Colorado Trail, Day 1: We Are Doing It!

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The big day has finally arrived! After months of planning, preparing and training, and after hours of shopping, repackaging, staging and mailing our resupplies, it’s final time to start hiking. We have whittled down our lives to what fits in a roughly 40 pound backpack (with 6 days of food and adequate water). It’s time to live the simple life, so to speak, and get back to nature. The task for the next 42 days will be simply to walk, observe, photograph, write…and walk some more. (more…)

A Fond Farewell to Albania

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Matt, July 2017
Sleeping at Florian Guesthouse proves to be a challenge for several reasons. The family dog starts barking incessantly at 5 am and just won’t stop no matter how much we will him to from our stuffy, little room. At 6 am, we are woken by the sound of a hard rain and jump out of bed to go grab our laundry which is hanging out in the yard under the grapevines. (more…)

Peaks of the Balkans, Day 8: Babino Polje to Plav

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Alison, July 2017
We requested to have breakfast at 7:30, so we wake up an hour before to repack our bags and get through the bathroom. There are ten of us staying in this cozy, little mountain home, and we are all sharing just this one bathroom, so we figure we should allow a little extra time to get our turn. Surprisingly, the bathroom is free, and we both make it through without losing any time.
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Peaks of the Balkans, Day 7: Liqunat to Babino Polje

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Matt, 30 June 2017
Today’s hike revealed itself to us in three distinct segments that went from challenging to idyllic to frustrating, but all’s well that ends well. One’s perspective changes the moment you drop the pack for the last time, unlace the boots, peel off the socks and take a sip of cold Jelen, a beer new to us from Serbia by way of a Montenegro brewery. In addition, we are staying tonight at the luxurious and finely-appointed, by Balkan mountain standards, Triangle Wood House, run by Armand and Ardita, a young and friendly couple with an eye for style and a flare for novelty in the kitchen. But more about that later… (more…)

Peaks of the Balkans, Day 6: Reka e Allages to Drelaj

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Alison, June 2017
We wake up at 6, and I hobble out of the top bunk, throw on some clothes and go check on the laundry that we left outside last night. My intent is to move it into the sun for an hour or two while we pack up and eat breakfast, but I see that the sun has not crested the mountains yet. Uh oh, I think, wet clothes again! But everything is already more or less dry, except for our socks, which we can attach to the outside of our packs while we are hiking. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make your day!
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Peaks of the Balkans, Day 5: Pejë Play Day

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Matt, 28 June 2017
We wake up “late” at 7:30 and take care of some internet business in the comfort of Villa Tygany before Marigona, our guide for the day, meets us to take us on a day tour of Pejë, a city of 125,000 inhabitants. We began by transferring our bags to a fancy hotel in the center of town where we have a big breakfast guaranteed to keep our growing hiker hunger at bay, at least for the next few hours while we explore the adventure capitol of Kosovo. 
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Peaks of the Balkans, Day 4: Dobërdol to Bjeshka e Belegut

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Alison, June 2017
We wake up at 6 am in our little tree fort, and I go down the ladder to go to the bathroom and check on the laundry. Most of our clothes are still damp, so I leave them to dry for a little while longer and head on to the bathroom. The farm is surprisingly quiet, and the early morning light makes everything look extra serene. Can you imagine waking up to this view everyday?
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Peaks of the Balkans, Day 2: Valbona to Çerem

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Matt, June 2017
Life could not be more peaceful in the quiet hamlet of Valbona. The sun is shining as we make our way out to the pinewood gazebo for breakfast. Kola, the owner of Guesthouse Kol Gjoni, is up and moving about tending to the guests. He has an imposing presence but smiles through his thick mustache. I sense an intense pride in the life he has built for himself here in the mountains.

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