Cruising Milford Sound

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It’s practically unheard of to visit the South Island of New Zealand and not go on a cruise in Fjordland’s magnificent Milford Sound. With sheer cliffs rising dramatically out of the deep blue waters, frolicking seals and dolphins and more breathtaking waterfalls than you can keep track of, Milford Sound is a must-see destination on practically every visitor’s list. (more…)

New Zealand or Bust!!!

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After more than a year of planning we finally set off for New Zealand on December 16, a Friday. This is actually a day earlier than planned, but, with a nasty winter storm forecasted for Saturday in Chicago, United has encouraged us to fly to San Francisco a day early to avoid it. We jump on the opportunity and pack up in a rush, but we don’t mind. There’s no way we are going to miss out on our dream trip to Middle Earth for anything. No way. New Zealand or bust!!! (more…)

New Zealand Dreamin’

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For as long as we can remember, New Zealand has been at the very, very top of our travel wishlist. This rugged island nation tucked far away in the southern Pacific has long captured our imagination, and, after seeing Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, we knew we would have to visit the land of Middle Earth at least once in our lifetimes. With its majestic snow-capped mountains, lush-green forests, ice-blue rivers and fiery volcanoes all on full display in the movies, our desire to photograph and hike in these stunning landscapes only grew more intense with the release of each subsequent film. Yet, for one reason or another, we never pulled the trigger. (more…)

We’re Back!

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Hello, friends.

We know, we know…long time, no write. Our bad. Is anyone still out there?

We don’t want to make excuses for our poor blogging etiquette, but we thought that the very least we could do is to let you know what we have been up to lately to help explain the long absence. So here goes... (more…)

Backpacking Olympic National Park’s Seven Lakes Basin Loop

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Day 1: Sol duc Falls Trailhead to Deer Lake, 4 miles

By the time we get our backpacks reloaded for this trip, it’s already 4:30 pm before we lock the car at the trailhead and start making our way towards Sol duc Falls, one of Olympic’s prettiest waterfalls. I hiked this trail up to the waterfall two years ago with my mother, but Matt hasn’t done it since we were last here together in 2004 or so. Right away, he is blown away by how beautiful the forest trail is. Ferns, mosses, and evergreens blend together to create a kaleidoscope of green that is utterly enchanting. Matt says it’s even greener than the Hoh, and he stops to take pictures every 10 feet of all the pretty little scenes we find. (more…)

Exploring Olympic National Park

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For our last backpacking trip of the summer, we head west to Washington’s enchanting Olympic peninsula to spend a few days exploring the rain forests, beaches and high alpine scenery of Olympic National Park. We’re probably crazy for wanting to do any more hiking after all the miles we’ve put in already this summer, but this time we really have no choice in the matter. (more…)

Day 6: Northside Figure 8, Mt. Rainier

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Mystic Lake to Sunrise Trailhead, ~10 miles

We are hiking out to our car today. It is a Saturday, and we have 10+ miles to go until we get back to Sunrise. Then we need to find a place to stay on a busy, summer weekend night. Given all that, we decide to get up at 5 and hit the trail as early as possible. We are very efficient in breaking camp, and, as we are brushing our teeth, we even get the bonus of seeing a doe with her small fawn walk right across our front porch meadow (the exact spot where we saw Mama Bear with her two cubs in 2014!)—sometimes it really pays to get up early! (more…)

Day 5: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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Eagles Roost>Spray Park>Mystic Lake, ~11 miles

We have a longish day with the promise of non-stop beautiful scenery, and we want to make sure we have plenty of time to enjoy it all without feeling rushed, so it’s a super early start for us today. We wake up at 5 and are on the trail by 6:30. Even though we are eager to get to Spray Park, we make a quick detour to see Spray Falls, one of Rainier’s most impressive (and aptly-named) waterfalls. Just a quick photo and we are off! (more…)

Day 4: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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Ipsut Creek to Eagles Roost, 7.4 miles

We break camp pretty efficiently this morning, even though we are moving at a leisurely pace, and we are on the trail by 8:30. Right out of the gate, we have a huge uphill climb with 3200 feet of elevation gain over just 3.5 miles. We didn’t encounter gradients that steep on the JMT, so we are really hoping that being about 5000 feet lower in elevation will work to our benefit here. (more…)

Day 3: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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James Creek to Ipsut Creek Walk-in Campground, ~10 miles

It is chilly overnight, and we have a hard time convincing ourselves to leave the warmth of our sleeping bags in the morning. By the time we finally crawl out of the tent, it is nearly 7 am, and we enjoy a leisurely morning around camp, drinking our coffee and tea and eating our breakfast all from the comfort of our camp chairs. We are not sure if it rained more overnight or not, but the tent is still really wet. Nobody likes packing up a wet tent, especially Matt. He straps the fly to the outside of the pack just before we head off. On a brighter note, there are blue skies and the hope of much better weather to send us on our way. (more…)