Walking in the “Peak” (Hill) District

Yes, I am throwing a little shade with that post title, mostly because the “peaks” of the Peak District throw almost none. But despite its decidedly tame topography, this national park’s gentle hills and misty moors are completely enchanting. I had the good luck to make it up there twice this spring– once on my…

Day Hike: Seven Sisters

England can feel claustrophobic: it’s dense, laced with gray highways and aging malls and hulking supermarkets, and too often straddled by gray skies. The air, even in the suburbs, can be acrid. One of my favorite escapes is just a day trip away from London: the Seven Sisters coastal hike. The Seven Sisters are a…

Hiking Tips for Indoor Kids: The Day Backpack

I think a lot of potential hikers get scared away by the GEAR: there’s so much of it, and it’s so expensive, and ads for it often feature impossibly rugged-looking people clinging to cliff faces. Sure, for a long trek that involves camping or climbing, major supplies are essential. But day hikes, or even multi-day hikes with…

Day Hike: Tournon-sur-Rhône Loop

The first thing I saw when I got off the train in Tain was green-and-beige-patterned hillside, vineyards under blue May skies. “Drink ya later,” I thought, and walked into town. I passed store fronts selling the same grapes in red wine form and crossed a bridge into Tournon-sur-Rhône, another pretty little town dominated by a historic…

Gliding Over Mountains and Glaciers in Chamonix

The New England mountains I grew up with, gentle, rounded peaks covered in trees and boulders, bear no resemblance to the ubiquitous pointy cartoon version. The only real contender is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. At 6,288 feet (1,917 meters), its rocky heights are cloaked in snow for much of the year, but even its silhouette is…

Day Trip: Annecy

There’s nothing like the serenity and breathtaking beauty of the Annecy lakeside. Beyond its tranquil, bright-blue water and craggy green hills stand heart-pounding mountains, regal and chilly in the not-so-distance. Coots dot the lake, their dark plumage like ink stains on glass; up close, the water is so clear that you can see their gray feet…

Day Hike: Trayas to Théoule-sur-Mer

The Côte d’Azur conjures images of starlets, Lost Generation writers, designer-clad convertible-owners, and tanned beach babes, all strutting and partying their pretty selves alongside the sparkly blue sea. In reality, it’s also chock full of assholes, overpriced meals, elitist shades of the ridiculous, and tourists with pretensions. But oh, the sea! It’s just as sparkly and blue as…

Day Hike: Marseille to Cassis Along the Calanques

It’s never been easy for me to say good-bye to summer. A creature of the sun who had the poor luck to grow up in the snowy northeastern United States, I spent my first twenty-three winters hiding inside and eating pastries, one step up from a hibernating bear. I get stir-crazy when the weather gets cold, because…

Day Hike: Lacs de la Pra

I’m so fresh off this hike that the soreness hasn’t fully hit me yet (“it will,” hiss my vindictive knees and hips in menacing whispers, “it will”), but I wanted to get this post up before the cold really settles into the mountains. The Lacs de la Pra are a smattering of tiny lakes in the Belledonne mountain…

Lavender Quest

Before last weekend, I’d been to Provence several times and never seen a single lavender flower in bloom. The season is easy to miss (generally only running from mid-June to mid-July, plus or minus two weeks on either end, depending on the exact location and the year’s weather), but I thought it would be a shame to have lived so close…