Category Archives: Hut Treks
At a pass just below 9,400 feet on the north side of 10,229-foot Mt. Heyburn, in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the wind that has been steadily turning the dial upward for the past hour reaches full volume. Another snow squall bursts upon us, spraying white bullets sideways and dropping a veil over the rocky, snow-spattered, serrated ridge just overhead.
Six of us have labored 2,000 feet uphill on skis this morning in search of a doorway into a secluded mountain paradise of sorts, a high basin known in some circles as the Monolith Valley, though not marked as such on any map. A slender gash between Heyburn and another 10,000-footer, Braxon Peak (which I’ve stood atop in summer), the Monolith exists in the topographical shadows, easily overlooked. Most of our group have only seen tantalizing photos that revealed legions of rock spires towering above untracked snow. The images inspired visions of marking up deep powder on slopes rarely inscribed by skiers—like Zorro, but leaving many “S” signatures instead of a “Z.” Continue reading →
I often get asked, “What’s your favorite trip?” And I can’t answer that one. To pick just one from all the amazing adventures I’ve had the good fortune to take feels impossible to me. But I tried really hard and pared the list down to 10 all-time favorites (so far).
So as you’re thinking about what great adventures to take in 2013, consider the following admittedly subjective personal picks, chosen from scores of backpacking, dayhiking, paddling, trekking, and other trips I’ve taken, domestically and internationally, over the past couple of decades as an outdoor writer. Continue reading →
Within minutes after launching our canoe into the chocolate-brown and, at the moment, tranquil Whanganui River, in the southwestern corner of New Zealand’s North Island, I begin to get a sense of why the native Maori people believed that every bend in this striking waterway had a mauri, or “life force.” We’ve entered a nearly unbroken gorge of sheer sandstone and mudstone cliffs soaring up to 200 feet straight out of the water, draped with jungle-like foliage in infinite hues of green. Cicadas buzz and rattle almost deafeningly. Ribbon waterfalls pour in straight, pencil-thin lines down walls so oversaturated that they weep tears from every fern and leaf.
The Maori are right: this place is very much alive. Continue reading →
We march upward through innumerable switchbacks on the steep and dusty last mile of trail to the Torres del Paine. Small stands of Patagonia’s ubiquitous, twisted lenga trees cling to an otherwise barren mountainside of dirt and rock, earth overturned by glaciers and continually rubbed raw by the abrasive wind. Continue reading →
We have just begun our all-day hike over some of the volcanoes of New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park when a trailside sign conveniently itemizes the life-threatening hazards awaiting us.
For starters, an eruption could eject large rocks into the air to rain onto us from the sky or release lava flows. Pyroclastic flows, which are clouds of ash, rock, and gas that can cook flesh, could come upon us at 60 mph. Continue reading →