most about hiking Mount Juneau is the waterfalls a detour took us to, on our way back down the mountain. Additionally, this is the only time I ever went hiking and ran into bear. Yes; bears.
4. Mayan Ruins, Cozumel, Mexico
Usually when I travel, I go by air or land. However, this year I decided to confront my fear of the open seas by vacationing with my parents and some co-workers on a Caribbean Cruise. We were aboard the Carnival Magic for seven days—the first paid vacation I have ever taken since setting foot in the United States in 2015 and probably the last for reasons I will disclose at another time.
On the cruise, we visited Grand Cayman, Honduras, Belize, and then Mexico. I did some mild hiking in Honduras, and none in Belize or Grand Cayman. However, in Mexico, I decided I wanted to see the Mayan Ruins before heading back to U.S. shores. I was expecting to be led to one big remnant of a lost civilisation, but instead, there was a trail weaving through all the smaller pieces of a larger puzzle of remnants.
While perhaps not your typical hiking trail, it still goes down as one of my favourite trails ever. In fact, Mexico on a whole is the best country I ever visited so far, outside of Jamaica and the United States. I strongly recommend visiting Cozumel. The ruins, the snorkelling, the friendly people make it all worth it, but more on that in other posts.
3. Newman Wetlands, Georgia, USA
I did say I travelled to more amazing places this year than usual, didn’t I? Yet, this trail is right here in Georgia, some 18 or so miles south of the city limits. I first noticed the trail on a map while dropping off my bike at the shop for a proper tuning and an upgrade.
So, when I picked up the bike a few days later, I dropped by this park to bike my way to happiness. Unfortunately, biking at the center is not allowed, but the attendant took pity on me and let me bike for half an hour or so, since other hikers had not yet arrived.
Newman’s had a beautiful web of boardwalks weaving their way across the wetlands. Most had rails; one did not; all of them were beautiful. I saw birds and trees and turtles and fishes and enjoyed a quiet moment to myself. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I later brought my other half back for a date right before sunset beneath the autumn colours. It was beautiful, to say the least.
2. Corona & Bowtie Arches, Moab, Utah
Another incredibly difficult hike Tristan and I managed in 2018, was the hike to Tower Arches at Arches National Park. This hike damn near killed us, and is the second most difficult hike I have ever completed. I saw my life flash before my eyes with crystal-clear clarity. However, when it comes to beauty, proper planning and price, Corona Arches, some 12 or so miles away, proved to be a much better alternative.
Along the way, we passed rock climbers, campers, bikers and all the other outdoorsy people we never caught glimpse of on our way to Arches National Park. And, best of all, it was free. The trail was clearly marked—meaning we only got a little lost about once or twice—and we got two arches in this special travel bundle from Mother Nature. I also love how varied the landscape was and that we could get more up close and personal with Corona and Bowtie.
1. West Glacier Trail to Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, USA
The final and top entry on my list brings us right back to the last frontier when Tristan and I made it our mission to see a glacier for the first time. As Josh Gross teasingly told me when I first mentioned I was planning the trip, “See them before they disappear!”
Sadly, they are, in fact, disappearing. Red state or no, ask any of the locals, and they will give you a full rundown on how the glaciers have receded and how global warming is giving them a run for their money.
The hike to see this melting glacier was brutal and goes down in my personal history books as the most difficult hike I have ever done. It not only called for endurance, and patience, but cleverness. Some parts of the trail were not clearly marked and there was an uphill climb. However, our hard work was paid off with some of the most amazing views of nature: from the forest to lakes to ice.
This year, I spent a lot of time outdoors in some of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Whether I was hiking, biking, snorkeling or zipping by on a lift, they were all amazing experiences I hope to repeat in new places time and time again.
Next year, I foresee way more time on my hands to explore the outdoors, but I have other goals to tackle, so I may not be travelling out-of-state and out of the country as much as I did this year. Even so, I am so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had and look forward to the opportunities of tomorrow.
Have you been hiking this year? What trail was your favourite, and why?