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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dream Trips 2010, Rafting the Yampa River, Colorado

With a proposed water pipeline in the works, 2010 might be the last year folks will be able to cruise down the Yampa River in its natural state. Roaring 72 miles through northwestern Colorado, the Yampa River is the last major free-flowing tributary in the entire Colorado River system. This Class III river, ideal for families, is in its prime in early June when the snowmelt fills the channel of Dinosaur National Monument. Butch Cassidy found these slickrock walls and layers of cavernous rock to be the perfect hideaway. 2,000-foot deep sandstone gorges create a colorful canyon maze that effectively blocks out the world. In its place, you’ll find one of the largest concentrations of endangered peregrine falcons in the States, golden eagles, and bighorn sheep. Adrift Adventures features five-day runs on the Yampa.  Minimum age is 7.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/12/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Dream Trips 2010, Hiking the Milford Track, South Island, New Zealand

It’s 2010, my friends. A fresh new decade to achieve those goals and check off the places you’ve been yearning to see. You can cower in a corner fearful of the next Al Qaeda operative, count your remaining pennies in the piggy bank, or leave the world’s worries behind and go on that dream trip. I prefer the latter. This week, I delve into the adventures I’m trying to fit into my calendar this year.

When I visited New Zealand on my last trip, I made the mistake of not booking the 4-day Milford Track. The country limits the number of hikers to 10,000. So this July, I’ll be the first on line to get my permit and hike this glorious route later in the year. The hiking season stems from late October to late April. Avoid the rush of Christmas school holidays from the last week of December through January. Set in the South Island’s Fjordland National Park, the Milford Track is a rite of passage for Kiwis. The 33-mile trail weaves through rainforest and alpine meadows, passing the country’s tallest waterfall, and dumping you off at the striking fjords of Milford Sound. I've cruised through these fhords before and they're spectacular, an amazing spot to end a hike.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/11/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, January 08, 2010

My Top 5 Adventures in 2009, Biking the Shores of Keuka Lake

Known for its award-winning Rieslings, the Finger Lakes deserve its reputation as one of the best spots in America to go wine tasting. Yet, its resplendent beauty also lends itself well to adventure. At the southern end of Seneca Lake, we hiked alongside a handful of waterfalls in the famous gorge of Watkins Glen. The next morning, my wife and I kayaked through a cattail-laden marsh and saw countless herons, turtles, and a beaver. Talk about adventure—a 40-pound carp jumped out of the marsh and slammed against my arm as I shrieked. But my favorite part of the weeklong trip was a quiet bike ride along a peninsula that juts into Keuka Lake. Start your ride from Keuka College and follow East and West Bluff Roads as they pass the small waterfront cottages with cute names like Hide N’ Seek. There’s one killer hill on the 20-mile ride that takes you atop a bluff, before cruising downhill back to the college. Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a lobster roll and glass of semi-dry Riesling at Heron Hill’s outdoor café. We were fortunate to book the next two nights at the Black Sheep Inn in Hammondsport, on the northern tip of Keuka Lake. Owners Debbie Meritsky and Marc Rotman spent over 6 years refurbishing the rare octagonal-shaped house, which celebrated its 150th birthday in 2009. See my review of the wines at Everett Potter's Travel Report.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/08/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 07, 2010

My Top 5 Adventures in 2009, Mountain Biking the Kingdom Trails, Vermont

Last Memorial Day, I returned to a network of mountain biking trails I first wrote about in 1996 for Men’s Journal magazine. Back then, two or three avid fat wheelers were connecting farmland and cutting a web of trails through the woods of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The rolling countryside dotted with mountains, rivers, meadows, forest, and dilapidated barns is one of the most majestic sites in the Northeast, especially behind Darling Hill Road. So I wasn’t surprised to see cars from as far away as Connecticut and Ontario sampling the trails. And they were sweet, rolling up and down the hillside under the towering pines and atop ridges with vistas of the whole valley. What surprised me even more than the popularity of the mountain biking was how quickly my 13-year old son Jake took to the sport, grinding up and sweeping down the challenging terrain. He kicked my ass and I was happy to write about the experience for The Boston Globe.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/07/10 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

My Top 5 Adventures in 2009, Tubing the White River, Jamaica

In February, I had the chance for the second year in a row to float down the mountainous White River, a definite highlight of any trip to Jamaica. High in the hills above Ocho Rios, the water is cool and as clear as gin. Guides sing Bob Marley songs as you flow with the slow-moving current. Or listen to the high-pitched call of the yellow banana quit bird and peer out at the green mosaic of ferns, banana trees, and thickets of bamboo that climb the banks of this sinuous waterway like ivy climbs a wall. What's wonderful about this river cruise is that all ages love the journey, from my 79 year-old dad to my 11 year-old daughter. The River Tubing Safari is one of the many adventures offered by the reputable Jamaican outfitter, Chukka Caribbean Adventures. To see my story on Ocho Rios, visit Away.com.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/06/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My Top 5 Adventures in 2009, Climbing Masada, Israel

This past January, almost exactly a year ago, my family spent several weeks in Israel. On our final day, we drove south of Jerusalem past Bedouin villages into the rolling hills of the Judean desert. This is where you find the mountain fortress, Masada, known as the site where the Israelites committed mass suicide rather than serve as slaves to the Romans in 73 A.D. Climbing Masada is a rite of passage for most people heading to the country. Fortunately it was January, so the heat wasn’t too bad as my daughter Melanie counted all 865 steps to the summit. As a reward for the hike, we brought the kids for a swim in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. It was late in the day, the waters were rough, and we forgot our towels. No one seemed to care as we floated in the salty sea, staring at the mountainous ridges of Jordan on the opposite shores. See the full story in The Boston Globe.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/05/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 04, 2010

My Top 5 Adventures in 2009, Canoeing the West Branch of the Penobscot River, Maine

Every newspaper, magazine, and website seems to be picking their top (fill in the blank) of the past year, so I’ve decided to give you my favorite adventures of the year. In early October, when the leaves on the maples were turning yellow, I had the good fortune paddle down the West Branch of the Penobscot River following in the current of the great naturalist and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. Our guide was Kevin Slater, a legendary Maine paddler and dogsledder who learned these rivers and how to carve his own canoes and paddles from his mentor who he simply called “the Old Timer.” We spent four glorious days on the water, with few other paddlers, spotting moose, bear, loons, and osprey. In the backdrop was mighty Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The story will appear in an upcoming issue of Sierra Magazine, the publication of the Sierra Club. If you want to paddle with Kevin Slater on the Penobscot, you can contact him via his website.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/04/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, December 18, 2009

See You in 2010!

One of my favorite inns in New England, the Wildflower Inn, is perched atop glorious Darling Hill Road in Lyndonville, Vermont, with expansive views of meadows, mountains, and rivers. I’ve brought the children here a handful of times and we’ve always had an unforgettable stay as we sled, downhill and cross-country skied, took horse-drawn sleigh rides, and pet the sheep, cows, and resident donkeys in the big barn. Now the inn is doing their best to get families outdoors by hosting a season long contest called Project Snowman 2010. Simply build a snowman and send the photo to the inn and you could win a 7-night stay, dining, skiing at nearby Burke Mountain, and more prizes. Owners Jim and Mary O’Reilly hope to get shots of 10,000 snow or sandmen sent from across America.

I’m taking a 2-week hiatus to enjoy time with my family and ski Stowe this upcoming week. Wishing you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2010!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/18/09 at 02:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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