By Guest Blogger: Howard Scalia
5 Wild Walking Trips From Around the World
For me, walking is still the best way to clear my thoughts and just be, without the pressures and the problems that might wait for me at home. At first, I liked walking in the park and around the city, but very soon, my appetite started growing, and I found myself exploring hiking trails all over the world. A bucket list started to form. Very soon, my hobby became my lifestyle, and now I can’t imagine a weekend without getting out in nature and getting at least 10 miles behind me. However, there are some wild walking trips I did over the years and these are my impressions on 5 of them I loved the most.
1. The Pacific Northwest Trail, USA
I wanted to begin local, so I looked for some of the less known trails around the country and the Pacific Northwest trail got my attention immediately. Not just because there are so many different sceneries to explore, but because along the way there are three national parks – Glacier, Olympic and North Cascades. When it comes to mountain ranges, there’s not a shortage of them either, which doesn’t surprise much, seeing that the trail starts in Montana in the Rockies and ends on the coast of Pacific at Cape Alava. I wanted to explore the coastal section of this wild walk, and I can tell you that I was not disappointed – stunning views from heights and so many amazing sights that I never wanted to leave. Make sure to have some hiking experience before you head out to the Pacific Northwest Trail, there are some parts of it that are quite demanding, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.
2. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
I’ve always had this irresistible urge to visit Machu Picchu since first I saw it in my school book. I just never thought that I could explore the Inca Trail, but it was an experience I will never forget. Not only was I in the awe of the energy and the beauty of the trail and Machu Picchu itself, but I also learned so much about the culture from the surprisingly friendly locals. I also promised myself I would come back. When it comes to the trail, you will need about 4 days to get to your destination, but the journey itself is breathtaking, especially because there are many ruins along the way and you can’t help but stop and stare. There are some high passes along the way which are not for the fainthearted, and the one almost everyone (including me) dread – Dead Woman’s Pass. However, for the most part, the trail is simply amazing to witness and completely manageable to withhold. One thing you will need is a good guide because you’re not allowed to venture into the ruins on your own.
3. Faulhornweg, Switzerland
I’ve heard plenty of wonderful impressions about this trail, though I still can’t pronounce its name correctly. I knew I had to do it as soon as I started exploring it on the Internet. It took a while for me to find the time to go to Switzerland for a week, but when I did, Faulhornweg was everything people were telling me about and much more. This is not a long wild walk, only about 16 miles but everything you see reflects perfectly Swiss mentality – the entire route is marked without a fault and the scenery will have you believe you got stuck in a Disney movie. Staggeringly green and vast valleys along with the impossibly clean lakes Brienz and Thun look like someone painted them and somehow you wandered into the picture. This wild walk isn’t innocent though – the ridge top path above the Brienzersee has an amazing view but it’s also challenging. You can either bring your own supply of hiking food or you can take a rest at a rustic lodge that you can find high up in the mountains. The prices are well, Swiss, so if you prefer staying on the trail, it will be better for your wallet. Also, you don’t have to hike back, there’s a cable car that will take you back to Grindelwald while you rest and soak in the beauty of this Swiss wild walk.
4. South West Coast Path, UK
Whenever I have the chance to enjoy some coastal beauty and the sun, I take it. South West Coast Path has been on my wish list for a couple of years before I got around to it, and I truly loved the experience, though the weather wasn’t always on my side, so to speak. The thing I like the most about this wild walk is that it isn’t strictly marked and actually, following footpaths will lead you to hidden gems of the trail, where you can witness awe-inspiring sunsets and views that will make all your other thoughts less important. You can take a two-hour walk and have a taste of what the trail has to offer, or you can just follow the road for a few days and see where it will take you. Chances are, it will be somewhere marvelous. Just remember to bring your raincoat.
5. Continental Divide Trail, USA
I’ve left Continental Divide for the last one because though the trail in itself is truly one of a kind, an experience I’ve had there left me with some bitter memories, mainly due to the fact that I rushed into it way before I was ready. The Divide, as I ominously call it, was the first and the only track where I managed to get lost and get hurt in one go, simply because I wasn’t careful enough. I decided to take on The Knife Edge Trail in the Weminuche Wilderness, which is also one of the more difficult trails, but I believed I could pull it off. Very quickly the trail proved me wrong and I managed to wander off the William Creek Trail that lead to the Knife Edge. Since the road posts are rare, I was still a lower intermediate in hiking at the time.
This was the first time this ever happened to me and the panic set in almost momentarily even though I knew I was supposed to remain as calm as possible. I started to walk back, or to be more precise, almost run back to the last place it looked familiar without paying attention to the path in front of me. Of course, I managed to stumble, fall, and roll down the side of the trail, which is not surprising when the path is uneven and full of rocks and you’re panicking and trying to find your way out. It wasn’t a long fall, but it was a nasty one because I twisted my left ankle almost to the point of breaking it, and it started swelling immediately. When I tried to walk, it was a torture and I didn’t know how to make it better. So I had to limp back to the trail and the pain was only getting worse. It was one of those “Why me, god?” moments as I was walking back to the last road post I remember incredibly slowly, having to make stops every couple of minutes because the pain was numbing. It was getting dark when thankfully, Linda and Stephen, two backpackers (who are to this day my good friends), found me just sitting on the trail and resting.
They compressed my ankle on the spot (this was not their first rodeo and they had the first-aid-kit) and the next day helped me back to the trailhead, which was a long and painful journey even though they distributed the weight of my pack among them so that I could walk more easily. When I finally got much the needed medical care, it turned out I had partially torn my ligaments and I had to stay off my feet for four weeks and then take it easy for two weeks after that.
What I did manage to see of the trail was truly remarkable and I intend to get back to it and finish the hike one day, but may this cautionary tale serve as a reminder to take it easy and don’t overestimate yourself – it makes all the difference when you’re alone in the wilderness. I’m still thankful for the experience because since then I’ve invested a lot of time and energy to become as prepared for any survival situation as I can, and it brought to where I am today – helping other people with my writing and in life. So every bad event is a lesson to be learned and as for me, the Divide is one of many trails I have yet to conquer and I advise you to do the same, just be careful.
About the Author: Howard Scalia comes from Austin, Texas, he is 37 years old and has been a military psychologist for about seven years. He’s been learning about human nature his whole life and he loves to share his insights with his readers. Howard is also a survival enthusiast, which gave him the spot among the trusted writers of prosurvivalist.com. When he’s not working in his office or writing, he enjoys taking long walks in the woods with his dogs.