Category Archives: Family Adventures

Stories, photos, and videos from our family’s many wilderness adventures hiking, backpacking, skiing, kayaking, rafting, and climbing, including in many U.S. national parks.

August 27, 2014 High Sierra Trail above Middle Fork Kaweah River, Sequoia N.P.

Heavy Lifting: Backpacking Sequoia National Park

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By Michael Lanza

I stare at the backpack on the ground in front of me. At 85 liters, with every milliliter of it stuffed with about 60 pounds of gear and food, it looks like something that should be lowered by a crane into a container ship rather than attached to a person’s back. If it had legs, teeth, and an appetite for meat, I wouldn’t stand a chance. Continue reading →

August 25, 2014 Hannegan Pass Trail, North Cascades National Park.

Ask Me: Where Should We Backpack With Kids in North Cascades National Park?

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Michael,

I just stumbled upon The Big Outside! Wow! Amazing! Thank you for it! I LOVE it!

We have two girls, ages 11 and 9. Our first “major” backpacking trip last year was to Olympic National Park. Covered 30 miles in 8 days. Obstruction Point to Moose Lake, Third Beach to Toleak, and Graves Creek to O’Neil. What a trip! Each girl carried about 10 pounds and my husband and I each about 40 pounds. This trip took three to four months of planning. We fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.

Unfortunately, I dropped the ball this year in planning another fantastic westward-bound trip. I am scrambling to put something together. I am looking at North Cascades, primarily because they do not accept online reservations—first come, first served. Continue reading →

August 13, 2014 Crater rim, Mount St. Helens, Washington.

One Photo, One Story: Three Generations on Mount St. Helens

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By Michael Lanza

The afternoon sun smiles warmly on us as my two kids and my nephew, age 10 to 15, my 76-year-old mom, and I—three generations spanning almost seven decades—plod up the final, strenuous steps to the crater rim of Mount St. Helens. The view could steal the breath away from God.

Before us, crumbling cliffs send small landslides cracking and rumbling down into the vast hole—2,000 feet deep and nearly two miles across—created by the eruption that decapitated St. Helens almost a generation before any of these kids were born. Seventy-five-mile views on this idyllic, Pacific Northwest summer day reveal behemoth, ice-capped volcanoes dominating three horizons: Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. We hug and high-five and click off pictures, grinning with awe and no small amount of disbelief that we all actually made it up here.

That was the heart-warming mental picture that I had formed just days ago, when I scored hard-to-get permits for this climb—one of America’s most awe-inspiring dayhikes. Unfortunately, right now, sitting on rocks more than five hours into our ascent of St. Helens, events are not transpiring quite as smoothly as I had envisioned. Not at all. Continue reading →

August 5, 2014 Redfish Valley, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Ask Me: Tips on Sleeping Bags For Backpacking With a 4-Year-Old… and For Her Parents

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures   |   1 Comment

Dear Michael,

I’m hoping you can help me out with a backpacking question I have. I’m looking for a sleeping bag for my daughter for summer backpacking trips in the Northwest. She will be four this summer. We’ve backpacked with her before, but this is the first year she’ll be too big to sleep in our bags. Backpacking with a kid means so much stuff, plus for at least part of the time, I’ll be carrying her, meaning my husband is stuck with a lot of gear. The biggest problem is the sleeping bag. All of the bags I can find out there are big enough for much older kids. I really only need a small bag that will last her a couple years and keep her warm. Any ideas on something that could work for her? Continue reading →

July 31, 2014

Wild Heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness: Backpacking the Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop

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By Michael Lanza

I step one foot from the dry rock onto the snow and find it frozen solid on this chilly early morning in late July. Ahead of me, a line of boot tracks, undoubtedly created yesterday afternoon, after sunshine and warm temperatures had softened the snow, leads up to Spider Gap. Below me, this broad, hooked finger of white ice undulates downhill like a frozen water slide—one that runs for hundreds of feet between high walls of stone and ends not in a big, deep pool, but on rocks.

This isn’t a water slide with any commercial potential. Continue reading →

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