Glacier National Park: The Shining Gem of Montana

If you like animals, peaks, lakes and not getting lost, Glacier National Park might be for you. Just make sure to pack your bear mace.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

At Glacier National Park, the Going to the Sun Road will take you through the heart of the park. You’ll barely notice the 50 miles from East to West—the views are incredible. You can turn out and enjoy as you go. But don’t take too long, parking fills up fast!

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

If you start early, you can catch the beautiful sunrise illuminating peaks while avoiding the traffic. An early start many times will get you to your destination in half the time.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

If you happen to arrive when the park is covered in dense clouds, don’t worry! Take some time and explore some of the waterfalls. The St. Mary Falls trail will take you to a couple beautiful waterfalls. First, you will encounter St. Mary Falls, plunging into a beautiful blue pool beneath a wooden bridge.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

A little under 2 miles later, you will reach Virginia Falls.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

When you begin your sunny day explorations, don’t ignore the Many Glacier side of Glacier NP. Beautiful adventures and light crowds await. Here you can hike out to Grinnell Glacier, several lakes, and the Granite Park Chalet via the Swiftcurrent Pass—all of which are great choices!

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

Be attentive during your hike and soak in the beauty.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

If you start early, always remember to make extra noise around corners – just in case bears are around. Although we didn't see one, the people ahead of us on the trail did. Extra noise = less risk of startling them. But bears aren’t the only animals you may encounter; we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of moose.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

Depending on your planned hiking adventures, make an effort to hike the Highline Trail at Logan’s Pass. If you don’t intend on a backpacking trek, this is a worthwhile day adventure.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists
michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

Mountain goats and marmots will likely greet you along your trek.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

At the end of the day when you’re exhausted, pit stop at McDonald Lake for a sunset.

michael demidenko glacier national park montana thisworldexists this world exists

Written by Michael Demidenko. Michael is a THISWORLDEXISTS Ambassador. See more of his adventures and photography on Instagram: @michael_goesoutside

 
 


Exploring Tasmania's Precious Tarkine Region

Despite coinciding with one of Tasmania’s worst ever flood events, my first visit to the ‘Island State’ has left me hungry for more adventures in what is truly an incredibly beautiful and wild place.

Tasmania is home to some of the most authentic wilderness on earth, with large expanses in the west of the state largely untouched. The Tarkine region in the north west of the state epitomises this wildness. It's home to ancient rain forests and an array of unique plant and animal species.

joe park tarkine tasmania australia thisworldexists this world exists

It is in this region that many believe the legendary Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) still exists, despite it being tragically hunted to extinction in the 1900s. Driving across the Tarkine and getting a feel for the true enormity of the region, it was hard not to imagine this famous creature still surviving in some remote valley out of sight.

joe park tarkine tasmania australia thisworldexists this world exists

Unfortunately the Tarkine is coming under increasing threat from mining, development, logging, as well as ongoing impacts from climate change. It is distressing to think more iconic species may go the way of the Tasmanian Tiger.

joe park tarkine tasmania australia thisworldexists this world exists

All up despite some horrendous weather our two weeks in Tasmania were brilliant and I can’t recommend the place enough. The opportunities for hiking, kayaking, fishing and numerous other outdoor adventures are absolutely world class.

joe park tarkine tasmania australia thisworldexists this world exists

To quote one of Australia’s leading environmental activists Bob Brown when speaking about the famous Tarkine region, “Visit it, drive around it, take a cruise on the Pieman river, just go there and you will come away wanting to do something for it”.

joe park tarkine tasmania australia thisworldexists this world exists

Written by Joe Park, a THISWORLDEXISTS Ambassador. See more of Joe's adventures on Instagram: @j.park16

 
 


8 Photos That Prove Utah Has Some of the Darkest Skies

Utah has 3 well-known certified International Dark Sky Parks: Capitol Reef, Dead Horse Point, and Canyonlands. If you want to see some of the best views of the stars, look no further! The following photos are examples of what you can capture on your camera, or simply sit back and enjoy the stars from the many camping locations throughout this incredible State!

Moon shot from the middle of Salt Lake City. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Moon shot from the middle of Salt Lake City. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Mirror Lake Highway in the North Eastern corner of Utah. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Mirror Lake Highway in the North Eastern corner of Utah. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Mirror Lake Highway in the North Eastern corner of Utah. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Mirror Lake Highway in the North Eastern corner of Utah. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Mirror Lake Highway in the North Eastern corner of Utah, Photo: Dean Chytraus

Mirror Lake Highway in the North Eastern corner of Utah, Photo: Dean Chytraus

Milky way over Lost Lake in the Uinta Mountains. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Milky way over Lost Lake in the Uinta Mountains. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Power lines in the West Desert. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Power lines in the West Desert. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Turret Arch in Arches National Park. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Turret Arch in Arches National Park. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Juniper tree at Little Sahara. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Juniper tree at Little Sahara. Photo: Dean Chytraus

Written by Dean Chytraus. Photos also by Dean Chytraus, a THISWORLDEXISTS Ambassador. See more of Dean's adventures and photography on Instagram: @chytrausphoto

 
 


Ten Must-see Spots in Banff and Jasper National Parks

Be a tourist in Alberta. Just do it.

No one wants to spend their vacation doing the dreaded tourist activities, lost in a selfie-stick-holding crowd looking for the perfect Instagram shot. It’s natural to want to find the hidden gem, to be alone in nature, to have enough solitude to take the perfect landscape shot and revel in true wilderness.

If you’re heading to Banff or Jasper National Parks in Canada, let go of that desire and expectation. Accept that you’re going to encounter people hiking in jeans or dresses and wearing loafers. Somebody is going to step directly into the shot you painstakingly set up. Many will then ask you to take their picture.

Think of it as a challenge to be more patient and a better photographer. The sights are worth it. If you only have a few days and want to see the easy-access beauty of Alberta, consider these hot spots:

Icefields Parkway – Arguably the most jaw-droppingly beautiful drive in the world, the road winds 144 miles through two national parks filled with sweeping valleys, pristine lakes and glaciated mountains. It’s also your chance to let the wild come to you in the form of grizzly bears, big horn sheep, deer and black bears.

icefields pathway stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Lake Louise – This is the quintessential Canadian Rockies scene. Sparkling blue waters set at the base of rocky peaks will draw you right in and the network of hiking trails, ski runs and gondola rides will keep you busy.

lake louise stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Peyto Lake – The amazing aqua water will fill you with so much awe you’ll forget it only took you 10 minutes on a paved walkway to get to the lookout (keep going to Bow Summit for fewer people and a better view).

peyto lake stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Johnston Canyon – This has to be the most popular destination in the Banff area. A cool catwalk takes you to a lower falls (which has a tunnel you can walk through to get a good view), an upper falls, numerous other falls along the creek and ink pots if you hike just a wee bit further.

johnston canyon stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Moraine Lake – Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, this iconic lake is most recognized these days by the colorful canoes that dot its shoreline. It’s easy to see why its blue-green waters are one of the most photographed locations in Canada. The lake has even earned the nickname “Twenty Dollar View” since it was featured on the back of the $20 bill from 1969 to 1979.

moraine lake stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Sunwapta Falls – This 75-foot waterfall is set against a gorgeous mountain backdrop in a series of three falls. You can play it safe and ogle from a wooden bridge or you can jump down onto the slippery rocks and get an up-close view of the gorge and limestone walls that the river runs through.

sunwapta falls stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Athabasca Falls – The volume of the river makes this the most powerful waterfall in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a short jaunt down a walkway to see the thundering water but there are plenty of trails and bridges to view the falls – and the lower canyon – from different angles.

athabasca falls stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Maligne Lake – Not only is this the largest natural lake in the Rockies at nearly 14 miles long, it’s also ringed by snow-capped mountains and has its own islet. Three glaciers can be seen from its waters and while you aren’t allowed on Spirit Island, its picturesque locale makes for a stellar photo opp.

maligne lake stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Tunnel Mountain – Where else can you hike three miles to the top of a peak in the middle of a town via well-maintained switchbacks? You won’t just be looking down on rooftops though – enjoy panoramic views and a close glimpse of Mount Rundle before ending on a rocky outcrop at the top.

tunnel mountain stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake – These beauties are on the same loop right outside of town and ideal spots for picnicking, swimming or boating.

lake minnewanka stacia glenn banff jasper national parks canada thisworldexists this world exists

Written by Stacia Glenn, a THISWORLDEXISTS Ambassador.

Check out more of Stacia's adventures on Instagram: staciangeliques or Twitter: Stacia_glenn

 
 

Iceland: Something Incredible Around Every Corner


A Taste of the Pacific North West: Mt Rainier National Park

The weekend called for clear forecast and I couldn’t help but feel like a child knowing I was about to head off to Mt. Rainier National Park. This area has been one of my favorite places and I never got too much time in the area. My pal and I decided we were going to camp in the Tatoosh range, which sits south of Mount Rainier.

Despite Spring making its presence known, we both packed for a nice night of snow camping.

scot gilmore mount rainier thisworldexists this world exists

I have just been in the PNW for little over a year. I relocated after seeing some friends experience such beauty. I wanted to be that happy, I wanted to feel what they were feeling and get my body in better shape. After a brief trip to Bend, Oregon, I was hooked. I have since made one of my goals to inspiring others to feel what I felt, to learn about what the great outdoors can do for you.

Just prior to my first year in the PNW, I took a new job that relocated me to Seattle. I met a great friend, Jacob, during my third week. Jacob became a great friend, very quickly. We were hanging out the Friday before I left the next morning.

scot gilmore mount rainier thisworldexists this world exists

I came to my senses and just asked if he wanted to tag along. He quickly replied with a smile on his face. My pal and I rounded up the gear so we could to ensure Jacob would have a safe hike with us, and we had it all!  

We left Seattle first thing, had a few pit stops along the way and trekked in the snow while Rainier was showing off her curves. We eventually went into the Tatoosh around the Pinnacle Saddle to set up camp.

scot gilmore mount rainier thisworldexists this world exists

The sunset and sunrise over one of the most prominent peaks is something that never gets old. Sharing it with your friends only makes the experience better. Introducing people to the outdoors and educating them can be one of the most rewarding feelings. I am forever grateful to be fortunate enough to see such amazing sights.

Written by Scot Gilmore

See more of Scot's adventures and photography on Instagram: @scotgilmore

 
 


Forget about the time, it's all about the destination

Never let time hold you back from an adventure. 

akela newman grand canyon this world exists thisworldexists

A weekend trip to Tucson to visit family and friends turned into a spontaneous adventure to the Grand Canyon. 

The legendary national park had been on my bucket list. With any mention of Arizona, adventure, nature or awe, it takes centre stage in my mind. So, when my boyfriend wanted us to go on a road trip from Malibu to Tucson I immediately planned how to make it to the Grand Canyon in the same trip. 

akela newman grand canyon this world exists thisworldexists

My fervour was immediately subdued when I discovered that the state of Arizona is much bigger than I thought and that the Grand Canyon was located much further from Tucson than I expected. I’ve lived on mainland U.S. for over two years now, but my geographical reasoning is still attuned to my island-upbringing —back home on Oahu, Hawaii, the longest drive is about an hour and a half from one end to the other.

akela newman grand canyon this world exists thisworldexists

Although the limited borders for travel were never an inhibition to my adventures, they kept me from truly being able to comprehend the great distances that lay between Malibu and Tucson, Tucson and the Grand Canyon, and the Grand Canyon and Malibu. I am thankful for that lack of awareness, however, because it kept me from think that the idea was crazy.

akela newman grand canyon this world exists thisworldexists

When our plans in Tucson went awry, I lost no time in suggesting the idea of making a “pit stop” at the Grand Canyon on our way back to Malibu. As my adventure-buddy, Ryan was quick to agree, and as my boyfriend, he had few other options. I have never driven that long in my life, but it was more than worth it. 

akela newman grand canyon this world exists thisworldexists

We arrived just in time for the sunset and walked a couple miles along the south rim taking in the grandeur. As the sun set, the wind grew calm and the features of the canyon were emphasized by the shadows that enveloped the Eastern half of every ridge. Colors spewed across that incomprehensibly huge landscape and filled my eyes with a richness I had never seen before, attempting to understand the heights, depths and breadths before me. Temperatures dropped below 40. Our spirits were undaunted, however, as we lingered to hold on to the last, teeth-chattering glimpses of the Canyon.

akela newman grand canyon this world exists thisworldexists

We had driven over fourteen hours that day to see the Grand Canyon for little more than an hour and a half. Leaving Malibu on Friday at 11 a.m. and arriving back at 2 a.m. early on Sunday morning, we had been on the road for twenty-four hours out of our thirty-nine hour road trip. A measly portion of our journey was spent at the place we were trying to adventure at, but that became a mere fact eclipsed by the fullness of our experience.

The journey itself became the adventure, with the destination being the only reward we needed.

Written by Akela Newman

Akela is a THISWORLDEXISTS Brand Ambassador. You can see more of her adventures on Instagram: @akelarenae

 
 


Get a Taste of Tongariro National Park

Stop What You're Doing and Buy a Ticket to Kauai'

There'a a saying about Kauai - They call it the Garden Isle for the 'newly wed or nearly dead’. However, if I had to give it a title, it would probably be Kauai: The Island of Beautiful Landscapes, Amazing Photography Opportunities, and Land of the Dinosaurs (Because Jurassic Park was filmed here!) We couldn’t help but play the theme song while driving around. 

If you're in search of a travel destination surrounded by extravagant mountain ranges, quiet beaches, and outrageously good food, look no further. The island is 25 miles long and 33 miles wide at the furthest points. We stayed on the North side of the island where it receives more rain compared to the south side. Driving on the roads in Kauai felt as if you were in a Jurassic Park Jeep cruising through the jungle!

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

Here’s the top 5 places we visited in Kauai that’ll make you want to drop what you’re doing and go buy a plane ticket.

1. Wailua Falls

The Wailua Falls are located in Lihue just off the beaten path. The falls drop a whopping 173 feet to the pool below. The trail leading down to the falls is usually muddy and slippery, so be careful.

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

2.The Lighthouse Kilauea Point

The Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge was a fun little spot to visit. I wanted to get a sunset shot with the lighthouse in the foreground but the Refuge is only open from 10am-5pm. If you do decide to go, pick a day with lots of cool clouds to get a more interesting shot.

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

The little white spots on the mountain are birds. They are known as the Red-footed Boobies and they nest on the cliffs.

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

3. Waimea Canyon

Mark Twain entitled it The Grand Canyon of the Pacific. 

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

And look! The Jurassic Park falls!

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

4. St. Regis Princeville Beach

The St. Regis Princeville Beach was just magical. To get to the beach, you have to park at the hotel, walk through their elegant lobby, and take a few elevators to get to their beach. 

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai
kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai
kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

5. Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay was by far my favorite spot. A river flows into the ocean where you can find small boats and stand up paddle boarders floating in the river. The Pier also gets you up close and personal with all the surfers out in the water. The town of Hanalei is only about 512 acres but has some great shops and restaurants that you don’t want to miss. If you continue on the road from Hanalei there is a hike that leads to the Na Pali Coast. To learn about that trip, check out Michael Demidenko’s “Knee Deep in the Kalalau Trail, Hawaii” blog post.

kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai
kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai
kasey crook thisworldexists this world exists kauai

On that note, if you want to be blown away by all of Kauai’s beauty, definitely stick it on the bucket list. 

Written by Kasey Crook

Kasey is a THISWORLDEXISTS Brand Ambassador. See more of her adventures on Instagram: @kaseylynn00

 
 


An insider's exclusive, must-see tour of "The Wave” in Arizona's Desert

July 22, 2009. The world suddenly became aware of this miraculous place previously unknown to the masses. This date was the initial release for Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 7. It introduced us to the beautiful desktop wallpaper of “The Wave,” and since then, an increasing number of people have sought to make their way to this breathtaking location.

Geographically situated on the UT/AZ border, halfway between Page, Arizona and Kanab, Utah, making the trek isn’t as easy as one might imagine. These days you'd be lucky to draw a permit for the site. Due to it's overwhelming popularity, the Bureau of Land Management limited foot traffic to 20 people/day, preserving the integrity and beauty of The Wave. In 2014 alone, there were approximately 50,000 applicants, which means 7300 people were allowed access with a 14.6% success rate, and it’s only going to get harder to get in. 

Gaining access to this site can be done two ways:

1) Advanced online application.  10 permits are issued in this manner by lottery for dates four months out, with chances to draw for April-November being 4-8%; December-March has better odds at 25%.

2) Walk-in lottery at the Visitor Center in Kanab UT for the following day.  Arrive at 8:30am for the lottery and count your lucky stars for a chance to be selected. 

We were lucky enough to be selected on our 2nd attempt out of 75 applicants (the first time we tried there were 180+ applying). Riding the Wave requires patience and planning or just straight luck. We were stoked that lady luck was on our side.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

After receiving our passes and listening to the ranger's spiel, we had to get out. Since our permit was for the following day, we took the opportunity to explore other amazing locations in Southern Utah. Coming from Zion National Park, we visited Coral Pink Sand Dunes and then up to Bryce Canyon National Park. On the Arizona side of the border you can also make a quick trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon or over to Page and Lake Powell.

After camping up at Bryce Canyon and witnessing an incredible sunrise over the majestic hoodoos, we packed up shop and headed back to Kanab to see The Wave. Although the drive from Kanab to the Wire Pass Trailhead can be treacherous, we were lucky enough to make the drive without any problems, given that it rained the night before. After strapping on our shoes, checking our packs for water/snacks, applying sunscreen, we hit it. To find the main trail you need to cross the road and enter into the river wash, heading back north for a half-mile or so until it winds to the east (where eventually you will see this sign).

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

After passing the sign to the Coyote Buttes North Area, you will stay to the right, soon finding yourself hiking along this sandy/desert terrain. 

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

At this point, the ranger's map came in handy. We had absolutely zero problems finding where we needed to go. We headed toward the first big mound off in the distance, reference in the center/right of the image.

Crossing over the ridge, the landscape changed to hard sandstone, making it much easier to hike. Signposts along the path leading up to The Wave helped to steer us in the right direction. Look for these type of buttes in the distance, and head towards the two in the middle, passing them just on the right side.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

After that pass, the terrain opens up and there will be a large rock face in the distance with a fissure vertically down the face. You've reached your destination.  Other landmarks to look for are white streaks along the sandstone. These small reference points made it almost impossible to lose your way.

One final push and you've reached The Wave. The anticipation and excitement build as you drop down in to another river wash, beginning the final climb in the sand to your destination. With the sun blazing down and the sweat building up, we couldn’t wait to arrive and rest. As soon as we arrived the last thing we wanted to do was sit down. It was time to play.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

Thanks to the storm that passed through the night before, we witnessed this amazing reflection bouncing off a pool of water right at the entrance. This larger wide-lens view of the Wave perfectly depicts the incredible striations of the windblown sandstone.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

Passing by the pool of water at the main entrance to the Wave, we looked back on this series of pools. The contrast of the red rock and the blue sky was absolutely perfect.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

We continued to meander through the site for 30 minutes before rest. We soon found ourselves perched up above the Wave and figured that it was the perfect spot to relax and get replenished with food and water. I guess the view wasn't too bad either.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

After fueling up, we headed to the top of the sandstone cliffs to the south, catching the vast landscape of the desert in all directions. We probably spent a solid three hours gathering as many vantage points as possible of this once in a lifetime visit. 

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

Nearing the end of our journey, we caught this amazing view of the Wave from the south end looking north.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

This just so happened to be the perfect location for us to drop in and snap some pictures of us surfing this desert wave.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

This trip was absolutely epic! To date, we haven't been to any place in the world as remarkable, serene, and uniquely beautiful as this site. The Wave's privacy and exclusivity make it all the better. In silence you can admire the awe and wonder of Mother Nature's creative processes.

the wave arizona utah rawtrails josh allen this world exists thisworldexists

Who knows if we’ll ever get lucky enough to go back again. Now a firm believer in luck, we can only hope that luck strikes again.

Written by Josh Allen from RAWtrails.

See more from RAWtrails on Instagram

RAWtrails is a dynamic organization focused on inspiring people to create a lifestyle of activity and adventure in the great outdoors, holding to the belief that nature and it’s miraculous wonder contain the power and ability to transform us into happier and healthier people.

 
 


Knee Deep in the Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

If you’ve ever traveled to Kauai, Hawaii, odds are you've heard of the Kalalau Trail. Outside Magazine lists it as the 9th “Most Dangerous Hike”, while Backpacker Magazine has it comfortably in 6th place on its “America’s 10 Most Dangerous Hikes” list. Does the trail live up to its reputation, or is the echo of risk a mere discoloration by inexperienced and unprepared hikers? We set foot on the Garden Island to find out.

this world exists thisworldexists kalalau hawaii beach hike michael demidenko

Located on the Northeastern part of Kauai, the 11 mile pilgrimage to the Kalalau Valley starts at the trailhead near Ke’e Beach. In my years hiking the Pacific Northwest, I’ve never witnessed a trailhead with such deeply saturated foliage stretching along a coastline. 

Most adventurers travel only to Hanakapi’ai Beach or Hanakapi’ai Falls. If you want to reach the beautiful Kalalau Valley, you have to start early. A 6:00am wake-up call is prime.

Kicking off the first leg of the trail, you climb up toward the coastal viewpoint. Standing only a couple hundred feet above sea level, the Nā Pali Coastline emerges. The razor-sharp ridges soaring from the valleys are breathtaking. The waves crashing along the Nā Pali Coastline are visible for miles. The feeling is tranquil, but it’s only the beginning. 

After a little under an hour, you reach Hanakapi’ai Beach. Strong, ripe currents and flash flooding at this beach have taken over 85 lives. Warnings are sprinkled along the path notifying hikers that the inviting waters can be unpredictable, in some cases deadly. 

this world exists thisworldexists kalalau hawaii beach hike michael demidenko

Cruising along the trail, at mile four, you begin to get a false sense of security. The deep jungle perfectly conceals the 100+ft cliff drops that are, in some sections, merely feet away from the trail. The beauty of the trail is difficult to describe. It’s part tropical beach, part Amazonian jungle. Nearing the cliffs, you can hear thunderous echoes of the waves drumming on the cliff sides. The feeling is serene. In the jungle you see mountain goats mingling with wild chickens. It’s an experience unlike any other.

At mile 6.5 you will catch your first glimpse of what people have lovingly nicknamed ‘Crawler’s Ledge’. Although intimidating, the footing is secure and the cliff side provides a solid place to rest your hand. Is it high? Of course - there’s a 300ft cliff. What if you fall? It may be fatal. But if you keep an eye on your footing and stop to enjoy the breathtaking views, this stretch will be over before you know it. Did I mention the breathtaking views? On a sunny day, the ocean is a piercing blue color that is hard to ignore.

this world exists thisworldexists kalalau hawaii beach hike michael demidenko

After successfully navigating Crawler’s Ledge, you'll reach the home stretch. The last three miles to the Kalalau Valley fly by. Once in the Kalalau Valley, the beauty emerges in the distance. You witness dense, saturated jungle with spines traveling up the mountains. The beauty is everywhere. It’s no wonder the Garden Island has starred in so many films like Pirates of the Caribbean and King Kong, to name a few.

After reaching Kalalau Valley, it’s only a half mile to the beach. The most important advice I will give you about the trail is stay the night! There is too much to explore and not enough time. A hammock and light cover is plenty for the night. As we fell asleep, distant lightning strikes lit up the night sky. In the morning, you will awake to the beauty of the razor sharp ridges of the valley.

this world exists thisworldexists kalalau hawaii beach hike michael demidenko

It’s crazy to think that we originally planned to hike-in and hike-out in one day. What a big mistake that would have been! So glad we spent the night to fully enjoy the beauty and serenity that Kalalau Beach has to offer.

If planned appropriately, you will emerge ecstatic about having completed the best 23 mile hike on the Hawaiian Islands.

Written by Michael Demidenko. See more of Michael's amazing adventures on Instagram: @michael_goesoutside

 
 


Explore the trail less traveled at Zion National Park

What if I told you the ever popular Angels Landing hike in Zion is not even in the top 3 best hikes there?

zion national park observation point wesley hawkins this world exists thisworldexists utahtravels

I'm reluctant to even write this article about Observation Point, since its seclusion is the best part about it. With the rapidly growing popularity of the park, it's a good thing to know about. If you like a more quiet experience with breathtaking views, check out Observation Point.

zion national park observation point wesley hawkins this world exists thisworldexists utahtravels

This is one of my favourite hikes and in my opinion, gives best views in the National Park. Not dealing with the busy crowds is its second best feature. It overlooks Angels Landing, which most of the buzz is about on social media. 

zion national park observation point wesley hawkins this world exists thisworldexists utahtravels

Here's what you need to know.

The hike is about 8 miles round trip and has a lot of switchbacks. Eat a solid meal before hand, wear comfy shoes and bring plenty of water (especially if you're hiking in the mid afternoon, to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion hike late evening or early morning).

zion national park observation point wesley hawkins this world exists thisworldexists utahtravels

If you're a backpacker, try and get an overnight permit a few days in advance. If you do, you can camp right on the on edge of Zion. Here you can enjoy insane views of a vivid milky way moving across the sky, swinging in a hammock counting shooting stars (I counted over 20, no joke) until you fall asleep.

zion national park observation point wesley hawkins this world exists thisworldexists utahtravels

You'll wake up to an epic sunrise overlooking Angels Landing. Below you can admire the thousands of years of work from The Virginia River carving through the park and watch Zion come to life as all the campers wake up.

zion national park observation point wesley hawkins this world exists thisworldexists utahtravels
 

Written by Wesley Hawkins

Wesley is a THISWORLDEXISTS Brand Ambassador. You can see more of his adventures and photography on Twitter: @utahtravelers or on Instagram: @utahtravels

 
 


Get a Taste of Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

After weeks of rain and snow, finally we had a clear day to attempt what has been called New Zealand’s best day hike, The Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Not only were we picked up after only 30 seconds with our thumbs out; we beat the tourist buses. In high spirits, we began.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

The first few kilometres were an easy meandering track through jagged lava foothills to the base of Mt Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. With the sun shining down full blast, we rounded a corner and the first large hill came into view. After mentally preparing ourselves, we set off into the mountains.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

After a breathtaking climb, we reached the crater that separates the peaks of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. The 60-degree weather and snow-covered landscape were in stark contrast to each other as we crossed the kilometre wide crater in T-shirts.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

This summer weather didn’t last long, soon reminding us that we were indeed climbing a mountain in the dead of winter. Our progress was stopped by an ice encrusted slope.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

Hikers who passed were now on hands and knees trying to make it to the top. I was grateful for the crampons, which were now making what could have been a frightening climb an enjoyable and safer one.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

Reaching the top we were rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. 

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

We never stopped long, as the trail beckoned us past active volcanic vents, and the aptly named Emerald Lakes before arriving at a sign warning that we were entering an active volcanic zone.

Descending downward through a tussock-covered hillside, we continually encountered signs warning us not to approach the steam-belching vent off in the distance. 

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

Upon reaching one of New Zealand’s many back country huts, we learned the reason for the numerous warnings. In 2012 the vent exploded, hurtling boulders 1.5 kilometres through the air, crashing into the hut and along the trail we were travelling along. Active indeed.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

The remainder of the trail guided us down through a forest as we reflected on how easily accessible yet extreme the alpine crossing was.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

In 8 short hours the Tongariro Crossing had taken us up among snow-covered peaks, past alpine lakes and steaming vents, then down through an active volcanic zone.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

Luckily we came prepared, and while the suggested ice axe and guide were unnecessary the crampons really did make our day a whole lot more enjoyable.

tongariro alpine crossing new zealand this world exists thisworldexists mackenzie bruns andrew janeski

Written by Mackenzie Bruns. Photos by Andrew Janeski.

Andrew and Mackenzie strive to find adventure wherever they are. They created liveitbeforeyoudie to capture moments from their travels in the hopes of inspiring others to get out there and live their lives to the fullest. See more of Mackenzie and Andrew's adventures on Instagram: @liveitbeforeyoudie

 
 


Take Your Own Grand Tour of Zion National Park, Utah

Packing all this awesomeness into a 2-day weekend will push your limits and keep you buzzing for months thereafter. Getting to all of these sites is no easy task, and should only be pursued by the in-shape hiker. 

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

These pictures highlight the uniquely different aspects of Zion NP. Start your day off with a shuttle ride up the canyon to admire the beauty of the Three Patriarchs on your way to the Grotto shuttle stop, preparatory to the start of your 4.8 mile roundtrip hike up the incredible Angel's Landing.

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists
zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

The trail climbs up the east side of the canyon wall to the infamous 21 switchbacks of Walter's Wiggles, before making the sketchy ascent along chains and steep vertical cliffs to the summit.

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

The views at the top of this 1488' tall rock formation are incredible, looking both up the canyon and out of the canyon to Springdale UT.

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

Now that your heart rate is up and the sweat is in full effect, take the shuttle to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava. The "Narrows" hike was rated #5 in the National Geographic ranking of America's Best 100 Adventures. After the 1.0 mile paved walk to the water's edge, hikers begin the trek wading through water amongst the behemoth sandstone walls.  

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

Segments of this hike through the Virgin River will be ankle deep, while others will have you nearly submerged. You can take it as far as 3.6 miles past the paved walk without a backcountry permit, but such a trek in water can take quite some time. Experience the Narrows for a good hour or so, cool off, take some pictures, and enjoy.

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

The shuttle stop at Weeping Rock is quite neat, and it provides you access to many other destinations (Observation Point, Mystery Canyon, East Rim Trail, Cable Mountain, Deertrap Mountain). Just after exiting the shuttle you can do a quick jaunt up to Weeping Rock, which displays water seeping through the porous sandstone rock, with miraculous views looking back at Angel's Landing and Zion Canyon. 

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

Day 2 requires a little planning. If you're keen for some serious adventure, to escape the tourists in Zion Canyon, and are in-shape, then plan ahead and try to get a permit for "the Subway". The trail head for the Subway hike is north of Virgin, UT. You can approach this hike from the technical route (top down) from the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, or take the bottom up route (not requiring ropes/rappels) beginning and ending at the Left Fork Trailhead. Each route is roughly a 9.0 mile hike in fairly strenuous conditions. The journey consists of route finding, creek crossing, bouldering, and rappelling (on the top down route) in order to reach this incredible site. 

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

The water in the Left Fork River cascades beautifully down the rock formations just west of the Subway, indicating that you're quite close to your final destination. Upon reaching the Subway we had to celebrate with some headstands, prior to exploring the beautiful tunnel-like formation, along with the cold pools and waterfalls located past the tunnel.

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

This place was a dream. We caught it at the perfect time of day in such perfect lighting... with the Subway beautifully illuminated. If you go to Zion National Park, get out and see the Subway.

zion national park utah josh allen rawtrails this world exists thisworldexists

Two days at Zion National Park is jam-packed, but worth the effort for all of these beautiful destinations. You won't regret it.

Written by Josh Allen from RAWtrails. See more from RAWtrails on Instagram

RAWtrails is a dynamic organization focused on inspiring people to create a lifestyle of activity and adventure in the great outdoors, holding to the belief that nature and it’s miraculous wonder contain the power and ability to transform us into happier and healthier people.

 
 


Forget Machu Picchu: Hiking Colca Canyon, Peru

When most people think of Peru,(and until recently, myself included) their minds immediately jump to Machu Picchu. Who could blame them? Machu Picchu is a globally recognised Wonder of the World. It's beyond incredible, awe inspiring, surreal even. But honestly... There were just so many tourists.

Near the southern city of Arequipa is Colca Canyon, disputed as being one of the deepest canyons in the world, twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. Not wanting to miss out, we organised a hiking trip down to the reachable, aptly named, 'Oasis' at the bottom. The first stop was at the nearby Cruz del Condor, a valley populated by huge condors. The views were incredible.

colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney
colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney

Next up, we made our way to Colca, beginning the seven hour descent into the breathtaking canyon. As we approached the edge of the precipice, the canyon stood before us in all its glory.

colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney
colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney

The descent was a steep, dusty, adrenaline-pumping decline. As we skidded and slowly edged our way down the canyon wall, it was difficult to focus on the ground.

colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney
colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney
colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney

All around us was the most indescribable beauty. The contrast between the arid sandstone and cactus strewn landscape, and the fertile greenery of the environment nearing the bottom created the essence of both desert and tropical forest. It was here in the oasis that we spent one night and prepared for the near vertical accent in the morning.

colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney
colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney

Beginning the three hour hike up the canyon wall at 5:30am, we hoped to beat the burning sun to the top. The thigh-aching hike was at times dangerous, as rock falls are common. After witnessing one, we quickly ran over the freshly fallen rocks to safely continue the ascent. 

colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney

When we finally reached the top, the strenuous hike was more than worth all of the effort.

colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney

En route back to Arequipa, there were soothing hot springs and several incredible vista points throughout the Chivay region. The drive reached altitudes of 5,100 metres above sea level, from here we could see a steaming volcano in the distance.

colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney
colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney
colca canyon peru thisworldexists this world exists emma gaffney

Colca Canyon is one of Peru's hidden gems. So when you're planning a trip out there, and don't want to only visit the Peruvian Disney Land of Machu Picchu, head west, and experience one of the deepest canyons in the world.

Written by Emma Gaffney.

See more of Emma's adventures on Instagram: @emmagaffer or @THISWORLDEXISTS

 
 


Jordan's Desert Bedouin: Beautiful Lands, Beautiful People

No matter where I travel, I find the beauty of the lands I explore rivalled by the inherent beauty of the people that inhabit them. In my mind there is no greater example of that phenomenon than my time in Jordan this summer. 

jordan desert bedouin akela newman this world exists thisworldexists

From the Arabic word for desert, badiyah, comes the name for the desert’s people — Bedouin. The Bedouin are the nomadic people of the Arabian and Syrian deserts who, for ages, have herded their flocks across countless sandy miles. While most Bedouin have urbanized and settled down across the Middle East and North Africa, their nomadic lifestyle continues in their culture and traditions. 

jordan desert bedouin akela newman this world exists thisworldexists

I saw the intense heat of the sun baked desert emanating from the fiery spirits of the Bedouin in their passionate opinions on topics from politics and religion to the shoes I was wearing, which were completely inappropriate for desert shenanigans. In the same riveting scene, the flowing strata of their sandstone cliffs were reflected in the diverse layers that make up who they are and where they have come from. As a wise, old Jordanian man told me, “Bedouin is not a race; it is a way of life.”

jordan desert bedouin akela newman this world exists thisworldexists

Hawaii, my home, is known for it’s warm and hospitable atmosphere. However, I have never known such unreserved warmth and hospitality as among the people of the Middle East and particularly the tribal Bedouins in outlying areas. Their one agenda in encountering a wayfarer is to provide her with the very best treatment within their power and establish her as a guest of honor.

jordan desert bedouin akela newman this world exists thisworldexists

While their customs and opinions on hospitality may differ from Western ideals, there was no lack in my appreciation for the candidness of their hearts. I began to understand what it meant for them to offer me an extravagant meal even when it is far beyond their means, or for a Bedouin sheikh to offer me his protection as if I were one of his own daughters, inviting me back to his home if I'm in need. 

jordan desert bedouin akela newman this world exists thisworldexists

Throughout my travels to the visually stunning and mentally stumping wonders of Petra, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, Wadi Rum and others, no ancient material marvel came close to the beauty that lay within each individual heart of the people who made those places their homes. Maybe the two are not mutually exclusive, but I believe that it would have been impossible for me to really appreciate those places without viewing them through my relationships with the people.

jordan desert bedouin akela newman this world exists thisworldexists

The principle, “seek first to understand before being understood” is preferable in every situation, throughout life and especially in travelling and learning about other cultures.

jordan desert bedouin akela newman this world exists thisworldexists

Written by Akela Newman

 
 


Do It Before You Die: Visit Black Canyon, Colorado

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

Do you have a favourite place on Earth? I think I just found mine. Situated in western Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a hidden treasure of North America.

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

The Canyon got its name because some parts of the gorge only receive 33 minutes of sunlight a day. It's incredibly steep, it’s more than 2000 feet tall and probably one of the deepest and narrowest canyons I have ever seen in my life.

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

You can access the park from the South or North Rim. The South Rim has more to offer, like a visitors centre and picnic areas. We had no time to see both sides, so we only explored the North Rim, which is reachable only by an unpaved road (closed during the winter) but has many breathtaking view spots. 

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

This park is less popular than Grand Canyon (and very different), so you won’t see many tourists - great for getting a deeper connection to the magical nature around.

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

Take a moment and listen to the sound of Gunnison’s rushing waters. Feel the magnitude of this place and think about how small and humble we are compare to these unique rock formations. It is hard to imagine the age of Black Canyon rock is 1.7 billion years!

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

This is a park I’d like to camp at and spend a few days to a week exploring. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is just a must see if you are in this part of Colorado.

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

Written by Julia Pelio. Photos by Arthur Pelio.

Julia is a THISWORLDEXISTS Adventure Ambassador. You can see more of her adventures on Instagram: @juliapelio or @THISWORLDEXISTS

 
 

In Search of Indonesian Magic: Surfing in Bali

bali indonesia surfing tom hughes thisworldexists this world exists

After hearing about the Indonesian surf for years, I couldn't wait any longer. The draw of huge, head-high barrelling tubes, aqua blue sea and scorching heat sounded like a fantasy to a pale Englishman from a cold, wet and windy island. This Summer I bit the bullet and booked the flights for my friend and I to fly to Bali. The film we were working on needed some international world class waves included in the edit. After 26 hours, we finally arrived. Landing in a remote foreign country late at night was an interesting experience. Our adventure had begun. 

bali indonesia surfing tom hughes thisworldexists this world exists

Waking up in a tropical paradise is a pretty surreal experience. All I could think about were the wave conditions. A short walk from the hotel brought us to some incredible swell. Before we knew it, we were standing before huge aqua blue barrels and white sandy beaches, exactly what we were searching for.

bali indonesia surfing tom hughes thisworldexists this world exists

Indonesia is certainly not short of traditional culture. The locals are some of the most kind and caring individuals I have ever encountered. The plan all along was to try and incorporate the local culture into the footage. 

bali indonesia surfing tom hughes thisworldexists this world exists

After shooting all day we were walking down the beach towards the hotel and stumbled across a dream situation. Standing on the edge of the reef were a group of local fisherman going about their daily routines, behind them a small peeling barrel. I knew that this could be the shot of the trip. After taking some time getting myself in the right position, it was just a case of waiting for that next set to roll in. I nailed the shot in the first attempt. Seeing a perfectly framed image of a fisherman and a crouched surfer brings a smile to my face, and will stick with me forever.

bali indonesia surfing tom hughes thisworldexists this world exists

It's small moments like this that make a trip worthwhile. Visiting amazing countries like Indonesia offers the chance to experiment, in the hope to develop quality shots and film. Indonesia will always be a trip to remember and I can’t wait to return next summer to explore more remote islands. 

bali indonesia surfing tom hughes thisworldexists this world exists

I have wandered all my life, and I have also travelled. We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfilment. 

bali indonesia surfing tom hughes thisworldexists this world exists

Written by Tom Hughes

Tom is a THISWORLDEXISTS Adventure Ambassador. You can see more of his work and adventures on Instagram: @beyondlimits_media or on @thisworldexists

 
 


5 Tips for the Ultimate Trip to Havasupai

havasupai travel tips waterfalls thisworldexists this world exists utah wesley hawkins

My love for the outdoors all started with this trip. Three years ago my trip to Havasupai was incredible, making my thirst for adventure grow even larger!  Through my own trial and error, I've compiled a list of five tips to help you avoid common mistakes on this hike. Even if you've planned a month ahead and are in pretty good hiking shape, these five tips could make your trip run much smoother and be more enjoyable. 

Want to explore the Grand Canyon and see those famous aqua coloured waterfalls in Havasupai too? Follow these five tips to make it the journey of a lifetime!

havasupai travel tips waterfalls thisworldexists this world exists utah wesley hawkins

1. Pack Correctly

If you see all falls, you'll be hiking 30-35 miles. Make sure your pack is comfortable and your weight is evenly distributed, with the heaviest part in the centre of the pack, balanced evenly on the sides. Items hanging loosely will swing on your pack and create lag. I recommend packing before hand if it's your first time. If you don't want to pack your stuff, mules are available to carry it for you.

havasupai travel tips waterfalls thisworldexists this world exists utah wesley hawkins

2. Bring these 5 optional items to make it extra fun

- Hammock & string or ties for hanging
- Flotation device/Beach Ball
- Watershoes
- GoPro or any camera
- Misty Mate neck cooler and water mister, keeping you cool in the scorching heat.

havasupai travel tips waterfalls thisworldexists this world exists utah wesley hawkins

3. Don't forget these 5 essentials

- Sunscreen and bug spray - Depending on the season, it's very hot and there are plenty of bugs.
- Hiking shoes - make sure they're broken in and comfortable. Try them out on a pre-supai hike. Don't wear really low top shoes or hiking sandals - they'll be full of pebbles every 50 feet. Most of the trip is walking along a rocky river bed, so make sure your shoes aren't flimsy. 
- Lightweight, dehydrated food. There are no camp fires so you'll need a boiler as well. Plastic silverware isn't a bad idea.
- Pain-killers - you will get sore. Bandages and a first aid kit are a great idea for first timers, blisters could make it a lot less fun for you.
- Baby Powder, because chafing is never fun.

havasupai travel tips waterfalls thisworldexists this world exists utah wesley hawkins

4. Reservations
Havasupai has become extremely poplular. To be safe, reservations should be made 6-8 months prior to trip. You can find more information on this website.

havasupai travel tips waterfalls thisworldexists this world exists utah wesley hawkins

5. Round up a group family and friends, disconnect from everyday life and have the trip of a lifetime!
Share this post with your friends, set a date, make the reservation and a list of things to bring. If they haven't packed before, they will need some help. This is a trip that will strengthen your love for nature, adventure and the great outdoors. Havasupai will awaken anyone's soul and thirst for adventure.

havasupai travel tips waterfalls thisworldexists this world exists utah wesley hawkins

Written by Wesley Hawkins. Photos also by Wesley.

Wesley is a THISWORLDEXISTS Adventure Ambassador. You can see more of his adventures on Instagram: @utahtravels or on @thisworldexists

 
 


Pushing Boundaries on the Grand Teton

I've made a pact with myself to try something outside of my comfort zone at least once a week, so when the chance to climb the Grand Teton presented itself, I could not resist. Turns out 13 hour road trips, gas station food and sleeping in a small car don't mix. We got about 3-4 hours of sleep after a nice bout of food poisoning and the most uncomfortable car seats imaginable. Tired and queasy, at 6am we quickly threw together our gear and headed up. Breakfast was out of the question, instead we chugged some water and started hiking. The first four miles were easy, a well marked hiking trail with beautiful trees and fresh morning air. Then the trail got rocky.

grand teton thisworldexists this world exists hiking climbing mountains

Boulder hopping with fervour, we strained to see the peak we were about to climb. Turns out you can't see it until you're practically on top of it. I couldn't tell if my stomach hurt from the nerves or food poisoning, but nothing was stopping us. Towering mountains soon surrounded us, leaving me in complete awe. The Tetons demand their respect.

grand teton thisworldexists this world exists hiking climbing mountains

At the base of the climb to the lower saddle, where base camp is located, we encountered a rope climb, easy and fun. Soon we were surrounded by wind blown tents, huddling campers and mossy rocks. We started talking to other climbers, and not a single one had summited that day. The winds and 18 degree weather had turned them away. Trying to keep our spirits high, we headed up the scramble to the upper saddle.

grand teton thisworldexists this world exists hiking climbing mountains

Barely halfway up, a huge boulder came crashing down, falling right where we had been just minutes before. The pit in my stomach started getting bigger, the rescue helicopter landing below us didn't help either. I knew we were at the mercy of the mountain, but I couldn't turn around. At the upper saddle, we watched others rappelling down from the summit, the first bit of good news all day. We knew others had summited, so there must be a chance.

grand teton thisworldexists this world exists hiking climbing mountains

Harnesses were brought out, rope attached, gear placed, and we started the climb. My feet trembled, knowing a slip would leave me dangling at the end of a rope, thousands of feet off the ground in the best of scenarios. With each step though, I felt more comfortable, feeling the cling of my shoes against the rock. Several pitches later, and a few off-course moves we found ourselves at the last scramble. By this time, the sun was starting to set, and the chill of the evening was setting in. We were the last people on the mountain, reaching the summit minutes later.

grand teton thisworldexists this world exists hiking climbing mountains

The scramble seemed to take just minutes on the way down, racing the sun as we aimed to get past the rappel before dark. I had only done short rappels before, but with the time crunch, we doubled up our rope with another couple we met on the way down and cut our time in half. For my first hanging rappel, it was absolutely exhilarating. Definitely the best part of the entire climb. After reaching the bottom of the rappel, we started our descent, just as the sun was setting. I had hoped to reach the lower saddle before dark, but no such luck. Once the sun went down, the rocks seemed to never end.

grand teton thisworldexists this world exists hiking climbing mountains

What had been a pretty simple hike/scramble in was torture on the way out. I tried to keep a good attitude, but by the time we finally made it back to the trail I was almost in tears. Just before the car, I thought to myself, I'm never doing this again. Ever. Yet, as the parking lot came into view and my pack slipped off my shoulders, all I could think about was the next mountain begging to be climbed.

Written by Noelle Snyder. Photos by Elijah Weber

Noelle is a THISWORLDEXISTS Adventure Ambassador. See more of her adventures on Instagram: @noelle_danae or on @THISWORLDEXISTS

 
 


Watch: Exploring the John Muir Trail from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney

We love the feeling of being "almost there". The hard work of the day is reaping its rewards as anticipation builds in search of the perfect camp site.

Watch this group of friends hike the John Muir Trail from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney to inspire you to start planning your next outdoor adventure. Both are incredibly stunning places that boast a broad range of natural wonders and opportunities for any outdoor adventurers, so sit back, relax and enjoy some of the most pristine landscape of North America.

Where are you headed to next? Share it with us in the comments!

 
 


Helicopter flight to the remote Meade Glacier in Alaska

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

For most people, helicopter rides aren't part of our day-to-day lives. Occasionally, however, it's nice to jump in one and peer at the earth below you. Last summer my family and I took a cruise to Alaska. For someone who craves the outdoors, being cooped up in a ship for days is not the most exciting thing in the world. The various stops we made in Alaska were the most exciting parts of the trip. Stopping in Skagway, we decided to take a helicopter to the Meade Glacier. 

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure
glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

Once you get your boots and jackets sized, you'll split into groups. Next you'll hop in the front seat of the chopper and take off! Incredible views of some of the world's most remote and beautiful wilderness are only a few minutes flight from where you take off. This is where you want a camera handy.

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

The first view of the glacier is nothing short of a spectacle, it's absolutely enormous. The adrenaline really starts to pump when you realise you're about to land on a natural wonder that has been moving for thousands of years. Landing goes smoothly and you hop out of the cockpit. Immediately, it feels like you're on another planet.

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure
glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

You'll get a briefing from the guides and a little info on the glacier before you're let off to explore the area. The glacier starts in British Columbia and ends in Alaska, and looking out you can see the border. Sadly, as beautiful and gigantic as it is, it - like most glaciers - has been receding at an alarming rate over the last decade. 

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

Once you've gotten over the overwhelming display of clouds, snow and ice capped mountains, distant waterfalls and the fact that you just flew in a helicopter to get there, it's time to look at what exactly you're standing on. There are huge crevasses all over the place, so walk to the edge and take a look into the void...

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure
glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

There are even areas where water is rushing into the crevasses, creating little glacial waterfalls. It's freezing cold but you can also drink the water straight from your hands!

Fresh!

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure
glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

After you've managed to snap a few thousand photos of all there is to see without falling into the glacier, you eventually have to be dragged back to the helicopter by all the guides because as much as you want to, you can't stay forever.

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

It's alright though because the ride back to the Skagway port is gonna hit you with some stellar views to bring your spirits back up...

glacier alaska helicopter thisworldexists this world exists adventure

Although it's pricey, and you're on a time limit, with a rather large group of people - the minute you get on the glacier it's so huge it doesn't even matter. It was an experience I'll never forget, and if you like adventure and photography, it's the perfect place. If you have the opportunity I highly suggest you add it to your Do It Before You Die bucket list!

Written by Christian Lanley

Christian is a THISWORLDEXISTS Adventure Ambassador.

See more of Christian's awesome adventures on  Instagram: @lanleyc or @THISWORLDEXISTS