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    Ryan Van Dusen saved Systrafoss Falls

    about 1 month ago

    Ryan Van Dusen saved Gullfoss Waterfall

    about 1 month ago

    Ryan Van Dusen saved Vatnajökull Glacier

    about 1 month ago

    Ryan Van Dusen saved Brennisteinsalda

    about 1 month ago

    Ryan Van Dusen saved Hversfjall Volcano

    about 1 month ago

    Ryan Van Dusen saved Svartifoss-Sel Loop

    about 1 month ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Ryan Mountain Trail

    3 months ago

    I imagine this hike is most pleasant outside of the summer months. We completed Ryan Mountain on April 5 when it was between 82 and 85 degrees, just about perfect weather.

    The hike itself is pretty manageable. We saw people of nearly all ages and abilities making the trip. There's nothing particularly technical, just a solid climb up and a quick jaunt back down.

    I will say, in terms of expectations, know that Ryan Mountain's peak isn't the one clearly seen from the trailhead. It'll look like a pretty normal ascent at the outset but the trail actually wraps around and snakes upward near the back of the mountain you see at the beginning. If you have this understanding, you should be able to pace yourself just fine and earn a wonderful view up top.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Ryan Mountain Trail

    3 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Quandary Peak Trail

    3 months ago

    I'm a novice, so this is for those of you who are planning on trying Quandary because it's considered easy: This hike is still a grind, particularly in the snow.

    We ascended on April 1, beginning a little late (around 8:30 am). The trail was mostly packed and easy to follow, particularly below the tree line. It was close to 50 degrees at the trailhead but dropped to around 14 degrees at the summit (not accounting for 50 mile-per-hour wind gusts).

    Between 13,000 and 14,000 feet, as someone with very little high-altitude experience, there were times where it felt like I needed to stop and catch my breath every minute. Those already acclimated to high altitudes will have an easier go but if you're a first timer, prepare for the fatigue (and don't be afraid to turn around if you begin to feel strong symptoms of altitude sickness). Also, prepare for the wind gusts. There were times where I had to plant my feet and just withstand the weather for a moment until it passed.

    If hiking in the snow, I'd recommend the use of spikes, poles, and snow shoes. On our way back down, back within the treeline, we spied what appeared to be a well-traveled cut-across leading downward. This was a mistake on our part, as it led to 20-30 minutes of postholing up to our waists when our bodies were already weak and exhausted. So... stay on the trail.

    If you're an advanced and/or experienced hiker at altitude, I'm relatively certain you'll knock this one out of the park. I was passed by numerous skiers who were skinning up Quandary and skiing down (I was quite envious of their speedy descent).

    It took me over six hours to complete this hike. As a small addendum, make sure your slather any exposed skin in sunscreen, even your lips. With the snow's reflection, the sun is not going to be kind to your face up there.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Quandary Peak Trail

    3 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Ten Taypo-Hope Creek Loop Trail

    11 months ago

    This trail is a little bit magical but potentially underestimated.

    This was our first true foray into the Redwoods and the first half mile or so of Ten Taypo is pretty enchanting. It's so lush and alive with ferns, brooks, and a general aura of life that it's tempting to stop and explore further every couple of feet.

    However, as fun as it can be to stop and investigate every banana slug and brook, you'll need to account for this trail's distance. We approached Ten Taypo as a stroll through beauty—and it was—but we also quickly realized that spending 30-45 minutes exploring and cruising through the first mile or so along the trail floor was setting the stage for a longer hike than we'd planned.

    On account of our slow start, this hike turned into a little bit of a grind. Never terribly difficult, but there were certain points—particularly after we'd climbed into a more standard wooded environment with much less ground cover—where it felt like we should be approaching the end but knew we still had two miles to go.

    That said, this trail (and the Redwood region as a whole) should be cherished. You can power through this one pretty well if you like, but it's worth soaking in everything it has to offer. Give yourself some extra time in your schedule to enjoy it but just keep in mind there's still a ways to go after climbing out of the lower region.

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Grouse Grind Trail

    11 months ago

    Challenging and great workout for us normal folk. This trail can probably be completed by most people who consider themselves to be in relatively good shape. There's a good chance it's going to push you though, which is fine. It lets you know you're alive.

    If you're concerned about your ability to finish this climb, the quarter mile markers will be helpful in gauging your progress and comparing that to how much gas you've got left in the tank. We passed one duo in their 20's who made it halfway up the mountain and decided they couldn't make it the rest of the way. It sort of gave us pause, wondering how hard this thing was really going to get. Quite honestly though, this hike is perfectly named. There's a good chance you're going to be capable of finishing the climb, but it's going to be a grind.

    The chalet and gondola ride back down are nice cozy prizes after a tough 70-90-minute stair climb. Just be sure to bring $10 per person to cover the cost of the ride back down once you're up there.

    Sidenote, there's an electronic leaderboard at the top that will track your climb time if you've synched up properly at the hike's outset. We missed how to do that but we did notice there's a number of athletes out there completing this thing in freakish times. I commend them.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Grouse Grind Trail

    11 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Hoh River Trail

    11 months ago

    Unless you're planning on hiking all 20+ miles of this thing, I'd recommend having a plan or goal landmark to reach before you take off. Elsewise you might feel yourself just kind of wandering aimlessly trying to arbitrarily decide when to turn around.

    There's tons of beauty here and frequent access to the river. There's also multiple waterfalls as you near the three-mile mark. These may serve as a good turnaround point for many. However, any distance traveled here should be worthy and enjoyable. Great temperate rainforest environment with a steadily flat and easy pathway throughout.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Hoh River Trail

    11 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Hoh Rain Forest Hall of Moss

    11 months ago

    Excellent in its simplicity. Mostly flat land and accessible to just about anyone. Great way to get a taste of the rain forest for those not looking to delve into a multiple mile day trip. It also serves as a nice warm-up for the Hoh River Trail, located close by.

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Congress Trail

    11 months ago

    A stress-free saunter. This trail is primarily paved and doesn't take a ton of effort. You're rewarded with magnificent up close looks at giant sequoias. As other reviews have stated, the size of some of these trees rival that of General Sherman yet the trail itself is typically sparsely populated in comparison to the permanently crowded scene in front of The General.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Congress Trail

    11 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed General Sherman Tree Trail

    11 months ago

    Super duper easy and accessible to just about everyone. It's paved, it descends slightly, and there's a humongous tree waiting for you at the end.

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Cahuenga Peak Loop

    11 months ago

    This hike caught us a little off-guard. We were just a few days removed from hiking Angel's Landing in Utah and a few trails in Big Bend along the US-Mexico border. Compared to those two locales, we figured this would equate to a leisurely stroll.

    Not entirely so.

    There were a handful of factors we sold a bit short on this hike:

    1. The Initial Climb: It pushes the casual hiker a little bit (that's us). I'm reading this trail climbs over 1,500 feet. I'm not sure I thought it was that much, but it was still a little bit of a grind right at the outset.

    2. Sun Exposure: We should have known better, particularly considering our previous stops.There's virtually no shade on this hike aside from a respite at The Wisdom Tree. That means if you're doing this hike in midday Los Angeles in the summer, you could be looking at temperatures that feel like 100 degrees beaming down upon you for the duration. As always, bring more water than you think you'll need.

    3. Dust & Traction: This was probably the dustiest hike we'd ever done. Subsequently, the dry dirt and loose rocks can make things feel a little unstable. Thankfully, I don't recall there being too many spots where a random slip was going to be particularly dangerous (don't think there's many exposed narrow ledges, if any). It was more of an annoyance for my hiking partner than anything else. As the trailer, she saw a pretty constant cloud of dust coming off my hiking shoes. We also both slipped a few times coming back down Cahuenga. They were mostly controlled slips, but it speaks to the terrain.

    Basically, we planned on cruising up to the Hollywood Sign real quick but instead ended up with a great workout and pretty dirty shoes and clothes. Still a pretty swell hike. Also, The Wisdom Tree was fascinating.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Cahuenga Peak Loop

    11 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

    11 months ago

    Wonderful trail. A couple of quick hitters:

    1. You'll likely be among a lot of fellow hikers but it's not really an issue if you come in ready to exude even the tiniest level of patience. We were able to move at our own pace for the majority of the path upward with the lone exception coming on the stair portion up to Vernal. At that point it was a little slow going as we waited for those in front of us to reach the top but it mostly just gave us more time to admire the view. No complaints here.

    2. You'll probably get at least a little wet. The Mist Trail earned its name for a reason. Nothing to really worry about, but perhaps something to know going in. The mist will also moisten the stairs which again isn't really an issue as long as you showcase a modicum of concentration.

    3. It might be a little tougher than you'd planned. If you're a hiking vet you'll likely be unphased but it should still provide a solid workout. For those less accustomed to hiking, you'll have to work a little to get to Vernal and more so to hit Nevada.

    4. These waterfalls and streams have killed people in recent years. The good news: as long as you follow warnings and safety protocol, you'll have nothing to worry about. You'd sort of have to seek out a dangerous situation in order to get yourself in trouble here. During our hike, a group of five or so potentially inebriated hikers dived into the water above Vernal Falls and nearly lost one of their buddies at the base of the sliding fall resting just beyond (they had to form a human chain to pull him back above the surface).

    5. Yosemite is beautiful. This hike is beautiful. Do this hike. There's a very good chance you won't regret it.

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Kalapana Lava Viewing Hike

    12 months ago

    There's a litany of bike renting options at the start of this trail. Most will fall within the realm of $15 for an unlimited time frame. If you're taking your time and gawking/taking pictures, I reckon it'd take around 45 minutes to get out to the lava viewing sight. Not a difficult bike ride but a welcomed exercise opportunity.

    The entire ride was a great experience. You're constantly motivated by seeing the enormous smoke plume off into the distance, not to mention the smaller plumes emerging out of the volcano to your right as you head down the trail. There's a short lava rock walk to get to the lookout location but it's hardly worth mentioning in terms of exertion (just wear closed-toe shoes and be steady with your steps).

    The 61g lava flow into the Pacific Ocean appears to be about 300 yards away from the observation point. There will be a large part of you that wishes you could be closer, but it's a magnificent event nonetheless. We couldn't see much aside from billowing smoke in the daytime but the show comes to life as night falls. Even if you only see a small orange stream from a distance, it'll often emit a glow reflecting off the smoke that creates quite a sight.

    Most rented bikes come with some form of a flashlight. Ours was pretty small and almost appeared as though it was connected to the bike with hair ties (resourceful if true). We actually doubled down and brought our head lamps as well, which aided greatly with visibility upon our return. That said, you'll be riding on a straight and relatively smooth dirt road, so you shouldn't have much trouble making your way back one way or another.

    As always, bring water, maybe a snack, and perhaps even a poncho or some sort of cover if you're concerned about precipitation (the only rain we encountered was brief, light, and refreshing).

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Thurston Lava Tube Trail

    12 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Thurston Lava Tube Trail

    12 months ago

    Easy jaunt and nice cool down if you've just finished up the Kilauea Iki trail across the street.

    Due to some standing water issues, the lights of the tube were out when we went, which actually made it a little more fun (always looking for an excuse to activate the head lamps).

    The trail itself is stable and well-maintained throughout (possibly paved within). There's a brief walk through the jungle as you descend down to the tube location but it's nothing major.

    The tube isn't terribly long. Perhaps long enough that you'd benefit from a light source for a short period of time in the middle but it won't take more than a few minutes to clear.

    Neat hike. Short hike.

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Kilauea Iki Trail and Crater Rim Trail

    12 months ago

    Very unique hike, particularly for those not typically within hiking distance of real life volcanoes.

    The hike is a little bit lower key than it appears. At the trailhead, there can be a little bit of a feeling of "We're going all the way down there?!" but the descent is relatively subtle and only comes after sauntering through the forested crater rim until you reach the other end.

    We hiked Kilauea Iki on a moderate and cloudy day so the elements weren't particularly troublesome. However, considering the hike all the way across the crater is open and uncovered, it's in one's best interest to account for sun exposure and water intake.

    The ascent back up to the crater rim tends to drag near the end with what might feel like a few more switchbacks than you imagined there'd be. Not a big deal, but a nice opportunity to get the blood flowing.

    Bonus: The end of Kilauea Iki sort of leads to a quick jaunt through the Thurston Lava Tube as well. I believe you need to cross Crater Rim Dr. first but it's a worthy and neat little add-on.

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Diamond Head (Le'ahi) Summit Trail

    12 months ago

    The earlier you hike this trail, the better. We made the mistake of waiting until late morning and paid the price. It may have been the most crowded hike we've ever done.

    It's a comparatively quick trail but could be a touch over the listed 1.6 miles, perhaps closer to 2. If you don't hike a lot, that's A-OK with this one. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes were cranking this one out and if you get tired on the way up, there's a lot of step-out areas along the switchbacks.

    Sidenote, I think there may have been a drinking fountain at the base (and bathrooms and concessions) but it's your best interest to bring your own water to carry along with you.

    There's not a lot of space at the top. The trail leads first to an enclosed lookout point (which will likely smell like a locker room if you're in there after 10am) and then leads a touch further up to the primary outdoor lookout point, which may very well be shoulder-to-shoulder the whole way through.

    I wasn't pumped about this hike because I'd heard it was going to be kind of a mad house, and it was. However, there's no denying, the view from above is pretty stellar. Our photos looking out over the Pacific Ocean and Waikiki actually turned out pretty sharp and incredible. Looking back, I'm happy I made the jaunt.

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Papakolea Green Sand Beach

    12 months ago

    The Essentials: Easy hike, a little longer than expected, hot, bring lots of water, fun payoff but probably not quite as awesome as you expected

    Details: Upon arrival, an enterprising 9-year-old stopped our car in the parking lot and asked, "You need a ride or hiking to Green Sand?" We told him our plan to hike. He'd perfected a feigned surprise response, "Hiking it? 6 miles round trip? Wow. It's hot out there."

    Yes, he was trying to sell us on a rocky pick-up ride down to the beach, but he wasn't exactly wrong. It's a hot hike on dusty and rocky trails with non-stop sun exposure the entire way. A beautiful view of the ocean keeps things interesting though. Bring sunscreen and maybe don't backpack shirtless to "improve your tan" if you're a pale gent from the midwest (learned the hard way).

    It might work best to undersell yourself on the beach. If you're expecting to see sand the color of well-irrigated grass, you're going to be disappointed. It mostly looks like typical sand but with a greenish tint. It's still a pretty cool and unique phenomenon, but only if you hike over that ridge knowing beforehand that you're not going to be looking down on a sea of forest green. Might work best if you don't hike for the green sand alone, but rather for the cool and isolated cove. It's a pretty neat out-of-the-way place.

    The hike back seems to go a little quicker, since you're usually refreshed from the ocean and you know how long that mostly flat & dusty path is going to lead before you reach the parking lot. You'll probably run into a handful of folks heading out who'll be wondering exactly how much further they need to go before they hit paydirt.

    Last thing: That sand's a little bit different in terms of touch and stick as well. Seemed a little bit tougher than normal to remove from our feet before putting our hiking shoes back on. We used our socks to whip it off our feet but maybe a cloth or rag could be helpful (or beach towels if you're coming really prepared).

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Kalepa Ridge Trail

    12 months ago

    Some of the best views you'll find on the island (and maybe the world).

    First, if you're hiking this trail for the view (which you should), check the weather and go early. The consensus seemed to be that clouds liked to move into this region around 10am and beyond each day. We drove up to Waimea from Lihue one day around 10:30 and were greeted by showers and fog so we had to turn around and try again earlier the following day.

    Next, this trail is not for the faint of heart. There's scarier hikes out there (I heard a lot about the perils of Oahu's Pu'u Manamana while I was there) but there's most definitely some exposed areas here that'll have a lot of folks reminding themselves not to look down. The good news is, contrary to some of the other ridges we hiked during our Hawaii stay, Kalepa often only has a drop off on one side, with some semblance of stable land usually along the other. We had no close calls or near misses and never really felt like we were in too much danger.

    That said, as a visiting tourists who consider themselves experienced hikers but not exceptional ones, this trail gave us pause on account of it being a little unofficial. We weren't sure what to expect in terms of maintenance or safety assurances so while it appeared to be quite hike-able, we did so haltingly.

    Semi-related, at one point we thought we'd reached the end of the trail because we found a fire pit and two photographers posted up getting their shots of a glorious overlook. We saw the trail continued onward but weren't sure if that was a portion beyond the real trail that we'd been warned not to continue on.

    As it turns out, the part past the fire pit is still the regular trail. We followed it down another sharp decline and came across a sketchy looking ridge with dropoffs on both sides and ground that looked somewhat uneven (and with clouds rolling in). From watching videos later, it was probably pretty readily do-able but after a close call at Ka'au Crater a week earlier, and our uncertainty at the time as to whether it was still a part of the trail (felt like we'd gone beyond 0.8 miles at that point) we decided that maybe it wasn't time to push our luck again and returned to the stunning fire pit lookout.

    Point being: Be adventurous but hike smart. Know your zone. If you have concerns but really want to hike this spot, I believe there are a lot of happy-go-lucky trail guides who'd be happy to lead the way (and probably laugh at the notion of that last portion being any sort of issue).

    Go forth. With caution. Enjoy one of the greatest views of your life.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Kalepa Ridge Trail

    12 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Waihe'e Ridge Trail

    12 months ago

    This trail came highly recommended by locals, and understandably so.

    We'd heard from a few folks that the toughest part might be the incline up the cement trail right at the outset. With that in mind, we were expecting the trail to level out shortly thereafter but it kind of just keeps going up and up for the duration of the ascent. It's not terrible, but it'll likely deliver a good workout. Elevating 1,800 feet in a touch over two miles will tend to do that.

    The beauty shines through pretty early on and only gets better. The moment you exit the forest you're going to want to stop and gawk, but know there's going to be a number of lookout points along the way.

    On this particular day, our final climb (after crossing over one of the few level areas) took us into the clouds. It seems like the view would have been incredible at the very top but it was at least partially obscured for most of the time we were up there. I will say, if it's cloudy, be patient. There's a chance they'll move out, at least for a moment or two, to open up a look at the valley in one direction and the ocean in the other.

    In terms of difficulty, it was pretty accessible to normal folk like us but again, it'll give you a solid workout.

    In terms of fear factor, I don't recall there being too many locations that seemed problematic, even for hikers with limited experience. The wind kicks up here or there so some parts may require the type of caution you should always be using, but I don't recall any do-or-die narrow ridgelines like you may see at some of these islands' other hikes. Ka'au Crater gave us a lot more to consider on that front than this one ever did.

    All told, highly recommend this trail. My hiking partner wasn't sure about it going in but came away raving at its beauty.

    Bonus: If you're lucky, you might spot a cattle egret riding a cow at the trail's outset. Probably normal sight for locals, but birds don't ride cattle much in Michigan, so we're easily amused.

    Ryan Van Dusen completed Waihe'e Ridge Trail

    12 months ago

    Ryan Van Dusen reviewed Ka'au Crater

    about 1 year ago

    Know thy self. Know your skills. Know your abilities.

    Speaking as a semi-casual hiker, this trail is among my all-time favorites, but it comes with caveats.

    1) This Trail is Unauthorized: It's a little off the grid with limited parking, which means there's a good chance you'll never pass a fellow hiker along the way, which is pretty cool. However, its unofficial status also means safety is not guaranteed. Of course, the same can be said for any National Park trail as well, but the risk is multiplied in Ka'au's case. Ropes are provided in most tough areas but definitely not all and the ribbons used as trail markers are usually placed frequently enough to find your way but there are still some times where you must meander a little on your own.

    Essentially, the sign at the trailhead is to be taken literally. Hike at your own risk. If the trail has experienced any sort failure or weakening, there's a chance no one's going to warn you or stop you from going.

    2) This Trail Can Be Dangerous (and Super Muddy) When Wet: My hat goes off to hiking pros who've lived and been through these types of conditions on hiking trails before but for me and my travel buddy, this was easily the muddiest and dirtiest hike of our life. If it's rained in the area recently, you're going to be in for a muddy time. We tried to avoid the mud for the first mile or two but quickly found the exercise to be futile. Instead, you just have to own it and accept that your hiking shoes and probably most of your lower torso is going to be caked in mud by the time it's all said and done (bring a second wardrobe to change into at the end of the hike... and towels... and something to sit on for the sake of your car seats).

    Now for the danger. We'd heard that a wet Ka'au could be a dangerous Ka'au, so we proceeded with caution when we noticed a rain cloud above the crater. And quite truthfully, 90 percent of the hike up felt pretty safe, all things considered. But just when you start to wonder if everyone else was exaggerating about the negative effects of water on the trail, things will get hairy. There's a lot of clay here and wet clay combined with hiking shoes also caked in clay means there's going to be multiple moments where you either won't have the grip needed to ascend or you'll find yourself sliding downward on your butt and in peril.

    3) Seriously, Know Your Limits: Again, we're not hiking pros, so this is more for folks like us, who've tackled a few cool hikes here or there but for whom it's not a daily passion. We loved this hike. Climbing the waterfalls via rope-walk is one of the coolest things I've ever done. It all seemed a lot more do-able than I thought it was going to be.

    Until it wasn't.

    Once we hit the crater, we made the decision to hike it clockwise. It was still wet and muddy, but we powered through and felt pretty good about ourselves. About 60 percent of the way around, however, things really began getting dicey. Just before reaching the three peaks, and shortly after the path narrowed severely with cliffs along each side, we began running into a number or ascents that did not have ropes or clear grabs where typically there had been before. After a few of the scarier hiking moments we've ever experienced—and after seeing the remnants of a recent landslide just off the third peak—we realized it was likely in our best interest to turn around and re-trace our steps. After miles of most of the trail making sense and offering all the proper help when needed, it seemed as though we suddenly hit an area that came up empty - no rope, no roots, no branches, zero traction, straight up. Tough pill to swallow when we felt so close to finishing up the trail proper but as tourists with solid-but-not-awesome hiking skills, we realized we probably pushed it further than we should have in the first place, considering the weather and trail condition.

    4) Hiking the Waterfalls Isn't as Rough as it May Seem: This was our favorite part of the hike. Pictures and videos can make these climbs appear to be quite a tall order (steep, wet, long) but they go pretty quickly and smoothly, assuming you're concentrating and utilizing the ropes. You cover a lot of ground in a hurry. Such a fun and unique experience.

    5) Time of Hike Varies Greatly: We read a few reviews that stated this was a 5-ish-mile hike that would take between 4.5 and 5 hours to complete. Definitely possible. But if you're more of a go-with-the-flow-and-soak-it-in type, you could push 6 hours plus, particularly if you stop for a snack, a photo op or two, or end up doubling back after realizing you can't climb that clay slide of doom.

    6) This Hike is Awesome: This was easily one of the most memorable trails we've ever tackled, right up there with the Redwoods, Angel's Landing, and Smoky. You really do have to be aware of your own limitations here, or at least the limitations being imposed upon you by the environment and climate. If you've got that