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Backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail in the Cascade Mountains

Blog post and photos by Michael J. Shymanski

In recent years, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has exploded with popularity, seeing hikers from all over the nation to trek the trail that runs from Canada to Mexico on our west coast. While the trail goes through various mountain ranges and all types of land, one of the best stretches is from Snoqualmie Range to Stevens Pass, a seventy-five mile stretch without crossing a single street.

Hiking Yosemite’s Half Dome

LOCATION: Yosemite National Park, California

California is home to some of the most iconic parks between its coasts, deserts, forests, and mountains, but Yosemite National Park is its most recognizable and beautiful, especially under the façade of Half Dome. Even entering the valley under the granite giants, Half Dome is the most striking with its sheer face and looming above the others. The view from the bottom is something, but the gorgeous hike and the final vista from the top are the things that stay with you.

Dromoland Castle – Ireland

Built in the 16th century and finished in 1835, Dromoland Castle’s gothic architecture caught my eye as places to stay. I later learned that they had won a Michelin star in 1995 and many celebrities had stayed there, from Nelson Mandela to Johnny Cash, from Rey Juan Carlos I to Muhammed Ali.

While it’s not as modernized as Ashford Castle, it was equally as beautiful, relaxing and impressive.. and better yet, more affordable!

Ashford Castle – Ireland

When we think of Ireland, we tend to think of good beer, the witty and happy locals, and the lush green landscape with castles, like something out of a fairy tale. And, if you know me, you’ll know that I love castles with their charming medieval architecture and breathtaking gardens. For my birthday and babymoon, my husband and I were treated to stay at some of the best castles in Ireland. Thus our grand adventure begins with Ashford Castle, a stunning and majestic place where magical meets luxury.