Off the beaten track to Preikestolen, Norway
Anyone who has done a quick search on what to see in Norway certainly came across Preikestolen. It is one of the most popular hikes in the whole country. Not everyone experiences it the same way, however. Outdoor Life Norway is a guided service that offers guests a chance to see Pulpit Rock like most will never experience. The sunrise hike is an amazing way to up your chances of getting those stunning views without the crowds. If you truly want an original experience, though, go with their "Off the beaten track" tour. This hike begins with canoeing across a glacial lake to a long forgotten trail. Traverse the trail through multiple altitudinal zones and scramble up to the top of the fjord. There you can hike along until you reach your destination, a beautiful view of Preikestolen! There you can enjoy your view that majority of the hikers are missing. From there you will travel down to Pulpit Rock itself for some more photos. The trip down follows the more popular marked trail. If you are lucky enough, you may run into some of the Sherpas that have built the trails! If you're looking for more tours to fill up time in Norway, Outdoor Life Norway offers many guided services year round.
Mountain Biking and Scuba Diving in Iceland
The land of fire and ice is an outdoor enthusiasts playground. Scuba diving in Silfra had been on my bucket list for years. It was a massive influence for me to get my PADI Open Water certification. Once I got my certification I remember my instructor asking me where I would go now that I could explore underwater paradises. I excitedly announced I'd be going to Iceland. He did not seem amused. "Don't you want to start somewhere... warmer?" I brushed off his remark as quickly as I whisked off my hood and booties. I had my mind made up. Silfra was my white whale and I finally had it in my headlights. When everything was booked, I was struck with panic. For years I had dreamed of Silfra, a place where you could swim between the North American and Eurasian continental plates. Would it be as spectacular as I had made it out to be?? Oh yes it was. The crystal clear glacial water is nearly ice cold and is filtered through lava creating over 300ft of visability. This quality of water means you can sip it while you're diving. It doesn't get fresher than that. Being able to say i've touched both continental plates at the same time in the only place in the world where you can dive directly in continental plate cracks is certainly bragging rights. I thought that would be the highlight of my cold swim in Silfra, but once I was in the water I forgot about the location. The dive was beyone beautiful with such distinct geographical features. The colors were jaw dropping. Though the dive itself was short, it's a dive that I could do over and over again. For those not scuba certified, many tour companies offer snorkeling excursions as well. Dive. Is. offers guests either option with photo services.
If you asked a stranger what came to mind when they thought of Iceland, volcanoes would make the list. This is definitely merited. The land has practically been completely molded by volcanic eruptions. If there's volcanoes you know there is lava, but Icelanders don't let it get them down. In fact, it gets them going. These hardened lava fields create the perfect backdrop for some serious mountain biking. These trails are not for the faint of heart. I may have overestimated my skills since I had been mountain biking in the past. I rated myself as an intermediate, which I quickly second guessed as soon as I saw people pull out their own peddles from perfectly packed Camelbaks. As nonchalantly as I could muster, I asked what the tour company's general client level was. My growing suspicion was confirmed. Most were season mountain bikers. I laughed in response to hide my surmounting fear. There was a good chance I may die in Iceland on a bicycle, I thought. There was worse ways to go I reasoned. It would make an interesting story, at least. Alas, I survived. Every part of my body may have hurt the next day, but something else was genuine as well. That was my smile. I signed up for a tour that I was not physically prepared for, but I did not regret it. It was a challenge that I overcame and I saw some stunning scenery along the way.
For those of you like me who are not expert mountain bikers, there are more appropriate tours to take. Icebike offers guests several options for different levels of experience. After seeing my lack of finesse in the lava fields, Icebike offered to take me to another location afterwards. I battled with my opposing feelings. Should I stick it out and do another lava field or should I opt for something different? The guide was very patient and genuinely wanted me to enjoy the experience that was right for me. I went with their recommendation. A part of me felt like a quitter until I saw the change of scenery. The lava fields were wild and otherworldly. The new scenery was as lush as if I had been plopped into Neverland itself. My bitter feelings instantly faded. Biking through the purple lupine fields was a magical end to a demanding day. My lesson of the day: Don't be afraid to try new things and have flexibility if they do not work out as perfectly as planned. My biking experience had more hiccups than I had predicted, but biking in Iceland was a once in a lifetime experience.
Sundance Resort in Utah
Utah snow is world famous. In a location with pristine snow and more resorts than one can choose from, how does one... well, choose?? I struggled with the dilemma during a recent visit. I was down to my last day and I had only seen two resorts. I wanted to end with a bang without draining my bank account on a lift ticket. I gave up and resorted to asking my local friend for direction. "You need to go to Sundance". Sundance? I was baffled. This resort had barely made my radar. While I had pondered the pyramid hierarchy of ski resort awesomeness for days, it took my friend no time at all to respond to me."Not Snowbird or Park City?" I bantered. Nope, he was firm. Well that settled my predicament. At the very least it would bring me some mental clarity since I no longer had to wrestle the decision.
If you go to Utah and don't visit Sundance Resort, you are doing it wrong. I immediately felt at home at this resort, as if I had been snowboarding there since I learned the difference between regular and goofy. In a world obsessed with modernizing everything, Sundance has made a point of preserving that nostalgic ski culture that we all love and miss. Okay, so the staff is nice. Is that a good enough reason to opt for Sundance over a larger resort? In retrospect, Sundance is one of the smaller resorts, but the views are not. I almost fell off the chairlift gawking at the scenery. From the base to the peak, every corner of the resort offered views that even Ansel Adams would have to stop and photograph. The character didn't stop at the lodge. The terrain kept me smiling from trail to trail. Feeling hungry? Stop at the peak for the most scenic nachos in the game. The Bearclaw Cabin is the only mountaintop lodge in Utah. If the sun is out, opt to sit outside in one of the zero gravity chairs. Sun and snow, can you beat it? If you want a resort with big hearts, big views, and a touch of home, you need to go to Sundance Resort.
Kayaking the inner channels in North Florida
The sunshine state usually cultivates images of lazy beach towns with a weird abundance of shaggy-haired surfers with names like "Zander" or "Brock". If you don't think of surfing, chances are you think of a retirement home paradise with every pm dinner special you could imagine. I am not here to knock your idea of Florida, because both scenes I just described exist in North Florida. I mean what's wrong with eating your food truck burrito while your barefoot at a reasonable time so hard to get on board with? You have time for dessert and digestion before you catch those zzz's! This is a battle meant for another day. If you aren't into shredding the gnar or attending senior bingo, you may wonder what Florida has to offer other than concrete amusement parks. Rejoice my friends because I have a solution. Though it may not be topping your vacation brochures, Florida offers great places for paddle sports. These sports can be enjoyed by any age group. Are you a seasoned kayaker looking for a challenge? Opt to try paddle boarding instead for a great core workout that perfects your balancing skills. Are you more into the outdoors just to get a tan? Select a tandem kayak and make your buddy do the brunt of the work. I know this because I've been the recipient of this. As I paddled with all my might in Norway and wondered why we weren't going faster, my friend Randy sat behind me happily snapping photos enjoying the fruits of my labor. I did not learn my lesson, however, since here I am recommending his devious plan to all of you. Just make sure your friend takes the front seat and doesn't read this passage. You're welcome.
Waterfall and Bamboo hikes in Haleakala National Park
The Aloha state is paradise: sunny, laid-back, umbrella drinking mai-tai kind of paradise. Though many people come here to do nothing more than read their book on the island's 30 miles of beaches, Maui can also be an adventure hot spot. I mean literally. The highest peak on the island is the world's largest dormant volcano. The impressive Haleakala volcano never ceases to draw in outdoor enthusiasts from around the globe. Want to feel like Hawaiian royalty? Opt to catch a mesmerizing sunrise from it's peak. Haleakala National Park offers guests more than just the star of the show. The park offers beach access but my favorite swimming spot of the entire Maui trip was dunking into the Seven Sacred Pools, or the Pools of 'Ohe'o. If mermaids emerged from the depths, I would have thought it perfectly normal. I loved being able to climb up to a series of the falls and sit under the cool,flowing water as I looked out at the ocean. Some pools are more popular and accessible than others. As I mentioned, the pools flowed into the Pacific so that contrast in scenery was fantastic. Pack a picnic to make a great day of pool adventures. Swimming does not get more exotic than this. After you have your fill of swimming, continue hiking through Haleakala National Park to dry off. Your efforts will be rewarded when you reach a stunning bamboo forest. You may think you accidentally arrived on another continent with the landscape change.
Haleakala is not to be missed and you can access it off of the famous Road to Hana. The road itself merits a few days to explore. Opt for a convertible so you can soak up as much roadside scenery as you can. If you are still craving big views, end your trip with a cherry on top. A helicopter tour of Maui may not be the most physical tour you can do, but I promise you will be feeling the adrenaline. The tour gives you access to views you would never be able to see otherwise. Get close to peaks and waterfalls alike. The views are breathtaking and you may just get the feeling that you are about to be dropped off in Jurassic Park.
Kayaking and Biking in Page, Arizona
I can never be satisfied with doing everything just like everyone else. If I am going to a stereotypical tourist spot. I need to have an element that is different. While doing my research for antelope canyon, I found just what I was looking for to satisfy my stubborn self. Hidden Canyon Kayak was Arthur and the day trip through Antelope Canyon was my sword in the stone. At first I was a bit disappointed to see how large my group size was. In the past I have been spoiled with much smaller guide to tourist ratios in my travels. Once in the water, however, the problem dispersed as quickly as waves off my boat. The guides were good at accomodating people of all ability levels. As a frequent kayaker, I had a much faster pace than most. The guides recognized this, and made sure I did not feel restrained. Once we reached antelope canyon, we were released to explore the slot canyon on our own to a certain point. Again, I was happy to hear this since I much preferred being alone than attached to families I didn't know. It was a thrill to be able to skip, run, and even sing if I wanted to down these beautiful corridors. I loved this tour and would recommend it to anyone. The guides were relatable and I enjoyed my time talking to them. My only recommendation is if you are an experienced kayaker, let the guides know ahead of time and they will bring you a touring kayak. Compared to my kayak at home, the kayak I was given made me feel like I was moving through mud. Avoid this and request a more efficient boat. They just don't like to assign them to someone who is not experienced and has a higher chance to tip the narrow boats.
Have you ever thought that mountain biking is cool, but it would be so much cooler to bike on Mars? I can't say i've been on this train of thought before, someone out there has been. To them I say, Mars is too far away. Sure you can keep fantasizing about the day that Richard Branson and Elon Musk unite like superheroes and create martian colonies complete with lotteries to fuel us basic humans with dreams of dual planet citizenship. Okay, maybe I have thought of this before. I digress. Biking in Page, Arizona may be the closest alternative. Really, the place is out of this world! So aren't my puns. Accessible right from town, I was told by a local to check out the Rimview trail. I stopped at a local shop, Lake Powell Paddleboards, and rented a mountain bike. A quick overview of a map and a heeding message of "there are parts of the trail that if you get hurt or can't finish, no one can come get you"and I was off. A little skeptical of my skill after my warning, I wasn't sure how my day would go. Quickly into the trail, my reservations disappeared. It was easy to with the beautiful desert landscape. The "rimview" gets its name for a very specific reason. In parts you were on the very edge of the trail with a steep drop off. If it got too hairy, I simply walked. It was my best option since I was alone and if I got hurt, I didn't want to think of the desolate potential situation. The views of Lake Powell were breathtaking. What blew me away was that I had the trail virtually to myself. In a busy tourist town, I came across only two people my whole time biking. The two people were locals at that. It was my escape from vacation. A step away to truly take in a place. This was not without hard work, however. The trail had its difficult moments and was best suited for at least intermediate riders. If you are new, you at least have the ability to walk any dangerous spots. The heat is also draining. A lot of water and snacks for energy are a must. I can honestly say my lunch was well earned this day.
Ice climbing in Smugglers Notch, Vermont
Killington Resort in Vermont
Rainforest ziplining in Costa Rica
Alpine lake hikes in Glacier National Park
Scuba Diving in Roatan, Honduras
Hawk Walks in Manchester, Vermont
Surfing and Spelunking in Eleuthera, Bahamas
Snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands
Hang gliding in New Hampshire
Wildlife viewing in Yellowstone National Park
Skimboarding in Sri Lanka
Rock Climbing in Mendon, Vermont