Cheaha Overlook, Alabama courtesy Jim Vallee/Shutterstock
Over the last 15 years, I consider myself lucky to have hiked half of America’s national parks and many of the world’s top 10 hikes on six different continents. None of that would have happened, however, if it weren’t for the unassuming beauty of a little state park in eastern Alabama.
I didn’t grow up hiking. My parents took my siblings and I on vacation to Yellowstone, theme parks, and several beaches instead. There we mostly sightsee’d, thrill rode, and relaxed.
That all changed after I enrolled in college. On a whim one weekend, some friends and family members decided to hike Cheaha State Park. Just a two hour drive from my hometown, I went for the company, but stayed for the view—specifically Cheaha Overlook (pictured).
Truth be told, I had never seen anything like it. After a moderate walk through the woods, we arrived at the rock around sunset and I’m sure I uttered something like “Wow!” Looking over a valley that big made me feel small. And I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.
To this day I prefer wide open spaces over the alternative (i.e. caves kinda bore me). What’s interesting, though, is I didn’t set out to be a hiker that day. Nor do I necissarily identify as one today. Hiking the outdoors is just something I enjoy doing, especially as a vehicle to explore new places or witness the seasons change in my own backyard.
In that sense, hiking Cheaha for the first time was one small step for me, but one giant leap for a hobby that has filled my life and taken me around the globe. I’m forever grateful I tagged along that day. Itchy feet, keep itching.
Write-ups of some my favorite hikes to date: Patagonia | Mont Blanc | Western Brook Fjord | Canyonlands | Monument Valley | Gravity Falls, Costa Rica | Bryce Canyon | Kumano Kodo | High Uintas | New Zealand | Cheaha | Machu Picchu | Zion Narrows/Angel’s Landing—both top 10 hikes that I inexplicably have yet to write about
My family and I just returned from an unexpectedly awesome and relaxing road trip to Fruita, Colorado. With weather in the low 70s, we swam the Great Divide Villa, hiked Colorado National Monument, and mountain biked Kessel Run while the kids were on fall break.
But that’s a story for another day. Today I wanted to share my favorite songs while making the seven hour roundtrip drive. From most righteous to least righteous, with links to streaming audio, they are as follows: Continue reading…
Dumfounded by the beauty of the surrounding Italian Alps
I just returned from a 10 day, 85 mile, three country hike around Mont Blanc. I’ll publish a full report of the epic G Adventures expedition to my column next month. Until then, I hope you enjoy these photos I took: Continue reading…
If you prefer heavy, protective, and stiff hiking shoes, this story isn’t for you. Go ahead and Google “Keen Liberty Ridge.” They are the mother of all high-performance hiking boots. Seasoned guides swear by ‘em.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something lighter, more flexible, and less clunky, you’ve come to the right place. Having tested more than a dozen candidates, these are the best I could find: 5 alternative—if not low-profile—hiking shoes that rock.
Before listing the winners, remember: you can wear whatever you like while hiking. Said footwear doesn’t have to be gray or brown or chunky or even necessarily labeled for “hiking,” so long as you find them comfortable. Enough preaching. Onto the list. Continue reading…
Since moving to the Western United States 11 years ago, I’ve hiked many majestic trails. All are proof the area is still very wild and as breathtaking as ever.
Last week, I hiked the most impressive trail of them all: The Narrows, which I was unable to do the first time I visited Zion. In short, The Narrows is like a taller and deeper Little Wild Horse Canyon — my second favorite hike — with a river running through it. It’s so beautiful, I think it’s all I’ll do next time I visit Zion. I need that canyon in my life.
Readers: What’s the best hike you’ve ever been on?