This is a guest post written by Harris Norman
If you’re an experienced hiker, then you know how being exposed to vastness and the beauty of nature always leaves you coming back for more. You’d need at least a couple of lives to see all there is to see on this planet, but for those of us who don’t have that kind of time, picking and choosing is a must.
Depending on the level of effort you’re willing to put into your hiking experience, there are different paths that you can pursue. But one thing is certain – there are some hikes you simply shouldn’t miss out on. To that end, here are six iconic hikes you should definitely do before you die and preferably, as soon as you get the chance!
1. Mount Fuji, Japan
It’s always hard to begin these kinds of lists because personal preferences seldom coincide, but in the case of Mount Fuji, I agree! You should definitely hike Mount Fuji at least once in your lifetime. The peak is considered by many to be holy ground where pilgrims once came in search of enlightenment. Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano that watches over Tokyo; the base of the hike is just 60 miles from the capital. Mount Fuji is a very popular tourist destination, so when you decide to go, don’t expect you’ll be alone. It’s a two-day hike that, altogether, lasts around eight hours. The hike itself isn’t too strenuous, though there are some parts that are quite steep. The Fujinomiya course is the shortest but most challenging way. If you want to take on Fuji in its full splendor, I suggest going between late July and late August. Do your best to avoid Bon holidays in August, since all Japan will be there. Most people plan to spend one night on the mountain and take the tour of the peaks once at the top. The scenery from the top is absolutely breathtaking; the memory of sunset there will stay with you forever.
2. Laugavegur Trail, Iceland
If you’re in the mood for something more challenging, then Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail is the hike for you. In my opinion, Iceland is one of the most beautiful pieces of untouched nature in this world. The Laugavegur Trail is a moderately demanding hike; you will need up to six days to travel the 45-mile trail. Along the way, you’ll witness the wilderness of Iceland in its full splendor. I went on this hike in mid-July and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The trail leads you through glaciers, hot springs, and ends at the Skógafoss waterfall, which in itself is worth the trip.
3. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
I don’t even know where to begin with this one! Kilimanjaro is a hiker’s dream, and if you’ve always wanted to visit Africa, then this hike provides an excellent excuse to go! Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak is the highest point in Africa. Most hikers need around a week to climb the 35 miles to the top. Kilimanjaro is another dormant volcano and there are five different ecosystems along the trail. I like to say that the views on this hike can only be witnessed, never described. It’s important to note that you can’t do this hike without a guide; the trail is tough to navigate unless you know the land. You will also need appropriate hiking equipment, survival meals, and water supplies, though you will have checkpoints along the way. The guide will also set the pace so you can acclimate to the elevation as you move closer to the top.
4. Grand Canyon, USA
There’s no way one can discuss mind-blowing hikes without mentioning the Grand Canyon. There are several different approaches to seeing the Grand Canyon. One option is a rim-to-rim hike, which provides spectacular views and is suitable for hikers of all levels. Another option is the Bright Angel Trail, a more demanding path that is 12 miles long and quite steep. If you prefer day hikes, opt for either the Transept Trail or the North Kaibab Trail.
5. Mount Elbrus, Russia
If you’re eager to get to the highest point in Europe, then Elbrus should be your destination. While not too challenging, hiking to the 18,000 foot peak normally takes two days to complete. Elbrus is in the Caucasus Mountains, which can be quite unfriendly to humans, but the hiking trail is very well-maintained. To start, a cable car brings you to 12,500 feet. This is a great place to get acquainted with glacier climbing, though I strongly suggest not rushing. The hike is loads of fun, but strength and agility (and a good pair of hiking boots!) are necessary.
6. Mont Blanc, the Alps, France
I left the most challenging and probably most iconic hike for the last- Mont Blanc. The loop trail of Mont Blanc is over 100 miles long and takes you to the top of the Alps, through France, Switzerland and Italy. You will need plenty of hiking and climbing experience before you take on this hike. On this trail, you’ll see awe-striking glaciers, heavenly meadows and open skies. I’d suggest going between June and September, when the weather gods are most gracious.
There are countless paths you can take in life- and all will lead to new and worthy experiences. These 6 iconic hikes are only the tip of the iceberg, but if you manage to do them all, you should consider yourself a very lucky hiker.
Healthy living and wellbeing have always been Harris’s main occupation. He’s a certified fitness instructor and in the last ten years, he’s taken up hiking and trekking as a way of staying in shape and keeping his inner peace. He shares his experiences and advice on http://www.prosurvivalist.com/ as one of its revered writers.