“I need my own personal expedition planner,” a friend said to me the other day at a party. “I want to plan biking and hiking trips but don’t know where to start.” I know the feeling.
I could try to answer all the questions that turn up in post comments asking about bike rides, river trips, and trekking routes, but a much better strategy would be to let the folks who really know these things share their wisdom and experience. Here, my favorite authorities on active adventure.
1. Hike Bike Travel Based in British Columbia but as peripatetic as they come, Leigh McAdam (on Twitter as @hikebiketravel) offers free itineraries and guides to hiking and biking all over the world, from a bike tour of Vietnam to a sea kayaking trip in Tahiti. Pore over her list of trips and you’ll have your vacations planned for the next ten years.
2. Waterblogged The blog of the O.A.R.S. adventure travel company, Waterblogged is a go-to authority on all things river-related. Posts and trips guides cover everything from class V whitewater rafting to placid lake kayaking. While most of the coverage focuses on the U.S., there are also destinations further afield from Alaska to the Galapagos.
3. The Hiking Center A seat-of-the-pants operation based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, the hiking center (and it’s twitter alter-ego, @thehikingcenter), always has loads of tips and great deals on gear. There’s also a great list of links, forums and message boards, so those looking for hiking buddies will find lots of help.
4. Total Escape Primarily a California resource, Total Escape should be nature lovers’ first stop for information about camping, hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor adventures in the West’s many national and state parks and wilderness areas. Check back regularly for lots of seasonal tips such as best waterfalls, wildflower hikes, swimming holes, and fall color viewing spots.
5. A Little Adrift Even if you can’t drop everything and backpack around the world, this colorful blog for RTW backpackers will make you feel a few of those thrills vicariously. Author Shannon O’Donnell offers packing lists, video clips, a photo gallery, and categorizes her posts neatly for easy browsing. Her tweets (@ShannonRTW) have a wonderful you-are-there immediacy, too.
The perfect “base camp” for outdoor adventures in California’s Sierra Nevada? Believe it or not, the Travelodge in Tahoe City is as close to the lakeshore as you can get and has a great hot tub with a view of the lake.