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.

November 20, 2014 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

Photo Gallery: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

Are you planning to hike the John Muir Trail, aka “America’s Most Beautiful Trail?” There may be no more gorgeous long backpacking trip, step for step, than a thru-hike of the JMT through California’s High Sierra, from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. See why in this photo gallery, then read my story about it and see a video. Then start planning your hike. Continue reading →

November 12, 2014 South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Ask Me: How’s November For Hiking the Grand Canyon?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Hi Michael:

During the second week of November, a buddy and I are considering a rim or river to rim hike in the Grand Canyon. We are planning to descend South Kaibab Trail, walk along River Trail, and ascend via Bright Angel Trail. Plan would be to start early and complete the hike in the same day. We will carry survival gear. Neither of us has been to the GC. One of us is very experienced (and in excellent physical condition), and one of us has moderate experience (in very good physical condition).

We would appreciate your comments on hiking in November—weather, trail conditions, and anything else that may assist us. We both prefer not to hike in the wet, and neither of us wants anything to do with snow! Also, if November is the wrong month to do this, we would delay until next year. Continue reading →

November 11, 2014 Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

Trekking Patagonia’s Famous Torres del Paine and Little-Known Dientes Circuit

In Backpacking, Hut Treks, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Trekking in Patagonia is on every serious hiker’s wish list. Tag two classic treks in one two-week visit: See the world-famous granite spires of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park (photo above), then hop a short flight down to the tip of South America for one of the most remote, rarely hiked, and challenging treks in the world, the Dientes Circuit (below). The season for these Southern Hemisphere adventures is around the corner. Continue reading →

November 6, 2014 Trekkers above Olavsbu Hut in Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.

Ask Me: Which Big Backpack Do You Recommend?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

Michael,

I purchased a Mountainsmith Apex 80 before I knew anything about buying packs. I love the pack, but I recently ended up carrying 45 lbs. for the first time, and the pack refused to stay on my hips. I took it into my local REI and it turns out the pack is too large for me. My torso is 17 inches and the pack starts at 18 inches. I have read through every backpack review on your site (they were very informative) and have narrowed down my replacements, and would like your advice. The three on my list are: Gregory Baltoro 75, Osprey Aether 70/85 (the Xenith only fits torsos starting at 18), and the Deuter Act 75+10. I need the larger pack as the scout troop my son is with does multi-day trips, and we end up carrying all the stuff the boy’s parents over-packed (plus I’m not experienced enough yet to be able to pack myself perfectly). Continue reading →

November 5, 2014 Horseshoe Mesa, Grand Canyon National Park.

A Matter of Perspective: A Father-Daughter Hike in the Grand Canyon

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The New Hance Trail starts out hard, and then gets really tough. The rugged footpath drops off the South Rim into the Grand Canyon like a ball rolling off a table—4,422 vertical feet in 6.5 miles from the rim to the Colorado River. Most of that relief comes in the first five miles, as the trail wiggles through more switchbacks than a squirrel racks up in a year of crossing streets. Geology magnifies the unmaintained path’s grueling character: It drops over hundreds of knee-jarring, quad-jellying ledges two to three feet high, which can seem endless to someone carrying a backpack.

I imagine it seems especially endless to someone who stands barely more than four-and-a-half feet tall. Continue reading →

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