Every time I move to a new place, I sprawl out the map and track down all the trails within a few hours drive. I tell myself that I will come to know these trails, and the adventure they promise. Hiking helps me build a connection with my place-in-space.
My favorite hikes to date include:
Montara Mountain near San Francisco Bay
During my Master’s program, I had a lot of personal issues to work through. Climbing this mountain nearly every weekend brought stress of a different kind to my being. The peaceful, sweeping views of the ocean and cascading hills leading to San Francisco brought me punctuated solace that helped me thrive.
Chimney Tops Trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee
My spouse and I ventured to Gatlinburg during our fifth year of living in Tennessee and I this trail knocked the wind out of me, literally and figuratively. It meanders alongside a stream, as though the trail and stream were friends, and then leads to a steep elevation gain for a beautiful view of the surrounding mountain ranges. Impressive to me also was the beautiful foliage all throughout the trail during August.
Trail description: http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/chimney.htm
I am terrified of bears!! So the only way you can get me backpacking is in large groups. Thankfully, when I lived in Alaska, I had a friend who organized such trips. He would actually go stake out trips solo, and then wrangle us slow-mos one weekend each summer. The cover photo of this project page is during the early part of our two-day loop, starting with the Ptarmigan Valley Trail in August 2012. On this trip I saw a wolverine and drank water straight from a gushing stream… amazing! I did not see a bear, whew!
East Cape Trail in New Zealand
The East Cape of New Zealand is big. Okay, listen: it is really big. During my fall break while studying at the University of Auckland, I decided to take a five day trip around the East Cape, without charting in advance how long I needed to be on the road each day (that ended up being like all day every day). I was going to be what Tim Engold deemed, in his book Lines, a wayfarer. One of my goals was to see the sunrise from the furthest-most Eastern lighthouse in the world at sunrise. Let’s just say, that was an accomplishment that involved a lot of prayer… but I made it!