Saturday, January 31, 2015


Executive summary by darmansjah

Bikers rest on the banks of the Elbe across from the cathedral and the royal palace.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Chilkoot Trail

Chilkoot Trail, Alaska and Yukon Territory, U.S. and Canada

Skagway to Bennett Lake

Executive summary by darmansjah

Round-Trip: 33 miles, 3 to 5 days

When to Go: The Coast Range opens up a bit earlier than the Rockies, so you can push the season a bit. Late June to early October works most years, but August has the best weather—and sees the heaviest traffic.

The very names on this epic route—the Golden Stairs, the Scales, the Stone Crib—are redolent with the suffering of 1898 gold miners, and there’s no mistaking the history here. Both sides of the trail are littered with rusting remains of equipment the miners jettisoned out of exhaustion. More than a century later, the backcountry journey those miners blazed, driven by greed, has become one of the iconic wilderness routes in North America. It’s a natural. The route rises quickly from tidewater to crest Chilkoot Pass at 3,300 feet. But instead of dropping back down, it meanders more than 20 miles through an alpine wonderland, while losing only a thousand feet before returning to its terminus at Bennett Lake.

Insider Tip: Spanning two national parks, two countries, a state, a province and a territory, Chilkoot Trail makes staging a challenge. Solve that by starting and ending in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and use the robust infrastructure for trailhead transport. Take the White Pass and Yukon Railway over the mountains to Skagway, a stupendous ride, and have Alpine Aviation pick you up in a floatplane at Bennett Lake for the outrageous 45-minute flight back to Whitehorse, in plenty of time for a beer on the deck before dinner.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chamonix, France

Best For: Adrenaline junkies who like their mountains big

Executive summary bydarmansjah

Globally renowned as the birthplace of extreme skiing (often defined as “you fall, you die”), Chamonix has some of the world’s premier lift-accessed steep skiing and snowboarding—including plenty of terrain that won’t leave you dead on a glacier if you catch an edge wrong. Located in a deeply cleaved valley near the trisection of France, Italy, and Switzerland, the town sits in the shadow of the highest peak in the Alps, Mont Blanc, and a tangle of other glacier-clad mountains. Chamonix’s cobblestone streets and car-free pedestrian center make for a classic mountain village environment typically bustling with leathery mountaineers and gawking tourists. This is France, so the nightlife is predictably spirited, and diverse accommodations range from grimy climbers’ hostels to luxury lodgings.

But it’s the mountains that rule here. The many lifts and trams access terrain so steep and rugged that many skiers will be wishing for a ride down, as well. One ticket gains access to the 11 different ski zones scattered discontinuously across the valley. If the snow is good, vertical drops of over 9,000 feet are possible. With more glaciers—and their pesky offspring, crevasses—than any ski area in Europe, skiers and snowboarders who enjoy staying alive should hire a local guide before heading out of bounds.

Ask a Local 

Former France Ski Team member and current freeride world champion Aurélien Ducroz has lived his entire life in Chamonix. Here are his recommendations.

Best Digs 

Budget: The recently renovated Hotel du Louvre is in the center of town.
Swank: Le Hameau Albert 1er in downtown Chamonix is the only five-star hotel.

Best Eats 

Cheap: Maison Moustache et Filles, a new restaurant downtown, is run by Charles “the Moustache” and his two daughters, Maxime and Camille. It’s decorated with an extraordinary collection of old skis.
Gourmet: Le Cap Blanc, one of Le Cap Horn’s three venues, serves delicious sushi.

Best After-Ski Party Spot

Chambre Neuf, a Scandinavian-influenced bar, has live music and is host to the best after-ski vibe the town has had in years.

Best Rest-Day Activity 

Chamonix is a real city, so even if you’re not a skier there are many other things to do, such as visit the Alpine Museum.

Chamonix’s Classic Ski Run

La Vallée Blanche starts from the top of the Aiguille du Midi and goes for 16 kilometers on top of a glacier in the middle of incredible mountains!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Shoreline Highway

Shoreline Highway, Marin County, California

Executive summary by darmansjah

Shoreline Highway—Marin County’s winding, two-lane stretch of Highway 1 from Sausalito to the Sonoma County line—snakes through the Marin Headlands, hugs stunning coastal bluffs, and passes through Stinson Beach, a classic California beach community. Off-road mountain biking was born here—and on-road cyclists are ubiquitous—so take it slow, preferably in a hybrid vehicle to limit emissions and avoid running out of gas. Temps can be 10-to-15 degrees cooler than in nearby San Francisco, so bring a jacket, even on hot days. To enjoy the most expansive Pacific views, wait until the morning fog clears before making the drive north from the Golden Gate Bridge. Fuel up in Sausalito, and then stop at Muir Woods National Monument to walk among thousands of giant, old-growth redwoods. Before nightfall—since the scenic curves can be deadly in the dark—check-in at the Inn at Roundstone Farm, located within Point Reyes National Seashore. Spend a day exploring the seashore’s dramatic rocky headlands, 150 miles of hiking trails, and 2,600-acre tule elk reserve, where the fall rut (the late-summer to early-fall breeding season) inspires magnificent bull elks to bugle, battle, and butt antlers for affection.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

White Mountains

White Mountains, New Hampshire

Executive summary by darmansjah

While peak fall foliage varies annually, the 100-mile White Mountain Trail typically delivers brilliant fall colors from the end of September through the second week of October. Yet, even after the leaves have faded and the leaf-peeping crowds have gone home, meandering this National Scenic Byway reveals classic New England fall scenes—historic covered bridges, granite mountain peaks, dramatic gorges, rushing cascades, and bucolic Colonial-era farmhouses and barns. Each section of the loop displays a unique personality. Drive the 37-mile Kancamagus Highway—“the Kanc”—for mountain vistas, moose sightings, and bird-watching; visit North Conway for tax-free outlet shopping, the trail’s largest concentration of restaurants, and Conway Scenic Railroad train trips; and travel the Crawford Notch-to-Bartlett stretch to ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the 6,288-foot summit of New England’s highest peak, or drive to the top via the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The iconic New Hampshire tourist attraction celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2011 and, weather permitting, is scheduled to remain open for passenger car travel until October 23 this season.