A big ‘ol list of the hikes I’ve done, with a quick description/review for each, updated as I do more hikes.
I visited Switzerland for a week in April while working in Germany.
Shilthorn and Lauterbrunnen - Being a tourist, I had no choice but to visit the Interlaken area. Gorgeous valley, great views while hiking along the cliffs on the Shilthorn side, and the falls were pretty magnificent as well.
The famjam went to Hawaii in May 2019.
Mount Kaala Trail - Nice long trail (11-ish km) which mainly just goes up a ridge. The first couple kilometers is pretty uneventful since you’re just going up a steep service road, but the rest of the trail gives a great view of the island. Lots of ladders, rope climbs, and scrambling through muddy inclines. We ended up stopping pretty close to the summit because there was an steep incline covered in much which, if someone let go of the rope or slipped, they’d be jetissoned off the mountain. I think we passed one person the entire time.
Kuliouou Ridge Trail - Trades ropes and ladders for steep slippery steps. Arguably a nicer view than Mount Kaala, shorter, and easier to get to. Also way more trafficked.
Koko Head - Absolutely brutal short trail. All incline from top to bottom. The old rail “logs” you’re climbing/running up are also spaced out enough that you can’t take baby steps. We tried running from top to bottom and were tuckered out within a couple minutes. A great workout.
Waimano Falls Trail - Cute, shorter trail. It’s a lot of descending winding switchbacks covered in a bed of roots until you reach the falls, at which point you can either swim, or swing from a rope, or jump off a cliff into the water.
Whiteshell Provincial Park
Hunt Lake Trail - Reminded me of Hawaii with all the ups and downs and roots covering the trail. There’s a rope somewhere on the route which you can use to swing out over and into the lake.
Whiteshell Provincial Park (June-July)
Caribou Lake Campsite West via Mantario Trail South Trailhead - We did this twice to train for Mantario Trail. It’s about 20km there-and-back, covering the arguably hardest chunk of Mantario; lots of ups and downs, exposed shield and boggy forest. Ticks and mosquitoes too; I hate Canada.
Mantario Trail - See the full review here
Waterton Lakes National Park (August)
While there was smog from the forest fires, we still had good visibility for adjacent mountains.
Red Rock Canyon - The view from the walkway above the canyon is really mediocre; being in the canyon is what makes this little trail. I highly recommend wading all the way to the bridge at the upper end of the walkway, as the walls close in and wind more and more (and there are less people too). I also recommend bringing watershoes and sandals, as you can only get so far in while keeping your feet dry.
Blakiston Falls - Pretty meh, the falls are okay and the hike is pretty plain. A good hike for those that can’t do more rigorous ones, I guess.
Bear’s Hump - Short trail with lots of elevation gain (2.4km both ways, 210m elevation gain), but with switchbacks to make the ascent less continuous. You get a nice view of Waterton and the surrounding peaks at the top. We continued a bit higher up the mountain, but turned back after 20-ish minutes when scrambling over boulders became necessary.
Crypt Lake Trail - The most gorgeous hike I’ve ever done (so far). We stopped part of the way up at a little waterfall and (tried) to wade around in a crystal clear, absolutely freezing water pool. The section with the ladder, tunnel, and rope at the end is fun, if not slightly sketchy. The lake is beautiful, and there’s a nice spot for cliff jumping. Across the lake, you can get up a ridge of shale to the leftover snow, where there are some cute little waterfalls leading down into the rock (which I assume eventually makes its way into the lake). We took the detour to Hells Roaring Falls on the way back down, which was okay, but due to dry weather was nothing special.
Mount Galwey - The hardest hike I’ve done (so far). While Crypt Lake has 900m elevation gain in 20km (and was still pretty difficult), Mount Galwey does about the same elevation, but in 5.5km. We did the math, for every km of horizontal distance, you’re going one third that upwards, making the average angle of incination 30 degrees. I’d say most of the time, you’re going up 45 degree hills of shale and pebbles. Then there’s the 70 degree shale scramble up to the rocky outcrop at the top, and for every step you take, you lose half your stride because of sliding back down. We ended up stopping before reaching the summit because the trail disappeared and we weren’t experienced enough to try and find out own way. AllTrails said this trail would take 2 hours, but it took us 2.5 just to get to the top and another hour to get down. I’d love to do this again with more experience under my belt (and a lighter pack, and trekking poles).
Lower Bertha Falls, Upper Bertha Falls, Bertha Lake - Like Crypt Lake, but less gorgeous (and less travelled, although we still passed some people). Lots of uphill, cute lake in the bowl of some mountains. We didn’t have time to try for the summit, unfortunately.
Cameron Lake Trail - Did this little trail while the famjam was fishing. Cute and with lots of berries at the end.
Uetliberg (September) - This is right by my Woko, so I’ve gone up a couple times now. Gorgeous view from the top of Zuerich and, if the weather permits it, the distant Alps.
Mount Pilatus (September) - I did this without checking the whether and prepping properly in mid-september. It was 0 celsius, raining, and windy, but absolutely gorgeous; I’d love to go back when the weather it nicer.
Mount Santis (October) - I did this with some university peeps in abolutely perfect weather. We took the big bowl route, so started at Wasserauen, hiked up to Schäfler, then along the mountain ridge to Säntis, then down the opposite side of the bowl back to Wasserauen. It was absolutely gorgeous, possibly the nicest looking hike I’ve done. It definitely didn’t match Galwey in terms of difficulty, but still had plenty of steep switch-backs and cable-guided fall-to-your-death sections.
Wildspitz (November) - A nice, easy day hike with great views of the surrounding Alps. It was cool getting to see mountains I’ve previously hiked in the distance, like Santis and Jungfrau (well, I hiked to Shilthorn, so close enough). The clouds were incredibly low and covered everything which wasn’t a mountain; it felt like we were above a massive white lake. A welcomed change of pace after being stuck under those same clouds in Zurich for the last few weeks.
Uetliberg (January) - And back up we go! The walk up isn’t as pretty in the winter, but the view from the top is still absolutely gorgeous. I’ve also heard that the mountains are more visible in colder months, which I certainly won’t complain about as a trade-off.
Mount Pilatus (March) - Round two. I brought proper insulating and rain-proof layers, which ended up being a bit overkill considering how beautiul the weather was. Oh well. Everything above the tree-line was covered in snow which varied from hard-packed on the more established improvised route, to sink-holes and what I can only describe as mini tree-wells. The regular switch-back trail wasn’t visible, so I followed what I certainly hope were the remnants of someone else’s footsteps in a beeline up every incline, turning an already difficult hike into a grueling ascent, sometimes on my hands and feet or sinking to my knees in powder snow. It’s definitely set my expectations for other mountains during the winter/spring; don’t, unless you’re familiar with them already or they’re small enough to have no snow (or have more experience than me).
Stanserhorn (March) - Pilatus’ slightly shorter neighbor. I didn’t end up making it to the top; I got within a couple hundred meters, but a combination of zero visibility due to being in the clouds and trying to walk horizontally along a 70-ish degree incline with thigh-deep snow resulted in a bunch of short slides and following animal tracks instead of the buried trail. Eventually, I decided that rolling down a mountain wasn’t how I wanted to die. I’d love to do this again, but with nicer weather.
Uetliberg (March) - I tend to have a pretty solid pace when hiking and rarely have people pass me, but when they do, they’re always running up the side of a mountain (two people passed me running up Pilatus this March). I’d like to get to the point where I can run up a mountain without needing a break, so I figured my local hill is a good place to start. My first attempt in March, I made it about halfway and figured it was best not to push it, since I hadn’t run in a bit. I tried again yesterday and got to the top, no breaks! It still took me 45min to get up and 30 down from my apartment though, so not very fast at all; at some points, I think I was going about as fast as if I had been walking, but oh well, it’s only up(hill) from here!
Pizol, Hochwart, and 5-Lake Hike (August) - Naturally, having just finished my exams and bought the GA, the weather in Switzerland turned from 30 and sunny to 15 and rainy/stormy. I took advantage in a lull in the bad weather to go for a hike. I took the cable cars to Pizolhuette, then hiked up Pizol, then Hochwart, then did the regular 5-lake hike. It may have been a little much for a single day (something like 25km with a bunch of uphill and downhill. I was slightly hesitant to go up Pizol due to it’s “alpine trail” rating instead of “mountain trail”, but there were only a couple sections with cables and no crazy exposure; I honestly found it easier/safer than Saentis. The glacier was completely melted, which was super crummy (thanks us for warming things up!), but everything else was pretty much picture perfect. You’d think after learning my lesson in California, I’d wear long-sleeve shirts and hats everywhere, but for some reason, my brain had a short-circuit, and I didn’t wear anything, so I burnt pretty badly. The hike was beautiful, my skin, not so much.
Hoch Fulen and Seewli (August) - I took the cable car up from Erstfeld to Ober Schwandi, then hiked up to Hoch Fulen. Instead of turning around at the top and heading back, I figured I’d take the trail North-East from the summit towards Brunni, then turn back towards Seewli. Not a great move in retrospect; the view along the trail was pretty unexceptional compared to what I had just done, and added a ton of additional elevation loss and gain as I dropped down from Hoch Fulen at 2500m to around 1800m near Trittli, then went right back up to 2300 at the ridge above Seewli, then back down to about 2000m to reach Seewli itself, which had been taken over by those darn swiss cows. I hiked down to Kilcherberg, hoping to take the Silenen-Chilcherberge Openair-Luftseilbahn, but alas, I didn’t have enough cash on hand to get a ticket, having spent it all on a return ticket on the Schwandibahn, so I got to add that slog back; I made it to the cable car with 20 minutes to spare before they closed, making what should probably have been a 4 hour and 12km day into a 9-hour 30-ish km one. Still a nice view though.
Alum Rock Park (February) - My partner and I did a cute little 10km-ish hike up one of the hills and back down. We got a nice view of San Jose and the surrounding hills in the process. The weather was surprisingly mild, although I guess it makes sense, being the rainy season and all in February.
Big Sur (April) - My partner, some of her friends, and I went to Big Sur over the weekend. It was my first time outside the Bay Area and was very nice; we hiked Bluffs and Panorama Trail via Creamery Meadow, which was a cute little 12k trail along the coast. The last time I was near the ocean was Hawaii; mixing tall-ish hills with ocean cliffs was definitely a change of scenery from the snowy mountains I’ve been doing for the last couple months. We also did the first few km of the Vicente Flat Trail starting outside Kirk Creek Campground, but turned around to get a campsite when they opened. I may have burned a little bit; I definitely need to get my hands on some long-sleeve clothes and a wide-brim hat for hiking.
Ansel Adams Wilderness (July) - My partner and I did a two day loop near Mammoth Lakes, our first couple trip. We started at Agnew Meadows and hiked the JMT up past Shadow Lake, Garnet Lake, and finally reached Thousand Island Lake for the night. We then took the PCT on the way back. The way up was quite intimite, with close-up views of the Minarets and Banner Peak across from crystal-lakes. It also had decent tree coverage and very few bugs. The way back was kind of brutal, with very little cover to protect from the sun and a ludicrous number of mosquitoes. Getting to see the rest of the valley, as well as parts of the path we had hiked the day prior, such as Shadow Lake, was well worth it though. I ended up getting a wide-brim hat and long-sleeve sun-shirt, and my ears, neck and arms have never been so unburned.
May Lake and Mount Hoffman (July) - My partner, a few friends and I went to May Lake in Yosemite. Day one, there were blue skies, minus a big ‘ol plume of smoke coming the oak fire near Jerseydale. They gave me a quick tour of the valley, then we drove up to May Lake and hiked the mile or so to the lake itself. I made an attempt at Mount Hoffman, but it was a bit too late, so I stopped before the shield near the top. I got up early the next morning and made it to the summit, but had to book it down since the smoke was spreading from the fire insanely fast thanks to some inopportune winds. We tried to start our actual route from May Lake down into the valley, but the smoke thickened to the point we were worried about our health, so we turned around and left.