6 parks worth the walk in Medellín, Colombia

Parque de las Esculturas del Cerro Nutibara. Medellin, Colombia. Photo by Clay Duda.
Parque de las Esculturas del Cerro Nutibara. (Photo by Clay Duda)

Nestled between the sloping hillsides of Valle de Aburrá (Aburrá Valley) in central Colombia, Medellín is a breathtakingly gorgeous and boisterous city. Home of the Paisa, as people from the region are known, they’re said to be Colombia’s proudest residents — something we learned fresh of the plane when I asked our cab driver where he was from. “!Soy Piasa!” he said, puffing out his chest with a big grin.

Colombia’s second largest city, there’s something for everyone crammed into the narrow valley, barrios trailing up it’s steep-sloping fringes. From nightlife in Zona Rosa and Poblado, a touristy neighborhood on the southside, to the ultra-modern shopping malls scattered throughout the city, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find whatever you set out for.

But sandwiched between it’s bustling thoroughfares, and nestled in the tree-covered hillsides nearby, Medellín is also home to a laundry list of large parks, natural areas, and green space, making it possible to easily escape the torrent citylife below with just a short walk or ride on the Metro Cable (sky bucket transit).

Here are some of the best parks to visit in Medellin, Colombia:

His and Her Gear Lists: Surviving Six Months in South America

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My wife and I are spending the next six months trekking across South America. We’re flying to Medellin, Colombia on Oct. 5 and plan to return to the United States sometime in March-ish.

Last year we spent a month backpacking across Europe, and before heading out we compiled our gear list online. It’s incredibly helpful (to me, at least) to make such lists ahead of time and fine-tune things before setting off with your life crammed into a backpack. I’ll be lugging all this crap for the next several months, after all.

30 miles to Shuckstack: A journey thru the Great Smoky Mountains

Shuckstack Fire tower, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Clay Duda.

The sky opens up with a light rain as we head out out on the Lost Cove Trail around Fontana Lake. This short stretch of dirt will connect us with the Eagle Creek Trail, which we’ll follow into the remote stretches of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was 90-something degrees when we left the valley surrounding Knoxville, but here’s it’s pleasantly hovering in the mid-70s. I can’t complain.

On its face, a 30-mile hike in three days seems like a piece of cake. Equally divided, that’s only 10 miles daily–but as we’re about to find out, legs of this trip aren’t equal, campsites are sporadic, and there’s 5,000-feet of near-vertical mountain between us and the finish line.

Review: Men’s North Face Kilowatt Jacket

FREEZE FRAME: Wifey does dishes while I take goofy-ass selfies. She's definitely my better half.
FREEZE FRAME: Wifey does dishes while I take goofy-ass selfies. She’s definitely my better half.
Review of North Face Kilowatt Jacket Mountain Athletics. Clay Duda. Borrowed photo.
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The North Face Kilowatt Jacket is easily the best activewear jacket I’ve ever owned. Then again, it’s the only true activewear jacket I’ve ever owned, so that might not be all that helpful. Instead of meaningless comparisons, let’s instead focus on the pros and cons of this jacket, and if it’s really worth the $130 price tag.

I’ll start by noting that I didn’t pay retail for this jacket, and if you’re looking to buy one now you can actually get a better deal than I did (see below). I snagged a size medium during one of REI’s first end-of-season sales this spring for about $90 after tax. I’m 6 foot, 180 pounds. The medium is slim fitting on me, which is exactly what I wanted in a jacket like this, although I could likely easily rock a size large (they only had mediums left on sale, so I have never actually tried on a large). The Kilowatt Jacket is part of the North Face Mountain Athletics line, which basically means it’s made for working out.

Since purchasing the jacket about two months ago I’ve worn it pretty much daily. It’s perfect for the wet, cool spring weather common here in East Tennessee, and it’s versatile enough to work for my daily routine that flip flops from active to sedentary to active to sedentary (yay, office life!). I use it for pretty much everything, from exercising (mostly running), commuting to work by bike (4-5 days a week), lounging in the office on dress-down days (which, honestly, is pretty much everyday for me), and walking the dog. No, the jacket isn’t exactly business casual, but it is nice enough to bum around the newsroom, and I’ve had anyone refuse to talk with me or make any off-handed comments about my attire being less-than professional.

To me, the $90 I spent on this thing has been well worth it, although it’s not perfect. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past few months:

The path to Chaos Crags at Lassen Volcanic National Park #TBT

Chaos Crags trail at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Photo by Clay Duda.

After moving to Redding, California in September 2013, this hike to Chaos Crags in Lassen Volcanic National Park offered my wife and I our first real dose the stunning beauty Northern California is known for. According to this old Word document I found, we undertook this hike in late October, 2013, a couple of years before I launched this little travel blog. So here it is, my first and possibly only #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) post of a hike from yesteryear:

Scenes from Carnaval in Barranquilla, Colombia

Carnaval 2016 Barranquiila, Colombia. Photo by Clay Duda.

Barranquilla is an industrial behemoth of a town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, somewhat off the beaten path for tourists most of the year — that is, except for each February, when the annual Carnaval parade and festivities attract thousands from around Colombia and abroad.

Call it luck, but we happened to be spending the week in Cartagena nearby during this year’s throw down. We hoped a bus with a couple of friends we made at our hostel and set out for a day in the mix. I couldn’t bring myself to pay the 150,000 price tag (about $47 U.S.) for a seat in the bleachers to watch the parade, but we did spend hours roaming the streets, met some good people, and soaked it all in. I also managed to get pickpocket of my iPhone. On my birthday, no less. But otherwise it was a great time and quite a unique experience.

Barranquilla’s Carnaval dates back at least 100 years, they say, and has even been declared some sort of cultural masterpiece by UNESCO. Pretty cool, eh? It also happens to be on of the largest Carnaval celebrations in the world, and if you ever have the chance to attend I wouldn’t pass it it. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from the street scenes: