Your girl is going global! I’m so excited to announce a project I’ve been working on for a few months now - my transatlantic detour. In September and October I’ll be hiking five different ten-day trails in Europe back-to-back.
It’s taught me to be calm, patient, strategic, brave, and grateful for and connected to my body and the world around me. I feel more accomplished when I complete a strenuous hike than I ever felt from professional praise. A hike is tangible, and it’s for me, not for anyone else. And it’s totally punk rock. Let me count the ways:
For the past few months I’ve been living and working at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, explaining activities, hikes, and transportation options to the guests that pour in every day from all over the world. I’ve got to say, I think I have the best job in the entire park. The guests that come to my desk are typically adventurers in some capacity or another - backpackers, mule riders, rafters, badass retirees living out their bucket list items. Over time I’ve come to understand the most important elements that go into planning a South Rim trip depending on what type of traveler you are. Families, hikers, and day trippers all have different concerns, and I hope to round them up for you all here.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the benefits of group travel and the many reasons solo travel can be dangerous, especially for women. Those concerns are inherent in daily life for us and need not be rehashed, and when we’re feeling vulnerable there are thankfully a million articles about how we can better prepare ourselves to face the world while female. What I’m interested in exploring is the idea that there are circumstances in which solo travel can be advantageous to one’s safety. I’ve often had plans in mind that, upon a friend floating the idea of joining me, suddenly seemed rife with caveats. The following scenarios are food for thought.
As I prepared for my exodus from Southern California, I made a last minute effort to cross another thing off my must-see list by rambling around in one of my new favorite national parks - Death Valley. It’s pretty easy to figure things out once you’re there, but if you’re the researching/planning type, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
It’s official - I’ve left Los Angeles for the perceivable future! Before jumping headfirst into what’s next, I thought I’d recap some of my favorite activities that slid through the cracks - namely, the hikes. I regret that I never got to all the ones I wanted to do (and could you ever?), but of the ones I was able to complete, these memorable paths were my Top Three:
I got settled for the night, and then it happened - just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard a vicious screeching sound followed by two hisses, all of which sounded like some kind of cat (or two) right outside my tent. Then it happened again. They were probably just domestic farm cats, but I’d read that this was bobcat territory and of course my imagination ran wild for the rest of the night. What was that? Why was it hissing at me? Where was it now? Did my brain dream it up?
When the fog and rain cleared, suddenly the entire landscape was glorious. The final stretch of the trail between my camp spot and Lost Lake followed along the pinnacle of a ridge that allowed me to see out over the whole mountain range on either side of me. I felt like I was on top of the world. I think about that sometimes now, when I’m staring at four walls - how strange it is to know that such places exist, all on their own, all the time, without you there to behold it. Just waiting with open arms.
Fresh off the boat portion of the jeep-boat-jeep from Monteverde, we were shuttled to La Fortuna where we scoured the local bus schedules for transportation out to the Tree Houses Hotel, about 30 minutes south. In true off-the-beaten-path fashion, our bus immediately broke down on the side of the road in the jungle in the middle of the night. After a long time of waiting for it to be repaired we finally de-bussed...and five minutes later it was fixed and on it’s way. We were now stranded. Typical.
Our tiny rental car shuttered along the narrow, rocky edge of mountains as we made our way east from Tamarindo to Monteverde. So far in Costa Rica we’d visited beach towns and waterfalls, and later we’d explore the volcano, tree houses, and hanging bridges of Arenal, but my favorite scenery would reveal itself here, in the area known for it’s Cloud Forests. Perched high above sea level, the towns of Monteverde and Santa Elena feel like a completely different world.