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Handcrafted Log Homes

Handcrafted Log Homes

Handcrafted log homes in North America date back to 1638. That is about the time that historians believe that log home construction began in the United States. Historically, log homes were a fast way to create a solid structure that is protected from both predators and the freezing winter temperatures. Log homes also made a great deal of sense considering the easy access to the building materials needed in their construction.

Over time the design elements and construction methods of log homes changed. Technology advancements brought on machines that could mill large volumes of logs, faster and more economical. This leads to beautiful Log homes however they had lost a great deal of the artistry and craftsmanship they were once known for. Traditionalist today prefer the individuality of Handcrafted log homes. Each home is truly a one and only.

Handcrafted construction means just what it implies. Each home is put together by hand, the logs are carefully selected and hand-hewed in such a way to preserve the natural features of the log. A great deal of time and effort go into each Handcrafted log home. Generally, there are three different styles to choose from for which size and shape become options. Those styles differentiate how the logs lay upon each other. You can select from Hand-hewn, Swedish Coped or Chinked style logs. The choice in style will change the look and feel of your home and it is purely a matter of preference.

Handcrafted Log Home by Pioneer Log Homes

Image courtesy of Pioneer Log Homes

The simplest style is the Chinked Style of log home where no alterations are made to the log other than removing the bark. This style is prone to having caps between the logs. Chinking is a term used when the space between the logs is filled either with a natural or synthetic substance that adheres to the log and prevents water or air from passing through the gaps between each log.

Not every style of log homes requires chinking. Swedish Coped, which is another term for fully or double scribed log. Each log is hand scribed with a concave bottom, allowing the log to sit tightly atop of its adjoining log. Hand-hewn logs are different in the sense that the top and bottom of each log is planned flat allowing for a clean fit. Those three options alone open up the doors to an almost endless number of design elements.

Handcrafted Log Home Precision Craft

Image courtesy of Precision Craft Log and Timber Homes

Handcrafted versus Milled Logs Homes

A handcrafted log is handled by the craftsman throughout the entire process. That means that the bark is removed by hand using draw knife. The process adds an organic feel to the finished log with visible character flaws that add to the design of the home.

A milled log is processed through a mill where it is debarked and sized and shaped by machines, and often via an automated process. The result is a uniformity to the logs for both shape and size, creating a finished look that is either through sanding or planning. These logs are often milled on two surfaces giving the log a flat top and a flat bottom.

The big difference between a milled log and one that is hand hewn is that with the milled log, you lose the human touch. When a log is hand hewn the best characters of the log are preserved so that the finished log is unique, beautiful. That preservation of unique characteristics makes the finished home arguably more beautiful.

Due to the amount of personal effort and artistry that goes into a Handcrafted Log home, they are generally more expensive to build but the finished product is well worth the difference in cost.

Earth Gear’s Curated Selection of Rustic Decor

Log Home Builders

Log home builders use a variety of processes to build structurally sound log homes. Some offer log home kits that use 100 percent milled logs. Some offer log home packages that use handcrafted or milled logs or a mixture of both types of logs. Some offer naturally dry or kiln dried logs in their log home kits. So, which type of log home is best for you?

The answer to that question comes down to your preference, budget, and goals for your home. Some logs work well as milled timber while others are more suited to handcrafting. The species of tree is also important.

Log home builders take a great deal of pride when manufacturing and assembling a Handcrafted log home. They have carefully chosen each log and worked the wood by hand to protect the beauty of the log. Some even choose a large feature tree that provides support for the home’s structure but also carries a number of the personal characteristics of the family it’s being built for. A good example of that is Pioneer Log Homes in Williams Lake BC.

Grand Entrance

Image courtesy of Pioneer Log Homes

Pioneer is likely the most well-known manufacturer of handcrafted log homes. They have been building handcrafted log homes for over 40 years and have built spectacular log homes for people from around the world. They are renowned for having large character logs and use primarily western red cedar in all of their homes. You can read more about Pioneer Log Homes here.

There are a large number of Handcrafted log home builders and who you choose will ultimately come down to personal choice. However, it is extremely important to make sure that whoever you choose has a solid reputation and an extensive resume with a large number of happy loyal clients.

Sitka Log Homes is a family owned and run company based out of 100 Mile House BC. The Johnson family has been building Handcrafted Log homes for 40 years and their homes have been featured in magazines in Canada and the United States. They offer a variety of wood types and have a number of Handcrafted log home plans to choose from.

Handcrafted Log Homes

Image courtesy of Precision Crafted Log and Timber Homes

Tree selection and Considerations

Cypress is renown as a tree that both repels insects and resists rotting. While that is true, the statement is misleading. As it turns out it is the cypress heartwood that has most of those benefits while the sap wood is often softer and much lighter in color. Hand hewn logs can take the outer layers of sap wood off so what remains is a beautiful heartwood with all of the properties for which Cedar is prized. Cedar is also one of the most expensive trees to use for log homes. Milled cedar might stack up, but you want to be sure that all of the sap wood is gone.

Douglas Fir is a common wood throughout most of the Pacific Northwest. It makes an excellent tree for log cabins and is often one of the cheapest logs when locally grown. Douglas Fir is used in many building products from high-end veneers to 2x4s and plywood.

White Pine is the tree of choice in the eastern part of the United States and into Canada. When grown locally, this is a lower priced log that makes a solid log home.
Somewhere in the middle are spruce trees which work well as logs for log homes and are often priced just above pine logs. Soft wood trees require more thought and care in wetter climates but offer a price break over hardwoods.

Great Room Roger Wade

Image courtesy of Roger Wade Studio

Log Home Living Room

Image courtesy of Roger Wade Studio

How to Finish the Logs

Round or square. Some handcrafted log homes use hand hewn logs that are squared rather than round. Sometimes they square them on three sides and leave the outer area round. The flat edges help to make the inside of the home more modern with flat walls, while the top and bottom of the logs fit together easily. There is no right answer here and whatever you decide is a matter of design style.

The joy of a handcrafted log home is that each log is chosen and then placed according to its esthetics. The logs are left round, so you gain that authentic look. Where walls meet, you have more options such as interlocking corners, dove tailing, butt & Pass, or a corner post.

In some of the bigger and more magnificent handcrafted log homes, massive logs stand as corner posts. The look makes the home seem as though it were grown rather than constructed. Dove tailing is a beautiful finish for a handcrafted home. The logs interlock which is different from what a butt & pass joint does. In a butt & pass joint, one log butts up to the log from the connecting wall. The connecting log runs past the end of the log that butts up to it forming a 90° angle. Each row of logs changes its role so that the corner is locked together. With a butt & pass system you get a right angle, but with a dove tail you end up with a visible joint. Which styles are best? It’s all design aesthetics.

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Size Matters – House Size That Is

Handcrafted log homes range from tiny cabins to near palace-sized buildings. Some of the most beautiful fishing lodges across Alaska and Canada are beautifully constructed handcrafted log homes. The size of your house often dictates the types of logs that you can use. The logs used to support the roof must be of sufficient diameter and add an amazing design feature to the home. These big open vaulted ceilings with exposed logs leave people standing in awe at the grandeur of the home.

Great Room Log Home

Image Courtesy of Roger Wade Studio

The larger handcrafted log homes have great rooms, which are open spaces with a huge fireplace and wide open vaulted ceilings. This is the central focal point of the home and open to the kitchen area. The gathering place for the entire family in the evenings or those long cold winter days. The interior of the great room is divided using soft design elements such as area rugs and furniture that help to define a dining area from a living area. Get some ideas on how to furnish your log home.

Handcrafted log homes are truly inspirational. The beauty and artistry of these homes are sought after from around the world. If you make the choice to build a Handcrafted log home you will have a home that is a personal reflection of yourself and something to pass down from generation to generation.

Log Home Kitchen
Log Home Bedroom
Log Home Hall

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Best Cocktail Recipes

Best Cocktail Recipes

Have you ever wondered what the best cocktails are for entertaining your friends? Earth Gear has – and we thought we would bring the best cocktail recipes to you.

But first we need to understand where these wonderful drinks come from. The word “Cocktail” is symbolic of relaxing and enjoying time with friends. The combination of two or more spirits with an associated non-alcohol liquid form a refreshing drink. They can knock you off your stool in the right quantities, however for most people who drink in moderation,  they are simply a delicious way to kick back after a long week.

There doesn’t seem to be any historic time records to identify when the first cocktail was invented, however in 1862 a professor by the name of Jerry Thomas wrote “The Bon Vivant’s Companion” otherwise known as How to Mix Drink. It is the first book to provide information on recipes for punches, sours, slings, cobblers, shrubs, toddies, flips, and a variety of other mixed drinks. The Cocktail differs from what is known as the Highball as it is distinguished as a drink which contains only one spirit and a carbonated soda.

Today the world of Cocktails is vast. Mixologists around the world are constantly inventing new cocktail creations from a wide variety of spirits and juices. So much so that the International Bartenders Association is hosting the World Cocktail Championship in Copenhagen this October. These competitions in the past have been the public launch of many of our favorite cocktails such as the B52, the Barracuda, and the Lemon Drop Martini.

Mixologists today have taken the creation of cocktails to another level giving birth to a new version of Mixology known as Molecular Mixology. This involves the use of tools more commonly used in Molecular Biology to assist them in taking the cocktail to a higher level. One such piece of equipment is the Vacuum Sealer, a device for combining and infusing ingredients in a vacuum and thus preserving their flavors and enhancing the finished product. It is commonly used in the making of the “Smoked Old Fashioned” cocktail which includes flavorings from non-edible substances, such as tobacco and leather. However, this might not be the type of cocktail you would serve to your friends while sitting around the pool or before serving dinner. Earth Gear has found 20 of the most refreshingly delicious cocktails from the top food & beverage blogs for enjoying the summer months with friends and family. Please follow the links provided to view the complete recipe as well as others that these incredibly talented bloggers have curated.

Tropical Strawberry Hibiscus Rum Cocktail

Tropical Strawberry Hibiscus Rum Smash
The bottom layer of this stunning cocktail is a combination of mint, lime, mango juice, coconut water, and rum. The  top red layer is hibiscus tea. All of these flavors work well together to make the most tropical creation.
View the complete recipe: Half Baked Harvest

Best Cocktail Recipes | Tarragon Gin & Tonic

Tarragon Gin & Tonic
These spring green tarragon gin and tonics have soft notes of tarragon melding with herbaceous gin and are sharpened by quinine and celery bitters. This classic gin and tonic is bitter, sweet, aromatic and tangy.
View the complete recipe: The Bojon Gourmet

Verdant Lady Chartreuse Gin & Mont Cocktail Recipe

Verdant Lady Cocktail
A strong yet refreshing cocktail shaken with gin, green Chartreuse, and lime and served up.
View the complete recipe: The Bojon Gourmet

Strawberry Thyme Sparkler | Best Cocktail Recipes

Strawberry Thyme Sparkler
The perfect cocktail for the warm days of summer. This drink marries the sweetness of summer fruits with the earthiness of fresh, fragrant herbs.
View the complete recipe: Glitter Guide

Sparkling Citrus Lillet Prosecco Punch

Sparkling Citrus, Lime, Lillet & Prosecco Punch
Fresh citrus juice, Lillet Rosé and prosecco make a pretty punch with notes of floral, sweet, and bitter to please all palates. This drink gets sweetness from Lillet, blood orange, and tangerine, tartness from grapefruit and lemon.
View the complete recipe: The Bojon Gourmet

Grapefruit Mint Mojito

Grapefruit & Mint Mojito
This grapefruit & mint mojito cocktail is light and refreshing and the perfect way to celebrate the weekend.
View the complete recipe: Made from Scratch

Hibiscus Ginger Palomas | Summer Cocktail Recipe

Hibiscus Ginger Palomas
These Palomas are floral and tart and gets a kick from fresh ginger and vibrant hibiscus. They go down great with warm tortilla chips and salsa. This paloma gets its pretty pink hue from dried hibiscus flowers and a floral kick from freshly grated ginger.
View the complete recipe: The Bojon Gourmet

Rosemary Pomegranate Lemon Vodka Sparkler

Rosemary, Pomegranate & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers
The lemons’ sweet juices caramelize from the heat of the grill, adding bitter-sweet depth. It pairs beautifully with fresh pomegranate juice, which also has flowery/sweet/tart/bitter tastes. Rosemary simple syrup adds a bit of piney depth, and the drink is punctuated by clean flavor of vodka and a bit of fizzy water. View the complete recipe: The Bojon Gourmet

Rhubarb Grapefruit Thyme Mint Mojito

Rhubarb, Thyme, Grapefruit & Mint Mojito
this grapefruit & mint mojito cocktail is so light and refreshing. It’s the perfect way to celebrate this Thirsty Thursday. Cheers to you and yours!
View the complete recipe: Top With Cinnamon

Mule Cocktail Recipe

Frida’s Mule Cocktail
Frida’s Mule! A spin on the Moscow Mule. The main ingredient here is jalapeño infused mezcal, which has a delicious smoky taste with a touch of heat. That plus some lime juice and ginger beer make it the ultimate hot-summer-day cocktail.
View the complete recipe: West Elm Blog

Basil Plum Pimms Cocktail Recipe

Basil Plum Pimm’s Cup
The classic Pimm’s Cup cocktail gets a summery twist from fresh plums and basil.
View the complete recipe: The Bojon Gourmet

Apricot Orange Blossom Syrup

Apricot Orange Blossom Syrup
Looking to make a mocktail? This syrup is wonderful with sparkling water as a homemade soda. It’s even great over vanilla ice cream!
View the complete recipe: This Mess is Ours

Summer Sangria

Summer Sangria
Cool off this summer with a nice chilled glass of sangria full of ripe peaches and a batch of blueberries. Try out this easy recipe that is sweet, crisp, refreshing and perfect for enjoying those long summer days.
View the complete recipe: evermineOCCASIONS

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
This cocktail is a refreshing blend of homemade lemonade that gets fresh strawberries and basil pureed into the mixture. Add vodka or gin or enjoy it non-alcoholic.
View the complete recipe: What’s Gaby Cooking

Spring Sangria

Spring Sangria
This easy-to-make beverage is a perfect signature drink for an outdoor party.
View the complete recipe: evermineOCCASIONS

Frozen Watermelon Rose Sangria Slushies | Summer Cocktail Recipe

Frozen Watermelon Rose Sangria Slushies
This fun big batch cocktail is the perfect drink to make all summer long. It’s one of those drinks that everyone can love, plus it’s also the easiest thing to make.
View the complete recipe: Half Baked Harvest

Strawberry Melon Elderflower Pimms

Strawberry Melon Elderflower Pimm’s Cup
This cocktail has delicious layers of cucumbers, strawberries, melon balls, and lemon slices.
View the complete recipe: Half Baked Harvest

Cherry Cocktail Recipe

Delicious Cherry Cocktail
The main ingredient of this cocktail is cachaca. Cachaca is a Brazilian spirit distilled from sugarcane. It’s similar to rum in that both are distillates derived from sugar, but most rums are traditionally distilled from a sugarcane byproduct like molasses whereas cachaca is distilled directly from fermented sugarcane juice.
View the complete recipe: The Glitter Guide

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Sayulita Vacation

Crimson Skies of Sayulita

If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path travel destination, a great place to surf, reflect, rejuvenate, and soak up the sun then look no further than a Sayulita Vacation. This quaint beach destination is located 29 miles north of Puerto Vallarta and is part of the newly designated Riviera Nayarit, a 200-mile stretch of the Pacific Coastline in Mexico.

Sayulita Streets

Sayulita is a prosperous fishing and surfing village with approximately 6,000 residents, and has an eclectic quality that radiates laid-back Bohemian style. The colorful bustling cobblestone town square is totally walkable. If you are lucky – you may see Victoriano, one of the outstanding characters of Sayulita as he paints by the river bridge. [Book Hotels]

Victoriano Sayulita

Things to do in Sayulita

Sayulita offers a variety of activities for people of all ages. There are places that offer horseback riding, hiking, jungle canopy tours, snorkeling and fishing. It’s also known as a mecca for beginner surfers. The “I Love Waves” facility has friendly instructors willing to take on anyone looking to ride the waves. You can also rent paddleboards on the beach if that’s more to your liking. Fill an entire day with shopping with an impressive range of locally owned stores selling a variety of handmade goods or peruse the best of Sayulita’s produce and handicrafts at the Mercado del Pueblo, or Farmers’ Market.

Sayulita Beach

Weekends on the beach can be very busy. Sayulita beach is very popular and on weekends it can be a zoo. For something less crowded check out Los Muertos Beach (aka beach of the dead). Located west of Sayulita beach, it is just a few yards from the Sayulita cemetery hence it’s name. There is a lifeguard on duty and you can buy fresh fruit and cold cervezas from the local vendors near the beach.

Los Muertos Beach

Another great location to explore is the Marieta Islands. Located in the mouth of Banderas Bay, a group of small uninhabited islands called the Marietta Islands, are known as Mexico’s Galapagos. Formed by volcanic activity over thousands of years, these islands were used by the Mexican military as a practice range for heavy artillery until scientist Jacques Cousteau advocated for their protection. Now hunting, fishing, or even just stepping foot on the Islands is prohibited. The Mexican government allows only a few companies to charter to these islands and permits the landing of passengers onto one secluded beach called Hidden Beach. You can get there by chartering a boat or finding a tour out to Marieta Islands National Park. [Book Here]

Marina Riviera Nayarit

If sport fishing is more your thing, then head down to the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. You can book from a number of fishing charters however in most cases it’s best to stay with a locally run company so you get the full fishing experience.  Your day on the water will likely involve purchasing freshly caught squid for bait, being entertained by a mother whale and her calf, catching some amazing Pompanos and enjoying some of the freshest ceviche you have ever had. This is a day the whole family will enjoy, just make sure you have plenty of sunscreen. [ Book Here]

San Panchos

A short 15 minutes north of Sayulita is San Pancho. Known as the village of San Francisco, is home to art galleries, restaurants and unique shops. San Pancho has a beautiful beach, where the waves can get very large and tend to break heavily on shore. It’s not the best area for swimming, but surfers can usually catch their share of big waves.

San Panchos Beach

The Altavista Petroglyphs in the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, are part of an intriguing archaeological site northeast of Jaltemba Bay.  Identified locally as” La Pila del Rey,” the site has one of the largest known concentrations of stone engravings (petroglyphs). There are more than 2,000 petroglyphs spread over the 80-hectare site.  Although less than half of them can be seen due to the jungle brush, there are enough visible to makes the site worth seeing.

Altavista Petroglyphs

Dinning in Sayulita

From taco carts and stands offering the best peso-a piece tacos in the world to Mexican restaurants ranging from humble to high end. You will also find the tastiest barbequed chicken you have ever eaten, amazing coffee, artisan breads, and fresh-picked organic produce. Sayulita has some of the best Mexican food you will find.

Evening In Sayulita

Don Pedro’s Restaurant and Bar – touted as one of the best restaurants in town, it’s location is unbeatable – right on the water. They have an open-air section in the back where you can kick off your heels with your feet in the sand. The steamed Mussels a la Provencale and Crab Cakes are heavenly.

La Rustica – has some of the best wood fired pizza, salad or pastas in Sayulita. With the great ambience and attractive modern decor, the atmosphere is intimate and the service is very attentive. From inventive cocktails and delicious gluten-free pasta dishes to vegan pizza, the food is delicious. Try the Caprice salad with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes layered under fresh basil almond pesto, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Caprice Salad

Chocobabana – the menu offers everything from breakfast to lunch, great coffee and a solid gold selection of refreshing smoothies. The namesake Chocobanana is something everyone should try, a frozen banana on a stick dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut or granola. They also make a fantastic carrot cake that will keep you going back for more.

Sunset in Sayulita

If you have ever traveled in Mexico you will certainly find, Sayulita to be a unique and special place. You will fall in love with the beautiful quaint streets, the slow laid back pace, sandy beaches, friendly locals and incredible food.  You will find everything you’re hoping for in Sayulita. There’s just something about the calming crimson skies, and the sweet breeze of a muted purple nightfall that makes everyone feel at peace.

San Panchos Beach
San Panchos
Sayulita

Submited by Lorna Schiefner
Photographs by Lorna Schiefner

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Big Island Hawaii Things To Do

Big Island Hawaii Things To Do, A Journey of Beauty and Contrast

The big island Hawaii has a history datable to 1,500 years ago when a small fleet of canoes landed on the island’s shores. Those early sailors traveled from the Marquesas Island for over 2,000 miles to find what we call “Paradise”. However today, all you need to explore the beauty and excitement of the Big Island is a map, a rental car, and the spirit of adventure.

The Geologic History of Hawaii

The creation of the Hawaiian Islands is fascinating and offers something different from the way that many islands form. For example, the Japan archipelago forms because of subduction — an oceanic plate subducts beneath a continental plate. The friction from that process causing lava to well up and volcanoes form and then islands form. Hawaii is very different.
The Hawaiian Islands are not formed because of subduction. Their formation occurs because of a hole in the earth’s crust. In geologic terms, this hole is called a hot spot. If you notice that the islands that make up the Hawaiian chain grow progressively smaller as you move away from the island of Hawaii. It is not that these islands are small, it is that they are eroded. The smallest are the oldest. The Hawaiian chain sits on the Pacific Plate and as the plate moves the island over the single hot spot moves too. Once the island is cut off from the lava from the hot spot, the island stops growing. Eventually, the formation of a new island occurs. Right now, the Island of Hawaii is on top of the hot spot and is still growing.

Lava Hitting Water Hawaii

Hawaii the Volcanic

There are currently just three active volcanoes on the Island of Hawaii — Maunaloa, Kilauea, and Loihi. Maunaloa is famous for its 1984 eruption, though the volcano has remained quiet since. The most active, and dramatic of the volcanoes on Hawaii is Kilauea which is nearly in a state of constant eruptions. Kilauea is the place to go if you want to see a volcano erupt, but be forewarned, the lava on Hawaii is thick which means that it moves fairly slow — usually under 6 MPH. Viscous — thin lava — can move at speeds of 40 MPH.

Hawaii Volcanoes Map
Map Courtesy of Volcano National Park Hawaii

The Third volcano on Hawaii is Loihi and it is an underwater volcano that you can find off of Hawaii’s southern coast. Many visitors head to the Hawaii Volcano National Park which offers many opportunities to see the lava and the volcanoes. In fact, many tourists that visit Hawaii flock to see the lava flows. If you are interested in the paths less traveled, Hawaii offers many destinations that are beautiful, thrilling, and peaceful.

Mauna Kea — The dead Volcano

Mauna Kea is a shield volcano that erupted some 6-8 thousand years ago. It rises some 13,803 feet into the air. It is listed as the world’s 8th most isolated peak and the world’s second highest ocean island peak and the sixth highest point in the 50 states. It is Hawaii’s highest point.
Mauna Kea is an amazing adventure. It is tall enough to have snow in winter and the remains of glaciers. Glaciers when extinct leave behind a skeleton in much the same way that a mammoth leaves behind bones.
Glaciers are solid rivers and they flow. As they move they carve valleys, grooves, and the pick up treasures that they carry. Rocks, minerals, and other material are pushed along by the glacier and become trapped in the ice. Those piles of treasure remain when glaciers recede. They are called terminal moraines and they mark the farthest extent of a glacier as it flows. When the ice melts, the rocks and bits are freed from the ice and then form a moraine which stays unless eroded away.
Mauna Kea has many such treasure hoards that remain mostly untouched except by the most adventurous of travelers and geologist. This is one of the reasons that Mauna Kea is known as a lonely place. Its elevation is formidable and the terrain is rough. That does not mean you cannot explore this ancient fossil. This is also one of the places that Hawaii offers that is peaceful and serene.
Mauna Kea offers one of the darkest night skies around meaning that you can see many more stars here. There is an observatory which allows you to stargaze. There are night guides that help or you can explore on your own. The height of the volcano offers something else that is unique. It is one of the best places to stand above the clouds and photograph sunsets that are both below you and above you.

Mauna Kea Sumitt

Be Forewarned — you can drive to the summit but the road near the top is made of gravel and should only be attempted in a 4×4 or AWD vehicle with outstanding breaks.

Tips for Visiting the Summit

  • Make a day of it. You will need to acclimate to the altitude.
  • Plan to spend several hours at the mid-level facilities before driving to the summit.
  • Spend some time at the summit before heading to the observatory.
  • Take something light weight and warm to wear as the temperature drops dramatically at that altitude.

There is plenty to do and see at Mauna Kea.

Note: If you plan to sell your photographs or videos or if you wish to publish your photographs or video electronically, you will need a film permit. More information at the Hawaii Film Office.

 

The 442 Foot Akaka Falls

The Akaka Falls are found within the Akaka Falls State Park just 11 mile and on the northern side of Hilo. It is easily accessible by car by taking route 220 to its end and then following route 19 which is also known as the Belt Road.

The waterfall is a lovely cascade that cuts through the volcanic rock as it drops into a huge gorge. There are many local legends that surround the falls including the story of Pōhaku a Pele — the rainmaker.

Pōhaku a Pele the Rainmaker

Pōhaku a Pele is a stone that sits in the Kolekole stream some 70 feet above the Akaka Falls. It is said that if it is struck with a branch from the lehua ʻāpane tree that the rainmaker will awaken. As it does, the sky becomes dark a torrent of rain will fall from the sky. The lehua ʻāpane tree is noted for its deep red blooms.

Such legends are interesting because the Akaka Falls area is something special for reasons other than its beautiful cascading stream of water. There is an essence to the park that you can feel. It is a calmness that you breathe into your body and as you do it relaxes your soul. This is a place that heals by relieving stress and resting the mind.

Akaka Falls is a Spiritual Place

The is an old bit of lore that comes from healing places. It goes something like — for healing to occur the mind must focus on something other than one’s concerns. It may be that the Akaka Falls provide such a focus for the plummet of water down into the gorge is a beautiful focal that not only is a feast for your eyes, but it roars into your ears so that you cannot hear the self-doubt or worry.

It is an interesting place, none-the-less. There are two falls here and the trails that lead to them are not difficult. One is not quite half a mile in length.

Akaka Falls

Getting to the Falls

To get to Akaka Falls follow the loop trail. At the fork, turn left and take your time. The hike is short — less than 10-minutes, but you pass many smaller waterfalls, beautiful vegetation, and if you meander slowly you may feel the weight of the jungle. Like all true forests, there is a feeling that is very perceivable as it presses against you. You find it in deep forests where the forest stops being trees and plants and feels as though it is a single entity. It is an amazing adventure to experience.

If you turn right at the fork you come first to the Kahuna Falls and you also are fortunate to walk through the rainforest. The hike takes 8-10-minutes and another five minutes to reach Akaka Falls. The adventure is short, but the impact is huge. Take your time and enjoy the journey here.

The Pololu Valley — A Northeastern Coastal Vista and Overlook

The Pololu Valley offers beautiful vistas and many photo opportunities of the Kohala coastline. The Pololu Valley Overlook is a flat — tabletop — that allows you to view one of the best places that Hawaii offers. It is a place of opposites with the hard and dark lava rock mountains and bare coastal walls covered in the soft and brilliant green grasses that are pastures for horses and other livestock. There are the rich mixed forests with are themselves a stained glass mosaic of greens set above the black sandy beaches.

Pololu Valley

The Pololu Valley Overlook is easy to find as it is the end of the road as you travel down the 270 on a northern route. If you are nimble, there is a trail that takes you from the overlook to the black sandy beaches but be forewarned — It is steep and the path is dirt, not paved. The water here is beautiful and the waves roll in with plenty of force. This is a beach where you sit and relax and not for swimming. The currents here are not only strong but treacherous.

Getting To the Pololu Valley Overlook

The drive is simple, but be prepared to enjoy the adventure. Just take route 270 north and it ends at the Pololu Valley Overlook. Along the way expect some spectacular sites that lead up to the finale of the overlook.

The journey here is one of boundaries. You will cross many of them. Some of them are subtle and a few are quite striking. One of the most amazing is the distinct line that where the forest gives way and the coast suddenly appears. It is a moment to savor because the beauty of what occurs shocks the senses.

Tips on Enjoying the Pololu Valley and Its Overlook

  • Go early. There are limited parking spaces and they are gone quickly.
  • Come prepared to hike as there is much to see from the Overlook and if you are lucky enough to snag a parking spot, hike to the beach.
  • There is plenty to do and no outlet here for food or drinks. A picnic is ideal and the beach is inviting.

Hawaii is a place of extremes. Those include the lush tropical forests and the juxtaposition of the barren lava fields. That relationship repeats itself throughout the island and makes one of the most amazing places on Earth. There are the popular places where everyone flocks to and those that are isolated and serene. Throughout your adventure here there will be lots of beautiful places that startle your spirit and places where your brain will wonder if what you see is real.

Hawaii is a spiritual place as well as a place where you can just relax and take in what is essentially “Paradise.”

Pololu Valleyr
Observatory Mauma Kea
Hawaii Big Island Beach

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Climbing Mount Rainier

Climbing Mount Rainier

Climbing Mount Rainier: At 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier—or Tahoma, as regional American Indian tribes called it—falls a little short of the loftiest Sierra Nevada and Southern Rocky Mountain peaks. You can make a mighty strong argument, however, that Rainier’s the single most impressive summit in the conterminous United States: an all-around monster of a mountain, more topographically prominent than any Lower 48 contender and crowned with an icecap hundreds of feet thick.

Mount Rainier’s more than just awe-inspiring to behold (as millions do on clear days from the cities of the Puget Sound basin). It’s also a world-famous mountaineering destination, coveted by climbers in its own right and—given its great bulk and sometimes ferocious maritime weather—as a challenging training ground for loftier peaks such as Denali or the Himalayan giants.

Mount Rainier From Sky
Mount Rainier from Above

A Fiery Snowpeak

Like the other iconic snowpeaks of the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier is a stratovolcano (also called a composite volcano): one built by layer after layer of lava and pyroclastic flows (avalanches of hot volcanic rock and gases). The Cascades, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, owe their volcanic energies to the subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate beneath the North American Plate. This ongoing tectonic process ensures at least some of the High Cascade volcanoes, Rainier among them, may erupt in the future as they’ve done numerous times over the past several hundred thousand years.

Mount Rainier’s huge, lumpy crown includes three peaks: 14,112-foot Liberty Cap on the north, 14,158-foot Point Success on the south, and the apex, Columbia Crest, which tops the summit’s Crater Rim. The irregularity of its profile attests to a volatile history of lava swellings, violent eruptions and landslides, and the erosion of glaciers (which we’ll get to below). The most dramatic event in Rainier’s “recent” (by geological standards) past surely was the Osceola Mudflow, a titanic lahar of some 5,600 years ago created by the collapse of Rainier’s former summit, which rose perhaps to some 15,000 feet. The Osceola Mudflow roared down Rainier’s northeastern slopes and into the valley of the White River, ultimately mantling part of the Puget Trough lowlands.

Map USGS Mt Rainier
Simplified hazards map showing the potential impact areas for ground-based hazards during a volcanic event. Image Courtesy of the US Geological Society

(Back when that happened, of course, the basin of Puget Sound was far less populated than it is today. Geologists consider Mount Rainier to be North America’s most dangerous volcanoes—and one of the most dangerous on the planet—especially because of the potential for future lahars like the Osceola and how many Washingtonians would be impacted by such an event. Rainier hasn’t formally erupted since the 19th century, although the volcano has kept folks on notice with occasional steam emissions—not to mention plenty of avalanches and rockfalls.)
Due to its enormous mass, impressive elevation, and proximity to the storm factory of the North Pacific, Rainier lays claim to more ice than the rest of the Cascade Range combined: some 35 square miles of it, in fact. That icecap includes 26 main glaciers, among them that with the largest surface area in the Lower 48—the Emmons at 4.3 square miles—and that reaching the lowest elevation: the Carbon, which snouts out at 3,600 feet and which, furthermore, is Rainier’s most voluminous glacier.

Today’s glaciers, though, are nothing compared to the ones that snaked down from the volcano during the height of the Pleistocene ice ages, which penetrated the Puget Trough lowlands some 35 miles from the mountaintop.

As we’ve already alluded to, the look of Rainier reflects an ongoing battle between glaciation and volcanism. The peak gains bulk from magma swellings and lava eruptions, while glaciers fluctuating in size over time do their best to gnaw that rock edifice away. The mightiest headwall in the Cascades lies on Rainier’s north face (where glaciers have been biggest and most active): the Willis Wall, marking Carbon Glacier’s amphitheater. This 4,000-foot cliff both inspires climbers and gives them the willies, given the avalanches and rockfall that frequently sweep down it; this is among the most hazardous climbs on Rainier.
Speaking of climbs, let’s get on with the mountaineering! Here we’ll consider the two most popular approaches to Mount Rainier’s summit—the Disappointment Cleaver and Ingraham Glacier routes out of Camp Muir—and also give some shout-outs to a handful of alternatives.

Summiting From Camp Muir: The Disappointment Cleaver & Ingraham Glacier Routes

Climbing Mount Rainier along these routes, crowded as they are, makes a fantastic choice for those seeking more experience with snowpeak mountaineering as well as parties with limited time. Two of the best Rainier guiding companies, RMI and Alpine Ascents, both lead Camp Muir summit climbs that actually double as instructional courses in glacier travel. You will also need to make sure you have proper mountaineering equipment.

Camp Muir
Camp Muir

Camp Muir lies at about 10,000 feet on Rainier’s southeastern flanks. It gets its name from the great Scottish-American adventurer, botanist, and preservationist John Muir, who camped at this spot—then called Cloud Camp—in 1880 on a successful climb of Tahoma (the sixth one on record) via today’s Gibraltar Ledges Route. (Conditions were on the inclement side: Muir wrote, “The night was like a night in Minnesota in December.”) Among Muir’s climbing party was Philemon Beecher Van Trump, who’d made the inaugural recorded ascent of Mount Rainier 10 years earlier with Hazard Stevens. As Mike Gauthier points out in Mount Rainer: A Climbing Guide, Muir and Van Trump both later lobbied, as members of the Sierra Club, for Mount Rainier to become a national park (which did indeed happen in 1899).

Gearing Up For Climb
Preparation from Paradise

Your first day of climbing Mount Rainier involves reaching Camp Muir from Rainier’s most popular destination, Paradise, an ascent of some 4,500 feet and four or five hours. The route—also popular among hikers—tracks up Pebble Creek and then up the Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir. This may be a super well-trammeled approach, but that doesn’t mean it’s without hazards: During whiteouts, hikers and climbers alike have trudged off course into crevasses of the Muir Snowfield’s edging glaciers or too dangerous cliffs east of McClure Rock, Anvil Rock, and Camp Muir.

Muir Snow Field
Muir Snow Field Approaching Camp Muir

The Paradise-to-Camp Muir trek serves up plenty of gobsmacking views, including of the great Nisqually Glacier to the west and—if it’s clear—fine prospects of the Tatoosh Range to the south and, farther out along the Cascade Highlands, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, and Mount Adams.

Mt Hood Mt Adams Sunrise
Mt Adams to the left and Mt. Hood to the right

With its huts, outhouses, and ranger outpost, Camp Muir’s a major hub, and depending on your guide and your itinerary, you may spend the night here in an established hut or in a tent. On RMI’s five-day climb along this route, you’ll actually spend a full day acclimatizing and practicing skills at Camp Muir and sleep the second night here before making the summit push.

Camp Muir Tents
Camp Muir

From Camp Muir, the classic approaches to Rainier’s summit proceed via the overlapping Disappointment Cleaver or the Ingraham Glacier Direct routes. On an RMI or Alpine Ascents climb, your guides will make the call as to which you’ll follow. In general, the Ingraham Glacier Direct’s a more popular winter climb, while the Disappointment Cleaver alternative draws most climbers in the summer.

Approaching Ingraham Flat
Approaching Ingraham Flat

From Camp Muir, you’ll cross the Cowlitz Glacier and then slip over to the Ingraham Glacier via a pass (Cathedral Gap) in the Cathedral Rocks Ridge separating the two ice tongues. (The Cowlitz and Ingraham glaciers merge below the Cathedral Rocks.) Ingraham Flats on the far side of Cathedral Gap marks an alternative campsite to Camp Muir; the three-day Muir Climb offered by Alpine Ascents uses Ingraham Flats as the camp on the second night to provide an early shot at the summit on the final day.

Ingraham Flats From Disappointment Clever
Ingraham Flats From Disappointment Clever

It’s on the Ingraham Glacier that the two standard routes diverge. You’ll either cut across to Disappointment Cleaver, a rock ridge separating the Ingraham from the Emmons Glacier, or proceed up the Ingraham via its headwall (the Ingraham Glacier Direct route). From Disappointment Cleaver, you’ll marvel at the craggy fin of Little Tahoma, an andesitic relic of Rainier’s former eastern shoulders that help create its iconic profile as viewed from the south or north. The Ingraham Glacier Direct route, meanwhile, shows off some awe-inspiring crevasses and seracs.

Both routes attain the Crater Rim, from which Rainier’s summit—Columbia Crest—awaits less than an hour’s climb away.

Little Tahoma
Little Tahoma

A Few Other Rainier Routes

There are a number of other summit approaches out of Camp Muir, including the Gibraltar Ledges, the route followed during the first documented ascent of Mount Rainier by Van Trump and Stevens in 1870. (Gibraltar Rock is a lava rampart below Columbia Crest that makes another of the mountain’s most distinctive landmarks.) Camp Schurman on the northeast side of the mountain provides another very popular jumping-off point for summit attempts via the Emmons and Winthrop glaciers.

Another good south-side approach when climbing Mount Rainier, commencing from Paradise is the Kautz Glacier Chute, more demanding (and less busy) than the Disappointment Cleaver/Ingraham Glacier Direct options on account of its steeper gradient. The Kautz Glacier gets its name from Lieutenant August Valentine Kautz, whose party almost got to the summit way back in 1857 along this course.

Kautz Chute Mt Rainier
Kautz Chute

The “Chute” in question is the narrow and precipitous upper trunk of the Kautz Glacier, shouldered by the Kautz Cleaver to the west (another climbing route) and the Wapowety Cleaver and Kautz Ice Cliffs to the east. A highlight of the route is eyeballing those intimidating Ice Cliffs from the aptly named Camp Hazard, at 11,300 feet the highest-elevation designated mountaineering camp on Rainier and one in which Mike Gauthier (again in his Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide) advises you do not bed down given the risk of ice and rock careening down from the frozen scarp just above.

Some other exciting Rainier route includes the Edmunds Glacier up to the Mowich Face under Liberty Cap on the northwest side and the arduous Liberty Ridge climb alongside the Willis Wall.

Summit Crater Mt Rainier
Summit Crater

Success on the Mountain

Every route climbing Mount Rainier offers its own challenge and scenery, and climbing in different seasons further multiplies the variety of experiences on these hallowed mountainsides. In short, you can pursue a lifetime’s worth of adventure up on this epic stratovolcano.
You need a climbing pass (and, if you’re going to overnight on the mountain, a wilderness permit) from the National Park Service; check out this page to familiarize yourself with all the regulations.

Even if you hope to someday do an independent climb up Rainier, we recommend making at least your first few attempts with the help of guides such as RMI or Alpine Ascents. Tahoma’s full of hazards, from plunging crevasses and slide-prone headwalls and ice cliffs to the omnipresent threat of storms, which may sock the summit in for days on end. As on any snowpeak, you need to exercise lots of common sense up here, and you should never attempt the summit if conditions look too risky—even if you’re only a few hundred feet away. If Rainier seems a little too daunting for your first climb you may consider Mount Baker as it is very similar just not as big.
Want some informative background reading on Mount Rainier routes? We recommend the aforementioned Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide by Gauthier as well as Fred Beckey’s classic Cascade Alpine Guide: Vol. I.

Camp Muir
Nearing Summit Mt Rainier
Mt Adams at Sunrise

Find the Equipment you will need for Climbing Mount Rainier

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By |2017-11-04T16:46:32+00:00January 15th, 2017|Adventure Travel|1 Comment

Iceland Adventure Travel

Iceland — The land of Fire and Ice

Iceland Adventure Travel; Iceland is home to just under 325,000 people who live in a habitable area of 103,000 square kilometers. The largest city is the capital Reykjavik, which holds one-third of the nation’s population – 120,000 people. Kopavogur is the second largest city with a population just over 31,000 people. The people of Iceland are warm and hospitable and Iceland has ranked as a destination with the best hospitality consistently. The main language spoken is Icelandic though most people speak English and German.

Largest Cities and Population:

  • Reykjavik -119k
  • Kopavogur – 32k
  • Hafnarfjordur – 27k
  • Akureyri – 18k

The name Iceland conjures up a vision of snow drifts and arctic winds. They certainly have all of that but the summers in Iceland can be tempered. Much of the island’s weather and climate are impacted by the Gulf Stream. Because Iceland sits in the high latitudes it has arctic tendencies – cold and changing. In the Southern part, the days can be warm and in Reykjavik, which is in the Southern portion of the island, in summer there is nearly a month of 24-hour daylight. Dress in layers with the ability to bundle up if the weather changes. In Reykjavik, it is not uncommon to have a temperate sunny day that quickly turns to snow and rain, and then back to sunny and warm. (Find Flights to Iceland)

Kirkjufellfoss Iceland

Kirkjufellfoss

How to Explore Iceland and Its Many Sites

There is a lot to do in Iceland all year long which is why Iceland adventure travel is so popular. The country has nearly 75 kilometers of ski slopes, awesome beaches, 30 plus volcanoes, and some of the world’s largest glaciers. Reykjavik is usually the best place to stay as it has a lot to offer and easy access to the Ring Road. If you venture out from Reykjavik for overnight, make your reservations ahead of time. Even the next largest city has only 33k people and few hotels.

Where to Stay

Reykjavik is the largest city and offers the most in terms of hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. It is also the perfect jumping off point for road trips, tours or DIY attractions like the Ring Road. There are plenty of top hotels in Reykjavik and this tends to be the most expensive city on the island. (Find Hotels in Reykjavik)

Things to Do in Reykjavik

  • Stop by the National Museum and find your inner Viking. The history of the island is interesting and it helps to put the natural beauty of the island into perspective.
  • Visit the Hallgrimskirkja –
  • Take a Day Trip Tour of South Iceland
  • Cave Exploring in Gjábakkahellir — From Reykjavik enjoy guided cave exploration as a day trip to Þingvellir National Park which is an hour by minibus from Reykjavik. Some tours also include snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure.
  • Tour the Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon) and enjoy the lagoon, waterfalls, glaciers, and beaches.
  • Silfra snorkeling tour is a must.  The guided tour allows you to snorkel or dive between the tectonic plates in crystal blue water. This is a unique experience and allows you an up-close view of the geology of this amazing island. Silfra is in the Thingvellir National Park.

Other Cities to Consider

Kopavogur is just South of Reykjavik and has a population of just under 33K people. This is a port city that is industrial. Book your rooms ahead of time as there are limited numbers of hotels here. (Find Hotels in Kopavogur)

Hafnarfjordur is nearly six miles South of Reykjavik. This is the place to go to enjoy Icelandic festivals such as the Viking festival. For Rock-n-Roll enthusiasts, this is the rock-n-roll capital of Iceland. (Find Hotels in Hafnarfjordur)

The best place to stay for most travelers is Reykjavik as both Kopavogur and Hafnarfjordur are within ten miles of the capital city. They make a good choice if you want more of a quiet experience or if you find Reykjavik too expensive. If you are interested in day trips, tours, or other activities that involve a guide, then most companies will pick you up in Reykjavik. If you are looking for more of the remote aspect of Island, there are small inns and rooms in many of the smaller towns around the island.

Seljalandsfoss Falls Iceland

Seljalandsfoss Falls

Getting Around in Iceland

Drive: Most visitors drive on their Iceland adventure travel tour. There are plenty of benefits of renting a car, especially if you plan to explore the far reaches of the island or tour the Ring Road.

Fly: Flying from one city to the next is common. It can be expensive but not much more than renting a car and driving.

Biking: There are bicycling options if you want a more upclose-and-personal experience.

Public Transportation: The bus system in Iceland is extensive. It will not take you everyplace, but it will take you most places. You can even buy long-term passes which make the bus affordable. Do the research ahead of time to make sure that a bus goes where you want to visit. There are mixed reviews about how well the bus system works when it comes to visiting big named sites.

Ride Sharring: Ride sharing is another option. There are sites that allow you to find rides to specific destinations with the expectation that you contribute towards the fuel costs. This is not a bad option, but it requires a lot of organization and trust.

Visit Iceland is the official tourism site of the nation. It is a good place to visit when determining your transportation options.

Landmannalaugar Iceland

Landmannalaugar

The DIY Tour

One of the best ways to see all that Iceland offers is to take the Ring Road either as a guided tour or a self-driving tour. If you hurry from one spot to the next, then it can take as little as seven days to finish the loop. The Ring Road is a coastal road that circles the entire island and passes through many of the best features.
• The Ring Road offers access to:
• The Golden Circle
• Eyjafallajokll Volcano
National parks
• Waterfalls such as the Dettifoss Waterfall, and
• Nature resorts such as the one in Atnajokull National Park.
There is much to see and you will stop often. To fully immerse yourself in the beauty and natural wonders of Iceland you will need at least ten days on the Ring Road. A good two weeks is better so that you can stop and explore. This is a journey that you can make several times and be mesmerized and surprised each time you travel this route. Reykjavik makes a great place to start and fishing the Ring Road Tour.

How This Island Was Formed

Orange Hills Kerlingarfjoll Iceland

Orange Hills Kerlingarfjoll

Iceland and Hawaii share a few similarities. They were both formed by what geologists call a hot spot—a hole in the earth’s crust where lava escapes. No, this is not a volcano as we know it. Simply a portal from the inner earth to the outer earth. The other thing that these two islands share is that they are both volcanic, though Iceland is by far more of a volcanic hotbed, then is Hawaii. What these two masses of land do not share is a rift zone — A valley that opens into the crust of the earth where lava upwells and forms ridges on both sides of the rift. This is a geologic structure called the mid-Atlantic ridge and it runs right through the middle of Iceland.

The Fiery Northern Island

As the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate pull apart, thanks to subduction, they cause the rift and in that process the mid-Atlantic ridge forms. Iceland is cleft into two parts by the rift and that process, along with the hotspot, and the mantle plumes all provide the heat that fuels the volcanic fires of Iceland. There are over 30 volcanoes making Iceland one of the world’s most active volcanic sites.

Key Points of Interest

Amid the many volcanoes and volcanic features is a host of geologic wonders that include:

  • Rift Valleys — the physical evidence of the Island splitting apart as the mid-Atlantic ridge widens. It is a slow process as the plates move about 1 cm per year. This is one of the few times where you can see with clear distinction the tectonic plates – the North American Plate and the Eurasia Plate.
  • Geysers — evidence of the pressure that mounts beneath Iceland.
  • Hot springs and geothermal features.
  • Basalt pillars – the remains of volcanic eruptions and lava fields that are in active decay. The interesting thing about basalt pillars is how it fractures. What you see is a geometric shape that is uniform throughout the field. Each fracture looks the same and on the surface, it appears you are about to walk across and ancient courtyard that now lays in ruin.
  • The Eldgjà volcanic fissure — Fissures are interesting because they are horizontal volcanic “leaks.” Lava is either thick or runny. When it is runny, you have massive volcanic eruptions and thin lava presses upwards through faults (cracks) in the earth to form horizontal sills and vertical dikes.
  • Hekla volcano — Erupted in 2000
  • Grimsvotn volcano — Erupted in 2011
  • Bárðarbunga volcano — Lots of smallish earthquake with activity up to 3.5 magnitude reported in 2016. If you want to experience a small earthquake, there have been multiple earthquakes reported here daily throughout 2016. This is the volcano that is expected to erupt next.

30 Plus Volcanos and Many Volcanic Features

Iceland offers many volcanic points of interest from ranging lava beds to the basalt columns which are solidified lava. There are some 30 volcanoes on Iceland and an endless number of volcanic destinations. The history of the island is thought to date back as far as 60 million years ago. Like Hawaii, the creation of Iceland is due to its volcanic history. Welcome to the land of fire.

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Hot Springs Iceland

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Hot Springs

The Land of Snow and Ice

Amid the volcanic structures that make up Iceland are the snowfields, glaciers, and ice caves. Vatnajökull is not only a national park it is also Europe’s largest glacier. It has an average ice depth of 500 meters and spans around 1000 meters deep at its thickest point. It covers an amazing amount of territory and is estimated to contain 3,300 cubic kilometers of ice.

Glaciers are more than ice

Glaciers are not just blocks of ice. They are a historic record. They are made up not of ice, but of snow. When this year snow does not melt and next year’s snow falls on top of it, you have the first layer of a glacier. As that process continues, the weight of the snow closest to the surface compacts the snow towards the bottom into thin ice-like sheets. That is a glacier. Like leaves in a book, glaciers sit there and record the history of the earth. Scientist can decipher their ancient story by looking at the unique chemical properties of each layer, and discern information such as how much snow fell, if there was a drought, what the oxygen content of the earth was at a certain point, if volcanoes erupted, and many other details of the environmental conditions of the earth. Glaciers are special and Vatnajökull is one of the largest in the world and it covers about 13 percent of Iceland.

Note: Vatnajökull is a place we should all visit.

Jökull means glacier in the Icelandic language. Some of the most interesting glaciers are as follows:

  • Hofsjökull is a newly discovered glacier that emerged as the snow pack receded due to climate change. The name sounds like a Norse God but means farm
  • Vatnajökull is glacier that tells us much about its features based on its name “many streams.”
  • Eyjallafjallajökull translates as “long”
  • Torfajökull glacier – A glacier with whose name tells a story of a man who flees from a plague in the town of Klofi. His name was Torfi. Torfajökull means Torfi’s glacier.

Vatnajokull Glacier Iceland

Vatnajokull Glacier

There are many glacial features to explore on Iceland and an equal number of snow related things to do. Skiing, sledding, and dog sledding are just a few options.

The land of fire and ice is welcoming. The people are friendly and hospitable. There are so many things to see and do here that you can return to Iceland time and again and never discover all there is here. A trip to Iceland is almost like going back into time. The landscape remains trapped in this battle between the volcanic activity and the cold harsh of being within the arctic circle. It is a cycle that the earliest settlers of the island faced. You too can see the land as they did, walk among the same wonders, and gaze in awe at the power of this magical place. Fire and ice may seem as though they are opposites, but in Iceland, they become a single force… Explore that force.

 

Fjadrargljufur Canyon Iceland

Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Vatnajokull Glacier
Mount Hekla Iceland
Seljalandsfoss Falls Iceland

Source

Hafnarfjordur: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hafnarfj%C3%B6r%C3%B0ur

National Parks: http://www.visiticeland.com/things-to-do/national-parks-in-Iceland

Climate: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/iceland/weather-climate-geography

Cave exploring: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductDetail?product=5590LAVA&d=189970&aidSuffix=xsell&partner=Viator

Tour the Jökulsárlón: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductDetail?product=41712P4&d=189970&aidSuffix=xsell&partner=Viator

Sifa Snorkling: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductDetail?product=39217P1&d=189970&aidSuffix=xsell&partner=Viator

Glaciers and Glacier name meanings: https://www2.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/surveying-ice-and-fire-mapping-icelands-glaciers-and-subglacier-volcanic-calderas/

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Dominican Republic Treehouse Adventure

The Dominican Republic Treehouse Adventure in the Caribbean

PRICE FOR 2 PEOPLE
$597.00 (Regularly $1,050.00)
Duration: 4 Days  Discount: 43%
Deal ends in 7 Days
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Head to the Caribbean for a tropical escape unlike any other. Encounter a pure jungle experience, an exotic escape, and outdoor adventure all in one with this package at Dominican Tree House Village. Treehouse suite accommodations, breakfasts & dinners, and amenities included for 2.

If you love adventure, exquisite views and exceptional hospitality – this is the place for you. From four-wheeling to horseback riding and incredible hikes to a gorgeous waterful, this luxury treehouse resort in the Caribbean

Experience the raw elegance of this treehouse adventure, complete with countless opportunities to explore sun, sand, ocean, and jungle.

Whisk yourself away to a tropical adventure unlike any other. From zip lining, cliff jumping, and horseback riding, to cave exploration, boarding, secluded beach explorations, and boating tours, this 4-day adventure is a perfect mix of exploration and relaxation in the Caribbean. Deep in the lush jungle of the Samana province in the Dominican Republic, a grove of trees was transformed into a paradise retreat. A large eco-lodge, crafted from local materials, is centered on the property and surrounded by 22 open-air tree house cabins and an abundance of inviting gathering sites. The lodge itself is a magical place – an idyllic setting for a wedding, yoga retreat, or other special event, with a full bar and catering kitchen where guests will partake in hearty, family style meals by our onsite professional Chef.

Each cabin is perched high above the jungle floor, enclosed by clean white curtains and a well-built bamboo railing, and furnished with a plush queen bed and soft white sheets. You’ll also find some other hand-woven adornments and furnishings along with some hanging chairs begging you to sit and read in them. The entire property is connected by pathways and is abundant with organically grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Every detail has been attended to and you’ll find that this is a place that was built to allow for both harmony and excitement. Great efforts were made to ensure that the developments were as environmentally-friendly as one would hope to be – especially when the ultimate purpose in staying here is to commune with nature. Experience the raw elegance of this treehouse adventure, complete with countless opportunities to explore sun, sand, ocean, and jungle.

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Climbing Mt Baker for the First Time

Climbing Mt Baker: Amazing adventure lies just outside your door and such is the case for residents of the Pacific Northwest. A string of volcanic mountains run from Northern Washington down to California. Each one holds its own challenges that are attempted by thousands of worthy outdoor adventure seekers each year. The range of difficulty lies in the mountain and the route one is attempting. No matter what your skill level, there is bound to be a climb that will exhilarate your soul. The most recognizable of this chain are Mt. Baker, Mt Rainier, St Helens, Hood, Glacier Peak and Adams. Most of them are heavily glaciated and require a large degree of knowledge and awareness as every year they claim their share of worthy opponents.

For those just starting out, it’s best not to bite off more than you can chew. Mt Baker’s situated in the Northwest portion of Washington State and stands alone at 10,781 feet. Blanketed in glaciers, it is the most heavily glaciated mountain in the Cascade Range, and it offers the first time Mountaineer a real opportunity to experience the thrill of high altitude climbing. A word of caution, this is not something one just takes off and attempts on their own. Climbing Mt Baket requires a high level of physical fitness, a strong knowledge of traveling on glaciers, a team of climbers, and the right equipment to manage whatever situation you find yourself in. You also need the mental prowess to deal with extreme conditions and the ability to recognize when it just isn’t safe to continue. As world renown mountaineering climber, Ed Viesturs has coined “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” This all sounds very daunting, but don’t park this idea yet. There are professional guiding companies such at Alpine Ascents International that offer a 3-day climb on Baker. The trip is much like a climbing school as you are taught the techniques of tackling a high altitude climb. Everything from mountaineering gear, roping, self-arrest, glacial traversing, and in some cases glacier rescue.

Trail Mt Baker

Once you have decided that Climbing Mt. Baker is your next conquest, you should begin to focus on your physical condition. You need to have good cardio, core and leg strength. You will be carrying a 60-pound pack to an altitude of around 7,000 feet, so you should start training at least 5 months in advance. One good way to get accustomed to such a load is to do stairs with a pack. Start with 20 pounds in the pack and gradually build up to your pack weight over time. This will get your back and shoulders used to the load as well as build core, cardio, and leg strength.

The right equipment is also a necessity, however, most of it can be rented from the guiding company. The one thing that should never be compromised on is your footwear. Nothing can spoil a trip like this more than a pair of boots that don’t fit properly. Blisters and Black Toe are very common for someone with improper fitting boots and can truly make the trip miserable. Mountaineering boots are not your standard hiking boots. They are designed to fit crampons and can be a two-boot system with a hard shell or a heavy leather and nylon single boot. If you are prone to getting cold feet you will likely do better with the hard shell as they tend to be much warmer. Another important tip is not to bring any items of clothing that are made from cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and retains it. All your clothing should be wool (Merino wool is preferred) or a moister wicking synthetic. Wools and synthetics dry very quickly and thus prevent you from getting hypothermia and freezing to death. You can jump into your sleeping bag with a wet synthetic t-shirt on and in 30 minutes it will be dry, however, with cotton, it would take all night and likely still be damp in the morning. The saying on the mountain is “Cotton Kills.” As for all the other gear, the guiding company will provide a list of equipment needed and what can be rented apposed to purchasing. Or you can see a selection of the essential mountaineering gear here “click here

Tree line Mt Baker

Alpine Ascents International takes a southern route up the Easton Glacier. It starts in an area known as Schreiber’s Meadow and for the first two hours, you make your way through old growth forests until you break the treeline and are awarded a spectacular view of Baker. From here you can see the immensity of the mountain and get a good view of the route you will be taking over the next two days. The next challenge is the Railway Grade Trail. This is a glacial moraine formed by the glacier pushing its way down the mountain thousands of years ago and then receding. This is a tricky trail when carrying a 60-pound pack. On one side you have a sheer drop into the glaciated valley of the moraine and on the other a steep grassy slope. The trail is narrow and it is recommended to have a good pair of trekking poles to provide you with stability as the trail runs very close to the edge of the Moraine. The snowfield begins at the end of the Railway Grade Trail. There is no need to rope up or fasten your crampons yet. By mid-day, the snow has softened and it makes for easy travel as long as the snow isn’t too deep. In another 900 vertical feet you are at your base camp, situated on a rock shelf at 6,500 feet, that may or may not be covered in snow depending on how early in the season your climb is.

Camp Mt Baker

As you and your team members set up your tents, your guides begin the task of melting snow for drinking water and preparing dinner. You have spent the last 5 hours climbing over 2,700 vertical feet with 60 pounds on your back. You’re dehydrated and hungry, water and food is your number one priority. However, it becomes easy to forget this once you look around and realize you are in a very special place. With Mt. Baker to your back, the view to the south is spectacular. You have had a long hard day and the feeling of accomplishment sets in. Just getting here has not been an easy task and yet when you turn 180 degrees and look up at the majesty of Baker you realize you have only just begun.

The next day is a rest day, meant to allow your body to acclimatize to the altitude and to teach you the techniques used in mountaineering. Your guides are workhorses getting everything ready for the days training. These men and women are highly trained and look after every aspect of your safety. You can tell how much they love the remote high altitude by their enthusiasm and energy. Today they get to teach and that they’ll do. You’re going to learn how to fit your crampons, how to walk in your crampons, roping techniques for glacier travel, how to carry your ice ax, the various ways to self-arrest, maximizing your energy with the Rest Step, and other important aspects of mountaineering. You will rope up in teams of four and practice these techniques until you know them well. That’s what we call a rest day on the mountain. The guides will also go over what to expect the next day while on the climb. This day ends with a big meal of carbohydrates and to bed early as you will need plenty of rest if you’re going to succeed in your push for the summit.

Crevasse Mt Baker

One of the biggest dangers on the climb is the crossing of crevasses on snow bridges. In order to minimize the risk you’re going to start your climb at 1:00 am. Starting this early means that you will be crossing snow bridges before the sun has had time to heat them up and soften them, thus minimizing the risk of it collapsing while someone is crossing it. This is going to be a long hard day because not only are you going to summit this 10,781-foot peak but you’re going to walk back to camp, break camp and hike back to Schreiber’s Meadow. The only saving grace is that you leave all the heavy gear at base camp and only pack a few essentials, reducing your pack weight to around 15 pounds. You’re now ready to start. You have your helmet and headlamp on, your crampons are firmly tightened to your boots, your pack has your down jacket, water, and snacks in it, and you are roped up with your teammates. It’s time to go.

Be prepared to take a very slow pace stepping firmly into the footprints of climbers ahead of you. When walking in crampons it’s important not to walk on your toes. In order to get the full benefit of crampons on the ice, you need to walk flat footed and keep all the teeth of the crampon engaged. For the next 3 hours all, you will see is your feet, the snow around them, and occasionally when you glance up, the lights of your teammates ahead of you. If you’re lucky and have a clear sky with a full moon, the whole mountain will illuminate. Every hour you’ll stop for a break and quickly put your down jacket on to retain heat. You’ll drink water and force down a power bar as at these altitudes you will not feel hungry even though your body is starving for sugars. As the sun begins to rise the entire mountain turns to a faint shade of orange gold. Turning around reveals that you have come a long way from camp and crossed crevasses you didn’t even see. Just ahead is the Sherman Crater and you can smell the distinct odor of sulfur. Mount Baker has the second-most thermally active crater in the Cascade Range after Mount Saint Helens and has experienced several small eruptions over the past 300 years. However, it’s early volcanic history is checkered with much larger eruptions, such as the Mazama Park eruptive period some 6,600 years ago. Climbers today do not have much to worry about as it has not shown signs of activity in the last 130 years. You should also be aware that the rock around the Sherman Crater is heavily fractured and prone to collapse without warning. The crater also emits volcanic gasses which can be very harmful if breathed in. It is best to not get too close to its edge.

Inside the Sherman Crater Mt Baker

You are now at around 9,000 feet. At this altitude, you will begin to feel the effects of the lower oxygen levels. You will fatigue much sooner, you may get a headache, and have a feeling of nausea. The best way to overcome this is to go back down, but then what about the summit? Or you can start to take what is called, “Pressure Breaths” which involves taking deep and long intakes of air with a quicker forced exhale. This fills the deeper portions of your lungs with air allowing for your blood to collect more oxygen. The best thing to remember is to take a pressure breath every three or four steps and this should keep you from feeling the effects of the higher altitude.

This last stretch of climbing is the steepest and the hardest when it comes to keeping your mind on what you are here to do. You will feel like turning around – but stay focused, use the Rest Step you learned, keep a slow pace, and breathe. You will push through the burning in your legs and feeling of gasping for air because just ahead you can see the rounding of the upper dome as the slope begins to level out. You have now reached the top of Mt. Baker but not the summit.

Rounding the Dome of Mt Baker

This beautiful snow covered cap on the mountain stretches out to the north and to the east. From here you can see the Rocky Mountains of Canada and on a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier to the south. You are well above the clouds and all the surrounding mountain peaks. The summit is to the east of you and it’s a small final slope that has to be done in order to have the privilege of saying you reached the summit of Mt. Baker. By now the sun is up and you have a 360-degree view of the Pacific Northwest. You have spent the past 5 hours concentrating on every step, making sure the rope doesn’t have too much slack in it, and wondering “how much further”.

Summit Mt Baker

When at the summit your climb is far from being finished. You now have to get down by the same route from which you came up. However, you’re fighting fatigue and if you’re not careful things can go very bad. Most climbing accidents happen on the way down. Climbers are exhausted, moving faster and when this happens people get sloppy. The most common incident is when a climber accidentally gets their crampon caught on the leg of their pants or gaiters, lose their balance and fall. This can lead to a much more serious incident if the teammates aren’t prepared for the fall. That is why “Self Arrest” is taught and practiced. By this time of day, the sun has had enough time to heat up and soften the snow of the snow bridges, making them more vulnerable to collapse. Also, the sun reflecting off the snow can cause serious skin burns if you haven’t been using sunscreen.

Descending Mt Baker

It will take you around three hours to get back to your base camp, another hour to have something to eat and get camp packed up. By the time you get back to Schreiber’s Meadow you have been on the go for 12 hours and you are completely exhausted. You have taken about 300 pictures, crossed icy crevasses that are over 100 feet deep, stood on the rim of a volcanic crater, and reached the summit of one of Washington’s highest peaks. You have challenged yourself physically and mentally. You have experienced first hand what it’s like in the world of mountaineering.

Written by Mark Schiefner
Photographs by Mark Schiefner

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