Category Archives: Ask Me

I answer reader questions about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside. Send me your questions to mlanza@thebigoutside.com. I receive many; it can take a few weeks to respond.

June 16, 2015 Trail 785 to Image Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Ask Me: Can You Suggest a Backpacking Gear Checklist?

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Hi Michael,

Can you provide a good, basic gear list for three-season backpacking? Thanks.

Jody
Cibolo, TX Continue reading →

June 14, 2015 Below the Big Boulder Lakes, White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Ask Me: What Backpacking Trip Do You Recommend in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains?

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[Note: This is a combined response to two similar questions from readers.]

Michael,

Your spectacular photos of Castle Peak and the White Cloud Mountains have inspired us to take a backpacking trip there this August or September. Do you have any suggestions for a loop hike? We have backpacked out West—Maroon Bells, Teton Crest Trail, all over the canyons of Utah. We can easily do 8 to 10 miles a day, as we like to go slow and admire the beautiful Western scenery, and probably 5 to 6 days on trail. Thank you for any advice, I love looking at your pictures. Your Mount St. Helens pictures brought back many wonderful memories of our Pacific Northwest trip.

Helen
West Chester, PA Continue reading →

June 11, 2015 Highline Trail, Glacier National Park.

Ask Me: How Hard Are the Trails in Glacier National Park?

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Dear Michael,

I am heading to Glacier National Park for the first time this August, planning dayhikes based out of the Many Glacier campsite. I’m confident in my abilities to easily handle all of these hikes but one: Logan Pass to Many Glacier in a day. There are two reasons for my doubt. The first is that I am from Columbus, Ohio. We are at an average elevation of about 270 meters. Obviously, the thinner air at elevation in Glacier is going to take its toll; that will be the highest I have ever been. The second reason is that I’ve only done one comparable hike (I think it compares), which was to the summit of Mount LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. That was about 11 miles round trip, and about 2,800 feet gained on the way up. It was a challenge, sure, but less than I expected and I actually had quite a lot in reserve by the time we returned to the trailhead. Continue reading →

June 4, 2015 Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.

Ask Me: Which National Parks Should My Family Visit on a Cross-Country Trip?

In Ask Me, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

Hi Mike,

We are planning a trip across the country in July to Seattle/Tacoma. We have six kids (ages one to 12). We’re planning to drive all the way across and back in about a month. There are lots of places we’d like to experience, but we don’t want to just spend 30 nights in 30 different places, so we are planning spend two to three nights in the most interesting places and four nights in and around Yellowstone. We aren’t campers, don’t boat/canoe, and while we enjoy hikes with the kids, anything more than a few miles (or less if there is significant elevation change) is challenging. Given your experience and all of our constraints, I was curious which parks/areas you might recommend we visit (vs. better to visit later when the kids are older and some of those constraints are removed). Continue reading →

May 28, 2015 John Muir Trail, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California.

Ask Me: How Early in the Season Can I Hike the John Muir Trail?

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Hi Michael,

I hope you’re doing great. I had a quick question for you regarding the JMT. I’ve read in Backpacker Magazine that you recommend late August/early September as the best time of the year to hike the trail. What’s the earliest in the season one could do the trail? Continue reading →

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