Category Archives: Backpacking
By Michael Lanza
A few weeks ago, as I hiked with my daughter up the steep Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon, knocking off the last few miles of a three-day backpacking trip that had been wonderful on many levels, I was feeling awfully satisfied. For starters, through most of this fall, I’d had a bad itch to get out somewhere—and the Big Ditch, it turns out, is a pretty good place to scratch that itch. Plus, we’d just enjoyed three absolutely gorgeous, summer-like days of father-daughter time, and the company of two other families who joined us.
But seen from a longer view, returning to the Grand Canyon again felt like the perfect way to cap off another good year outdoors. In 2013, I got to seven national parks; five federal wilderness areas; an Idaho mountain range (the White Cloud Mountains) that might… no, should… become either federal wilderness or a national monument in the near future; and had the unforgettable pleasure of standing with my 12- and 10-year-old kids, my 15-year-old nephew, and my 76-year-old mom on the crater rim of Mount St. Helens. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Are you planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail? “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” should be on every serious backpacker’s tick list. After thru-hiking it in a week (read my story about that and see more photos and a video from the JMT), I became convinced that—while a week was very hard—the traditional itinerary of spreading the roughly 221-mile trip out over three weeks or more has a serious flaw: Because of limited food-resupply options, you’ll carry a monster pack that may not only make you sore and uncomfortable, it could cause injuries or other problems that cut short your trip.
Over the years, I’ve evolved from being one of those traditional, heavy-pack backpackers to traveling as light as absolutely possible, and the John Muir Trail is perfect for an ultralight strategy because of its generally dry, late-summer weather, well-constructed footpath, and moderate grades. Continue reading →
Say you have one last trip to Zion: a 3- to 4-night backpacking trip with a group of men in average condition anywhere in the park.
What trails do you have to see one more time? (Insert any insider details here.)
What month do you go?
You’ve sparked something in myself and a friend to see that place in 2014. I know permits are crucial, we’re already planning. I’ve read your articles that mostly include all members of the family (which I respect). Does the itinerary change when it’s just guys?
Thanks so much,
Longview, Texas Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Some people might say my wife and I are bad parents. We’ve repeatedly and deliberately placed our kids—at young ages—in risky situations. And I’m not talking about letting them ride their bikes without wearing helmets (which, admittedly, would be insane) or frequently taking them to McDonald’s (and what kind of parent would do that?!).
I’m talking about setting out with seven- and four-year-old kids to cross-country ski through a snowstorm for hours to a backcountry yurt. Tying a six-year-old into a rope and letting him or her rock climb a cliff. Rappelling into slot canyons. Backpacking into the remotest and most rugged wildernesses in the contiguous United States, from the Grand Canyon to the Tetons to Glacier National Park. Continue reading →
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 →