A new year – and, for that matter, a new decade – is almost here, and with it the requisite resolutions blasted at us from almost every direction. Not here, though. I'm using my last column of 2010 to share my adventure travel wish list for the new year.
I also want to wish you a 2011 full of excitement and adventure, wherever your journeys may take you, and encourage you to share your own wish list trips in the comments section below. Happy New Year!
Learning to rock climb. Interestingly enough, my interest in this emerging sport was piqued in the Caribbean, where peaks like the 3,232-foot Mt. Nevis and St. Christoffel in Curaçao provide an ideal way for a beginner to discover how much this sport, pardon the pun, absolutely rocks. Climbing offers not only a hard-core workout, but an addictive shot of adrenaline – not to mention some brag-worthy travel photos.
A great way to see if this emerging sport is a fit for you is via an indoor climbing wall. Climbing centers are popping up in cities across the country, and gyms are adding climbing walls to their offerings, too (check out www.indoorclimbing.com for an extensive listing of facilities worldwide.).
(Those of you who are already climbing junkies: Please do let me know if 2011 involves a trip to Excalibur, which I have had a strange obsession with, and vertigo thinking about, since I wrote about it last week.)
A women's-only adventure trip. With all due respect to those girlfriend getaways that specialize in spas and shopping, I think tramping around in the wilderness with your trusty gal pals is way more fun – and empowering. Women-centric travel should continue to be a strong trend for 2011 and beyond, and outfitters everywhere are trying to take advantage of the popularity.
A solid choice is Call of the Wild, which has been running women's-only trips since 1978. A weekend snowshoeing in Sequoia National Park and a backpacking trip from the John Muir Trail to Yosemite National Park caught my eye on the 2011 calendar, and there are still several trips in January and February with availability. Visit www.callwild.com for more information.
Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. Ok, so reaching the peak of Africa's highest mountain has become kind of a tired celebrity trend as of late, with Hollywood types like Jessica Biel and former tennis great Martina Navratilova making the excursion (Navratilova, I'm sad to report, had to back out early). But my interest in this majestic, 19,341-foot peak hasn't diminished since a friend who's traveled to Africa several times told me that the snow on the top will be melted within a decade or two. I'm determined to make my trip happen long before that (heaven forbid) happens (and I'd love to hear input from those of you who have done it).
Hiking Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. Ever since my brother moved to northern California years ago, this has been something we've wanted to do together, and this May the trip is finally on our calendars.
If the Half Dome is on your itinerary, too, then you should be aware that the National Park Service has changed its permitting procedures for hikes. Because of crowding and long lines to use the cables to the top in 2010 (about 400 hikers per day on weekdays; up to 1,200 on weekends), everyone (with the exception of backpackers with backcountry permits) must have a reservation and a permit to hike Half Dome. Permits cost $1.50 per person and are sure to go quickly; visit www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm for more information.
Find more adventures close to home. I live in Atlanta, which is about an 1.5-hour drive from the north Georgia mountains, chock full of options for camping, hiking and mountain biking. Yet I regret I didn’t take advantage of that as much as I would have liked in 2010. So, with the economy continuing to slug along (and gas prices spiking to start out 2011), I'm on a mission to make close-to-home weekend getaways a monthly must-do for the new year, starting with a hiking trip over the MLK holiday in January. Discovering adventure in your own backyard can create some of the most rewarding – and least expensive – travel experiences you can have, after all.
Start your 2011 off on an adventurous foot with our Sports & Adventure Travel Deals.