Most travelers, athletic types, and even mildly outdoorsy people know about REI (Recreational Equipment Inc). REI is both an athletic and travel gear retail outfitter, and an adventure travel company. I go to my local REI whenever I need the best, hardiest and well-made cold weather gear (in Los Angeles, there aren’t that many stores that sell, say, thick wool socks and gloves year round). While I’ve never taken a trip with REI Adventures, the adventure travel company side of REI, I’d love too…though I’m not in the peak physical condition of most of REI adventure travel participants. REI’s adventure travel experiences are renown for their fantastic guides that ensure the trips leave as light a carbon footprint as feasible; the minimal environmental impact and ethical standards of REI trips appeals to outdoor adventure and eco-travel devotees. Now that summer is waning, a few US-based Labor Day getaways by REI Adventures caught my eye as great last summer travel experiences before Autumn settles in and cools off our mostly-broiling country.
Labor Day Getaways with REI Adventures
Rock Climbing in Northern Virginia — This three day adventure (Sept. 1-3, 2012) takes explorers through Great Falls and Elizabeth Furnace. Recommended for beginners who want to learn easy to moderate rock climbing: the focus is on basic techniques like terminology, proper use of equipment, foot and hand placements and the like. These fundamentals are taught along routes on slab, cracks and flake with climbs ranging from 30′ to 60′. REI provides group transfers from Washington Dulles International Airport to REI on the first day of the Labor Day weekend getaway.
San Juan Islands Kayaking Weekend — A three day day trip (September 1-3, 2012) that practically promises plenty of Orca (killer whale) sightings, the San Juan Island Kayaking Weekend is one of the most well-reviewed and popular west coast trips run by REI Adventure. This Labor Day weekend should see some sea mammals migrating south for the winter, as well as the creatures that stay off the Washington coast all year. Besides Orcas, participants can expect to kayak past Stellar Sea Lions and Elephant Seals, Dall’s and Harbor Porpoises, and lots of aquatic birds. Nights are spent on Stuart Island, with manageable hike options. The camp site has water views, too, so this is truly as immersive as any outdoor adventure travel experience. Transportation from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is not included, however, the smaller airport (serviced by Kenmore Air) is right at Friday Harbor — the meeting and end point of the trip.
Mount Whitney Summit Hike — This is a vigorous six day trip (Sept. 1-6, 2012) that is recommended for climbers with quite a bit of previous experience. After all, Mt Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states. At around 45,500 feet elevation, the summit is the south end of the John Muir Trail. The hike starts on the western slope, in Sequoia National Park. Climbing the the peak of Mt Whitney is a major accomplishment and is considered by many the “hike of a lifetime.” The REI Adventures travel itinerary includes time to appreciate the glorious California scenery, and uses the services of Cottonwood Pack Station to carry the bulkier, heavier gear. Hikers need only use a day pack. There’s no transport included, because al the major airport are too far away, so participants will need to rent a car to get to the Cottonwood Pack Station.
A last adventure before the season changes sounds better than ever. The above are just three of the great Labor Day weekend getaways offered by REI Adventures. There are many more, internationally, as well; the US and the wider world has REI Adventures’ trips offered throughout the year. Browsing through all the options and their shared philosophy of being kind to the earth — while taking advantage of so many exciting adventure travel experiences out there — makes it clear that REI should be on my, and your, list for potential trips this year.