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HBG Big News This Week: December 18-22, 2017

Following is a recap of major news at Hachette Book Group for the week of December 18-22, 2017:

Bestsellers: HBG has 18 titles on the New York Times Bestseller list dated December 31, including one #1—The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (Little, Brown; Running Press; Various Publishers) holds onto #1 on the Children’s Bestsellers (Picture Books) list. HBG’s distribution clients have five titles on the list this week, including one at #1—Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Amulet) tops the Children’s Bestsellers (Series) list. Also, HBG has 11 titles on the USA Today bestseller list, see the full list here.

Patterson gives to indies: Publishers Weekly announced this week the 2017 recipients of James Patterson’s Indie Bookseller Bonus Program. Patterson donated $350,000 (an additional $100,000 over past years) to 320 indie bookstore employees this holiday season, more than double the number of booksellers affected in 2016. Booksellers and bookstore owners at stores in areas particularly hard hit by hurricanes and wildfires were among the recipients. The full list of recipients can be found on the ABA website.

PEN Prize nominations: Ron Powers’s No One Cares About Crazy People (Hachette Books) is longlisted for the 2018 PEN / E.O. Wilson Prize, Alexis Okeowo’s A Moonless, Starless Sky (Hachette Books) is longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, and Kate Fagan’s What Made Maddy Run (L,B) is nominated for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. Winners will be announced in January 2018.

Movie news: Deadline announced the movie deal for Look Out For the Fitgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Former Mad Men writer/co-executive producer Semi Chellas will write the screenplay.

TV news: Instinct (previously published as Murder Games by Little, Brown) by James Patterson and Howard Roughan has been turned into a television series starring Alan Cumming. The first episode is set to air March 11, 2018 on CBS.

Ice Climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park

Are you itching to check something off your adventure bucket list this winter? Six outdoor adventure guiding companies—located in Colorado, Washington and Wyoming—hold permits to lead climbing outings in Rocky Mountain National Park, and contacting one of these concessionaires is a good place to start if you’re a beginner.

A visit to the Facebook group Colorado Ice Conditions or Mountain Project will provide you with visuals of ice conditions—not just in Rocky, but all over the state.

man ice climbing frozen falls in Colorado
Ice climbing is a fantastic winter bucket list activity. Photo © frontpoint/iStock.

Before you head out, here are a few bits of information for your back pocket:

  1. Ice climbing is more about balance and finesse than “muscling” your way up a frozen waterfall. If you have a background in gymnastics or dance, your ice climbing skills could develop quicker than you might think. People who play racquet sports also often do well with ice climbing—particularly the axe swinging part—as they are used to fine tuning motion in their wrists.
  2. There’s a sweet spot for great ice climbing. Ice is finicky and ever-changing. If at all possible, try to get out when the outside temperature registers between 20-30°F. Without going into the physics of it all, ice is more difficult to climb when the mercury dips below 20 degrees. Your personal resolve might also be tested while pressing up against ice in very cold weather (but hey, that’s all part of the adventure, right?).
  3. Ice climbing can be great fun for families, and there’s gear out there to outfit little ones. However, most guides will tell you that youth ages 12 and older will likely have a more enjoyable experience than elementary school aged children. Brisk temperatures can quickly take their toll on kiddos. Also know that in Rocky, hiking at least one mile is required to access even the most beginner level ice features.
  4. The RMNP ice climbing experience is special for many reasons, but particularly because of the outstanding views afforded at many of the park’s climbing spots. The most popular location for beginner, top-rope ice climbing is Hidden Falls, an approximately 75-foot column of ice located in Wild Basin. If you become hooked on the sport, your bucket list could eventually expand to include routes on Loch Vale Ice, Jewel Lake Ice, All Mixed Up, or Dreamweaver.
  5. You might just fall in love with the sport. People typically feel a great sense of accomplishment after ascending and descending ice. The experience is often described as “otherworldly” and induces something akin to a natural high.
person attempting ice climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park
Ice climbing Jaws Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo courtesy of Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides.

Ready to give ice climbing a try? The next step is picking up the phone and establishing rapport with a guide. Estes Park-based Colorado Mountain School has the longest history of running climbing programs in the park and is a great place to start. Otherwise, your choices include: Kent Mountain Adventure Center (CO), American Alpine Institute, Ltd. (WA), Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides (CO), Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (WY), or San Juan Mountain Guides (CO).


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Q&A: KAREN ELLIS AND ALISON GAYLIN

Gaylin: Elsa is such a fascinating and complicated character. How did you first come up with the idea for her?

Ellis: My mother had just died rather unexpectedly, and writing about someone grappling with unresolved issues with a dead parent felt like an imperative at the time. It was just so overwhelming and I had to write it out, so I gave it to Elsa. Poor Elsa—because as the drafts piled up her own conflicts became worlds more dire than mine ever were, in every way.

Gaylin: There are actually two powerful mysteries playing out within A Map of the Dark—that of the girls who go missing and that of Elsa’s dark past, yet neither one overshadows the other. Was it difficult to achieve this balance, and either way, how did you do it?

Ellis: It was something that evolved as I set out to write the book. I began to realize that there were distinct storylines that needed to resonate against each other as the novel developed: the plight of the missing girls and Special Agent Elsa Myers’s search for them in collaboration with Detective Lex Cole, and Elsa’s personal story in which her father’s terminal illness triggers devastating childhood memories that begin to inform the ongoing case. It was a tricky balancing act, and I ended up writing the storylines individually and then weaving them together. I’d never approached a novel that way before and wasn’t sure if it would work, but I found that it allowed me to fully inhabit each distinctive voice before moving on to the next one.

Gaylin: Was there a part of A Map of the Dark that was hardest for you to write? Which was it?

Ellis: Elsa’s memories were by far the hardest to write. They’re so dark and troubling, and I felt so bad for the childhood Elsa that I wished I could reach in and save her, but of course I couldn’t.

Gaylin: From one busy working mom to another, tell me about your writing schedule.

Ellis: A few months ago, my second and youngest child moved out, and so for the first time in twenty-three years my schedule is not determined by my children’s needs. These days I wake up when I’ve had enough sleep, generally some time between seven and nine in the morning, eat breakfast, read the paper, and then mosey on up to my office. I work in a light-filled room on the top of our house in Brooklyn, and in nice weather one wall opens onto a roof garden. It’s a blissful space in which to write. I’ll work for a few hours, break for a jaunt to the gym, errands, lunch, then return to my office until evening. This leisurely schedule is in direct contrast with my work habits when my kids were young, at which time I worked solidly from the moment I returned from dropping them at school until the moment I had to leave to pick them up. Back then, I would stop in the middle of a sentence if I had to. I used every minute with fierce efficiency, regardless of how exhausted I was, and I was almost always exhausted. I would literally run through the house to save time. I had book-a-year deadlines and, on top of being the main caretaker of our children, I also taught college part-time. Those were grueling years. Now, I sleep, I walk slowly through my house, I may even stop for a little chat with our cats Andy and Leo.

Gaylin: Much of A Map of the Dark involves girls/young women in perilous situations. (Some domestically, some at the hands of a killer). Did you find that being a mother helped or hindered you in writing these scenes?

Ellis: Helped, absolutely. As a mother, writing about girls in peril gives you a tremendous amount of empathy for the danger they’re in and the fear they’re experiencing. My daughter was still a teenager when I wrote this novel and I felt her in every ion of the story.

Gaylin: The police procedural elements in the book feel very real. What type of research did you do?

Ellis: Writing about police is challenging because I’ve never remotely worked in law enforcement and it’s a very particular kind of world. My research consisted of reading lots of memoirs of detectives and investigators, and also true crime. For the nitty gritty details of the case in this book, I interviewed a wonderfully generous investigator who works in the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) unit that my character Elsa Myers is part of.

Gaylin: A Map of the Dark kicks off a brand new series for you. What do you see as the advantages in writing a series versus a standalone?

Ellis: They both have their strengths. A standalone gives you a tremendous amount of latitude in what you put your protagonist through because you know you’ll never see her again. That sounds horrible, I know, but it’s true. Whereas a series allows you to become deeply connected with your characters over time as their lives develop. Some series follow the same story from book to book, but my new series will delve into a unique story with each book while following an investigator the reader already knows from the previous book. Elsa Myers leads A Map of the Dark. The second book in the series, which I just finished writing, is led by Lex Cole, though Elsa makes a few appearances. A third book will follow Lex’s partner in book two, a quirky new character I had so much fun inventing.

Gaylin: You’ve chosen to write this book under a pseudonym. Why? And perhaps more importantly, where does the name Karen Ellis come from?

Ellis: The use of a pseudonym for this new book is a matter of rebranding in an age when branding is everything. With A Map of the Dark my career is taking a leap from paperback originals into hardcover. My agent and publisher felt strongly that an “open pseudonym” would allow me to both rebrand for a tough market and also bring my already established readership along. It was important to me to use a pen name that feels personal and meaningful, so I chose Karen Ellis, which is derived from my children’s names, Karenna and Eli.

Gaylin: Are there any books—fiction or non-fiction—that have been particularly inspiring to you as a writer?

Ellis: In recent years, the book that most affected me as a reader and writer is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; I was mesmerized by the depth of her characters, the wild lopes of story, and the sheer gorgeousness of her writing. But as for crime novels, Patricia Highsmith’s novels are at the top of the list; her razor sharp treatment of the sociopathic mind has greatly inspired me. I also learned a lot from John Fowles’s The Collector, a decades-old novel that still packs a serious punch in its depiction of a twisted mind. In terms of non-fiction, In Cold Bold by Truman Capote is a book that has stayed with me for its cool but ruthless storytelling. And there are a number of current authors writing crime whose work is just so good that it’s impossible to name them all, though I have to say that when Tana French appeared on the scene she knocked my socks off. I also have to say that your latest novel What Remains of Me is just so expertly crafted and beautifully written; it kept me up way past my bedtime trying to figure out just what Kelly Lund was up to.

Gaylin: What’s next for Elsa? And for you?

Ellis: After A Map of the Dark, Elsa gets to take a step back from center stage. She appears in the next book and readers will find out what’s happened in her life since they last saw her, but as she isn’t the lead she gets an easier time of it—and I’d say she deserves it. For me, I’m about to start revising book two of the series so that my publisher can usher it into the world.

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4-Day Best of Tampa and St. Petersburg Attractions

In Tampa and St. Petersburg, the peak visitor season is winter and spring, with most people visiting from January to April, which means higher room rates during those months. If you’re visiting in March or April, be aware that these areas tend to get crowded during spring break as well.

Less people visit from September to December, when the weather is pleasant and nearly vacant hotels offer their lowest room rates of the year. Be aware however that hurricane season runs from late summer to early fall. It’s best to avoid the summer if you can, which brings hot, humid weather and surges of visitors on summer break.

Here is a 4-day itinerary that highlights the best Tampa and St. Petersburg attractions.

sailboats on Tampa Bay with the skyline in the background
Go sailing on Tampa Bay. Photo © mgahura/iStock.

Day 1

After flying into Tampa, start the day with lunch at Pelagia Trattoria, an upscale Italian restaurant in the Renaissance Hotel, just southeast of the airport. After lunch, rent a boat and spend the rest of the afternoon cruising Tampa Bay or make reservations for a sunset sail with Olde World Sailing Line. Have a nice seafood dinner at an outdoor fireside table at Oystercatchers at the Grand Hyatt or head to Shula’s Steak House at the Westshore if you want a sizzling-good steak. Finish off the evening with wine and dessert at Armani’s rooftop bar, also in the Hyatt, with the best views of Tampa all lit up at night. Spend the night at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

Day 2

Start the morning with Cuban pastries at La Segunda Central Bakery in Ybor City. Spend the morning exploring the historic and artsy Cuban district. If you’re in Tampa during spring training, see the New York Yankees play at Steinbrenner Field, just east of the airport. Otherwise, walk along Bayshore Boulevard and enjoy the historic homes and shops. Have dinner at the Japanese-inspired Water Sushi, a late-night hangout that has live music almost nightly. Consider sneaking across the street for some heavenly dessert at The Harry Waugh Dessert Room at Bern’s Steak House. Stay another night at the Grand Hyatt.

walkway with raining along Tampa Bay
Take in the views along Bayshore Boulevard. Photo © mokee81/iStock.

Day 3

Wake up and drive half an hour over the W. Howard Frankland Bridge to St. Petersburg for breakfast at Skyway Jack’s Restaurant. Spend the morning fishing on the Skyway Bridge or shopping in Downtown St. Petersburg. While in Downtown, visit the Salvador Dalí Museum, intriguing both inside and out. Catch an evening baseball game with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, with the required dinner of ballpark hot dogs and cold beers. Alternatively, enjoy seafood and waterfront views at 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House, within walking distance of The Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club, where you should stay for the night.

Day 4

Have breakfast at the Vinoy, then drive half an hour either to the lively St. Pete Beach or to the more isolated Fort De Soto Park. Have some fun in the sun before enjoying a sunset dinner at The Hurricane in St. Pete Beach. Stay the night at the Sirata Beach Resort.

evening falls over a walkway at St. Pete Beach in Florida
Take in the sunset on St. Pete Beach. Photo © benedek/iStock.

With More Time

If you have time for a day trip, get on I-75 and take the hour-long drive south to Sarasota. Spend the morning shopping at the luxurious St. Armands Circle before popping over to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for a short tour through their fabulous orchid exhibit. Take the John Ringling Causeway, Highway 789, over Sarasota Bay. Drive to Siesta Key, and spend the rest of the day on Siesta Key Beach. Have dinner at Ophelia’s on the Bay and stay at the Turtle Beach Resort.


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Where to Stay in Kilauea, Kaua‘i

You won’t find large hotels or condominiums in quiet Kilauea. Accommodations here are limited to vacation rentals and small cottages, which maintains the country feel. Staying in Kilauea is convenient and enables guests to be very close to everything the north shore has to offer, but be within a shorter driving distance to the other sides of the island.

Kilauea Accommodations Under $100

Enjoy the scent of citrus at Green Acres Cottages (5-0421 Kuhio Hwy., 808/651-6173 or 866/484-6347, $75-90), where three freestanding studios (no shared walls) are nestled among 300 citrus trees. Each studio has a queen-size bed with a kitchenette, wireless Internet, cable TV, and barbecue supplies, as well as access to beach gear and a shared hot tub. You’ll find complimentary danishes, coffee, and teas inside and can help yourself to picking fruit on-site. They don’t charge cleaning fees, and two of the cottages (16 by 20 feet) both sleep two for $75 per night while the third cottage (around 500 square feet) sleeps up to four for $90 a night.

The rocky northern coast of Kauai.
The beautiful northern coast of Kaua‘i. Photo © Eddy Galeotti/123rf.

Kilauea Accommodations From $100-200

Self-proclaimed ecotourism destination North Country Farms (808/828-1513, $160), located just east of Kilauea, offers two cottages on a four-acre farm. A stay on the farm enables guests to stroll the land and pick fruit to eat and flowers to enjoy. Both cottages are cute, clean, and decently priced for the north shore. There is a $95 cleaning fee, a preferred three-night minimum, and children under 18 stay free and are welcome.

Cozy up near the fireplace at the Bamboo at Kalihiwai (808/828-0812, $200), a one-bedroom just east of Kilauea that is located above the owner’s home. Private facilities are offered, and it’s a short walk to the beaches, with ponds and a waterfall in the lush yard. The home has a full kitchen, TV, and wireless Internet access, and the bathroom has a spa tub. It rents for $200 a night with a three-night minimum or $1,350 a week. The Bamboo Cottage also offers guests the use of beach gear. There is a $150 cleaning fee.

rocky beach lined with palm trees on Kauai
Anini Beach offers peaceful, calm waters. Photo © ejs9/iStock.

Kilauea Accommodations Over $300

The secluded homes Plumeria Moon Cottage and Hideaway Bay (4180 Waiakalua St., 888/858-6562, $335-795) are perfect for romantic getaways. Located on a three-acre farm, the cottage has a hot tub, and, uniquely, long-distance calls to the mainland and inter-island are free. Hideaway Bay is a two-bedroom vacation home with everything a visitor could want, including a spa tub in the bathroom. Lovely ocean views can be taken in from the home. It’s decorated with elegant yet relaxed Asian Pacific decor. Plumeria Moon Cottage has a deck for sunning with great ocean views and a hot tub. The home has full amenities, including a washer and dryer and a barbecue on the deck. The cottage rents for $335 per night, the main house is $495 per night, and the rate is $795 per night for both properties.

The Plumeria at Anini Beach (808/828-0812, $375) is just 300 yards from Anini Beach, which usually has peaceful, calm waters. The three-bedroom, two-bath home has a master suite, a loft bedroom, and a den with more sleepers. A lanai wrapping around three sides of the home offers a place for enjoying the sunsets and a screened-in area for dining. There is a private outdoor shower. The home rents for $375 per night with a five-night minimum or $2,500 a week, offers use of beach gear and bicycles, and sleeps up to five people. There is a $175 cleaning fee.


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Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park

Consisting of nearly 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) in the parishes of St. Andrew, St. Mary, St. Thomas, and Portland, the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP, tel. 876/920-8278) covers the highest and steepest terrain in Jamaica. This alpine terrain is the last known habitat for the endangered giant swallowtail butterfly, the second-largest butterfly in the world, which makes its home especially on the northern flanks of the range.

Several endemic plant and bird species reside in the park as well, and many migratory birds from northern regions winter there. Among the most impressive of the native birds are the streamertail hummingbirds—known locally as doctor birds—and the Jamaican tody, the Jamaican blackbird, and the yellow-billed parrot. The Blue Mountains generally are the source of water for the Kingston area, one of many reasons it is important to disturb the environment as little as possible. The BJCMNP has the largest unaltered swath of natural forest in Jamaica, with upper montane rainforest and elfin woodland at its upper reaches.

thick green forested mountains in Jamaica
The Blue Mountains offer respite from the heat and bustle of Kingston. Photo © Nandeno Parkinson/iStock.

Blue Mountain Peak

The pinnacle of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, Blue Mountain Peak can be reached by a variety of means, depending on the level of exhaustion you are willing to endure. Generally, hikers leave before first light from Whitfield Hall at Penlyne, St. Thomas, after having arrived the previous day.

For ambitious hikers, there’s a 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) trail from Mavis Bank to Penlyne Castle, which is pleasant and covers several farms and streams. This option also obviates the need to send for a 4WD vehicle. From Penlyne Castle, follow the road to Abbey Green (3.2 kilometers/2 miles), and from there to Portland Gap (3.7 kilometers/2.3 miles). At Portland Gap a ranger station, sometimes staffed, has bunks, toilets, showers, and campsites. These facilities can be used for US$5 by contacting the JCDT, which asks that visitors register at the ranger station. From Portland Gap to the peak is the most arduous leg, covering 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles). Warm clothes, rain gear, and comfortable, supportive footwear are essential. Blue Mountain Peak is also a mildly challenging three- to four-hour hike from Whitfield Hall, a rustic farmhouse with a great stone fireplace.

From Portland Gap westward along the Blue Mountain range, there are several other lofty peaks along the ridge with far less traffic. These include Sir John’s Peak, John Crow Peak, and Catherine’s Peak. Guide to the Blue and John Crow Mountains by Margaret Hodges has the most thorough coverage of hiking trails throughout the national park. Otherwise, local people are the best resource.

early morning light sets Jamaica's Blue Mountains aglow
Hikers typically set out early to be at the top of Blue Mountain Peak for sunrise. Photo © Oliver Hill.

Getting There and Around

The Blue Mountains are accessible from three points: from Kingston via Papine; from Yallahs, St. Thomas, via Cedar Valley; and from Buff Bay, St. Mary, on the North Coast, via the B1, which runs alongside the Buff Bay River. The B1 route is a very narrow road barely wide enough for one vehicle in many places.

There are two main routes to access the south-facing slopes of the Blue Mountain range. The first, accessed by taking a left onto the B1 at the Cooperage, leads through Maryland to Irish Town, Redlight, Newcastle, and Hardwar Gap before the Buff Bay River Valley opens up overlooking Portland and St. Mary on the other side of the range. The second route, straight ahead at the Cooperage along Gordon Town Road, leads to Gordon Town, and then taking a right at the town square over the bridge, to Mavis Bank. Continuing beyond Mavis Bank requires a 4WD vehicle, and you can either take a left at Hagley Gap to Penlyne, or straight down to Cedar Valley and along the Yallahs River to the town of Yallahs.

Getting to and around the Blue Mountains can be a challenge, even if keeping lunch down on the way isn’t. Only for the upper reaches, namely beyond Mavis Bank, is it really necessary to have a 4WD vehicle; otherwise the abundant potholes and washed-out road is only mildly more challenging to navigate than any other part of Jamaica due to the sharp turns.

A hired taxi into the Blue Mountains will cost upward of US$30 for a drop-off at Strawberry Hill, and at least US$100 for the day to be chauffeured around. Route taxis travel between Papine and Gordon Town (US$3) throughout the day, as well as to Irish Town (US$4); you’ll have to wait for the car to fill up with passengers before it departs.

To reach Whitfield Hall, the most common starting point for hiking up Blue Mountain Peak, 4WD taxis can be arranged by calling Whitfield Hall.

Many travelers find letting a tour operator take care of the driving is the easiest, most hassle-free way to get around the island. One of the most dependable and versatile tour companies on the island is Barrett Adventures (contact Carolyn Barrett, cell tel. 876/382-6384). Barrett can pick you up from any point on the island and specializes in off-the-beaten-path tours.


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Pinterest graphic with photo of sunset over the Blue and John Crow Mountains and a cloudy day with lush forest

7 Places for Incredible Hiking in Colombia

Rainbow rivers, lush jungles, volcanic lakes, and stone steps leading to a lost city: hiking in Colombia is the best way to drink in the wonders of this beautiful country. So lace up your hiking boots and pack your backpack to tackle these seven beautiful Colombian hiking destinations.

Carpuganá and Sapzurro

Head to Carpuganá and Sapzurro for a guided hikes into dense, beautiful jungle. Each walk is overflowing with vibrant flowers and plants and home to howler monkeys, tropical birds, and colorful frogs. Remember to wear a bathing suit under your clothes to take advantage of natural swimming holes on many of the hikes!

Laguna Verde

Hike up to the sulfurous Laguna Verde (3,800 meters/12,500 feet), a dazzling, emerald green crater lake on the north side of the dormant Volcán Azufral, a sacred site for the Pasto indigenous people. Surrounded by stark mountainous terrain and birds of prey hovering above, you can see all the way to the neighboring Galeras volcano on a clear day.

Cano Cristales has bright magenta-colored algae in a Colombia river surrounded by lush vegetation
Caño Cristales is well worth the trek. Photo © Agap13/Dreamstime.

The River of Five Colors

Make your way to the remote area of Llanos and you’ll be rewarded as you trek through the stark lowland hills of the Serranía de la Macarena, with its unusual dry tropical vegetation, and behold the vibrant purple, fuchsia, goldenrod, and green Macarenia clavigera plants swaying in the gushing streams of Caño Cristales.

The Archipelago of San Andrés

Providencia and Santa Catalina, two of the islands in the archipelago of San Andrés, are simple and simply enjoyable. Take a 1.5-hour hike up to The Peak (El Pico), the highest point (360 meters/1,181 feet) on Providencia, for impressive 360-degree views.

view from below of steep stairs from La Piedra Penol in Colombia
Climbing the steep steps of La Piedra Peñol rewards hikers with 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. Photo © piccaya/iStock.

La Piedra Peñol

The 360-degree views from the top of La Piedra Peñol over the Guatape reservoir and Antioqiuan countryside are worth the toil of the death-defying climb up over 600 steps on a ramshackle brick and concrete stairwell that is stuck to the rock, to the top.

El Cerro de las Tres Cruces

Engage in the weekend ritual of many Caleños and hike up El Cerro de las Tres Cruces (Three Cross Hill). The climb will get your blood pumping, and at the top and along the way, you’ll have some good views of Cali, especially early in the day.

Stone steps along the Ciudad Perdida trek.
Stone steps along the Ciudad Perdida trek. Photo © Jesse Kraft/123rf.

The Ciudad Perdida Trek

A highlight for many visitors to Colombia is the four- to six-day, 52-kilometer (32-mile) round-trip trek to The Ciudad Perdida high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This ancient city was built over a thousand  years ago by the ancient Tayrona, and is one of the best preserved and restored ruins of its kind.


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Explore the diversity of nature in South America while challenging yourself with these 7 destinations for incredible hiking in Colombia.

4 Easy Hikes Near Seattle for a Rainy Day

When Seattle’s rainy season kicks into gear, it’s tempting to hang up your hiking boots and hibernate. But there’s a lot to love about being outdoors in drizzly weather. Drenched ferns and mosses glow with a kryptonite-green hue, rivers and waterfalls puff up with spectacular power, and the air feels fresh, cool, and invigorating.

There’s a therapeutic benefit, too. According to Dr. Stephen Ilardi, professor of clinical psychology and author of the book The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs, exposure to light boosts our mood and resets our body clock, which aids sleep, even on cloudy days. The catch? When it’s cloudy out, the light intensity is lower than on sunny days. In order to reap the benefits, we must spend 2-3 hours outside on a cloudy day versus 10-30 minutes when it’s sunny.

view of Rattlesnake Ledge and mountains from the shore of Rattlesnake Lake
Rattlesnake Ledge and a snowcapped Mount Si and Mount Teneriffe from the shore of Rattlesnake Lake. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

So what are some good strategies for hiking in the rain? Check weather, road, and trail conditions and be prepared for unexpected showers, ice, snow, downed trees, and washouts. Invest in a waterproof jacket, pants, shoes, and gloves to help stay warm and dry. Gaitors will keep rain out of your shoes and give your legs an extra layer of warmth. Underneath your rain gear, fabrics like merino wool will draw moisture away from your body and help protect against hypothermia. Traction devices, such as microspikes, are also handy on icy trails. Before hitting the trail, line the inside of your backpack with a garbage bag to keep valuables dry.

Remember, it doesn’t rain 24/7! With the right gear and a positive mindset, you can get outside in the rainy season, and give yourself a nature bath while you’re at it.

Here are four easy hikes (and a bonus wintry option) for less-than-ideal weather.

1. Bridle Trails State Park, Kirkland

3.5 mile loop, 450 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, Discover Pass required, map

Bridle Trails State Park is a great option for squeezing in solid trail time in an oasis of greenery. The wide, established, and gently rolling trail system winds through the 482-acre park, showcasing verdant undergrowth, sprawling tree canopies, interpretive signs, and wildlife.

path through trees in Kirkland Washington's Bridle Trails
Bridle Trails in Kirkland. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

2. Licorice Fern Trail, Cougar Mountain

3.8 miles round-trip, 200 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

The Licorice Fern Trail showcases a pleasant, fertile forest. The undulating trail descends through trees dripping with feathery moss before crossing over Far Country Creek on a wooden bridge to continue northwest on the Indian Trail to Far Country Falls.

ferns clinging to a tree trunk on Cougar Mountain Washington
Licorice Fern Trail is named for the ferns that grow on tree trunks and branches. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

3. Rattlesnake Lake Trail—Cedar River Watershed Education Center, North Bend

1.5 miles round-trip, 30 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

Rattlesnake Lake provides a beautiful green getaway with mostly paved, ADA-accessible paths and lakeside views of the Cascade foothills. Make a loop around the Cedar River Watershed Education Center and visit the rain drum garden for a delightful drum symphony.

4. Twin Falls, North Bend

2.6 miles round-trip, 500 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, Discover Pass required, map

Twin Falls is especially beautiful when water levels rise in winter and spring. Views of the South Fork Snoqualmie River greet the trail, which leads to a powerful view of a 135-foot waterfall from the lower falls viewpoint. Visit the 80-foot wooden bridge spanning the gorge for a misty view of the upper falls.

Snoqualmie River rapids surrounded by dense forest in North Bend Washington
View of South Fork Snoqualmie River at the start of the Twin Falls Trail in North Bend. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

BONUS: Bullion Basin Snowshoe, Crystal Mountain Resort

4.5 miles roundtrip, 1500 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

When it’s raining in Seattle in the wintertime, it’s snowing in the mountains! Head to Bullion Basin for a quiet, tree-lined snowshoe without the bustle of ski resort crowds. When you’re finished, take a scenic, wintry gondola ride (no dogs allowed in winter) and sip a cup of hot cocoa at the Summit House.

snow covered trees and mountains in Washington
View of the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort from the Bullion Basin Snowshoe trail. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

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Don't let inclement weather keep you from heading outdoors! These five easy hiking trails near Seattle, Washington are perfect for an outdoor adventure in rain or snow!