Here’s the first of my initial attempts at travel writing. I’m organizing my travels into categories, of which this is the first one. Outposts are small towns located next to big things – mountains, ranges, etc. Their charm comes from being the last bastions of humanity before the great wilderness. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Karakol, Kyrgyzstan: Gateway to the Tien Shan mountains, this Russian outpost is dramatically situated at the eastern edge of Lake Issyk-Kul.
2. Litohoro, Greece: The twenty minute drive from the shores of the Aegean to this village at the foot of Mount Olympus can be quite disorienting; you go from sunny, touristy beaches to a strange fusion of Greek and Swiss architecture.
3. North Bend, Washington: Located on the outermost orbit of Seattle’s sprawl, this exemplar of smart growth sits beneath the looming Mt. Si. Not fifteen minutes away, you can find the region’s best stargazing (Rattlesnake Lake), public golfing (Mt. Si Golf Course), hike for the non-hiker (Snoqualmie Falls) and milkshake (Scott’s Dairy Freeze).
4. Tlachichuca, Mexico: This charming village is the perfect base for climbing Pico de Orizaba, the continent’s third-highest peak. The combination of the eclecticism of rural Mexico and the intimidating presence of the looming stratovolcano make distinguish it from the scores of other villages dotting the altiplano.
5. Lone Pine, California: Sometimes, being in the middle of nowhere is not so bad. The most quaint and least touristy in a string of towns along US-395, it is the gateway to both Mount Whitney and Death Valley.
6. Trout Lake, Washington: Just off the southern flank of Mount Adams, this tiny town offers all the amenities a weary climber could ask for.