Ka’ana is a boutique resort, but rather than catering to those who like to sit by a pool all day with umbrella drinks, it encourages its guests to leave every day. Don’t get us wrong, there is a pool, and if you want an umbrella drink, it can be arranged. But Belize is a country ripe for adventure, and Ka’ana wants to be your (very luxurious) base camp.
A caving expedition in Belize
We’d been underground for five hours, as deep as 600 feet below the surface of the jungle in a cave the Belizeans call the Mountain Cow Cave. The cavern has been rebranded for tourists as the more picturesque-sounding Crystal Cave, though few tourists make it here. Unlike the more famous and accessible Actun Tunichil Muchnal cave, which sees thousands of visitors per year, Crystal Cave only sees a few hundred, most only peeking into its impressive foyer. I could see why. It was not for the faint of heart.
An Offshore Account
After a long and fairly uneventful dive on an unnamed reef out in South Water Caye, I clambered aboard Splash Belize’s dive boat, shed tanks and weights and stripped off my wetsuit. The big diesels rumbled to life and Captain Malcolm steered toward a small island in the distance. As we drew closer, I could make out a few small panga boats and some activity on the beach. Then came a distinctive smell: barbecue.
The Road is Life
From the Archives: With age comes the ability to do a long highway cruise better than we ever could as a youngster. Summer’s right around the corner, so we’ve compiled above all the gear you’ll need to make new memories on the road. Get what you need and hit the road, Jack. Grab the wheel and point it west, take a buddy and leave the rest.
Climbing Mountains Beyond Mountains
Despite Haiti’s reputation for danger, it’s a beautiful and inspiring country for the intrepid traveler. Although tourism in the country has been slow to rebound since the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti offers an opportunity for those with the right set of skills to get involved with humanitarian work while seeing an infrequently visited part of the world. During our recent visit, we got by on Pepto and grit, and a few other things besides: we found all of the above useful, if not downright necessary.
Big Races, Fat Bikes
Fat bike races are a great tool for carrying fitness into the winter, building your base for the coming year, or letting out your inner nutso cyclist. During some of the longer hauls, riders should expect to carry everything from sleeping bags and tents to locator beacons and cooking infrastructure. Just a few years ago your race options were limited, but the rapid growth in the category has created a number of race options and formats to choose from. Here are some of our favorites.
The Iditarod, by Bicycle.
The Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) is the world’s longest winter ultramarathon by mountain bike, foot and ski. It follows the historic Iditarod Trail from Knik, AK, over the Alaska Range to McGrath and on to Nome. If you like to run and ride in severe winter conditions and sleep outside in the frozen tundra, then this is the race for you.
The Mountain Series ~ Part I of III
From the Archives: The rotor wash from a Bell 212 helicopter is startlingly strong. Though I was getting used to the pick up and drop off routine — kneel, huddle together, cover your face — every time the helicopter landed I was nearly blown off my feet. Peering out the side window as we lifted straight up from a postage-stamp-sized rock atop a peak called “Kickoff”, I noticed that getting blown over here would have meant a very long fall. Note to self: don’t be the guy at the back of the huddle.
Love Knows No Boundaries
The argument has sound logic: your wife was technically on vacation when she came along to provide support during your last attempt at Leadville. She used up her vacation time, after all, and you did book a couples massage. But there’s nothing romantic or decent about compression socks and 3 a.m. wake-up calls. You’ve got to take a real vacation. We’ve got three suggestions for romantic destinations that may not have been on your list.
Insight from our man on the ground
I’m in Sochi this week, and guess what? I haven’t been blown up, my phone hasn’t been hacked, my hotel room is quite nice and the water from the taps isn’t brown. Instead I’ve seen some amazing athletes doing some amazing things on the ice and snow and had my preconceptions sincerely rattled.
To Russia We Fly
Packing for a trip to Russia for the Sochi Olympics is no small feat. There’s weather, international travel, technology and a desire to stay light on our feet to consider. Gear needs to be tough, functional, lightweight and understated. Here’s a sampling of what we’re packing to use on a normal day in Sochi.
You might think: packing for the Sundance Film Festival, all I need are my spectacles, some comfy corduroys and a family box of Goobers chocolate-coated peanuts. That might be fine if you’re heading to Smitty’s Cinema in Tilton, NH, to watch That Awkward Moment with your friend Dennis, but not for America’s premiere independent film festival. This is Sundance, baby. This is A-list. This is Redford country. We had boots on the ground this year, and we packed to work remotely, hit Main Street in (relative) style and take the edge off back at the condo.
Precious metals, mountain gem
Park City’s reputation as a winter resort is outsized: It was the home of skiing and snowboarding events during the 2002 Winter Olympics in nearby Salt Lake City; it remains the training grounds for the United States Ski Team; and it plays host to the Sundance Film Festival. We came for the latter, but we found an idyllic mountain town where the sun shines almost every day, an unironic trolley rambles along Main Street and beautiful women wear leggings and fur vests. Need a little help planning a long weekend there? We’ve got you covered.
Be Safe and Have Fun
You’re going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and you’re going to be fine. Still, you should always reduce risk. The following tips minimize your exposure to terrorist activity and will also offer protection against criminal elements during your stay.
Because You Can't Bobsled 24/7
When the Winter Olympics kick off on February 7th, we’ll have a correspondent on the ground, leaving the rest of us at the GP HQ to wonder why we can’t take a week off to watch sports, while the weather in Russia — Russia! — is warmer than New York City. We’re not bitter. In fact, to keep him safe, entertained and entirely prepared we’ve put together a quick pocket guide to Sochi.
Cold weather, cold smoke, cold beers.
Most of us calculate Paid Time Off based on formulas that are too sad to enumerate. Suffice it to say those hours rarely add up to week-long ski vacations at our leisure. But parse them out just so and you can be taking long weekends whenever the heavens open up. Make the most of it by choosing mountain resorts with bankable terrain and close proximity to an airport — like any of these 10 world-class ski areas.
Outdoor adventure in Kyrgyzstan
Combine partial nudity and breathtaking landscapes and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty good movie; throw in world-class alpinist Kyle Dempster, a bicycle and the Kyrgyzstan wilderness, well, then you get an unexpected and touching adventure film. Dempster set out in 2011 for a six-week trip in the Central Asian country, armed with a bicycle for transportation and a bag of climbing gear for soloing unclimbed alpine rock and mixed routes. The result is an award-winning film, The Road from Karakol, that’s raw, funny and insightful.
On the scene of America's biggest art festival
What exactly is Art Basel? You’re not alone in asking. Mixed messages are both a problem and an asset when it comes to the annual December event. Technically speaking, the festivities that culturally connected Americans learn about through New York Times writeups and a flood of social media humble bragging are officially known as Art Basel Miami Beach. We were on the scene to explore and try to define this captivating art wonderland
If you're between a soft and a hard case...
In the good old days of train travel a gentleman would have a cavalcade of steamer trunks in tow, housing all manner of wardrobe, knick knacks, accoutrement and what-have-yous. These days, a guy’s lucky if his rolling carry-on isn’t checked at the gate. Thankfully, weary traveler, technology is on your side. We’re pleased to introduce to you the best hard shell suitcases we would find, each a convergence of all the necessary requirements for travel, each unique in its own way.
Light, fast, local
There are big-name brands in the outdoor clothing market that turn out lustworthy, cutting-edge shells, baselayers and insulation pieces season after season. But every once in a while, we stumble upon a small brand doing things a little bit differently yet equally well. One of those is NW Alpine, based in that outdoor playground, Portland, Oregon. We got to test out three pieces of NW Alpine gear in the mountains this fall: the Black Spider Hoodie, the Fast/Light Pant and the Simplicity Jacket.
Business travelers used to have serious panache: Vasco da Gama traveled in a fleet of ships accompanied a few hundred men; Benjamin Franklin allegedly wore a rustic fur hat while serving as an ambassador to France; in the 1960s men wore three-piece suits in Economy. Today’s business traveler is less ostentatious but dangerously effective: he’s creative, flexible, mobile, well-connected and never ever sick at sea. Working all the time? Sure, but that’s a small price to pay for a life without borders. If that sounds like you, this is the gear you need.
Hiking Hut to Hut in the White Mountains
For thru-hikers of the AT, the White Mountains are a cruel joke, coming near the end of a months-long journey that begins in the gentle hills of Georgia. With nary a flat mile the trail follows the spine of the Presidential Range before exiting into Maine and the final miles to Katahdin. But while the Whites can be cruel, they are also kind. Among the rocky steeps is a series of huts where a weary hiker can find a soft bed, warm smiles and hot meals.
I came to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with too much confidence and they kicked my ass. With the trail’s highest point barely above tree line and only one thousand feet higher than the starting point of my June ascent of Mount Rainier, I figured hiking here would be easy. I was wrong.
Part II of III in The Mountain Series
For alpinists everywhere, including those confined to armchairs, the name, “Eiger” conjures up excitement, fear and dread. Considered the most daunting climb in the Alps, the mountain’s north face, the “Nordwand”, is a 6,000-foot sheer wall of crumbling, often ice-coated, rock that is continually scoured by rockfalls and avalanches. First climbed in 1938, it has been the scene of countless adventures, tragedies and one Clint Eastwood movie. The name and the image of the Eiger were etched in my brain for years, and I read everything I could about the mountain. So to see it there, across the valley from the sundeck of the Berggasthaus First, seemed like a dream; I could hardly take my eyes off it.
Not far behind the invention of the wheel, in terms of ingenuity, is the wheeled duffel. The problem is, most wheeled duffels are either good at wheeling or good at holding gear, but seldom both; that’s not to mention most have a hybrid appearance that neither looks stylish on the concourse nor rugged in the outback. But that’s not true of the Victorinox Swiss Army Alpineer Wheeled Duffel ($250), a bag we’ve dragged around three countries and four mountain ranges since June.
Gifts for the Continent-hopper
Your friend’s passport has addendum pages for the addendum pages and looks like Costanza’s wallet. It’s easier to count the countries he hasn’t visited than those he has. Travel-weary? Not a chance: this rolling stone likes to be moss-free, so we have the perfect collection of goods to keep your favorite road warrior in fightin’ trim. The tools below cover technology high and low, all to ensure the journey is every bit as enjoyable as the destination. The lucky recipient of your generosity will easily navigate airports, checkpoints (TSA or Syrian Free Army), and resort lobbies with aplomb, arriving refreshed and relaxed, ready for the work (and play) ahead.
Part I of III in The Mountain Series
The rotor wash from a Bell 212 helicopter is startlingly strong. Though I was getting used to the pick up and drop off routine — kneel, huddle together, cover your face — every time the helicopter landed I was nearly blown off my feet. Peering out the side window as we lifted straight up from a postage-stamp-sized rock atop a peak called “Kickoff”, I noticed that getting blown over here would have meant a very long fall. Note to self: don’t be the guy at the back of the huddle.
Helicopter travel is addictive. Though it’s loud and uncomfortable, it’s the swiftest and most scenic way to get from Point A to Point B in the mountains. There’s also a certain Green Beret appeal to being whisked off a remote peak by a Huey. Purist hikers and climbers may call it cheating (I used to be one of them), but reserve judgment until you’ve hiked for five hours and 5,000 vertical feet in some of the wildest backcountry in the world and can get back to the lodge in ten minutes for a beer by a crackling fire. I came to this newfound appreciation after a week of up and down in the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia.
What's old is new
Retro gear is retro for a reason: modern outdoor gear design performs better than its forebears in almost all respects. But we still have a soft spot for the leather, wool, canvas alpine designs of the 1950s and ‘60s — you know, before things got all sleek and neon. After seeing two Gear Patrol favorite brands, Topo Designs and Howler Brothers, collaborate to design a classic climbing pack, the Klettersack ($189), we decided to go all Reinhold Messner and take it to the mountains to see how a retro style pack works in the environment that inspired it.
When it comes to flying, passengers seem to enjoy reflecting on the so-called “golden age of aviation” which, as far as we can tell, just means any time before present day. On any cross-country flight you’ll hear fliers reminisce on days of lax security standards as they’re digitally cavity searched or on the lost glamour of air travel as they’re entombed between the impressive combined girth of 17A and 17C. And it’s true. Flying today sucks. Even first class today sucks. Where’s the $1,000 value in a couple extra inches of legroom and three ounces of booze? Jet Blue tends to agree. The New York-based carrier just introduced an impressive new trans-continental service featuring their totally revamped take on first class: Mint.
A boutique hotel in Tel Aviv
On Friday morning the scene along Rothschild Boulevard is picturesque: Young parents push their kids along in strollers; beautiful women ride by on Tel-O-Fun rental bikes; kiosks on the street corners serve orange juice squeezed to order; people drink coffee and beer in sidewalk cafes; a group of men play petanque under the looming ficus trees. The weather is in the 80s and sunny with a breeze. Stretching from Neve Tzedek (Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood) by the Mediterranean to Habima Square in the heart of the city, Rothschild Boulevard is a slice of paradise in the Holy Land, and if you’re not paying attention you could walk right by The Rothschild 71, a new boutique hotel tucked back a few yards from the leafy street.
Turn it up to eleven
Luxury adventure company Eleven takes its name from the ‘80s “rockumentary” This is Spinal Tap. In the movie, band member Nigel tells new guy Marty that while other bands’ amps go up to ten, theirs go to eleven: one louder than ten. Staying at Eleven’s Scarp Ridge Lodge amid the Colorado high country of Crested Butte is, well, an eleven experience, full of luxurious comfort.