Category Archives: Skills

My professional tips on hiking, backpacking, gear, and outdoors skills, and taking children on wilderness adventures.

August 2, 2015 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

12 Simple Tips For Taking Better Outdoor Photos

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Do you wonder how some people come back from national parks and other outdoor trips with fantastic photos? Would you like to take the kind of pictures that make people ooh and aah? It may not be as complicated as you think. Continue reading →

July 30, 2015 Alex hiking Monitor Ridge, Mt. St. Helens

5 Tricks For Getting Tired Kids Through a Hike

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

After hiking 1,000 vertical feet uphill on the dusty Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in Yosemite Valley, baking under a thermonuclear Sierra sun, we sat on rocks for a snack and a much-needed break. My seven-year-old daughter, unprompted, blurted out, “I’m tired and hungry!” My nine-year-old son was still fuming over having been woken up earlier than he prefers (which is 11 a.m.) for this hike—although we were broiling in the sun precisely because we didn’t start even earlier, when it was cooler. He groused, “If you’re going to wake me up that early, it’s your fault if I complain.”

It was looking like my plan to hike my kids and my 12-year-old nephew 3,000 feet and nearly four miles uphill to the brink of Upper Yosemite Falls—and then, of course, back down—was on the express bus to the graveyard for dumb ideas from overzealous hiker-dads.

 

Continue reading →

July 19, 2015 Wanda Lake, in the Evolution Basin on the John Muir Trail.

Planning to Thru-Hike the John Muir Trail? Do It Right on This 10-Day, Ultralight Plan

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

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 →

July 16, 2015 Chimney Rock Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

Ask Me: How Do You Plan Food for Backpacking?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

Hey Michael,

I was wondering if you have any hints or tips for planning out your food for bigger backcountry trips. Food planning is always something I have neglected and I think I could save myself some pack weight and have better meals with a little extra planning and direction (in true Bill Bryson style, I usually stick to noodles when in the bush).

Thanks as always, Michael. I hope you are your family are finding some fun adventures!

Best,
Grant
St. Louis, MO Continue reading →

July 14, 2015 Campsite on Death Canyon Shelf, Grand Teton National Park.

Ask Me: How Do We Make a Big Backpacking Trip (on the Teton Crest Trail) As Enjoyable As Possible?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

Michael,

We are hiking the Teton Crest Trail for the first time this summer, in late July. You made mention in your story about the TCT that the first day was a hard one and that the toughest part of the trip was the Paintbrush Divide. What made the first day the hardest and why is Paintbrush the toughest? We are trying to make sure we plan this trip “correctly.” Three years ago, we flew to Colorado and hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park and had a terrible experience. My two sons and I thought we knew what we were doing. Going from hiking in the Great Smokies to hiking in the Rockies is like day and night. We flew in one afternoon and started hiking the very next morning with full, heavy packs. The weather was hot and we had no time to acclimate. Our hike began at about 5,500 feet and was uphill most of the way, and we camped at 10,200 feet. The night was miserable—we could not sleep at all. We learned valuable lessons that trip. I am 60 and my sons are both around 30, and it was the worse trip because of our lack of knowledge and preparation. Continue reading →

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