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

The Tremedous Tre Cime di Laveredo Loop, Dolomites, Italy

The Tre Cime (3 Peaks ) of Laveredo hike is a peak Dolomite experience. A spellbinding journey in the Alps from start to finish. There’s so much beauty packed into this short loop—much more than the 3 peaks themselves. There are the jagged limestone crests crowning the expansive panoramic mountain views, the turquoise alpine lakes, and of course, there are the rifugios (3 to go with 3 peaks). It’s easy to see why this hike is among the most popular in the Dolomites.

Distance: 6.75-mile loop, begins at Rifugio Auronzo, Path 101

Rifugio Auronzo

Difficulty: Moderate, depending on fitness level and acclimation to the altitude of 9,839 ft. A mix of up, down, and flats with some solid incline in relatively short mileage. The terrain on the main, wide path is easy—running shoes will do.

Elevation gain: ~2,247 ft

Starting elevation: ~9,839 ft

Sublime, except for the crowds, which are hard to avoid even if you arrive when the parking entrance opens at 8 AM. (There’s a line of cars by 8:15 AM.) However, you can try to outpace the crowds or take one of the more challenging, less-traveled single-track trails that run high above and parallel to the main trail.)

We stopped at the halfway point, Rifugio Locatelli / Drei Zinnen hut, to take in the views of the 3 peaks. I made the best of the puddle reflection photo ops before sauntering down to lakes to soak it all in.

The panoramic views by the lake were dazzling. (Apologies for the dizzy spin.)

At one point, I thought I was having high-altitude auditory hallucinations, the melody of Amazing Grace playing in my head and wafting through the alpine air. It turns out I wasn’t hallucinating. A couple of fellows had brought their bagpipes with them on their hike. Their pro bono concert was short and sweet, with the added excitement of a near fist-to-fist altercation between 2 octogenarian photographers (one Italian, one German?) – one blocking the view and photos of the other and all of us for no apparent reason other than to be objectionable. (Perhaps an Italian vs German thing – apparently there’s still friction between the nationalities that dates back to WW1, continued through WW2, and still exists today—especially in this area of the South Tyrol.) Here’s an interesting article on the long journey to reconciliation.

After the “concert”, we dropped down into the valley and climbed across the ridge underneath the 3 peaks.

We stopped at the Malga Langalm hut to enjoy a hearty lunch in the splendid Alpine wildflower-sprinkled meadow. The Rifugio Locatelli visible in the far distance made it seem like we’d hiked much further than we had.

Sadly, our time in the Dolomites had come to an end. We’d been lucky to do 2 of what many call the top hikes in the area. Both Seceda and Tre Cime rank #1 in my lifetime hikes. The Alps have my heart. It’s not Arrivederci, it’s Ci Vediamo Presto! We’ll See Each Other Soon!

Happy Trails!

Directions: 40 minutes from Cortina d’Ampezzo. Trail begins at Rifugio Auronzo, Path 101.

Notes: €30 entrance fee for parking. Open late May through late October 8 AM-6 PM. Rifugios are open from late June through September. No camping is allowed in the park. For the best views, take the trail counter-clockwise. (Keep the 3 peaks on your left side.)