This article is an installment of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior, which features advice, key interviews, and tips for living a life of consistent impact, continuous growth, and continual learning.
In 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark spent nine weeks at number one and went on to become the year’s highest-grossing movie. Four decades later, it’s considered one of the greatest film franchises in history. It resonated with audiences because people crave adventure and mankind has long been fascinated with what lies beyond the horizon.
Whether you hear the call to explore, know someone who does, or are on a journey of self-discovery, this episode of the Everyday Warrior Podcast is for you. This week’s guest is Jurica Barac, the visionary adventurer whose Highlander Adventure long-distance hiking series challenges people to believe in themselves as they explore the world’s most breathtaking landscapes. “It’s an adventure—and we’re seeing a lot of repeat business because these events are something special,” says Barac.
Lace up your Salomon hiking boots and grab your rucksack because we’re breaking down three of Highlander’s 20 events—a journey that begins high atop the mountain of the gods.
Mount Olympus, Greece
There’s no better place to test yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually than Mount Olympus, the mythical home of Zeus’ palace. Highlander 55 is a three-day hike covering 34 miles of ancient terrain immortalized in Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad.
If navigating a mountain with 52 soaring peaks and several deep gorges doesn’t sound challenging enough, you’ll be happy to know that this trip is as authentic as they come. Each hiker is responsible for carrying essential gear, staking their tent, and preparing their meals.
While far from easy, this experience is safe and doesn’t require the advanced skillset of a seasoned mountaineer to complete. “We realized that being in nature for just a few days changes you,” says Barac. “That’s why we organize these events for regular people. You don’t need to be a professional or have crazy equipment to get out and enjoy nature,” he adds.
While traversing the lesser-explored areas on the way to Zeus’ throne, watch for the area’s diverse wildlife. Mount Olympus is home to 32 different mammals, 108 types of birds, and various reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
Does finding three consecutive days off sound more like mythology than reality? Barac’s team has you covered. Highlander Experience Olympus is a pared-down version of the original; it’s a two-day adventure that includes a magical evening under the stars.
Kalispell, Montana, USA
Against the backdrop of the Northern Rockies, a bald eagle swoops down to snatch a large bull trout from the waters of a calm mountain lake. Welcome to Highlander Kalispell, a 60-mile hiking expedition in the vast, undisturbed wilderness of Montana’s Flathead National Forest. Rugged mountain peaks accent 2.4 million acres of pristine lakes and lush forests inhabited by white-tailed deer, grizzly bears, Shiras moose, gray wolves, and more.
Imagine spending five beautiful fall days backpacking through Big Sky Country as changing leaves paint a picturesque landscape with subtle hues of yellow, orange, and red. There’s no need to imagine because Highlander has an adventure scheduled for Sept. 19 through Sept. 23, 2023.
The journey may be challenging, but you’ll have a chance to reset, reflect, and rejuvenate each evening. Feed your mind and soul by participating in educational lectures, yoga classes, and book presentations. Then relax under the stars as live music fills the alpine meadows.
As with Mount Olympus, Highlander Kalispell also offers a slightly pared-down version, which includes trekking 30 miles over three days. Either way, getting out of your comfort zone is all that matters. That’s where the growth happens.
While Montana is currently one of only three Highlander locations in the United States, Barac, who was born in Croatia, wants to change that. “The community in America is amazing—and they love these adventures,” he says. “We want to have five to seven events here next year.”
Valley of the Whales, Egypt
With more than 20 locations, deciding on number three was more challenging than anticipated, so we asked our coworkers for suggestions. Some recommended the Highlander event at England’s Lake District National Park. Others suggested Montenegro’s Durmitor Mountain. While both are great locations, we went with Egypt. We just couldn’t resist telling you about a 40-million-year-old ocean in the desert.
This Highlander 55 is a three-day adventure through the land of the pharaohs in a Natural World Heritage Site known as the Valley of the Whales. The 37-mile hike starts in the wetlands of the Wadi Al-Rayan Protected Area, home to 14 types of reptiles, 24 mammals, 29 fish, 38 plants, and more than 160 species of birds.
From there, it’s a trek across the arid desert to Qusoor El-Arab, rock formations rising from fields of smooth golden dunes. Then, it’s on to the Valley of the Whales, where you’ll see petrified skeletons of the creatures—yes, including whales—that once swam here.
Evenings are spent enjoying local music, practicing yoga and meditation, and participating in stargazing workshops. Of course, those who can’t get away for three days can always opt for the shorter two-day event.
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