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Epic Trails

Epic Trails – Trip Report: Mexico City

The third film shoot for the upcoming season of Epic Trails took place a couple weeks ago. The team headed over to beautiful Mexico City, where they took in turquoise waters and epic mountain hikes.

Below is an excerpt from Eric’s blog post about his experience:

Are you familiar with Mexico’s hidden gems?

I recently flew to Mexico City to film an episode of Epic Trails. My girlfriend Kristi joined me and we met up with an old friend of hers, photographer Rob Woodcox. Rob has been living in Mexico City for more than four years, and he has become quite enamored with the country. When Kristi and I proposed that he join us on this adventure, he immediately listed off a dozen options for us to explore.

Needless to say, Mexico is a vibrant and beautiful country that is diverse and nuanced. And there is much more than deserts and Dos Equis.

Mexico City is a bustling modern city with verdant green spaces, museums, world-class restaurants, and all the things that make city living attractive. But our adventures were elsewhere.

Five of us, Kristi, Rob, Max (the Director of Photography of Epic Trails), and another friend Michelle, all piled into a car loaded with equipment for filming for a week. It was a bit of a clown-show in there, all of us squeezed in with gear packed to the brim. But it worked!

Within a few hours of Mexico City is a sight that I never thought I’d see in the middle of an arid landscape. Grutas Tolontango is an oasis of hot springs that pour forth from canyon walls for as far as the eye can see.

Grutas Tolongtango is an unheralded gem that is mostly filled with local vacationers enjoying their own country. But even though we were visiting on a holiday and there were many people here, the hot springs are so extensive we were able to find grottos all to ourselves.

After a long drive from Grutas Tolontongo, we arrived at Tamul, a wonderful river known for its green blue waters and a stunning waterfall. During the summer monsoon season, the waterfall is so thunderous that it cannot be seen without a long hike in. The flooding canyon is simply too dangerous. However, during the dry springtime, visitors can paddle long wooden boats upstream and see the waterfall firsthand.

While the waterfall is certainly the main attraction, it wasn’t, in my eyes, the most interesting thing we would find this day. That distinction lies with my dream of swimming in a cenote. Cenotes are caverns or sinkholes where water has eroded or eaten away at the limestone. They are prevalent across Mexico, but I wasn’t expecting to get to swim in one on this trip.

So when the guides stopped the boat and let us go for a wander, I was thrilled with what we found. – Eric Hanson

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE!

About Epic Trails: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Learn more about the series at www.heliconia.ca. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at brendan@helipress.com.

Trip Report – Packrafting Lake Powell, Utah

Filming for episode 2 of Epic Trails, Season 5 is underway, and recently host Eric Hanson and crew returned from a packrafting trip in Lake Powell, Utah.

Below is an excerpt from Eric’s blog post about his experience:

The Grand Staircase Escalante region is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. It’s so rugged and remote that was the last area in the lower 48 to be mapped. It also happens to be a stone’s throw from my home.

Lake Powell, a man-made lake, is a strange place. It is undeniably beautiful and is amazing for recreation. But it also submerged one of the nation’s most beautiful canyon networks, not to mention a vast amount of cultural history (cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, kivas, and more). Many people in the Southwest have a strained relationship with the place.

Newsworthy for more than just conservationists, Lake Powell is now at its lowest point since the dam that flooded the cherished Glen Canyon was constructed in the 60’s. Severe drought, along with some poor planning in the first place, has left Lake Powell’s future in limbo, as water seeps into the sandstone bed, and its massive surface area combined with the hot environment make it a poor water retention area.

With lake levels dropping massively over the last year, it has meant there is a new opportunity for exploring the canyons as they emerge out of the muddy bottom of the lake. In January, I organized an expedition with three of my friends to explore two canyons that lead in and out of Lake Powell. What we experienced was truly incredible! I was so enthralled, I decided to return a month later with Epic Trails in order to film an episode.

Joined by my friend Jesse Weber and Max Stussi, the Director of Photography for this episode of Epic Trails, we set off for the Escalante area of Utah to film these canyons that, up until a year ago, were under water.

We planned our trip with packrafts in mind, in order to fully explore these canyons. Packrafts are small boats that pack down into a backpack and weigh just a few pounds. They’re incredible tools for adventurers to explore some of the most challenging and inaccessible areas.

The three of us loaded up with four days’ worth of gear, food, and packrafting kit. It doesn’t make for a small pack, and our entry point was a notoriously narrow canyon. These two factors do not play well together.

On day one, we slogged and scraped and crawled our way through a long slot canyon. It was painfully slow, and a delightful adventure. At many points the canyon was far too narrow to walk through with our packs on our backs. Sometimes we’d hoist them over our heads, or carry them sideways. Once, we even had to break down our packs entirely to get them to fit through the narrowest of spaces.

It was slow and arduous work. But we were happy. It was a proper adventure.

After a full day in the canyon, we had managed to hike only two miles! As night was descending, we finally emerged from the narrowness of the canyon and into the wider box canyon that allowed us to hike, more naturally, through the deep sand.

Quickly into day two, we learned the canyon would throw another challenge our way; a network of overgrown tamarisk and willow that were nearly impossible to hike through. The canyon was choked out and, yet again, we made impossibly slow progress. We hiked all day, encountering massive canyon walls with the biggest alcoves I’ve ever seen. At no point did the canyon allow for easy passage.

That night we camped under the roof of one of these alcoves, where a bend in the canyon gave us a stunning view. – Eric Hanson

Click here to read the full article!

About Epic Trails: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Learn more about the series at www.heliconia.ca. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at brendan@helipress.com.

BackpackingTV’s 2022 Buyer’s Guide – Open for Submissions

Epic Short Film Giveaway - Nominate Region

Submissions for the inaugural BackpackingTV Buyer’s Guide are now being accepted. The Buyer’s Guide series will be released through the BackpackingTV YouTube Channel as well as shared through Facebook and Instagram. With 68,000 subscribers and 5.6 million views, BackpackingTV is one of the most popular hiking and backpacking focused YouTube channels in the industry.

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Heliconia Seeks Tourism Destination for its Epic Trials Short Film Giveaway

Eric Hanson - About Epic Trails

Behind every great trail is a great story. A story about the people who built it…about its inhabitants and its habitat…about the cultures it has shaped and the lives it has changed. 

Heliconia, the award-winning production company behind the popular television series Epic Trails, Facing Waves and Adventure Cities, is excited to launch their first ever Epic Trails Short Film Giveaway.

Heliconia is looking to tell the story of the world’s most remarkable trails. The adventure travel production company invites Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOS), Tourism Boards, and Agencies, to share what makes the story of their trails, whether they are renown or yet unknown, so special. The winning region will receive the full creation of a short film by Heliconia, including story writing, film production, editing, exposure through film festival entries and a digital campaign in support of the film’s launch. The contest is open to trail destinations world-wide.

“We are storytellers here at Heliconia, and as such we are constantly on the search for tales that encourage people to get outside, enjoy the outdoors, and embrace adventure,” explains Tourism Partnership Manager, Stefanie Manton-Ward. “With COVID-19 and the global restrictions that were placed on travel, our story-telling capabilities were hindered. Now that things are beginning to open up again, we are excited for the opportunity to create a film festival worthy show-piece and support tourism destinations who have been so hard hit by the pandemic.”

Destinations interesting in submitting their trails for consideration to the short film giveaway may enter the contest online at www.heliconia.ca/epicshortfilm, or by calling 1.613.582.7154 from 9 am to 5 pm EST. Heliconia will be considering locations throughout the next couple of months, and will work with the winning destination to come up with a filming date that works best for both parties, with the aim to have filming wrapped up by summer 2022.

ABOUT HELICONIA: Heliconia is an award-winning video production and marketing company that helps destinations and brands reach the US adventure travel audience. The company produces eight unique media projects, providing authentic storytelling opportunities for every adventure and every destination. These series include: Epic Trails, Epic Trails: Mountain BikingFacing WavesAdventure CitiesGreat Family AdventureBA FishingChad Hoover Fishing and Road Trip Angler. Heliconia has a proven formula that marries inspiring video production with guaranteed television and digital distribution, ensuring that your message is heard by the adventure travel community in a unique and impactful way. For more information, visit www.heliconia.ca.

ABOUT EPIC TRAILS: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series, and one of the popular platforms that Heliconia uses to share the stories that move and inspire us. More than just a television series, Epic Trails is a multi-faceted TV, digital, and social media project designed to showcase partner destinations to a dedicated and engaged audience of outdoor adventure lovers. Throughout the series, host Eric Hanson explores the people, places and adventures surrounding the world’s top trails. The TV show, and accompanying digital and social media, resonate with those who seek adventure and share a passion for the outdoors, while fostering an interest in local culture and authentic experiences. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV and Bally Sports Network, and has aired internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Tourism destinations interested in partnering with Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Tourism Partnership Manager, Stefanie Manton-Ward, at stefanie@helipress.com.

Epic Trails, Season 4 – Episode 5: Backpacking Urban California

The fifth episode of Epic Trails, Season 4 is set to hit airwaves August 12th on Bally Sports Network. The episode is slated to air 91 times throughout the month of August!

Backpacking Urban California is the final episode of the season and it sees host, Eric Hanson, leaving the backcountry to discover urban hiking adventures in the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

We slowly plodded our way up the mountain, navigating the treacherous Devil’s Backbone where the mountain falls steeply on both sides of the trail. As the day wore on, Casey and I eventually made it to the top to celebrate. I couldn’t believe I was standing over 10,000 feet with L.A. east of me and the Mojave Desert to the west. To the north, the San Gabriels continued on, quietly assuring me that L.A. has more adventure in store than I could have guessed.” – Eric Hanson, The Adventurous Side of San Francisco and L.A. You Never Knew About

Be sure to check your local listings for a full airing schedule.


About Epic TrailsEpic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks that make up Bally Sports Network, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at brendan@helipress.com.

Epic Trails – Trip Report: South Dakota

Filming for Season 5 of Epic Trails is underway, and recently host Eric Hanson and crew wrapped up a shoot in beautiful South Dakota. This shoot took Eric through Badlands National Park and the Black Hills, along with special guest and fellow backpacker, Dan Becker.

Below is an excerpt from Eric’s blog post about his experience:

South Dakota might just be one of the most surprising states in the country. Bring up South Dakota and you might think of rolling grasslands and farmland as far as the eye can see, but that does the state little justice. It’s probably not regarded as one of the top adventure destinations. But it should be!


I traveled to South Dakota to film an episode of Epic Trails with a tiny bit of skepticism in my heart. But that just shows how little I know about this gem.

First, I traveled into Badlands National Park, which is popular and frequently trafficked with its ease of access from the freeway, and of course, made better with a stop in the quirky little town of Wall. After eating Buffalo Burgers and getting scared by the animatronic T-Rex, I wandered into the Badlands to hike the Notch Trail. The Badlands is a unique national park, not known as much for hiking as it is a drive through time and odd geology. But there is hiking! There are certified, actual trails with a maze of strange features that hikers are welcome to clamber atop as they please.

But the Badlands wasn’t my main reason for visiting; I came to explore The Black Hills, an incredible pocket of granite spires and pine trees, rich with surprising beauty. There is so much to explore and do here, and I was attempting to do as much as possible.” – Eric Hanson

Click here to read the full article!

About Epic Trails: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Learn more about the series at www.heliconia.ca. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at brendan@helipress.com.

Epic Trails – Trip Report: California

The final episode of the 4th season of Epic Trails wrapped up filming earlier this month. This shoot took host Eric Hanson on a sunny Californian adventure through both the wild and urban spaces of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Below is an excerpt from Eric’s blog post about his experience:

“With a unique angle on my normal adventures, I set off for California to explore the wild and adventurous side of their big cities. I’m not normally a city guy, so this would be a bit of a stretch for me. But I’m passionate about getting people outside and exploring their backyards, and as so many people live in the city and can’t feasibly travel long distances to wild places, I welcomed the chance to get a little more creative and see what could be explored and enjoyed close to some major urban areas.

First stop, San Francisco. One of the gems of American cities, San Francisco has plenty of charm. It’s a diverse city with a cultivated food scene, plenty of nightlife, and it’s all impeccably set upon a beautiful headland jutting out into the Pacific Ocean.

Within the hubbub of San Francisco is the Presidio – a tiny National Park site compared to its brothers and sisters around the country. But for the city, it plays a central role. The Presidio makes up about 5% of the city and is actually bigger than Central Park in New York. The Presidio is unlike most National Parks in a couple ways: First, it is managed by both the National Park Service and the Presidio Trust, with funding by a dedicated team at the non-profit organization, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Secondly, it’s within a major city, but it is still home to stunning nature and wildlife and is a sanctuary for all who visit.

The park was once a military complex guarding the Golden Gate (the name of the landscape feature, the infamous bridge came later), the entrance to the Bay. But as the military evolved, they no longer needed this strategic piece of land. It was turned over and became the Presidio, a park for San Francisco.

Old airstrips were torn up and returned to their original ways. Barracks were turned into hotels and restaurants. Battlements became overlooks to enjoy the scenery. And of course, for my interest, trails were built throughout the park.” Eric Hanson

Click here to read the full article!

About Epic Trails: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Learn more about the series at www.heliconia.ca. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at brendan@helipress.com.

Epic Trails, Season 4 – Episode 4: Backpacking Uganda, Part 2

The fourth episode of Epic Trails, Season 4 is set to hit airwaves June 24th on Outside TV and Bally Sports Network. The episode is slated to air 84 times to date.

Backpacking Uganda, Part 2 is the conclusion of Eric’s trip to The Pearl of Africa. In this episode, Eric Hanson goes on safari and explores the iconic Murchison Falls National Park.

“To stand at the edge of Murchison Falls is to stand atop pure chaos, unfathomable energy, and bowel-loosening power. The ground was literally shaking beneath my feet.” – Eric Hanson, Uganda: Exploring the Pearl of Africa

Be sure to check your local listings for a full airing schedule.

About Epic Trails: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks that make up Bally Sports Network, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at brendan@helipress.com.

Epic Trails, Season 4 – Episode 3: Backpacking Uganda, Part 1

The third episode of Epic Trails, Season 4 is set to hit airwaves June 17th on Outside TV and Bally Sports Network. The episode is slated to air 71 times to date.

Backpacking Uganda, Part 1 is the first of two episodes filmed in The Pearl of Africa. In this episode, Eric Hanson treks through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the fabled mountain gorillas.

“Uganda is one of only three countries in the world where mountain gorillas remain in the wild. And while Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are doing their part to care for these endangered species, Uganda boasts being home to approximately half the remaining gorillas in the wild, as well as the most mountainous and wild terrain in which to experience them”. – Eric Hanson, Uganda: Exploring the Pearl of Africa

Be sure to check your local listings for a full airing schedule.


About Epic Trails:
 Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks that make up Bally Sports, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at brendan@helipress.com.