Wild Views of Waimea Canyon­­—Down and Up the Kukui Trail, Kauai

Miles: ~5

Elevation gain: ~2,162 steep ft, all the elevation gain is on the way back

Difficulty: Hard/challenging, not for the faint of heart or knees

The upsides of the Kukui Trail are the wild views of the colorful west side of Waimea Canyon (a kaleidoscope of red ochre, charcoal, and every shade of green) and the great workout you get as you climb all the way back up to the top. The last section at the bottom is an enticing path through a forest, which ends at the rocky river. Go quietly and if you’re lucky you might be graced by the sight of frolicking feral goats.

There is a some satisfaction to traversing to the river that seemed impossibly far away when you viewed it from the scenic turn outs high above. Reaching the rocky river bed itself was a bit anti-climatic, aside from rooster and goat sightings. I imagine it might be fun to scramble along the river, but I ran out of time.

Critters that you might encounter: the ubiquitous Kauai roosters and shy feral goats.

Notes: Strongly suggest hiking shoes and a pole or 2 might help as well. Wouldn’t attempt if it is raining or has rained heavily —terrain is also slippery when dry. This is seasonal pig and goat hunting area -yikes – not sure how that works, given that it’s a popular hiking area. Gives “I survived the Kukui Trail” new meaning!

Here’s what a good portion of the steep descent / ascent looks like before you enter the woods- surreal 3d blurred effect due to rain & operator error, but you get the idea.

Forest colors

Getting there: Highway 550, about 0.75 miles past the 8-mile marker. Parking is along the road.

Kuilau Ridge Trail —Absolutely Kool With Outstanding Views, Kauai!

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on your fitness level and the last time it rained. As with most trails in Kauai, it can be a slick, slippery, and treacherous mudfest.

Elevation gain to the 2.5 mark: 915ft, it’s gradual and friendly

Mileage: ~4+ out and back you choose the distance, car shuttle to Olohena Road for ~8 miles , or don’t for ~16 miles) My understanding is the best views are from the Kuilau approach vs Olohena Road so if you only have time for a shortie, go with Kuilau. It was spectacular, quintessential Kauai mountain scenery,

Terrain: Ranges from fire road width gravelish surface to single track, slippery slide.

Videos to come

Chasing Waterfalls and Taking the Plunge, Upper Calf Creek Falls, Escalante, UT

Short, steep, and super sweet waterfall and pools hike. The upper sister to Lower Calf Creek Falls— both doable in a day if you’re into chasing waterfalls and plunging into icy pools.

Elevation gain/loss ~600ft (per alltrails), 1,476ft (per Garmin) – uh, idk, split the difference? (Felt like more than 600ft and less than 1,400.) Let me know what elevation reading you get.

Miles: 2-3 RT, depending on how much you wander and explore.

Difficulty: Easyish, depending upon knee health and fitness level—Starts and ends with a half mile of steep slickrock descent and ascent, respectively – daunting to many – all the better for the few.

Highlights: Dramatic Navajo Sandstone slickrock landscape with expansive vistas, an 87-foot-high waterfall, and a couple cool (in  more ways than 1) pools set in a shady riparian oasis.

Getting there is half the fun: The trailhead is 22.4 miles NE of Escalante between mileposts 81 and 82 off  of UT-12,  which is one of the most beautiful scenic byways in Utah, and many would argue in the entire US.  Parking is free.

Post Hike Rewards at Escalante Outfitters—their Pizza is the Best!!!

Kool Kotor Fortress Hike, Kotor, Montenegro

Distance: 3.25 Miles RT

Elevation Gain: ~919-1K FT

Difficulty: Moderate, depends on your fitness level and the heat—gradual and short, but persistent incline of almost 1k ft in 1.5 miles via stone stairs, concrete, and dirt paths

The names Kotor and Montenegro just sound cool don’t they? I anticipated that this might be one of my favorite stops on my RC Mediterranean cruise and it was.

Kotor is a charming coastal village in the country of Montenegro (translated black mountain). It is located on the Adriatic Sea in the Bay of Kotor and part of the Balkans. Montenegro is bordered by Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania and Croatia. The population of Kotor is ~13,510.

The ancient Mediterranean Port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications dating back to the Venetian period. Old town Kotor and its fortress nestled up high in the spectacular limestone cliffs are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three major earthquakes in the last 500 years (the most recent in 1979) have taken their toll on the fortress, but enough remains of the remains to capture the imagination. One of the coolest things to do in Kotor is to hike up to the Kotor Fortress. Spectacular views of the old town and bay below will captivate you on your journey up and down what some locals refer to as the 1,000 stone step death march.

Return by way of Kotor’s old town to enjoy refreshments at any one of the charming cafes and browse the unique shops.

Kotor is also known for its free-range cats, some obviously living better lives than others.

Notes: The hike is completely exposed and entirely uphill on stairs, concrete, and dirt. Temperatures can be hot in the summer. Fee: ~8 euros, while there’s a back way to hike to the fortress where you can avoid the fee station, it’s nice to contribute to the local economy. (Truth in advertising—unfortunately, you will see trash and graffiti along the way. One would hope that our fees would be enough to pay the teenage “gatekeepers” to keep the grounds clean, but apparently not.

Happy Trails!

Warrior 1 at the Fortress, the cruise ship photobombing in the background