- Location: Half Dome, Yosemite, California
- Distance: 15.7 miles (out and back)
- Ascent: 4,800 feet
- Difficulty: Extremely strenuous
A few years ago, I had the magical experience of climbing Half Dome — but not just any ol’ Half Dome hike; we started at 3am in order to catch the sunrise at the top. There are a ton of great reasons why you should do this: cooler temperatures, sunrise views, and almost most important of all, less crowds.
Here’s some of the photos from this awesome hike, and at the end, I’ll relay some of my tips and recommendations if you want to do the same trip.
- Location: Sugar Pine Railway, Stanislaus National Forest, Strawberry, California
- Distance: 4.6 miles (out and back)
- Ascent: 1079 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
It’s funny how you can visit an area for years knowing about a trail right around the corner. I’ve been heading up to Strawberry to my family’s cabin for five years now, and it wasn’t until this last trip at New Years that we finally expanded our hiking area (maybe it was the lack of snow!) In my defense, I’ve always gravitated towards the nearby Pinecrest Lake trail, and when sticking close to home, we tended to walk the backroads and search for mushrooms.
Right before this trip, we were walking one of the roads when I saw a sign saying, “Do not enter, trail 300 feet ahead.” What? A trail? And lo and behold, 300 feet ahead, there were indeed trail markers and a well-defined (and well-used — am I really the last to know about this?) trail heading down the hill.
A couple weeks later, friends and I finally explored this new trail, which turned out to be the Sugar Pine Railway trail, where a railroad used to be and taken down in the ’70s.
- Location: Strawberry Peak, Stanislaus National Forest, California
- Distance: 4.1 miles
- Ascent: 767 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
Alas, didn’t take many photos of this hike near my cabin in Strawberry, California. I’ve heard about Strawberry Peak from family who had climbed it before (and “climb” is kind of a poor term, since it’s really just walking up a hill.)
I’m lucky that I have a job where I can work wherever I want (as long as I have internet access), and I took advantage of that fact in the fall of 2013 — landed in Brussels, cruised into Germany via Cologne, trained to Freiburg (and did a big hike), rented a car and cruised around the Black Forest and Romantic Road, visited Munich, then a couple long term (~3 week) stays in Prague and Berlin. Not bad!
There were a few standout memories from the trip:
I really want to do this trail. China has never been high on my list of places to go (due to pollution and corruption), but I can’t deny there are some really potentially amazing places to visit.
Thankfully I’m okay with heights as long as I have a secure harness — I climbed Half Dome a couple years ago and was one of the only people who had a harness for the cables (no regrets!), and when I rappelled for the first time, my guide was impressed with the speed I flung myself over the edge once I was sure that my harness was properly secured. So while the person in the video isn’t using a harness (not very smart, in my opinion), I feel that I would pretty confident on that trail if I did have one.
- Location: Freiberg to Sankt Peter, Germany
- Distance: ~13 miles
- Difficulty: Moderate (due to distance)
I knew I wanted at least one long hike while I was traveling Europe, and Freiburg, Germany seemed like the perfect place to do so. It’s a medium-sized city right off the Black Forest, and according to Google Maps, criss-crossed with hiking trails.