Take Action For A Better Weekend | Can You Have An Adventure With Just 72 Hours In Morocco?

Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains and more, all in three days? Here’s our ultimate guide to visiting North Africa over the weekend…

The best parts of life, are the bits that you put the most work into. Whether it be friendships, health, work, free time or family, it’s always clear which areas of a person’s life to which they give the most of their energy.

With this in mind, the adventurous brand KEEN has launched ‘Better Takes Action’, a campaign that aims to inspire people to put passion and energy into the areas of life that matter. This idea can include your own self-improvement, cultivating the life of those around you, or helping the world at large. It can be through protecting the environment, living sustainably, or just raising money for causes close to your heart. As long as it makes the world a little bit of a better place, it counts towards KEEN’s awesome initiative.

One easy way that we can all take action to better our lives, is by looking at the quality of how we spend our free time. Recently, KEEN asked us to take action ourselves by setting us the challenge of creating the most amazing adventure possible over one long weekend, all with time to get back to our desk by 9am Monday morning. Accepting their bet, we enlisted KEEN ambassador Sophe Everard and jumped on an early flight to Morocco to find what new experiences we could have in 72 hours in Africa. Yalla!

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Friday

While a million miles from us in culture and landscape, Morocco is actually just a little three hour flight from the UK, and the regular flights that run from many airports each day also make it a very affordable option. Booking a 6am flight from Gatwick in April, we threw a couple of outfits, some sturdy Terradora Ethos shoes and hiking boots into hand luggage and travelled to Marrakech, a walled city of Morocco, arriving on a sunny Friday morning.

Marrakech Airport is fifteen minutes away from the middle of the walled city centre where our riad was based. Taxis take a while to flag down, but are affordable at usually around 150 dirham (about £10) and take you straight into the centre of the city’s hustle and bustle so we threw our backpacks into a car and headed towards the madness, looking forward to what our mini adventure had in store for us.

After paying the taxi we entered Jemaa el-Fnaa, the square and market place in the middle of the walled city, for the first time. This square is overwhelming, full of snake charmers, henna artists, fruit stalls and all types of wandering hawkers, it throws you straight into the anarchic and creative vibe that’s earned Marrakech the nickname “Jewel of the South”.

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Through the busy maze like streets, people, animals and especially scooters, which fly down tiny alleyways at a dangerous speeds and from every angle. We made our way through the labyrinth of backstreets, past the cart pulling donkeys, makeshift bread stalls and local children playing ball games to our riad door, happy to lose our bags and collapse in the middle courtyard space for a few minutes, before heading out to explore some more.

“The Atlas Mountains, named after a Greek god that holds up the skies”

That afternoon we entered the city for our first experience of Moroccan cuisine as settling into a kerbside café, we nibbled on Khobz (a traditional circular bread) and rich black olives, before ordering a traditional tagine and watching the street performers moving past our seats. In the late afternoon acrobats and circus performers entertained the crowds, then as the sun set we watched in awe as the crowds transformed and storytellers, music and drum circles and interactive games began to appear all around us. If we thought that the streets were manic during the day, they were nothing compared to the madness of Marrakech’s nightlife.

The streets and bazaars spill over with artistry and after just a few hours in the madness, we’re already smitten with the unfamiliar Arabic culture. Heading back to the Riad feeling drained, we head straight to bed, disbelieving of how much we had already found and excited about the new day.

Saturday

We could have easily spent our whole three days exploring the different areas of Morocco’s most enchanting city, however we had KEEN’s challenge to complete, so the next morning we were up at dawn and out of both the riad and the city, to find other adventures.

Any adventurer worth their salt will have one main Morocco experience they need to achieve during their trip – The Atlas Mountains, named after a Greek god that holds up the skies. Researching hikes up Mount Toubkal and similar peaks, it was obvious that the time restraints on this trip ruled out any serious expeditions, so we decided to explore the country’s amazing landscape and stretch our legs on a hike of the foothills that belong to those gorgeous snowy peaks.

We chose to travel by a combination of car and hikes for the day, a choice made to allow us to explore the maximum amount of the country, while also getting the achey legs of a good hike, with the hot weather versatility and hike ready sturdiness of the Ethos shoes powering us through our journey. Driving out of the city, the first place we aimed for was Amizmiz, a big Berber village around 54 km from Marrakech, nested between olive trees and fruit trees in the mountains. While a larger village, Amizmiz has the feel of a real working town, with adhān calls to prayer echoing over the buildings regularly, as locals go about their daily work on the main street. If you’re looking for a great low lands hike, this is a destination to aim for, that has some very good traditional eateries for a satisfying post hike lunch.

Jumping in the car we left our first destination and travelled down long roads and through tiny Berber villages and the mountain life they contain towards our main hike for the day. The cloudy weather of the morning had cleared and the hike to Imin Tala, one of three Berber villages on the climb to the highest peak at Djebel Toubkal, was clear and beautiful. This village is sat at 4800ft and the route is equally as beautiful as it is terrifying, with hairpin turns, sharp drops and expansive mountain streams and orchards in front and around us. At this level you can see the Atlas Mountain’s peaks in all of their glory. Walking along the sublime and immersive landscape, our boots gripping to the clay and stone paths, and with only the odd shepherd passing us on our route, it was impossible to imagine that we were soon to return to the commotion of the city walls in which we were staying, with its music, merriment and brilliant chaos.

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Sunday

One Marrakech experience that everyone should seek out while visiting the city, is a traditional medina breakfast. On Sunday, with a flight booked later that day, we ventured out early into the square, looking for some sustenance to fuel our last day of exploration.

On the side of the main square, an open fronted cafe was serving breakfast to dozens of locals, the is kitchen nothing more than a small metal cooking cart, with four people running the cookers and food preparation. Baked eggs are a morning staple in Marrakech, served in a low metal dish with plenty of olive oil, so we ordered ours with cheese and tomatoes,with a side of msemen (an unrisen pancake like bread) as well as large amounts of coffee. Looking around at the other tables in the space, it’s obvious that this kind of outdoor communal breakfast is a normal part of city life. It occurs to us that it’s much nicer than our lonely kitchen cereal routine back home.

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After eating and paying our 60 dirham (around £4.50) we finally make our way to arguably the most famous part of this city, its Souks.

The covered marketplaces are a constant flurry of trading, haggling and excitement. Walking through the Souk Semmarine, you can find rugs, jewellery, ornaments and lighting, as well as traditional formal wear. Moving through and to Souk Cherratin, the streets are full of high quality leather products, with the smell of tanned leather becoming more and more potent in the midday sun.

After exploring the larger market, we ventured towards the smaller Souk des Teinturiers, which is becoming famous in the city for it’s showcasing of new local artists and designers and for offering more unique souvenirs than the more tourist focused areas. Haggling is a matter of course here and the traders are not shy about engaging with their customers. As we looked at a ring, the shopkeepers came over and offered us a price. “No thanks, too pricey for us” we say. “No” he replied, “Now you give me your price and we work it out. That’s how it’s done.”

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Late in the afternoon, with a new ring and other little souvenirs, we escape the markets and after being spat out into the hot sun of the central square, find a cafe rooftop for one last mint tea before we had to collect our things from the Riad and head back to the Airport.

KEEN’s challenge to us was to create the best adventure possible in 72 hours, no matter what kind of adventure that might be. What we found, was that with such little time away from our work, we could find many new experiences, explore new continents, and encounter uncommon cultures, just through being mindful of the fact that these experiences were to be worked for, savouring every moment of the time we had. Better Takes Action doesn’t have to be a huge adventure every time. Simply by being aware of putting you passion and time into what really matters, you reap massive rewards.

Back at the office at 9am the next morning, it’s like we were never away at all. Inside our heads however, we are full of memories of hot desert landscapes, Arabian nights of theatre and music and wide open hikes in the sublimity of the Atlas Mountains. We took our weekend, took action to make it the best it could be, and transformed it into a real adventure.

Want to take action in your own life? Check out our Better Takes Action series below!

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Akela.World, Travelling Photographers | Adventure-gram

This awesome Austrian family are doing things differently

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All photos by Akela.World

“I think everybody dreams of making a world trip, or something like this,” says Leander Nardin, his face slightly pixelated on my phone screen as he dials in from Eastern Siberia. Lots of people dream of making a world trip, sure. But not everyone finds themselves driving a converted 1977 Mercedes truck halfway across the world.

Yet this is exactly what Austrian photographer Leander, his girlfriend Maria and their six-year-old son Lennox have been doing for that past year and a bit. “I think it started five years ago,” says Leander, explaining the genesis of this crazy journey. “We went to Thailand when Lennox was one year old. We just went with backpacks for a few weeks but you know when you’re traveling with children, you have lots of stuff. It was way too exhausting and complicated.”

“He was just laughing, he said: ‘No mechanic is coming into the desert.’”

“Our dream destination was always New Zealand,” he explains, but after the Thailand experience they realised that it would be difficult enough as a couple, let alone with a young kid. “Flights only and the campervan for two or three months in New Zealand is about 10 or 15 thousand euros.

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Maria, Lennox, Leander and Akela.

“So I came up with the idea to buy a small bus and drive all the way down to New Zealand. Maria was like ‘man that’s a crazy idea, it’s bullshit’. But somehow it worked out.” So far this ‘bullshit’ idea has taken them almost 40,000km, and through some of the most incredible landscapes on earth. “My favourite has definitely been Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia,” says Maria. “Kyrgyzstan felt a little bit like home, like Austria – all the beautiful lakes and mountains”.

Follow the family on Instagram and you can see instantly why they have no regrets about their decision to pack up and go. Leander is a talented snapper, whose photos include portraits of interesting locals (“the eagle hunters in Kyrgyzstan were people I always wanted to shoot”, he says), and incredible landscapes. In fact, he says, “the only thing I regret is that we travelled through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan way too fast.”

Certainly on the surface, their life looks pretty perfect. Leander’s shots include plenty of Lennox, who’s an almost unbelievably photogenic kid with a cheeky smile and a mop of blonde hair. As we speak, he occasionally chips in in impressively fluent English.

There are also a lot of photos of what they refer to as “the fourth member of our family,” the truck itself. “The truck is named Akela because he’s our leading wolf,” explains Maria. Like the leader of the pack from the Jungle Book, “he protects us when it’s hot outside, when it’s raining, when it’s cold outside”.

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Tajikistan, home to the highest peaks in former-Soviet Central Asia.

However, Akela is not always the infallible guiding force the guys might have hoped for. “When he doesn’t work,” says Maria, “it’s pretty shitty.” But this is the great thing about Leander, Maria and the Akela.World Instagram account and blog they run, and what makes them really worth following.

They don’t try to project the always-perfect #VanLife cliché, they’re more real than that. Neither of them are about to pretend that life on the road doesn’t come with problems, and their account is full of pictures of the truck breaking down at inopportune moments. “Engine overheated with outside temperatures of -10 degree Celsius!! Really?? In the middle of nowhere in Siberia – on a Sunday!” reads one post.

Leander tells another story of a breakdown in rural Iran, “300 kilometres from the last big city. There are not many people on this road so we just waited and stopped a truck driver. Truck drivers actually know about other trucks. But my Farsi is pretty shitty so it was quite difficult. We figured out it’s a big problem, and he couldn’t help us. I asked him if he could call a mechanic. He was just laughing, he said: ‘No mechanic is coming into the desert.’”

As well as the truck the couple also worry about Lennox’s wellbeing. He’s homeschooled, and life on the road has been great for his English, which far outstrips the level you’d expect from a regular 6-year-old Austrian kid. But at the same time, Maria says, “meeting other children on the road is not the same like having friends at home. It’s only for a very short time and language is always a problem.

“He’s missing all his friends. We are two adults so we can speak on the same level, but Lennox is alone, and he misses his friends.”

But for all that life on the road can be tough, overall the experience has been a massively positive one according to Leander. “It’s more intense, for sure,” he says when I ask if it’s brought them closer together. “But more so in positive than in negative ways I think.”

Leander and Lennox take a spin on the motorbike.

Even back in Austria, the family was adventurous. And having brought a motorbike, snowboards, and even Leander’s wingsuit with them, they get out into the mountains at every available opportunity. But for every shot they post of skiing in Japan, or hiking up hills in Mongolia, there’s something self-deprecating to bring things their Instagram account back to earth.

“Let’s start with a kistchy sunset at one of Borneo’s beautiful beaches,” reads one post – which sums up exactly why we love Akela.World and why you should follow them. In an environment characterised by ‘hashtag influencers’ on ‘hashtag adventures’, these guys are the real deal.

They’re going all the places we wish we could get to, and taking better photos than we ever could. But they’re not taking any of it – or themselves – too seriously.

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A shot from the Siberian leg of the journey.

Follow Akela.World on Instagram here, check out their Akela.World blog here and their profile on Stocksy here.

To read the rest of Mpora’s Remote Issue head here

To read the rest of the Adventure-gram series go here

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Adventure-gram | Ed Stafford, Explorer
My Life In Pictures | Josh Cunningham, Adventure Photographer

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Cross-Country Canada | We Took on the 160km Ski Marathon in Backcountry Quebec

Finding pleasure and pain, following in the footsteps of the legendary Jackrabbit Smith

For the past 50 years the Canadian Ski Marathon has been a rite of passage for the nation’s cross-country skiers. Held every February, it has followed a 160km route from just outside Canada’s capital to its second largest city, enticing skiers of all ages and abilities, myself included.

The gently rolling Laurentian mountains – some of the oldest in the world – are perfect for the sport. But it wasn’t until Herman ‘Jackrabbit’ Smith-Johannsen arrived in 1899 that cross-country skiing took off. The Norwegian machinery salesman skied as a hobby and was given his nickname by Cree tribesmen, who were amazed at his speed across the snow. As well as opening up trails in Eastern Canada, Jackrabbit helped found the marathon in 1967, last taking part in 1986, aged 110.

“My technique is reasonable, but my muscles and joints are complaining”

While I aspire to Jackrabbit’s fitness and longevity, my problem is lack of training. So the day I fly in to Ottawa, I go skiing on the 200km of trails in Gatineau Park.

After a steady climb, with the wind whipping up swirls of snow that pass in front of us like ghosts, we turn to enjoy the long glide back towards the bright lights of the capital, just 2.5km away.

The next day, we start from the quaint village of Old Chelsea, further up the park, which stretches 50 km into the Laurentians, where even wolves roam. Again we ski along one of the ‘parkways’ – roads covered in snow that are closed to traffic in winter. But the 60kph speed limit signs mock my aspirations. I am closer to 6kph – far too slow to complete the marathon.

Skiing in Quebec

My technique is reasonable, but my muscles and joints are complaining – and that is in good conditions, which the following day most surely does not provide. The snow is falling hard and I am grateful for the park’s many refuges, which skiers and snowshoers can stay in overnight. But still I cling on to my marathon ambitions like the dead leaves cling to the beech trees around me.

We have to drive to the start. For the first time in half a century, the marathon has abandoned the 80km leg between Ottawa and the midpoint of Montebello to start near the downhill resort of Mont Tremblant, with the organisers promising an even more beautiful itinerary through forests and across golf courses, around farmsteads and over frozen lakes.

Arriving a day in advance, my muscles are grateful for a morning of more familiar downhill skiing, followed by a massage at the nearby Scandinave spa, where pipes of the indigenous tribes’ music and a dip in the frozen Diable river prepare me for my initiation into this wintry landscape.

The marathon offers challenges to everyone, from fit to portly, from the youngest (aged six) to the oldest (aged 83), whose jerseys are a patchwork of badges from marathons past. Jackrabbit would be proud.

Most skiers aim to complete just a few of the ten 16km stages. So just a fraction of the 1,600 participants are at the start gate at 8am, where a loudspeaker calls us forward in batches. Given the word, we scuttle off, before finding a more natural pace, gliding through the open countryside.

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The landscape is ever changing. Mostly we weave through wild woods, sometimes passing under arches of silver birch bent double by the snow. At one point we enter a forest of pine, whose trunks rise up like the columns of a cathedral above us, the canopy appearing like a vaulted roof. The girl in front stops to take a photo.

Soon we are beside the Rouge river, keeping pace with its fast flowing water as we follow an old railway line south, crossing the river on an iron girder bridge. Two pairs of ‘tram tracks’ have been cut into the snow for our skis, so I chat to other participants as I overtake them or they overtake me.

“Oh, you are on ‘escales’,”, says the Francophone girl who stopped to take the picture. She had heard my squeaky skis close in on her.

Skiing in Quebec

The marathon, like most long-distance events, is done in ‘classic’ style, rather than the faster, but energy-sapping, skate-skiing technique. The difficulty with the classic style is stopping your rear ski slipping back each time you throw yourself forwards on to the front ski. To help, classic skis have under the camber either a fishscale effect moulded in to the base (like mine), or furry skins (newly popular), or wax.

Waxed skis are by far the most efficient, but the wax must be reapplied regularly and are graded according to the temperature. So when we arrive at the first checkpoint, the most serious people are furiously rewaxing their skis, while I head for the dried fruit, honey-water and chocolate-covered raisins dished out by volunteers, before starting on the long stretch from St Rémi d’Amherst to Arundel.

The organisers picked this northerly itinerary, closer to Jackrabbit’s original trails, as urban sprawl and farm closures around Ottawa made it harder for them to create a pleasant trail. Even here, I notice the changing rural landscape. After crossing a wide lake, I pass a rusting beachside swing that speaks of more carefree times. And I ski around collapsed barns, lying empty as farms that have passed down generations are faced with low food prices and climate change.

I too am suffering from the march of time, and know I won’t manage the full course that day. So I catch the bright yellow school bus waiting at the next check point to the Château Montebello.

Laying eyes on this Narnia-like wooden castle lifts my spirits. It was built in 1930 and is the world’s biggest log ‘cabin’ with 211 bedrooms. On galleries around a massive fireplace, the castle’s elfish residents – the children taking part in the marathon – are playing board games, while I head straight to the magnificent dining hall, soon – very soon – to be followed by bed.

“Skipping the first two sections, I board a bus to meet my nemesis”

There I realise there is no way I can complete the second day. But there is one new challenge open to me. This is not my first attempt on the marathon, nor even my second, when I did manage all five sections on the first day. Each time, however, I have studiously avoided the treacherous third stage of day two, where the trail climbs 250 metres only to plunge 150 metres in the space of two kilometres.

So skipping the next day’s first two sections, I board a bus to meet my nemesis, and join the ant-like stream of skiers climbing up a steep slope under a milky sky.

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Photo: Steve Deschenes

A skier speeds past me, his frozen beard a shock of white, his head torch still burning from a 6am start. He is the fastest of the ‘coureurs des bois’, the ‘runners of the woods’ who take their nickname of the 17th century fur traders. They have slept under the stars and are carrying their sleeping bags and mats on their backs, unlike the rest of us who have entrusted our luggage to buses and stay in dorms or hotels.

The marathon is not just about endurance and fitness, however, but skill too. While the Laurentians aren’t as steep as younger ranges like the Alps and Pyrenees, the downhills are technically challenging – particularly on skinny skis.

Turning involves a tricky mix of micro adjustments and snowplough attempts. Going too fast at the bottom of one downhill I only just clear the narrowest of snow bridges across a stream.

“I wish had my snowboard now,” sighs a young man ahead of me at the top of a particularly steep section, unclipping his skis to walk down. I manage most of the downhills, though my heart beats wildly, often I think I’m a gonner, and at times I can only stop myself by skiing into deep snow ‘off-piste’.

Skiing in Quebec

Finally, I make it to the checkpoint, completing the section that always eluded me. The local children, who volunteer as wardens, cheer us on even as they sing and dance a little jig to keep warm.

I now must complete the next section by 2pm, after which our way will be barred, as the organisers want to ensure nobody is left stranded on the mountain.

I up my pace, under the watchful eye of the bunny in the backpack of the girl in front of me. He studies me intently from the 132km marker, over frozen swamps where reeds poke out of the ice, until we arrive with ten minutes to spare at the final checkpoint.

Many skiers have commented on the near perfect conditions so far. But the forecast was for freezing rain at 2pm and, like clockwork, the first drops freeze on my visor as the marshals are scanning my bib.

“I expected to be ready to chuck in my skinny skis at this point, but I’m well and truly hooked”

At first, the trees shelter us from the worst of it, but soon I hear cracks from my ski clothes when I move my shoulders, and my mittens are a mosaic of ice.

On the plus side, the gentle descents through the forest have been turned into virtually frictionless trails, and we shoot down them like bobsleds on an icy track, our one struggle being to see where they are taking us. Only an exposed short final stretch straight into the wind slows me down. So I tuck in the slipstream of a big coureur de bois with an even bigger rucksack and – to cheers from the marshals – arrive at the finish. And this time I am more than happy to let the Sesame Street bus carry me back towards Gatineau.

I fully expected to be ready to chuck in my skinny skis at this point, but I am now well and truly hooked, trying the free trail on the St John A Macdonald Parkway along the Ottawa river, then back in the Gatineau Park on a beautifully warm and sunny afternoon.

Skiing in Quebec

Since I was soon to be heading back across the Atlantic, I wanted to try a seaside trail before flying back. The downhill resort of Le Massif, which has the highest vertical drop in Canada east of the Rockies, is known for vertiginous pistes, which stop just metres short of the ice floes of the St Lawrence. Less well-known are the series of cross-country trails at the top of the mountain, which also offer sea views.

Canadians call this stretch of salt water, measuring 22km across, a river. But then they also called the seven-seat Dodge Caravan we hired a ‘compact’ car – car hire being a necessity in a country this size. So I’m happy to view the St Lawrence as the first stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

The other things Canadians play down is the cold. At minus 17C, with a fierce wind blowing, this was no time for the faint-hearted to be downhill skiing. But on the cross-country trails between the pines we soon warmed up. Huffing and puffing up to the refuge at the top of Mont Liguori, we were grateful for the screen of protective trees which denied us our view, until we finally made it to the lookout.

And there, looking across the frozen sea back to the old country, I was finally ready to check in my skis and head home.

Getting there:

Skiing in Quebec

Colin flew courtesy of Air Canada, which offers returns from Heathrow to Montreal from £408 and to Ottawa from £394 (including tax).

Accommodation:

Colin stayed as a guest of Tremblant at the Fairmont, which charges from C$150 per person per night room-only based on two sharing plus taxes, and also visited the Scandinave spa. For more on the region see laurentians.com. He also stayed courtesy of Tourisme Outaouais at the Chateau Montebello, which charges from C$113 per person per night room-only based on two sharing plus taxes.

In Le Massif he stayed as a guest of Tourisme Charlevoix at the Auberge La Grande Maison near Le Massif which charges from C$34.50 per person per night room-only based on two sharing.

Activities and Guides

He trained in Gatineau Park and hired his skis from Sport Echange Outaouais for the Canadian Ski Marathon, which costs from C$44 to enter.

In Le Massif he explored the Sentier des Caps trails.

For more on travelling in Quebec visit quebecoriginal.com and for more on visiting Canada go to explore-canada website.

Read more of the April ‘Remote’ issue here

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The Fjällräven Classic | Conquering the King’s Trail in Sweden

A multi-day hike through the wilderness of Northern Sweden sounded exciting on paper. But we weren’t prepared for just how exciting things would get…

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It’s only day three of our week-long trek, but as we struggle to pitch our tent behind the shelter of a boulder it’s obvious our best-laid plans have already gone out the window – or at least the mesh flap which passes for one. With the winds gusting at over 40 knots (a force nine gale in layman’s terms) we’re lucky the whole thing hasn’t blown away.

The following morning, a grim-faced volunteer at the next checkpoint tells us: “It’s been bad. I’ve just been looking at some statistics. We had 60 tents pitched near here last night and maybe 11 or 12 collapsed.”

“The Classic was dreamt up by Åke Nordin as a way to celebrate the Scandinavian concept of friluftsliv.”

None of this, it’s fair to say, fits with the picture I’d painted to my long-suffering girlfriend Simona when I’d persuaded her to come on the walk with me a month or so before. “Hiking, camping and cooking in the open air. It’ll be fun,” I’d said. “Plus loads of people do it every year, how hard can it be?”

Started in 2005, the Fjällräven Classic is a multi-day trek along a stretch of the trail known as the Kungsleden (or “King’s Trail”) in Northern Sweden. It was dreamt up by the brand’s founder Åke Nordin as a way to celebrate not only the company itself, but also the peculiarly Scandinavian conception of adventure it embodies, known as friluftsliv.

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Twisted fire starters. Wild camping and lighting your own fire is expected in northern Sweden.

Literally this translates as “free air life” but (as you might expect from the people who invented flatpack furniture and the Tetra Pak) there are multiple layers of meaning folded into this neat little word. It’s not just a description of an activity, it’s also tied to a set of beliefs – the idea getting outside is good for you, that access is a fundamental right, and that the outdoors is for everyone, not just the hardcore.

Given the everyman ideals he’s espousing, Nordin’s idea of a fun hike looks quite daunting, at least on paper. The route stretches for 110 kilometres, beginning where the tarmac road ends at Nikkaluokta and winding through broad glacial valleys and past Sweden’s highest peaks. The finish line, which we’re told will take around a week to reach, is in the small frontier town of Abisko, nearly 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.

However, I wasn’t lying to Simona when I told her that lots of people complete the trek every year. From its humble beginnings when just 152 took part, the event has grown exponentially. In 2016 more than 2,000 people finished the Classic, and as we line up at the start, it’s obvious that our fellow trekkers have come from far and wide. We see Canadians, Germans, Koreans, Japanese, many of them obviously fans of of Fjällräven, who’ve dressed head-to-toe in the company’s kit for the occasion.

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Simona, wearing the blues, not feeling them.

“There are actually people from 38 nations at the Classic this year, and only one quarter are Swedish,” says Anna-Luisa Stadelman, one of the startline volunteers, who admits to being something of a Fjällräven fangirl herself. “It’s my seventh year here,” she explains. “I’m German originally but I studied in Sweden in 2002 and first came on the Classic in 2008.”

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Toytown. On certain sections of the route, like the Alesjaure Lake here, boats ferry people and goods between huts and the few tiny settlements.

As we set off, it’s easy to see what keeps people like Anna-Luisa keep coming back to the Classic year after year. Everything is as well-organised as you’d expect a mass-participation event to be. Maps, camping gas and free freeze-dried food are handed out to participants, and there are busses to take us to the start line. When we start walking the group quickly strings out, so it never feels crowded however, and by the time we stop to pitch our tent on the first evening, we’re completely alone.

When you’re this far north of the Arctic Circle in August it only gets dark for a couple of hours each day, and even then the light never fully leaves the sky. This means the sunsets are long, drawn out and spectacular. We cook our dinner in front of an incredible display as the sun goes slowly down over the snow-capped peaks ahead of us, painting the sky orange, red and purple as it sinks.

The following morning is equally idyllic. We’re in no rush, and wander down to the shore of a nearby lake to wash before hitting the trail. The water is bright turquoise, the result of glacier run-off further upstream, and icy cold. Simona, who’s Italian, thinks I’m mental for wanting to swim in it, but the sun’s shining and I warm up quickly once I’m out.

The hiking remains relatively easy until we reach the first checkpoint the picturesque fjällstation, or hill station, beneath Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain. Fjallraven Classic rules forbid us from staying in the pretty wooden huts (you have to camp from start to finish for the challenge to count). But thankfully they don’t stop us from eating in the restaurant.

Named Elsa’s kök (Elsa’s kitchen) after the legendary hostess who managed the hill station from the 1930s to the 1960s, it’s impressively gourmet given the remote location, serving modern Swedish food to guests seated at long, communal tables.

Our fellow diners are a mixed bunch – day trippers who’ve flown in on one of the distinctive red helicopters that resupply the Kungsleden’s network of huts, hikers who’ve been up the mountain (a hike that’s apparently the equivalent of going up Ben Nevis) and the properly hardcore.

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Still as a millpond. Fresh water is everywhere on the Kungsleden, and you never go long without finding a drinkable source.

One side two wealthy 40-something women from Boston tell us how they come hiking in a different destination every year, travelling from hut to hut while someone else transports their bags. On the other side there’s a young Belgian couple who have already been on the trail for fifteen days. They obviously take this sort of thing very seriously. “We bought a kiln this year so we can make our own dehydrated food,” they tell us.

If the hiking thus far has shown us what attracted the Americans here, then the next few days will give us a taste of the more serious side of northern Sweden – the reason people like our Belgian friends consider the Kungsleden a challenge worthy of their attention.

“As we’re cooking breakfast, we look up to see a herd of wild reindeer trotting across the hillside opposite.”

It’s cold when we wake up, and drizzling slightly. Even through the trees that surround our tent, we can feel the wind is beginning to get up and as we set off and walk out above the treeline, both the rain and the wind get worse. Extra layers are put on, hoods are put up and rain covers are stretched over our backpacks.

We lean forward onto our poles, drop our shoulders and power on. But it’s exposed up here, and the storm seems to make the packs on our backs feel heavier. Suddenly carrying the extra camera gear, which has made my pack a hefty 25kg and taken Simona’s up to 19kg, doesn’t feel like such a good idea.

At one point we pass two fellow Classic participants, a Russian mother and daughter team from St. Petersburg, huddled behind a rock, sheltering against the wind.

They look like they’re struggling, and we’re glad when we see them make it to checkpoint two later that evening.

They’re far from the worst off though. A look at the route map on Fjällräven’s website shows images of happy hikers splashing around in a stream at the next checkpoint, Sälka. Yet it was here that the storm hit hardest, flattening all of those tents. “Some people carried on,” says Marie Olsson, the volunteer who’s been helping people pick up the pieces. “But because they’re staying in the huts it won’t count as completing the Classic.”

One couple have decided to call it a day altogether – as we’re eating our lunch one of the resupply helicopters lands next to us and they climb in, looking very grateful for the rescue. “Their tent was one of the ones that was destroyed,” says Marie sadly. “But also their boots were not good, their backpacks were too thin.” We thank our lucky stars that we’re kitted out in the right gear.

Certainly if the next few days teach us anything, it’s that neither the Kungsleden as a trail, nor the Classic as an event, should be underestimated. The terrain is never particularly steep, but the pathway is often strewn with rocks and can be tricky underfoot. For long sections the trail is just planks over boggy marshland and when the winds aren’t high enough to be an issue, the mosquitoes definitely are.

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Down from on high. The highest point on the Classic route is only 1,140 metres but this far north snow isn’t infrequent even in August.

At the Tjäktja checkpoint we find three volunteers, Mathias, Tomas and Frederick, bundled up in multiple jackets and sheltering inside the check-in tent against the weather. “You wouldn’t believe it,” says Frederick, “but sometimes it’s so hot at this time of year people are walking the Classic with no shirts on. You have to jump in the streams to cool down.”

“Hmmm,” says Simona, as we warm our hands around the cups of tea they’ve kindly poured us. Then we head back out into the rain.

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Somewhere over the rainbow. Stunning moments more than made up for the sometimes inclement weather.

But if there are moments where the Fjällräven Classic doesn’t feel like a summer holiday, they’re few and far between. More often, we find ourselves revelling in the sense of space, blown away by Lapland’s bleak beauty.

As we’re cooking breakfast one morning, with not another soul for miles around, we look up to see a herd of wild reindeer trotting across the hillside opposite. They stop just long enough for me to grab my camera and fire off a few frames, before they disappear over the next ridge.

On our penultimate day we find ourselves heading northwards across a wide open plateau, the sun dipping slowly behind the tents of a traditional Sami settlement to our left. Off to the right, we can see the tongues of two massive glaciers, reminders of the ice age that shaped and sculpted this ancient-looking landscape. “I feel like we might see a dinosaur here,” says Simona. If we did it certainly wouldn’t look out of place.

In the end, we don’t come across any sauropods. But we do come away with an appreciation of why this part of Sweden has attracted generations of outdoor enthusiasts. The Svenska Turistföreningen (the Swedish Tourist Association, or STF), has been managing and promoting this wilderness since it was first formed in 1885.

At strategic points along the trail, they’ve created what they call meditationsplats (meditation spaces) marked by stones carved with quotations by Däg Hammarskjöld, the Swedish diplomat and author.

As the second Secretary General of the United Nations, Hammarskjöld was a man who gave his life to the cause of peace (quite literally – he was killed on the job in 1961). And when he wasn’t working this part of the world, where he had a house, was where he came in search of it.

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A sun-soaked section of trail near one of the meditationsplats.

Taken from his book Markings, the quotes are carved here in Swedish and Sami. Neither are languages that I speak. Nor am I normally given to meditation. But standing next to the stones and looking out at the rugged landscape which surrounds them, I start to understand why it was that Hammarskjöld thought this place was so special.

It’s the same reason Åke Nordin was so keen on enabling other people to explore it. Friluftsliv might be a tricky concept to define in English, but spend a few days hiking here, in Fjällräven’s home country, and it’s instantly obvious what the whole thing is about.

Do It Yourself:

Getting there:

Norwegian Airlines (norwegian.com) and SAS (flysas.com) both fly from London to Kiruna via Stockholm, from £305 return.

Accommodation:

Contestants on the Classic must stay in the tent that they carry with them. However, you can stay in the STF huts along the Kungsleden if you’re not part of the event. Visit swedishtouristassociation.com for the English language version of their website.

At the end of the Classic, we stayed in the Abisko Guesthouse (abiskoguesthouse.com)

Joining the Fjällräven Classic
You can sign up for the next Fjällräven Classic Sweden (or any of their global spin off events) at classic.fjallraven.com.

As a way for international visitors to explore this unique part of Sweden, it really is hard to beat. Fjällräven provide food and gas to participants, as well as organising a finishing party. Navigation is very straightforward but it’s worth remembering that while there are regular checkpoints, you’re on your own for the most part, so make sure you have everything on Fjällräven’s helpful packing list.

The Fjällräven Classic Sweden usually takes five to six days to complete, although you can definitely do it faster – the first pair across the finish line when we took part were trail runners who completed the whole thing non-stop in under 20 hours!

Tristan and Simona’s trip was hosted by Fjällräven. For more info visit fjällräven.co.uk

To read the rest of The Remote Issue, click here.

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The post The Fjällräven Classic | Conquering the King’s Trail in Sweden appeared first on Mpora.

Leaving Las Vegas | Going From Neon To Nature In The American West

Discovering an adventure paradise in southern Utah, just four hours drive from Sin City

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

I’ve been on the Las Vegas Strip for less than ten seconds before I see four women, naked save for diamante nipple-tassels and tiny thongs. They’re posing for photographs with tourists, before asking for a not-so voluntary tip.

Dance music plays loudly. Initially, I assume, from the stereo of the many nearby sports cars that appear to be everywhere. Only after a short walk south on the Strip do I realise that the music isn’t coming from a car at all. It’s being pumped out into the street, seemingly from the ether.

From a distance, the vast hotel casinos that line the Las Vegas Strip glitter and shimmer in the bright sun, creating an enticing mirage in the middle of the desert. Up close, and at street level, they’re dizzying, 250 foot tall intimidating monoliths – save for the entrances that are designed to entice you in.

“Everyone appears to be getting drunk, already drunk, or high on what I can only assume is excitement and definitely not drugs”

Away from the entrance – and therefore the ability to separate visitors from their money – they are just towering, solid white walls, only interrupted by occasional posters for shows featuring young women, the likes of who I saw earlier, or young men wearing cowboy hats and thongs, but who look like they have little experience of herding cattle. Although, arguably, maybe that’s exactly what they do.

Outside, literally thousands of people walk slowly around on the Strip, clutching over-sized cans of American lager or brightly coloured frozen daiquiris in thin, five foot long, novelty plastic containers. The air is thick with the saccharine combination of sun-beaten tarmac, generously applied aftershave, and the vapour from a million e-cigarettes. Everyone appears to be getting drunk, already drunk, or high on what I can only assume is excitement, and definitely not amphetamines and cocaine. It’s 7.30pm on a Monday evening.

Las Vegas casino Bryce Canyon Utah guide

Slot-fiends feed the machines – Photo: Getty

Las Vegas casino Bryce Canyon Utah guide

Gamblers play in the Las Vegas casino’s around the clock – Photo: James Renhard

It’s like Freshers week for adults, but with cheap cider and innuendo-themed club nights replaced with the availability of anything you want, if you’re willing to pay the price for it. Vans drive past towing advertising hoardings offering the opportunity to have, what they claim to be, Las Vegas’ best looking women delivered direct to your hotel room. There are gigantic billboards advertising the chance to shoot guns, fly helicopters or a combination of the two. I’ve still only been in Las Vegas for 15 minutes and I find myself confused, and slightly intimidated.

It’s time for a drink.

Finding a drink in Las Vegas is like finding a spray-tan in Liverpool. However, what proves significantly harder is finding a bar that will sell you a beer while not encouraging you to gamble in some form or other. Getting to a casino bar involves walking past endless roulette tables and slot machines, and even then, there are gaming machines embedded in the actual bar themselves. Eventually, I opt for a sports bar that sold American lager in plastic cups. One beer later and it’s time for bed.

Las Vegas casino Bryce Canyon Utah guide

“You’re under arrest, and I’m under a vest. Just.” – Photo: Getty

The next morning I head back to the airport to collect my rental car. It means a short walk south on the Strip again. It’s quieter than last night, but still busy. There are less people drinking, and more people jogging. Dance music still pumps out of, well, I don’t know where. One homeless man urinates in the street while another is curled away from the Strip, leaning up against one of the many towering walls, lighter in one hand, a glass pipe in the other. I notice people still pumping money into slot machines, some with suitcases next to them, presumably trying one last time to win big before traveling home to normality. Las Vegas, baby!

I’m leaving.

***

Driving out of Las Vegas is a little like the minutes immediately after an argument with a loved one. The noise, chaos, and mild fear that’s gone immediately before is suddenly replaced with a still, quiet limbo. As the casinos, crowds and round-the-clock music disappear, I find myself braced for it to suddenly emerge again until long after the Strip has disappeared in the rear view mirror.

On the road from Las Vegas into southern Utah and Bryce Canyon, I ponder what I’m really trying to discover. I’m staying within reach of Sin City, but want something entirely removed from it. I want peace, nature and, most of all, space. At this point, I’d have no idea how different southern Utah would be to Las Vegas. Or quite how much it would be the same.

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

Fiery red rocks flank the road – Photo: James Renhard

The long nothingness of Nevada suddenly erupts into massive, otherworldly mountains of Utah. Just two hours from Las Vegas, and the road is flanked by imposing, fire red rocks. These give way to forests, then fields and plains, then rocks again. It’s a mesmerising pattern that continues until I pull into Snow Canyon State Park.

After stopping, I glance up from the map on my phone to the rearview mirror and notice a stranger approaching the car with some intent. It’s hard to tell if he genuinely looks like Old Man Marley from Home Alone, or if that’s just in my head. Either way, he’s getting closer, and I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do when this inevitably goes south.

“A natural energy seemingly pours out of the environment here”

“I can see from your licence plate you’re a foreigner” drawls the stranger, spotting the rental car’s California plates. A bellowing laugh follows a short pause, which does little to settle my nerves.

Despite my initial fear, the stranger was a Snow Canyon trail steward named Rich. Within minutes we’re both laughing, and he’s is suggesting local hikes and trails to take. His enthusiasm and love for his surrounding is obvious – something I’d later find out is not unique to Rich.

“Johnson Canyon is a nice short hike. You can go up to Scotts Cave. It’s a little bit longer, but an interesting hike” he tells me with the wide-eyed expression of a kid at Christmas. “We’ve got lava tubes!” he adds with the kind of gasp that suggests he almost forgot to mention them. “They’re really cool!”

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

The walls of slot canyons tower high above hikers below – Photo: James Renhard

In fact, his childlike joy only seems to drop when I mention that, after three nights in Utah, I’d be heading back to Las Vegas to fly home. “Oh. Okay.” The disappointment is audible in Rich’s voice before he quickly shifts the attention back to Snow Canyon.

“Do you know about the petroglyphs in the area? Oh wow. We’ve got some really cool petroglyphs here. It’s not a terribly difficult hike to get to them.” If Rich had a tail, it would be wagging. His warmth and enthusiasm is infectious. And it’s not in the hope of a tip, it’s not service with a smile. It seems to be the energy he gets from his surroundings.

Eventually, Rich bounds away, and I drive in the other direction, through Snow Canyon Park, stopping to explore. Before long the massive walls of Jenny’s Canyon tower high above as I walk deeper and deeper into it. Daylight is just a scratch in the darkness above, as the rock around me is dizzyingly high.

The next morning begins early and with an unusual freshness. I tell myself it’s the natural energy that seemingly pours out of the environment here, but Utah’s strict alcohol licensing laws may also be a factor.

As the journey continues towards Bryce Canyon, the sheer otherworldliness of the surroundings gets increasingly, well, otherworldly. On the way, I stop at Red Canyon with it’s gigantic rusty rocks that line the road on either side, broken up by patches of green trees. Two arches of rock reach over the road, like arms trying to rip the tarmac from the floor. It’s a psychedelic experience – a completely natural splash of colours and vivid imagery.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid once roamed this area, back when the west was wild, often hiding out for days at a time in a hut along what is now imaginatively called the Cassidy Trail. I can’t help but think that, with such wild imagery and views around me, mixed with the exciting brush of criminal history, this place feels like everything Las Vegas tries so hard to convince you it is.

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

The archways in Red Canyon, Utah – Photo: James Renhard

As noon approached, I’m back on the road, heading along Byway 12 to Kodachrome Basin State Park. At over 2000 acres, it’s a huge expanse of canyons and plains, disrupted by over 60 burnt orange stone spires that reach up towards the sky from the ground, some reaching 52 metres in the air.

So taken with the beauty and vivid colours of the area when they explored it in 1949, the US National Geographic Society named the park Kodachrome Flat, after the then relatively new range of Kodak film they used. It was later changed to the more literal Chimney Rock State Park, before National Geographic successfully had the name returned to Kodachrome Basin State Park.

“The three state parks we have in Bryce rival national parks in other states”

Pulling into the carpark of the visitors centre, I’m greeted by Park Manager, Jon Wikan. “Do you mind if I record” I ask Jon, taking my dictaphone out as I walk into his office. Every other American I’ve ever met has an ability to be stern, yet polite. Wikan didn’t get the memo. “I will not be recorded” he insisted bluntly, simultaneously channeling both Gunnery Sergeant Hartman and a mid-tantrum Elton John.

Wikan talks through the history of Kodachrome, the name changes, the geology, and the slightly terrifying natural inhabitants , including cougars, coyotes and rattlesnakes. None of them are as frightening as Wikan himself. However, when I ask him for recommendations for trails, he warms. It’s as if he now sees somebody who’s here to enjoy this amazing, natural playground, and not just stand in an office asking questions.

Wanting to capitalise on this change of atmosphere, I ask Wikan – who lives in the state park itself – what he does when he wants a break from it all. Confusion at the notion of not being in the park is briefly written across his face until he replies, “Well, I go and visit other national parks.” I stifle an unfair chuckle. After all, it’s clear Wikan is deeply in love with this very special place he calls home.

Risking displeasing him just as we’d brokered as close to a friendship as Wikan and I will ever have, I confess that, after my brief stay in the area, I’m heading back to Las Vegas. “Las Vegas?” he retorts in a tone with far less disgust that I’d imagined, “On your way in, check out Valley Of Fire State Park. It’s got some really good terrain.”

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

The incredible red chimney-like formations at Kodachrome Basin State Park – Photo: Getty

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

The arid, petrified foliage in Kodachrome – Photo: James Renhard

I leave Park Manager Wikan and continue exploring the park he clearly loves. Now well into the afternoon, I head to the two-mile Grand Parade Trail, wandering between the huge red chimneys and petrified trees, listening for wildlife rustling in the arid bushes, and really hoping not to hear those rattlesnakes.

That evening I head back on myself to Bryce Canyon to meet local resident and history buff Falyn Owens for dinner in a suitable wild west-feeling roadside restaurant. I want to know what she thinks makes this part of Utah so special.

“Honestly, I don’t think there is any place like it anywhere.” replies Falyn with gushing enthusiasm “Around every turn, there’s something different. There’s the red rocks of Bryce, the forest, the desert… ”

“People relocate here because of the energy, and the peacefulness”

Just like everybody I’ve spoken to since leaving Las Vegas and crossing into Utah, Falyn’s enthusiasm for her environment is boundless, and infectious. I try to hide what I’m sure is wide-eyed wonder on my face. With things going so well, I can’t help but see if mention of my Las Vegas origins changes the tone. Still smiling, Owens shifts to what appears to be a more diplomatic approach. “Vegas is iconic,” she admits, “ and everyone wants to do the Vegas thing at least once. Most people fly into Vegas for Bryce Canyon. It’s actually our biggest gateway city. We call it Neon to Nature!”

I try to hide my disappointment at realising this particular adventure is maybe not as original as I once thought. I broach the strange, peaceful energy that there seems to be in the area. “I think people relocate here because of that energy, and that peacefulness that it brings. A lot of people like to get out into the desert area just because of that.”

“Bryce is the hook – the three state parks we have rival national parks in other states – but we have so many hidden gems. The Thunder Mountain trail is very popular for mountain biking. Disney has a ride called Thunder Mountain that’s actually based on that trail. Canyoneering, horseback riding, we’ve hosted the Tour de Utah in the past…”

Before we part ways, Falyn recommends a few hiking trails to try, including Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is apparently a must.

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

Hoodoo’s in the Amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park – Photo: Getty

It’s the morning of my last full day in Utah and, again, I’m awake with an energy and freshness I’m not usually accustomed to, especially prior to coffee. I drive down to Bryce Canyon State Park. This natural, orange and red theatre is home to hoodoo’s: long spires of rock that point skywards, the product of millions of years of geological magic and weather erosion.

There are over 50 miles of hikeable trails, twisting and turning like veins through the network of hoodoos and other geological anomalies. However, the words of Falyn are still ringing in my ears, and the pull of Lower Calf Creek Falls proves irresistible.

From Byway 12, the pink, orange, and white rock formation that staggers up to the sky giving Grand Staircase it’s name is clear. It looks like it’s specifically designed for some deity, or a giant to use to ascend into the heavens. I’m around a four hour drive from Las Vegas, but it seems like a million years away.

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is worth a lot in Scrabble if you can get it – Photo: James Renhard

I arrive at the trailhead for Lower Calf Creek Falls. Jon Wikan had told me it was an easy hike. The sign at the start of the trail said it was an easy hike. Scrambling up the side of a sandstone boulder, 20 minutes in suggested that my definition of easy differed from that of other people. The variable terrain, switching from deep soft sand, to hard rock, to small climbs was enough to eat the hours away. Being sunk deep into the gorge that makes up a lot of the trail felt slightly intimidating, but also strangely affirming, in the same way that being in the ocean, or at the top of a mountain can.

Some hours later, I find the reward for my excursion; a 65 metre high waterfall. The rock behind it shines with a thousand different colours, the afternoon sun constantly changing it like a giant kaleidoscope. I spend a few minutes there, which feel genuinely special.

These falls somehow sum up the entire Bryce Canyon area. Intimidatingly powerful, yet calm. Vast, yet intimate. Awash with incredible, psychedelic pallet that no photograph can ever do justice.

I head back to the car where, en route, a hiker stops and asks if I’ve seen any cougars on the trail. She seems disappointed when I say no, adding that they’re quite common in the area. My pace quickened.

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

The breathtaking Lower Calf Creek Falls – Photo: James Renhard

After a final night in Bryce Canyon, I find myself back on the road, headed towards Las Vegas, the town I’d been so keen to escape. I wanted to find somewhere that offered the opposite of Sin City, but stay within reasonable reach. In Bryce Canyon I certainly found that.

Gone were the crowds of slow moving, slot-machine devotees. Hell, for the most part, gone were people all together. There was no facade of service with a smile. The bluff and puff of showmanship was absent. Bryce Canyon offers the kind of space and tranquility that’s simply unimaginable when standing four hours away on the Las Vegas Strip. The two places couldn’t be more different. I was prepared for that. What I didn’t expect was to find that they were also kind of the same.

Looking up at those Las Vegas casinos is much like standing at the base of a hoodoo, or in a slot canyon, looking up at the tiny slither of sky above. Both places can easily confound and bewilder visitors, with their sheer size and vast array of options. Las Vegas has a kind of sickly, synthetic conveyor-belt energy to it. Bryce Canyon has a more holistic, natural pulse that seems to seep into your skin.

Hours pass and eventually Las Vegas appears on the horizon. My eyes are fixed on the glistening, shimmering mirage in the desert ahead, but my heart is still a few hours behind, among the fire red rocks, and the peace and quiet of Bryce Canyon.

Getting There

Bryce Canyon Utah guide

Norwegian fly a winter service from London Gatwick to Las Vegas using brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, with a choice of Premium or Economy cabins.

Economy fares start from £200 one way, £350 return. For more information see the Norwegian website.

Bon Voyage offer a seven night stay in Utah, flying from London Gatwick to Las Vegas with Norwegian from £1095 per person, based on two people traveling. The price included the above mentioned flights, three nights B&B at Inn on the Cliff, St. George, three nights room only at Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel and one night room only at the Canyon’s Boutique Hotel in Kanab. The price is valid for travel between November 2018 and March 2019

From Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon is about a four hour drive north-east along Interstate 15, via a 50 mile stretch of Arizona and on to the infinitely photogrenic Byway 12. We used Rhino Car Hire to rent an SUV. A seven day car rental starts from £190. For more information see RhinoCarHire.com

For more information about Bruce Canyon Country and Utah, see visitutah.com

Read the rest of the April ‘Remote’ issue here

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The post Leaving Las Vegas | Going From Neon To Nature In The American West appeared first on Mpora.