20 Priceless Travel Moments in My 20s- #2 Backpacking to Hard to Reach Locations

This is #2 of my 20 Priceless Travel Moments from my 20s series, inspired by Huffington’s Post “20 Priceless Travel Moments Every Twentysomething Should Expereince At Least Once”. To see previous posts in this series, click here.
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Priceless Travel Moment #2:
Backpacking, trekking and/or hiking to some epically hard-to-reach location.
   Now I don’t really think this is something that has to stop once you aren’t a twenty-something, but it certainly is a good time to start. It is tempting to give in to just the bright lights and appeal of a city, with its discotheques (yes, they really call them that in other places) and the tourist visit passes flashed for discount prices on the street corners. But allowing yourself to get away from the hustle and bustle of cities, and travel off of the beaten path, opens up a world of new experiences and encounters.
   Hiking has always been something I love to do- and I was lucky enough to grow up in close proximity to Yosemite and the Giant Sequoias and Redwood forests. Growing up my family vacations almost always consisted of camping and hiking in the foothills and mountains of Central & Northern California. Spending a few hours climbing over rocks, and getting my sneakers soaked while crossing a stream was easily the best way to spend a Saturday. One summer I spent 3 fabulous days backpacking in Yosemite with a friend’s family, covering 27 miles in isolated picturesque backcountry, finishing with hiking Half Dome (something everyone has to do at least once!) We slept under the stars every night, with the exception of a few hours one night where we decided to join the others in a tent- a good thing since we woke up to a bear poking around in our camp!
half dome
photo by Rachel Button
   My love for hiking follows me when I travel. When I was studying abroad in Thailand, a friend from my program and I headed up to Chiang Mai for an extended weekend. We decided to do an organized two day trek through the rainforest above Chiang Mai. During the trek we traversed beautiful jungle, slept in bamboo huts, traveled down a river on a bamboo raft, and ate some delicious Thai creations (that probably also consisted of bamboo in part). Though we were with a group, I found solace in the silence and beauty as we trekked through the rainforest, admiring the canopy and the incredible variation of plant and animal life around me.  When we returned to our school after the weekend, I had a renewed sense of wonder for the increasing diversity of the landscape of Thailand, quite a few aching muscles, and some really dirty clothing.
Backpacking. It’s good for the soul.