The Wonderland Diaries: Exploring the Enchanting East Side

The Enchanting East Side The east side of Mount Rainier was the final four-day segment of our Wonderland adventure, and, in many ways, it felt like we had saved the best for last. Beginning on the south side of the park, we admired many beautiful trail-side waterfalls in the forested lower elevations before climbing back into the higher elevations of the east where a veritable alpine paradise awaited us. Spending our last two nights on the trail at Indian Bar and Summerland, two of the most beautiful camps in the park (if not the entire country), was a fitting end to the amazing experience of completing the Wonderland Trail. By the time we were through exploring Rainier’s enchanting east side, we wished we could turn around and do it all over again! (more…)

The Wonderland Diaries: The West Side Wander

The West Side Wander

The Wonderland Trail on Mount Rainier’s west side has a lot to offer the intrepid backpackers who venture here. This section of the trail is not easily accessed by road,  so few day hikers reach this quiet corner of paradise. A couple of monster ascents through old growth forest will have you huffing and puffing, and the stunning views of the mountain from Klapatche Park and Emerald Ridge will take your breath away. St. Andrew’s Lake offers a picture-perfect chance to cool off in ice-cold waters while a couple of dramatic river crossings are sure to get your adrenaline flowing. If you’re lucky, you might catch a gorgeous sunset from above the tranquil Golden Lakes. Wildflowers abound as you stroll through Indian Henry’s old hunting grounds on your way to your next cache and a well-deserved hot meal at Longmire.
A wander down the west side is well worth your while! (more…)

The Wonderland Diaries: Navigating the North Side

Desolate Pass Tarn

We began our Wonderland adventure traveling counter-clockwise on the north side of Mount Rainier from White River Campground heading toward South Mowich River. Filled with sweeping vistas, enchanting alpine meadows, photogenic lakes and a few hair-raising bear encounters to boot, this alluring section of the trail was the perfect introduction to the Wonderland—a magnificent visual feast from beginning to end. It had us at hello… (more…)

Hitting the Trails in Iceland

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If you are traveling independently in Iceland and have the time to spare, there is no better way to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the country’s varied landscapes than by foot. When you take the time to get out of the car (or bus) and see the world without the filter of auto glass shielding you, nature assaults you with its sounds, sights and smells all working together. Besides, as a favorite Chicago band of ours, Poi Dog Pondering, sings: “You get to know things better when they go by slow.” At Take a Hike Photography, you could pretty much guess this is our theme song and motto!

Iceland has so many different topographical features to explore that you cannot possibly exhaust the list of trails in a single trip. Even so, we did our best to put some kilometers on our hiking boots. Here are a few of our favorite treks. (more…)

Your Ticket to Iceland’s Puffin-Palooza

Puffins at Látrabjarg

Every summer, music fans in Chicago look forward to the annual return of one of rock’s annual mega-festivals, Lollapalooza. For sheer people watching, not to mention the variety of music on offer over three consecutive days, the Lollapalooza Festival cannot be beat. For the nature enthusiast, however, who perhaps prefers the birds to The Byrds, this type of concert scene can be a bit overwhelming. We at Take A Hike would like to offer an alternative Summer Tour, lovingly-entitled Puffin-Palooza. The following is your concert guide to four of Iceland’s greatest stops on a summer tour of the country’s most beloved band bird, The Puffins! So grab your (concert) ticket and don’t forget the camera for those groupie fan photos, because you, my friend, are on Summer Tour.

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Photographing Iceland’s Waterfalls: Part I

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Iceland is a nature photographer’s paradise, and there is a plethora of fantastic subjects to shoot practically everywhere you look.  Sometimes we felt there just weren’t enough hours in the day to shoot it all, and, with 20+ hours of sunlight, that’s really saying something! From lunar landscapes to rugged seaside cliffs, from grandiose glaciers to gushing geysers, Iceland has it all. And, if that weren’t enough, the country is teeming with waterfalls. Everywhere. They come in all shapes and sizes, and many that would warrant state park status in the US hardly get a mention in the guidebooks or a spot on the map. In fact, there are so many waterfalls in Iceland that many of them aren’t even named.   (more…)

Spring Tune Up in the Garden of the Gods

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Stop the presses! We know we just announced a series of posts on Iceland, but we accomplished two things this week that we’ve never done before:

  1. Alison did a headstand in yoga class! That might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but, believe you me, it was a long time in coming.
  2. We took a trip in Illinois… our home state… somewhere outside of Chicago!

Shocker, right?

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A Practical Guide to Independent Travel in Iceland

Krafla Lava Fields

Matt and I were recently asked by our camera club to put together a travelogue program about our trip to Iceland in the summer of 2012. Even though that trip was almost two years ago now, it finally gave us the motivation we needed to process and edit the thousands of photographs and video clips we shot while we were there. We spent a lot of time working on our presentation and are really pleased with the final result, especially because it reminded us so much of what an amazing time we had traveling in that incredible little country. What a place! It’s hard to believe that a country the same size as Kentucky has so much to offer. You can see the highlights of our summer in Iceland in this short video:

This blog was born in Iceland, and we’ve come a long way since then. In our next series of posts, we will be sharing some of our best pictures, videos, and travel/photography tips in a way that we couldn’t when we were first posting from the road. We also hope to update some of those earlier posts with new and improved pictures and related videos to help give a better sense of what it was really like to experience Iceland.

To help get started, we thought we would begin with a post explaining some of the practical aspects of traveling in Iceland—you know, the basics of visiting any foreign country—how to communicate with the locals, what to eat, how to get around and where to sleep. We think this will be useful to anyone entertaining the notion of going to Iceland, but we also hope it will be enjoyable to those of you who just appreciate traveling vicariously. So here goes! (more…)