Author Archives: Ahimsa

Hikes of the World

I just wanted to take a moment and list some of my most memorable hikes and also some hikes that I’m hoping someday to do. Please let me know your thoughts on these hikes or any I should add to my list.

Treks I’ve done

Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

2-3 weeks / 260 km

Annapurna 2010

This is my all-time favorite hike and one of the only ones I’ve done twice. There is a road now which is good for people who live there and people who used to have to carry goods up on their head, although I hear it’s made the hike less enjoyable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen nature more beautiful than this, and I don’t know if I ever will.

Annapurna Sanctuary, Nepal

80 km / 5-10 days

Despite the similar name, this is mostly an entirely different hike than the Annapurna Circuit, though it is possible to link up the two. This hike has stairs for days, and in this case that’s not an exaggeration. It’s a really good “easy” Himalaya hike though it must be said it’s not the easiest hike in the world.

Everest Base Camp and 3(ish) Passes, Nepal

3-4 weeks / 220ish* km

Distances in Nepal are usually measured in hours, not kilometers. Furthermore some people (including myself) took a jeep to Jiri and hiked in, which adds a few dozen km on either side. Once you get a high enough elevation, your hiking days become very short as you can only safely gain 300 meters/ 1000 feet of elevation a day. It also depends on how many of the passses you do. When I went, I only summited Cho La because of heavy snowstorms on Kongma and Renjo La. That was in early March, so those hiking later would have no problem. Also Gokyo Lakes were snowed under that early, which was a bummer–but the tradeoff is that the guesthouses had room and often even gave away free rooms.

Much of this hike is above the treeline so the beauty is raw and stark. EBC itself is a hefty 5,364 meters (17,598 feet) but it is not the highest point. Both Kala Pattar (5,545,meters/18,190 feet) Chukkung Ri (5,550 meters/18,200 feet) are optional side-routes but should be considered mandatory.

Kalaw to Lake Inle, Myanmar

3 days / 57 k

This is a great training hike. Not much elevation gain; no need to bring tents or food. Meet locals, chat with your guide, and just take in the scenery. Dry earth and curious kids and goats and moon festivals alike await: the best thing is, at the end you are at Inle Lake, one of the coolest parts of the country.

Goat Rocks, USA

?? km 3-4 days

I don’t really remember how long this hike was, but I started at Packwood Lake and hiked along the PCT for a few days before hitchhiking back. It was cool. As an Oregonian I’m supposed to be partial to Mt. Hood but can you honestly look at Rainer and not admit that it’s just as awesome? I certainly can’t!

Keplar Circuit, New Zealand

60 km, 4 days

This was the first Great Walk I did, as well as my first proper backpacking experience, back in 2006 when I lived in Australia. I made so many mistakes–bringing a change of clothes for each day! Bringing a proper big bath towel! Bringing a kilo of rice and a big glass bottle of soy sauce! Letting the soy sauce leak all over my clothes. Buying a liter of Frangelico at the duty free and lugging that along as well! It was with a heavy bag and a heavy heart that I trudged through this wild wilderness but the Keplar is truly amazing. Bonus: it was made in a convenient loop, so you can walk right from town.

Milford Track, New Zealand

3-4 days / 53.5 km

‘the finest walk in the world’ 

The 2nd Great Walk I did. Supposedly there are epic views but this picture is pretty indicative of my trip. Went off-peak, which was great because it was way cheaper and more flexible (you don’t have to pre-book where you stay). If you like mist in the mountains though, this tramp* is for you. Although I’ll never forget a German girl on the trek who was so upset at the mist. “This is shit,” she kept saying, “This is so shit.” Her tone was one of bafflement, like she had been attacked.
Fun facts: Long hikes in NZ are called “tramps.” Trail mix is called “Scroggin” And everything is “sweet as.”

Queen Charlotte Trek, New Zealand

2-3 days / 72 km

The 3rd Great Walk I’ve done. This is a beautiful trek with some long climbs where you can see hungry wekas and ocean views. The camping is cool too; sleeping in orchards and farms. Furtheremore, you get a dope boat ride on either end across the top of NZ’s South Island. I was more meh on this hike that I expected because, I suspect, the scenery never really changes. Jaw-dropping bay views from day 1 just seem like normal by day 3. But in their defense, they are jaw-dropping views nonetheless.

Chelan Lakeshore Trail, USA

1-3 days, 17 miles

I remember thumbing through a Pacific Northwest hiking book and just being transfixed by the sight of Lake Chelan. It settled in my head like a mental mosquito and I had to come check this out. I hiked it with two friends when we were all celebrating our 30th birthday and it’s really a perfect little hike.

Chitwan National Park Trek, Nepal

3 days / 30 km

If you like animals, this is a great trek. I saw rhinos, gators, sloth bears, wild pigs, and got close to seeing a tiger (found its footprints next to the water early in the morning.

Lake Waikaremoana, New Zealand

3-4 Days / 46 KM

Compared to the walks on the south island or Tongariro, this is a lesser-known Great Walk. But in it’s defense it is a walk–the Whanganui journey is a great walk that is entirely in a boats. I liked this hike–it was was consistently pleasant without ever threatening to be epic. I can’t guarantee this for you, but All Blacks legend Dan Carter slept in the first hut the same night as me. Man, did he carry a lot of gear, including a gas stove (the huts have stoves already). This definitely is a walk, but I find the claim of “great” to be a little undfounded. Maybe “Generally Nice Walk” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Pouakai Circuit, New Zealand

3-5 days / 52km

This hike goes through so many tussocks that it gets high marks for that alone. This was another New Zealand summer hike where it rained so much that a) I never saw the mountain and b) even in waterproofs, we ended up being miserably wet.

Honorable Mention – Day Hikes that are as Exhausting and Epic as Proper Treks

Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand

I really wanted to do the full Tongariro Circuit and had booked it months in advance but even though it was the middle of summer, New Zealand remembered how far south it is and it snowed like crazy. Luckily the day hike was still available. It’s called “the finest day hike in the world” and to me it lived up to that status. Kiwis are so low-key that when they brag, they really mean it.

Trolltunga, Norway

Look at those people just chilling on a Troll’s Tounge

Perhaps the single best hiking day of my life. I had just arrived in Norway, drove across the country, camped out, hid from trolls, enjoyed Taco Friday (it’s a thing there) while camping, got up, rode bikes for 10 or so kilometers, scrambled up a mountain, climbed a via ferreta, had a snowball fight, and then ended up here. Posed for pictures, did a dance on the Troll Tongue (sorry, mom!) and then did the whole thing in reverse, ending up in cabin in the woods.

Glencoe, Scotland

I’m pretty sure you have to say the phrase “rugged beauty” when you’re talking about the Highlands. So enjoy some rugged beauty! Glencoe is one of my very favorite places in the world.

Besseggen Ridge, Norway

Camping at Gjendesheim is free.

All you need to know is that this area in Norwegian is called “The Land of the Giants” and every trail sounds like it could be a Led Zeppelin song.

Seoraksan – Dinosaur Ridge. South Korea

Yes a lot of people come here. So much that there are times you have to queue on the trail. It’s also super hard, so much up and down and a lot it is climbing up or down ropes. I went on a group trek that started at 5:30 am before summiting and then continuing over dinosaur ridge. We did get a little lost and ended up back at the bus by 9:30 pm that night. Grueling but very much type II fun.

Japanese Alps

I ended up hiking this with a guy from my hostel who was from Switzerland (the actual alps) and he was none too impressed. But while Matterhorn-less, these mountains are great. For a long time, completing this day hike gave me my Fitbit step count record (62,000 steps). I would really love to come back and complete the full Kamikochi-Yari-Hotaka Circuit

Bluebird Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, USA

I haven’t spent a lot of time in the Rockies, but judging from this hike it would be a good idea to go back. This is a great day hike, going past waterfalls and rivers and fields before ending up at a beautiful mountain lake.

Booyong walking track, Australia

The thing about hiking in Australia is that are so many spiders you might want to carry a stick in front of you to break all the webs. This area was pretty leechy as well, but we also saw all kinds of birds and even wild pottaroos. (Yes that’s a real thing.)

Santubong, Borneo, Malaysia

Most people when they think of Malaysia and hiking think of Kota Kinabalu but it was too expensive for my blood, so this hike down in Sarawak served as a good substitute. Just a day hike but with natural roots serving as via ferrata there were truly some death defying moments. It was so humid I had to take of my shirt and wring it out–every ten minutes. The views and breezes up on the top are very nice.

Green Lakes Trail, USA

Ever have a trail blow your mind? This place is so pretty it feels like it was designed by Disney as the ideal hike.

Cocora Valley, Columbia

I blogged pretty recently about this hike. Wait, what do you mean over a year ago doesn’t count as recently?!

Hikes I’ve partially done

PCT

Planning on doing a lot more this summer

Overland Track

Mucked around for two days at Cradle Mountain. Would love to do the whole thing.

Zion Narrows

Just hiked in a couple of miles before it got dark.

Timberline Trail

Hiked for one day going north and two days starting south but need to connect the whole thing.

Hikes I really want to do

Lycian Way

The most historical of hikes is quite the draw for me.

Swedish Kings Way

You can see the Northern Lights!

West Highland Way

I can’t actually go to Scotland anymore but if I could it would be for this

Scottish National Trail

I can’t actually go to Scotland anymore but if I could it would also be for this

Routeburn

I didn’t rank any of NZ’s Great Walks that highly, but I reckon that’s just because I’m waiting for the right one.

Te Araroa Trail

Something about crossing a country is just cool. Though if you did it horizontally it would be way easier.

Wonderland Trail

Looks amazing but I hate having to get permits.

Enchantments

Looks just as amazing but I still hate having to get permits.

Torres Del Paine

Classico

Fitzroy

Another classico

GR20

The worst name for a hike ever, true, but it doesn’t look like the worst.

Our Poison kills you nicer than their poison: The Democratic Party of the USA

Henry David Thoreau was once locked up for refusing to pay a poll tax. He opposed the tax on moral grounds – in a democracy, he argued, a man shouldn’t have to pay to vote.

That night Thoreau looked up from his jail cell to see Ralph Waldo Emerson standing outside. Emerson looked at him and asked, “Henry, why are you in there?” Thoreau fired right back: “Ralph, why are you out there?”

The point being that having morals has consequences. No one who is sane wants Trump to be President again.

Trump is a disaster

It’s a strong argument: voting blue no matter who is a matter of fundamental importance to saving the United State. So the distaste for Biden seems foolhardy and self-destructive. We are drowning, the metaphor says. If someone throws you a life preserver, you don’t criticize the color or shape of the preserver. You climb back on the bloody ship!

There are vital concerns. 4 more years of Trump will likely doom the Supreme Court. His special brand of institutionalized racism and border cruelty is heartbreaking. There’s the threat of Trump going full dictator as well.

One of the pair of Biden and Trump will be the next president. It sucks, but chose the lesser of two poisons.And if you’re planning to vote for Joe Biden, I get it.

If you find yourself in that camp, I can’t blame you. I’m not saying you’re wrong. But if you’re curious why other progressives don’t agree with you, I’ll try to give you some idea.

Over on twitter, progressives like Kyle Kulinski, Krystal Ball, and Briahna Joy Gray have received nothing but vitriol for suggesting that they can’t or won’t vote for Biden.

The case for not voting for Joe Biden

This largely comes from a different way of viewing the world. For many progressives, those who are unlikely to vote for Biden, Trump is as much a symptom as he is a cause. He’s a product of a decadent society that has voted rich actors and tv stars as president twice in the last 40 years. Neoliberal policies have made the rich richer and the poor poorer, have stripped jobs from the working class.

The thinking is that Democrats and Republicans are as similar as they are different, in that both are fundamentally beholden to corporate interests. In this mindset, Biden is part of the same system as Trump—both are corporatist servants of the neoliberal status quo. To some, mostly those that live in the US, that seems radical but to others, mostly those that live in other countries, it’s self-evident.

Sanders seemed different. He didn’t take any corporate money. He seemed to stand as champion of the downtrodden. He stood as the first real choice that many minorities and poor and downtrodden had ever had at the presidential level. He was not seen as the 1A to Biden’s 2A. He was different at the atomic level.

As for Joe Biden? Even his supporters know that there are the flaws with him. All together, it’s not worse than Trump, probably, but it’s bad enough for some to say they cannot ever support him.

sharon-mccutcheon-NeRKgBUUDjM-unsplash

On the left: Republicans. On the right: Democrats.

 

A brief summary of Biden

He’s lost 2 presidential runs already. He seems to be in cognitive decline.

He’s received the lowest possible score on his environmental policies. His legacy is also one of kids in cages, of pushing Nafta, of cutting Social Security. He actually asked Bush for more war in Iraq. He was part of the Obama admin that first put kids in cages. Frankly, if he didn’t have the (D) after his name, there would be very little to recommend him.

It gets worse. He stood for segregation and racist policies. He’s been accused of sexual assault. His very campaign promises echo Trump’s. Let’s go back to a better time, he says. It’s another version of Make America Great Again, only tinted blue. No part of Biden’s policies or expected Cabinet addresses the concerns of progressives. Should he win, these progressive feel their issues will be neglected for the next 4-12 years.

So there’s a real disgust toward Biden. But there’s also strategy. For decades, the Democrats have moved to the right as their old progressive roots have withered and died. The idea is that power is never given away freely. If leftists fight for their beliefs, they think, they’ll try to exact some movement toward true progressive policies.

markus-spiske-xH8_bSnpH5Q-unsplash

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

We can’t return to normal, the thinking goes, when normal was always part of the problem.

Many poor people cannot afford incremental change. They don’t have dependable jobs or savings or healthcare or own homes and it’s unlikely they will get those things in their lifetime. So replacing the despicable Trump with the slightly less despicable Biden doesn’t feel like a solution. The status quo is quashing millions of people and Biden’s promises to return to pre-Trumpian times sounds terrifying to the less fortunate.

For the #neverbiden progressives, the metaphor isn’t grabbing the life preserver but trying to figure out a way not to let the boat sink at all.