I miss traveling.
I especially miss wandering around the world with my camera. One thing that I would often do on my trips is take a panoramic photo of a spot that was especially memorable or scenic. Thankfully I posted most of these on either Facebook or Google photos with a pretty verbose description of the scene. So while I can’t travel right now due to the COVID pandemic, I can relive some of those travel memories.
I thought that I’d share some of those panoramic photos and their associated memories here.
My most recent trip overseas was to Korea in February of 2020. (Gosh has it already been a year?!)
I arrived in Korea just as the COVID pandemic was starting to explode in the province of Korea that I was heading to. The COVID pandemic had already affected my travel plans — originally I was supposed to meet friends in Chongqing, China, but those plans were scrapped as my friends were frantically trying to figure out how to leave China as what later came to be known as COVID-19 raged through Wuhan in the neighboring province. Instead of going to China I flew directly to Korea. I actually didn’t have a choice in the matter, my stopover flight to China was cancelled and re-booked into a direct flight to Korea by the airline. I was wary of getting on public transportation, so I decided that I’d cross off a bucket list item of mine and ride my bicycle across Korea, from the northwestern city of Seoul to the southeastern city of Busan.
This photo was taken after I had arrived in Busan, I decided to go for a hike to a nearby mountain to get the blood flowing in my legs to help me recover from the ride.
In fall of 2019 I bought a two week Eurail pass and traveled through France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. I had always wanted to go hiking and biking in the Alps. I knew there would be amazing scenery, but I was still blown away by how beautiful the towns were.
The highlights were the view from the top of the Harder Kulm (seen here) and renting a bike and riding through the beautiful valley of Lauterbrunnen and gawking at the waterfalls streaming down the cliffs into the valley. I actually able to accomplish both on the same day, but only because I cheated and took the cable car to the top of the Harder Kulm instead of hiking (and I rented an e-bike to ride into Lauterbrunnen). I did at least hike down though…
Ever since my first snow backpacking trip in Yosemite to Dewey Point it’s been on my bucket list to make the longer, more difficult hike to Glacier Point to see the sunrise over a snowy Yosemite valley. I finally was able to make it out there in spring of 2019 with my buddy Vishal. It snowed really hard on our way in, and we spent the night in freezing cold tents to experience the warm glow of the sunrise over the valley. It was a once in a lifetime experience, seriously, because I’m not gonna do that 20 mile trek in snowshoes again…
In 2018 I traveled to Korea with my parents. On our way to Korea we stopped over in Taipei for a few days. It was my first time traveling overseas with my parents since I was a kid and I was worried that it would be awkward and that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedom I normally enjoy when I travel. I was especially worried that they wouldn’t be able to do this hike up Xiangshan that I wanted to do.
It wasn’t an easy hike since there was a lot of elevation gain, but they were troopers and we made it to the top. It had rained the day before so I was worried that it would be overcast, but instead we got lucky and were treated to a gorgeous view of the city from the top.
In 2017 I saw a news article that said Canada would be celebrating its 150th anniversary and as part of the celebration they’d be giving out national park passes. My buddy Tim and I flew out to Calgary, rented a car, and road tripped through Banff, Jasper, Glacier, and Revelstoke. The Canadian national parks did not disappoint. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake (pictured here) are some of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen.
But sometimes it’s the unplanned and unexpected moments that you remember most. We ended up in a tiny town called Golden for the 150th anniversary celebration, sitting on the banks of a river watching the fireworks. I guess because the town was so small we essentially had front row seats, and even though the town was so small the fireworks were huge.
In early 2017 I traveled to eastern Europe. I flew into Vienna, Austria and took trains through Ljublana, Slovenia to Zagreb, Croatia. From Zagreb I rented a car and drove across all of Croatia to Dubrovnik. Since it was a one way car rental I rented the cheapest car I could find, a tiny Skoda hatchback, but it was still expensive. But the car gave me freedom, and it allowed me to meet up with my cousin’s family who were traveling through eastern Europe on a Korean package tour. Dubrovnik is an amazingly beautiful city, and the fortress walls were cool, but hiking up to Fort Imperial and seeing the walls of Dubrovnik from above was even better.
In fall of 2015 I hiked about half of the John Muir Trail with my friend Tao. He had permits for the entire trail, and started in Yosemite. I met him at Muir Trail Ranch, one of his resupply points about a hundred miles south of Yosemite. My first few days on the trail were rough. Having spent a week on the trail already, Tao was already acclimated to the altitude and daily mileage but I was struggling due to the altitude.
Each day we’d wake up super early, and get over a mountain pass and hike back down into a valley. The first couple of passes were at about 10,000 feet. They progressively got tougher. Mather Pass was I think the 3rd one I had to get over, and I was just about reaching my breaking point. The pass was 12,100 feet and it felt like a ridiculously long and painful grind to get to the top of it. I don’t swear all that much, but I remember distinctly thinking, “What the FUCK am I doing here?!” as I looked around from the top of the pass and saw nothing but mountains in every direction. Even if I wanted to quit and give up on the idea of hiking the JMT I would need to get over at least one of these 12,000 foot passes to even get out of here.
It’s a funny thing though, once I resolved myself to my fate it didn’t seem quite as bad. Over the next few days we’d get over 3 more of these passes — Pinchot Pass, Glenn Pass, and Kaersarge Pass. All of them were hard but towards the end the altitude acclimation kicked in I guess so I was actually able to enjoy the hike.