One of the greatest little joys we experience as a couple in day-to-day life is going for walks together. Whether it’s a quick loop through the park during weeknight evenings or a 10-mile circuit through the mountains on the weekend, walking keeps us grounded and brings about a sense of ease. It’s when we really talk to each other – share our ideas, our frustrations, plan our next adventure. There’s something alluring about going a bit slower and really experiencing what is around you in a society that is fast-paced and chaotic. Walking is free and brings with it a short-lived feeling of freedom.
Given this affinity for getting around on foot, it shouldn’t be surprising that years before we ever met I would flip through issues of National Geographic and daydream about epic treks to embark on. Hours were spent musing of journeys in places that were unfamiliar, challenging, and beautiful. At that time I had no idea my future husband was likely roaming the Scottish coastline of St. Andrews – a favorite pastime of his. Life is funny like that.
As much as we love walking and traveling together, we have never once talked about planning an extended trek as part of our travels – whaaaat? Hard to say if my twenty-something fancying will come to fruition, but at least the idea of a trek gives us something else to talk about during our walks! Here are five dream treks for those considering a journey of their own:
1. Milford Track to Milford Sound, New Zealand
Often referred to as the “finest walk in the world,” it’s easy to see why the Milford Track is a popular trek for Kiwis and visitors alike. The Milford Track takes you tramping through Fiordland National Park as you regress back to the days of the first adventurers. Book a guide or travel independently, the average trek takes 4 days to reach the Milford Sound, with huts to stay at along the way. Prepare to be awed!
2. The W Trek, Torres Del Paine Patagonia
The most highly trekked route in Torres del Paine National Park is called the “W” and takes you along lakes, forests, and glaciers generally over the course of 4-5 days. I have followed the journey of bloggers and acquaintances that have completed this trek with a hint of envy. It has been described as “magical” and “unforgettable.” Looking at the pictures it is easy to see why. That being said, it’s not so easy to get there and takes careful logistical planning. If you are really feeling up for a challenge, hike the full circuit in 10-12 days!
3. El Camino de Santiago
I first learned of this 500-mile walk from a former colleague. During lunch we would divulge our travel desires and at 60 years young this was what she wanted to do more than anything. I was really inspired by her passion and had to learn more for myself. Originally a pilgrimage to honor the Apostle Saint James, the Camino de Santiago trail takes trekkers from France through northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The walk is done by solo travelers and groups alike. Aside from the scenery and physical challenge of the distance, the thing I found most appealing was that although you may start the trip alone, you will always meet people along the trail, often foraging friendships for years to come. Break in your shoes and travel at your own pace, then treat yourself to a nice massage or hotel stay at the end of your trip – your feet will need it!
4. West Highland Way
Let’s be honest, anyone who has seen the luscious landscape of Scotland in the movie Braveheart has thought about escaping to the Highlands. You’re in luck, the West Highland Way trail takes trampers on a scenic 96-mile trek through the Scottish Highlands starting in Milngavie and ending in Fort William. Full of rolling hills, crystal clear lochs, and untamed moors, you will be painting panoramas of the countryside in your head for years to come. The trail can be walked in a week, but don’t forget with Scotland’s unpredictable weather, you will want to be prepared with the right gear! For me, there is something romantic about the idea of walking through Scotland with my husband – what better way to appreciate the beauty of his homeland?
5. Mount Kilimanjaro
It’s no wonder Africa’s highest peak draws over 35,000 hikers each year. This is not a leisurely trek, but rather a heart-pumping climb that requires preparation and the right guide. That being said, when you consider the sense of accomplishment you would feel at the top, it’s hard not to consider undertaking this epic trek yourself. As you climb to the peak of over 19,000 feet the trek takes you through rain forests, alpine desert, and summits at the arctic climate zone. The culmination and ultimate reward is often said to be the view at the top, but for others, the real reward is the trek itself.
Will we undertake any of these treks ourselves? Only time will tell.