Category Archives: Backpacking

Stories and images from the best backpacking trips in America and around the world, with trip-planning advice based on my personal, on-the-ground knowledge from having done the trip.

August 3, 2015 Gnarl Ridge, Timberline Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon.

Full of Surprises: Backpacking Mount Hood’s Timberline Trail

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By Michael Lanza

Minutes after we walk past the sign warning that this section of the Timberline Trail is closed due to “a deep chasm,” with 100-foot drop-offs, created by flooding from a storm—rendering the creek crossing ahead of us “very unstable and unsafe”—Jeff and I reach the top of the ridge high above the east bank of Eliot Creek. If you’ve ever wondered about the destructive power of water, take a look at Eliot Creek. A few steps ahead of us, the trail disappears as if bitten off by a set of jaws about 300 feet wide. The slope below is a torn-up debris field of rocks and crumbling earth. At its bottom, Eliot Creek, the foaming, white-and-gray spawn of Mount Hood’s Eliot Glacier, spits and rages loudly as it courses downhill, like an angry young man spoiling for a fight. Continue reading →

August 2, 2015 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

12 Simple Tips For Taking Better Outdoor Photos

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By Michael Lanza

Do you wonder how some people come back from national parks and other outdoor trips with fantastic photos? Would you like to take the kind of pictures that make people ooh and aah? It may not be as complicated as you think. Continue reading →

July 30, 2015 Alex hiking Monitor Ridge, Mt. St. Helens

5 Tricks For Getting Tired Kids Through a Hike

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By Michael Lanza

After hiking 1,000 vertical feet uphill on the dusty Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in Yosemite Valley, baking under a thermonuclear Sierra sun, we sat on rocks for a snack and a much-needed break. My seven-year-old daughter, unprompted, blurted out, “I’m tired and hungry!” My nine-year-old son was still fuming over having been woken up earlier than he prefers (which is 11 a.m.) for this hike—although we were broiling in the sun precisely because we didn’t start even earlier, when it was cooler. He groused, “If you’re going to wake me up that early, it’s your fault if I complain.”

It was looking like my plan to hike my kids and my 12-year-old nephew 3,000 feet and nearly four miles uphill to the brink of Upper Yosemite Falls—and then, of course, back down—was on the express bus to the graveyard for dumb ideas from overzealous hiker-dads.

 

Continue reading →

July 27, 2015 Image Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the Glacier Peak Wilderness

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By Michael Lanza

Some places just find their way into your heart and stick there. I fell in love with the entire North Cascades region of Washington on my first trip to the Glacier Peak Wilderness some 20 years ago. I’ve returned several times since to backpack and climb, but the Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop had long been on my to-do list. When I finally got to this five-day, 44-mile hike, it didn’t disappoint, as you’ll see in this photo gallery. Continue reading →

July 26, 2015 Dawn above Lyell Fork Canyon of Merced River, Yosemite National Park.

One Photo, One Story: Going Deep Into Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

One the final morning of a three-day, 65-mile hike deep into the southeast corner of Yosemite National Park, three friends and I started hiking shortly after first light, to take advantage of cool morning temperatures and enjoy some morning light on the mountains. Climbing through switchbacks hundreds of feet up a steep granite wall of the canyon carved by the Lyell Fork of the Merced River, we reached this high overlook just as the rising sun set fire to distant, jagged peaks around Red Peak Pass, which we had crossed the day before. Continue reading →

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