Sunday Special – The Great Trail, Canada


HAPPY CANADA DAY! Today, July 1st, is Canada’s birthday. This nation is relatively young and though we do have some interesting historical sites much of the allure of this country comes from it’s vast and varied natural beauty. Canada has rugged coastlines, serene beaches, vibrant cities, quaint towns, majestic mountains, and incredible wildlife. Really it’s to be expected of the second largest country by landmass.  We are 9,985 square km / 3,855 square miles big! That is a lot of country. Many of us Canadians measure distance by hours (driving, flying, etc) due to its sheer enormity. 

So how can one see this very large place? Well there are a number of ways though today we will look at it from the ground up – The Great Trail. Formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail its construction began in 1992. Twenty-five years later the trail now traverses 24,000 km / 14, 900 mi of the country. The world’s largest recreational trails runs from Newfoundland through to BC, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.  Connecting the country it flows through wilderness areas including some waterways, and both rural and urban communities. Spend a day, a weekend or more on the trails. You can explore the wilds of BC or see the urban landscape of Southern Ontario. Perhaps you want to experience the rustic and coastal beauty of the Atlantic Coast. All this won’t be hard to find as 80% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail which makes it accessible. Plan it all at the website above or download The Great Trail app for both iOS and Android. And if you’re are really energetic you can walk the whole darn thing just as  Dana Meise, the first person to complete it did. Or  like Sarah Jackson who was the first woman to complete the trail. Now that is a long walk.

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Cape Spear, Newfoundland. The most eastern point in North America and where The Great Trail begins (mile zero) – Photo credit: Michel Rathwell from Cornwall, Canada, Cape Spear Newfoundland (41321652542)CC BY 2.0

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The restored Kinsol Trestle on BC’s Vancouver Island, part of The Great Trail – Photo credit: VrsmithKinsol-Trestle-From-Riverside-RoadCC BY-SA 3.0

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The Great Trail (formerly Trans Canada Trail) in Manitoba – Photo is Public Domain

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Sunday Special – Kandersteg, Switzerland


While watching an episode of “One Strange Rock” on National Geographic Channel I observed a giant wall of ice and someone scaling it. The name of this behemoth frozen waterfall is Breitwangflue or Crack Baby” (hmmm) and its located in Switzerland. Now I am not one for ice climbing or any kind of climbing for that matter (unless its into bed so I can sleep), however, I was intrigued by what was around this area of Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland. Of course this land-locked European country is famous for its natural beauty of pristine lakes, rolling hills and impressive mountains so I imagine it is quite a beautiful locale especially if waterfalls freeze so stunningly as Crack Baby does.

It would seem that I was correct and the area has much to offer in the way of natural beauty.  It is a getaway to an Alpine town that locals and in-the-know tourists have on their radar.  If you enjoy outdoor adventures then visiting this easily accessible town is a must. Here are some of the activities and sights to take in Kandersteg and area.

  • Oeschinen Lake: This glacially-fed lake can be hiked to from town or ride up in the Oeschinen Gondola to take in amazing vistas from its 1578 m / 5177 ft elevation. Fishing is also popular on the lake.
  • Rodelbahn Alpine Slide: In the summer months whip down this 750 m / 2460 ft alpine slide for an exhilarating ride.
  • Ricola Herb Garden: Ricola has six herb gardens and one of them is located in Kandersteg.  You can visit and see the herbs that are used in their lozenges.
  • Landgasthof Reudihus: This historic Swiss-style hotel was built as a private home in 1753. It’s a fine example of Bernese craftsmanship and has been carefully maintained. 
  • Outdoor Activities– This area is ripe for enjoying the outdoors. Hiking, fishing, boating, ice-climbing/mountaineering, paragliding, swimming, Nordic walking – take your pick!

This location certainly sounds like a haven for nature lovers!

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Stunning Lake Oeschinen near Kandersteg – Photo credit: TonnyBLakeOeschinenCC BY-SA 3.0

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Town of Kandersteg – Photo credit: Earth explorerKandersteg, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Utah, USA


Happy New Year! I hope it has started well for everyone. Welcome back to the next Sunday Special. We are close the end of the alphabet, at the letter “U”. So today we’ll take a look at the American state of Utah

One of the the “Four Corners” states where Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico’s borders converge, Utah is recognized for its varied landscape and natural beauty.  It is made up of different geological regions of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, and the Great Basin. The result is a terrain filled with diversity such as mountains with lush valleys, arid regions filled with deserts, salt lakes and flats, and sandstone territories filled with incredible bluffs, striking canyons and arches.

With such a variety in natural beauty this state has plenty to offer with 5 national parks: Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Capital Reef. Winter activities of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more are in abundance particularly near Salt Lake City. Head into the Moab area for some challenging mountain bike trails. It seems Utah has much to offer. 

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San Rafael Swell in Utah, USA – Photo credit: http://www.cgpgrey.comSan Rafael Swell 4892804322CC BY 2.0

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Hoodoos in Utah’s Bryce National Park, USA – Photo credit: James Marvin PhelpsHoodoos from the Peekaboo Loop Trail – Bryce Canyon National ParkCC BY 2.0

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Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah, USA – Photo is Public Domain

 

Sunday Special – Réunion Island


A small island that is blessed with natural beauty is tucked away in the Indian Ocean in the shadows of Madagascar and Mauritius. This isle, known as Réunion Island, is located approximately 700 km / 434 miles east and 200 km / 124 miles southwest of Madagascar and Mauritius, respectively. As a French overseas island it is part of the European Union (E.U.) though it remains outside of the Schengen zone thus retaining its own immigration code.

Regarded mainly for its abundance of hiking trails for all levels (over 900 km / 559 miles) its mountainous and volcanic terrain draws outdoor lovers into its fold. With trails for all experience levels one can take in lush rain forests, peer into the crater of an still active volcano (Piton de la Fournaise), gaze at fields of cane sugar, and even learn about the flora, fauna and geology of the area with a discovery trail. In fact, the island has such incredible topography that 40% of it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Though there is more to Réunion than the volcanoes, cirques and calderas.  Stunning beaches, natural marine reserves, flowing rivers and more. Even though it is a French territory there is a mixture of cultures that add a vibrant element to the islands culture. Peoples from Madagascar, Africa, Europe, and Asia all flavour the culture, music, and the food. This place strikes me as a wonderful place to explore and unwind at the same time. 

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Langevin Falls (also known as Grand Galet Falls) in Reunion National Park – Photo credit: No machine-readable author provided. JoKerozen assumed (based on copyright claims)., Cascade LangevinCC BY-SA 2.5

 

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Crater of Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island – Photo credit: User: Bbb at wikivoyage shared, ReU PtFournaise KraterDolomieuCC BY-SA 3.0