I have to give credit where credit is due. My parents took my brother and me on some pretty epic adventures when we were younger and it has sure carried over to my adult years.
Over the course of my life, I’ve had the pleasure to conquer some of the most recognizable hikes in the United States which I know not everyone gets to do – making me even more grateful for the opportunities which have been provided to me.
Without further adieu, here we go.
Not the first time I’ve talked about this hike and definitely not the last. It’s so incredible and getting to summit it twice for sunrise makes it hard to describe with words.
The first time I hiked Half Dome I did it so fast that we got to the cables too early and it wasn’t light enough to keep going. Due to this, I tried to sleep but instead froze my butt off (sweaty clothes + wind + 8000 feet of elevation = cold). But those little memories are what make these types of hikes so rewarding.
Additionally, with the fact that they now have a lottery system to limit hikers, simply getting to say “I hiked Half Dome” is something I’ll forever be proud to say.
I’ve done this Natural Wonder of the World twice. The first time with my parents and the second time with my brother and friends. I hardly need to explain what makes the Grand Canyon so appealing. You have millions of years of history surrounding you and different climates every step you take.
The first time we stayed at Phantom Ranch (thanks, mom and dad for spending the $$), giving our muscles at least a little time to recover before heading back up Bright Angel. The second time, on Halloween in 2015, we did a down and up. Now that was fun!
If you haven’t noticed, I like to push myself with crazy endurance goals and this pushed me. Overall this is a 16-17 mile round trip hike. (I’ll write more on this topic later).
Doing it with a bunch of friends where you’re all struggling and in pain together makes it entertaining (or something like that). Plus, ice cream at the end makes it all better!
Lake of the Angels
This is an incredible 7.5-8 mile hike in Olympic National Park. You start in a forest and end up amongst the mountains and lakes. If you have a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mt. Rainier in the distance, making for a pretty unbelievable view.
Plus, once you get to the lake, it’s stunning as well.
What I liked about this is it pushes you. It’s a difficult hike with a pretty serious uphill throughout it all, making it come down to mind over matter. Just don’t get lost like I did.
Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm
Let’s bypass the three miles up in the bug infested forest, shall we? Once you’re out of that mess and amongst the peaks, it’s truly an amazing view and experience. The “Pass” is where most people will stop, as it’s about 3.5 miles up, making for a pretty nice day hike.
If you keep going on the Sahale Arm part, you’ll eventually find yourself looking down at the beautiful Doubtful Lake. Don’t stop there. The views keep getting better once you get to the spine and start making your way to Sahale Glacier, giving you an entire view of the mountain range which will blow your socks off.
Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron, and Mt. Bross
I had never been on top of a 14er before which is why this hike sneaks into the top 5 saying I got to be on top of THREE 14er’s in one day. While I will admit we drove up to about 11,500, it was still a helluva hike up to 14,278.
We went up the side you normally come down due to inclement weather on the other peak. This side was just loose gravel and we were basically going straight up without many switchbacks — making me the captain of the struggle bus.
Once we got up to the first peak, it started hailing. Go figure. After cowering behind a stone wall…with no roof until it ended, the rest of the hike was perfect! Overall we hit three 14er’s and ended up having to skedaddle down the mountain near Mt. Democrat as storm clouds began to form overhead.
The clear and fresh air at the top of these peaks were incredibly refreshing and it is something I wish everyone could experience. You’re above the smog, away from most of the human population, and away from the craziness of the outside world.
Angels Landing and Clouds Rest just missed the boat but when it comes to these five, even amazing hikes get left out.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.