Surfing Turtles

If someone offers you to stay with him on Hawai’i, you go. No questions asked. In March, we were lucky enough to get that offer. Three days later, our flights to Kahului Airport were booked. 10 days on Maui, a dream came true! We got a shitty old car from Kimos at Kahului Airport and thus began our hawaiian adventure.

Boat Trip
Boat Trip

Because we couldn´t spend the first night at our friends´, we had booked a hostel in Paia. Even though it was super clean, the staff was friendly and the pancakes were free, we started to realize how lucky we were to have free accomodation for the rest of our stay. The private room at the hostel cost 120$ a night, so that might be an issue if you´re travelling on a budget. We got some rest and tried to get used to the temperatures, which was hard after our Canadian winter. Our first day started with a delicious breakfast at Cafe Mambo in the Heart of Paia, a nice small hippie-town. After checking into our friends´ O´hana, where we put our bags down (yes, we brought skis to Hawai’i), we headed straight back out to the beaches, parked the car and spread our blanket. Although we had heard about the hawaiian turtles, we didn´t expect to see one within ten minutes of our first visit to a beach. There it was, enjoying the warmth of the sun. The local kids that were playing in the waves weren´t too impressed, and we started to realize that we might see quite a few of those massive green things.

Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle

First things first, we had to take some of the most popular things off the bucket list – We went to check out the surfers from the famous Ho’okipa Beach Lookout, where even the 10 year olds are killing the waves, and then took our shitty old Ford for a drive to Hana, that “secret” little spot on the east side of the island. We did our research before and thus wanted to relax at Red Sand Beach, jump some cliffs at Waioka Pond and then treat ourselves to some Huli Huli Chicken at Hoki Beach Park on the way back. What a day that was! There is plenty to see on the way to and from Hana, so make sure you have at least a full day for that gorgeous drive!

Red sand beach
Red sand beach
Koki Beach Park
Koki Beach Park

Yes, Maui is a very popular tourist destination. Yes, there are a couple of places (e.g. The road to Hana) where you just can´t avoid them. But the good thing about the tourists is that they mostly stay in their resorts – so even on the busier west side of Maui, you can go to Black Rock Beach and still find a nice spot to lay down and enjoy the sun. Speaking of the west side of the island: Go surf or sup the Thousand Peaks or just watch the people who know how to surf. Don´t step on the reef in those shallow waters!

Also, enjoy a snorkelling trip. You can do that on your own (Snorkelbob´s can hook you up with rental gear) or just book a trip with these guys. Even though it isn´t the cheapest thing one could do, the trip was super entertaining, just being out on a boat for a day with a fun crew was super nice. If you´re looking for a more private adventure, go for the “Leilani Best Day on Maui” trip. Definitely money well spent!

Underwater Turtle
Underwater Turtle

Further south on the west side of the island (south of Makena Beach) you´ll find lavafields that are worth paying a visit. The snorkeling there can be quite good as well, just be aware of a closure of some areas there.

If you´re looking for breathtaking hikes on the island, you should pack your bags and go hike the Waihee Ridge Trail. Start early, the clouds usually roll in in the afternoon! Another great option is the Sliding Sands Trail in the Haleakala National Park. The landscape there is so different from everything else on the island, so make sure you go for a stroll there! It can get quite chilly and windy though, so pack a sweater!

On the culinary side of things, here´s a list of what you HAVE to try:

  1. Huli Huli Chicken: as described above!
  2. Thai Mee up: convenient location near the airport, get some before the flight. They might take it from you at airport security though, because it smells so delicious!
  3. Da Kitchen offers great value for a relatively cheap price. Also close to the airport. Nice homestyle food, award-winning Fried-Spam-Musubi (must try!)
  4. Geste Shrimp is what we had been waiting for the whole trip. Somehow, whenever we wanted to go, the place was closed for some holiday or it was already too late. But on the second-last day, we got to try it and although the expectations couldn´t have been higher at that point, the food did not disappoint!
  5. Nuka in Haiku offers very fancy Sushi. The place isn´t cheap, and if you´re on a tight budget, there are better options. But if you are willing to spend a little more you will get tasty, fresh, healthy food. Mouthwatering!
  6. Grandma´s Coffee offers a ridiculously big and tasty breakfast! Try the French Toast or the Upcountry Omelette, and then cancel your plans for lunch, you won´t need it.
  7. The Paia Fish Market is not really a fish market but rather a great casual restaurant for lunch or dinner! Get a great burger with a choice of local fish or a fish taco!

    Grandma´s Coffee House 2
    French Toast at Grandma´s Coffee

Enjoy the gallery!

 

Tame, Wild and everything in between

Servus!

Back from my travels through beautiful Canada and the United States, it was time catch up with friends, family, and, sadly, the “important” things in life, meaning work. But this page wouldn´t be called rumzuuch if I hadn´t already been somewhere else than home since my return.

Last week, it was time to discover some mountains that really live up to their name – The Kaiser Mountains.

Wilder Kaiser
Wilder Kaiser

Although the peaks at the border between Austria and Germany are only at the “gate” into the alps (the Inn Valley), the views here are no less stunning than in the central alps. We chose to do a three-day trek that would lead us into the heart of the “Kaiserwinkl” – the plateau between the “wild” and the “tame” mountain ranges.

Starting point of the trek was in Ebbs near Kufstein. One can park their car near the “Café Zacherl” and start the ascent through the beautiful, green forest on a path named “Musikantensteig”. Climbing about 700 metres vertical within two hours or so, the ascent is quite the warmup for the tour. Good thing the Vorderkaiserfeldenhütte is close. The cosy little house is situated at an elevation of 1388m and offers a great view towards Innsbruck. While enjoying some Kässpätzle or other great classics of the tyrolian kitchen, one can soak in the expansive views!

For an even better view, I can recommend hiking a few extra vertical metres to the Naunspitze, where the sunset is simply magical. Overlooking the Inn river on the one and the Wilder Kaiser on the other side, the 360° view from the top is the perfect end to the first day of the trek.

Naunspitze
Naunspitze

Back at the hut, you better take it easy on the Whitebeer and instead get a good night´s sleep, because the next day is going to be a long one. In the first three hours, the path leads us past the Naunspitze, via the Petersköpfl, Einserkogel and Zwölferkogel to the highest point of the trek, the Pyramidenspitze.

At an elevation of 1998m, we enjoy our lunch at the summit that offers views as far as the Salzburger Land!

alpine flowers
Alpine Flowers

But thinking that it´ll get easier from there would be a bad mistake – the next 400-500 metres vertical down a steep, rocky path are tiring both physically and mentally. Watch your step, or you might slip! If you´re a more experienced hiker or just take your time down this trail, you might be able to spot some mountain goats in the boulderfields!

Strenuous Descent
Strenuous Descent

And even after that, there is a long way to go until we reach this night´s hut. But the hike along the south side of the Zahmer Kaiser treats you with breathtaking sights of the Wilder Kaiser. Additionally, the further away we get from the Inntal, the quieter it gets, and the flowers along the way make you feel like you´re in some version of a Heidi – movie.

In the three to four hours that are left we gain and lose about 500 vertical metres before finally approaching the Stripsenjochhaus (1580m). Whatever you order for dinner, make sure there is room for a real tyrolian treat – a legendary Kaiserschmarrn!

After that, sit down and enjoy yet another wonderful sunset! No need to rush to another peak, the views from the hut are insanely beautiful!

Stripsenjochhaus
Stripsenjochhaus

The next day starts with a relaxed walk back to the Hochalm – it´s your choice if you hike back the same way or take a slightly different route via the Feldalm. The interesting part of the day starts once you´ve reached the Hochalm! Take the steep trail up and the traverse right through boulderfields and bushes on a very narrow path that leads us to the “Heubergsattel”. If you are keen on another peak, you can climb the Heuberg relatively fast. On the way down towards Durchholzen, we pass a small creek that invites us to take a rest and have lunch. Almost there, you´d think. But in order to get back to the parking lot, we´ll have to ascent another 300 metres vertical, which might really get on your nerves. At least the reward for last ascent through the forest is another nice view towards the Geigelstein, the Walchsee and Reit im Winkl.

Considering that we climbed up to the Jöchlalm just to hike back down on the other side, that very last bit of the hike is the most annoying part, and once you´ve reached the Aschinger Alm, you deserve that Whitebeer that you´ve been waiting for! Prost, to a great hike!

Check out the gallery for more impressions, and download the .gpx file for the trek here.


 

The Canyons of Utah (and Arizona), Pt. 2

There´s a fine line between total fulfillment and frustration. We experienced this line in southern Utah.

From Hanksville, Utah, we headed south to “Bullfrog Marina“. Mainly because it sounded nice, and it was situated in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which sounded promising. We were super excited to see this

GlenCanyon

but sadly, we only got to see this…

Truck and Boat

Turns out that you can only get those pretty views in the top picture from a boat, and we had to leave the canoe behind in Canada. So we were stuck in the world´s ugliest place, surrounded by motorboat enthusiasts who loved their truck and boat more than their wife and kids. We had to find a different way to see some impressive Canyons. From Bullfrog, we headed west, and reached “BLM-Land” soon enough. After we had found an amazing spot to spend the night our “neighbor” who put up his camp 100 metres from us, decided that he´d like to have the place all to himself. Since we didn´t want to mess with an american redneck we decided to keep driving and find a different spot. The last sunrays were shining upon our car when we found a place in the middle of nowhere that we could call home for the next night. What a rollercoaster that day had been!

We cooked some delicious couscous and got lost staring into the galaxies when we noticed that it got quite cold. So we went to bed to start the next day early enough to catch the first sunbeams of the day! It was stunning how the light in the canyon had changed from sunset to sunrise. The mood was incredible, and although it was really cold it was worth getting up that early.

We had a brutal day of driving ahead of us. From the Glen Canyon, we wanted to head west through the Capitol Reef National Park, where we came from, and then further to the Zion National Park. Since driving with a cold and a fever wasn´t the best idea, we stopped in Escalante just past Boulder (Utah), where we found an amazing organic shop called “Escalante Mercantile”. Also, the visitor centre in Escalante was very informative and it was about time for us to catch up with the folks at home and the WiFi there was pretty good!

One thing led to another and soon enough we found ourselves in a guesthouse on a beautiful ranch in the quietest place in southern Utah, staying the night and getting over our cold.

The next day we organized our stuff and headed towards Zion National Park. We made it just in time for a quick hike on the Canyon Overlook Trail at the east entrance of the park, where we could watch the sun lighting up the red cliffs of the National Park. We headed back to our very nice campground that was just outside the park.

We went to bed early to gather our strength for the next day. Good thing we did, because it should be a very rough one.

Having a broken radiator hose in the traffic jam right before a tunnel sucks. On the bright side, we were lucky that this little “incident” didn´t happen 10 minutes later, because then we´d have been stuck in the tunnel. Anyway, shortly after we had reached the magical Zion NP we left it – in a towtruck that was driven by Hank, a man who called himself a “hick” and who is very proud of the fact that his 12 year old daughter can handle a “small pumpgun”.

Although I´m positive that Hank voted for Drumpf and is therefore partly responsible for the upcoming World War III, we got our radiator hose fixed and our car towed for 250$, which was not too bad considering that we were in no-man´s-land and would have paid any price to get out of this situation.

After we´d lost another day, it was time for us to visit the greatest of all canyons, El Grande, the Grand Canyon.

I will spare out further descriptions and just say this: Visit the North Rim in mid-october, avoid the crowds and take in breathtaking views, narrow trails that lead you through millions of years of earth history and an awesome campground in the pine forest!

 

The Canyons of Utah, Pt. 1

“Should we drive any further?”

Since it´s “only” five hours from Jackson, Wyoming, to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then another three to Capitol Reef, the decision was obvious: Hit the road! After a stop in Salt Lake City we drove to Capitol Reef National Park to see the stunning waterfold, narrow canyons and mars-like landscape.

As mentioned, it was a very spontaneous decision to head to Capitol Reef, which is probably the most underestimated of Utah´s “Mighty Five” National Parks and thus we had no idea what to do, where or how long to stay. The first night we spent just outside of the National Park on a small campground with a little fee (6$), because we´d heard that the campground in Fruita was full for the day.

We didn´t want to miss out on a stay at the campground amidst beautiful orchards, so the next day we started early to secure a spot within the boundaries of the National Park. The first attraction of the NP was Chimney Rock and the Goosenecks Overlook. Those two sights were very promising, and after a quick stop in the Visitor Center we were stoked to see the rest of the park. So we checked in to the campground and got a spot just a stonethrow away from a herd of deers with the biggest ears ever!

Again, our book came in very handy. We had read about the Grand Wash, and after the incredibly friendly volunteer at the campground approved that hike, we decided to head there in the evening. It was just a quick drive from the campground and a 30 minute walk (one-way), but that was enough to get away from the crowds completely. The massive, narrow canyon walls were impressive, and it was incredible to see fast the scenery changing as the sun slowly set.

But our new friend from the campground recommended not only that, but also a very narrow slot canyon “near” the National Park, which we explored the next day. Of course, the 30 minute drive he had promised us turned into a 90 minute journey, but it was worth it! We stayed overnight on BLM-land (free camping!) near the Goblin Valley State Park, just a couple of meters from the trailhead to the slot canyon.

Although the hike at the Grand Wash was great, it couldn´t beat the amazing Little Wild Horse Canyon! The whole area (San Rafael Swell) is known for its opportunities for canyoneering, but the Wild Horse Canyon is a fairly easy hike that everybody could do. A look at the weather forecast is necessary to check for flash floods, but on a fine day you can enjoy the canyon worry-free.

After the hike, we treated ourselves to a nice milkshake in the “town” of Hanksville. We expected Walter White to walk in any minute, because we had seen his RV at the gas station, but we couldn´t find him.

Since we were already close to Bullfrog Marina, we decided to head there next. Stay tuned for the next story!

 

The Grand Treaton

Snowcapped mountains, bugling elk, grazing moose, crystal clear lakes – you name it, The Grand Teton National Park has it. Located in the massive and sparsely populated state of Wyoming, this is without a doubt one of North America´s treasures and might be my personal favorite so far. Unlike Yellowstone National Park, the good stuff here is hidden on the highest peaks – thus the title of this blogpost. It seems like wherever you hike, you will be rewarded with solitude, spectacular views and lots of wildlife. Most people seem to settle for the Yellowstone Park, which is just north of the smaller Grand Teton NP – Mistake! Drive a little further south, get the boots ready and hike to the Amphitheater Lake to get a close look on the highest peak of the Park, or hike into the narrow Death Canyon!

Of course, the town of Jackson shouldn´t be neglected either. The local outfitter Stio has the best souvenirs, or, if required, equipment for the adventurous. The Snake River Brewery, which is named after the beautiful river that flows through the National Park provides you with different kinds of locally brewed beer and burgers. And if you want to get into Line Dancing, join a free lesson at Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

Although it is really disturbing to see people walking around town openly carrying a gun, this is the place to get a true “Wild West” experience. And if you´re still wondering who voted for America´s next president, you´ll find out here.

© 2020 A MarketPress.com Theme