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.

July 23, 2014 Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Photo Gallery: Sea Kayaking Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park

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By Michael Lanza

When John Muir visited Alaska’s Glacier Bay in 1879, he wrote that, at night, “the surge from discharging icebergs churned the water into silver fire.” On a five-day, guided sea-kayaking trip in the upper West Arm of Glacier Bay, probing deep within a national park the size of Connecticut, my family explored a wilderness that remains one of the few places left on Earth that resemble what the planet looked like right after the last Ice Age. We saw sea otters, seals, sea lions, mountain goats, bald eagles, puffins, and countless other birds, and a brown bear wandering the beach (as well as bear scat that convinced us to choose another campsite). We listened to the concussive explosions of enormous chunks of ice calving from giant glaciers into the sea. I consider it one of my top 10 adventures ever. Continue reading →

July 16, 2014 Jotunheimen National Park, Norway.

Photo Gallery: Trekking Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park

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By Michael Lanza

We hiked hut-to-hut for a week through a rugged, Arctic-looking landscape vibrantly colorful with shrubs, mosses, and wildflowers, where cliffs and mountains look like they were chopped from the earth with an axe. Jotunheimen National Park—the name translates as “Home of the Giants”—contains the highest European mountains north of the Alps, starkly barren peaks rising to more than 8,000 feet. Thick, crack-riddled glaciers pour off them like pancake batter that needs more water. Braided rivers meander down mostly treeless valleys, and reindeer roam wild. Continue reading →

July 10, 2014 Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.

Photo Gallery: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

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By Michael Lanza

Everyone has favorite campsites from unforgettable backcountry trips. I’ve been fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over more than two decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. I’ve boiled my list of my favorite campsites down to 25. Continue reading →

June 25, 2014 Grand Ronde River, Oregon.

One Photo, One Story: Rafting Oregon’s Grand Ronde River

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By Michael Lanza

The three kids in my raft, ages 10 to 13, have decided to pit themselves against the two in the other raft in our party in a contest to see who gets wetter in the rapids on the Grand Ronde River. They shout at me, “Hit the waves! Hit the waves!” The bracingly icy water smacks them in the bow, drawing peels of laughter, but a hot sun saves the kids from teeth-chattering hypothermia. Continue reading →

June 20, 2014 Below the Big Boulder Lakes, White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Exploring a Wilderness Hopeful: Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains

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By Michael Lanza

In the long dusk that prevails in the shadow of tall mountains, we hike steadily uphill through pine forest broken by an occasional meadow with views of distant, rocky peaks. When dark falls, we don headlamps and continue hiking into the night.

My backpacking partner, my 12-year-old son, Nate, has never hiked late at night. For him, this is a new and mildly thrilling experience—it feels a little like breaking a rule without consequences. After all, there are wild animals out here, including bears and mountain lions that wander nocturnally in search of something to eat—such as a large, slow, two-legged creature with poor night vision and a useless sense of smell. Continue reading →

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