Hitting the Trails in Iceland

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If you are traveling independently in Iceland and have the time to spare, there is no better way to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the country’s varied landscapes than by foot. When you take the time to get out of the car (or bus) and see the world without the filter of auto glass shielding you, nature assaults you with its sounds, sights and smells all working together. Besides, as a favorite Chicago band of ours, Poi Dog Pondering, sings: “You get to know things better when they go by slow.” At Take a Hike Photography, you could pretty much guess this is our theme song and motto!

Iceland has so many different topographical features to explore that you cannot possibly exhaust the list of trails in a single trip. Even so, we did our best to put some kilometers on our hiking boots. Here are a few of our favorite treks. (more…)

Your Ticket to Iceland’s Puffin-Palooza

Puffins at Látrabjarg

Every summer, music fans in Chicago look forward to the annual return of one of rock’s annual mega-festivals, Lollapalooza. For sheer people watching, not to mention the variety of music on offer over three consecutive days, the Lollapalooza Festival cannot be beat. For the nature enthusiast, however, who perhaps prefers the birds to The Byrds, this type of concert scene can be a bit overwhelming. We at Take A Hike would like to offer an alternative Summer Tour, lovingly-entitled Puffin-Palooza. The following is your concert guide to four of Iceland’s greatest stops on a summer tour of the country’s most beloved band bird, The Puffins! So grab your (concert) ticket and don’t forget the camera for those groupie fan photos, because you, my friend, are on Summer Tour.

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Photographing Iceland’s Waterfalls: Part I

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Iceland is a nature photographer’s paradise, and there is a plethora of fantastic subjects to shoot practically everywhere you look.  Sometimes we felt there just weren’t enough hours in the day to shoot it all, and, with 20+ hours of sunlight, that’s really saying something! From lunar landscapes to rugged seaside cliffs, from grandiose glaciers to gushing geysers, Iceland has it all. And, if that weren’t enough, the country is teeming with waterfalls. Everywhere. They come in all shapes and sizes, and many that would warrant state park status in the US hardly get a mention in the guidebooks or a spot on the map. In fact, there are so many waterfalls in Iceland that many of them aren’t even named.   (more…)

Spring Tune Up in the Garden of the Gods

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Stop the presses! We know we just announced a series of posts on Iceland, but we accomplished two things this week that we’ve never done before:

  1. Alison did a headstand in yoga class! That might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but, believe you me, it was a long time in coming.
  2. We took a trip in Illinois… our home state… somewhere outside of Chicago!

Shocker, right?

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A Practical Guide to Independent Travel in Iceland

Krafla Lava Fields

Matt and I were recently asked by our camera club to put together a travelogue program about our trip to Iceland in the summer of 2012. Even though that trip was almost two years ago now, it finally gave us the motivation we needed to process and edit the thousands of photographs and video clips we shot while we were there. We spent a lot of time working on our presentation and are really pleased with the final result, especially because it reminded us so much of what an amazing time we had traveling in that incredible little country. What a place! It’s hard to believe that a country the same size as Kentucky has so much to offer. You can see the highlights of our summer in Iceland in this short video:

This blog was born in Iceland, and we’ve come a long way since then. In our next series of posts, we will be sharing some of our best pictures, videos, and travel/photography tips in a way that we couldn’t when we were first posting from the road. We also hope to update some of those earlier posts with new and improved pictures and related videos to help give a better sense of what it was really like to experience Iceland.

To help get started, we thought we would begin with a post explaining some of the practical aspects of traveling in Iceland—you know, the basics of visiting any foreign country—how to communicate with the locals, what to eat, how to get around and where to sleep. We think this will be useful to anyone entertaining the notion of going to Iceland, but we also hope it will be enjoyable to those of you who just appreciate traveling vicariously. So here goes! (more…)

There’s Something about Telluride

Charming mountain towns are practically the norm in Colorado, but, to me, Telluride somehow seems a cut above the rest. Tucked into a narrow valley with glorious mountain views on all sides, Telluride was established in 1878 and is full of historic buildings, attractive houses, hip restaurants and cozy cafes. With local street fairs celebrating anything and everything, weekly farmer’s markets and major international music and film festivals, you’ll find the atmosphere in Telluride hard to beat.

This is southwest Colorado, so it goes without saying that Telluride is an outdoor paradise. In addition to offering world-class skiing in winter, there are oodles of hiking trails—many leading right from town—to keep the outdoor enthusiast occupied all summer long. And for wildlife lovers, there’s even a herd of resident elk and a pond right in the middle of town with an active beaver lodge. How cool is that? Like I said, there’s just something about Telluride.

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Backpacking Colorado’s Four Pass Loop

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This four-day, four-pass backpacking trip is often featured on lists of the world’s classic hikes, and it certainly is worthy of all the hype. Beginning at Aspen’s magnificent Maroon Bells and traversing four 12,000+ passes over its 26 miles, the hike offers magnificent scenery and a good physical challenge. You might think that starting at the Maroon Bells—one of Colorado’s most photogenic peaks—would make the the remainder of the hike somewhat anti-climatic, but each pass offers a new set of vistas that are just as spectacular as the next. The Four Pass Loop is awesome from beginning to end. We highly recommend it! (more…)

A Tent with a View: Backpacking to Colorado’s Blue Lake

Above Blue Lake

We were compelled to do the Blue Lake hike outside of the southwest Colorado town of Ouray after seeing a Backpacker Magazine article touting it as having “one of America’s best secret campsites.” Blue Lake also happens to be located just below 14,150-foot Mt. Sneffels, which is named after the Snaefellsnes peak in Iceland. At the time, we had just returned from six weeks in Iceland, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to do this particular hike based on that fact alone. What can I say? I guess we’re suckers when it comes to travel nostalgia… (more…)

Hiking Colorado’s Ice Lake

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Have we ever mentioned how much we love Colorado? In the summer of 2012, Matt and I attended a college friend’s wedding in Denver and then went hiking and backpacking for two weeks. Last summer, I returned for my annual end of summer trip with my mother (sadly Matt was already back at work in Chicago and green with envy). My mother and I stayed just outside of Telluride, and, even though I only had a few days to explore the area, I was ready to convince Matt that we needed to sell the house in Chicago and move out there. As teachers, I am pretty positive that we wouldn’t be able to afford a house— much less a shoebox in Telluride—but we’re so smitten with Colorado that we might just be willing to live in a tent to make it happen. Ahh, another dream of moving out west… (more…)