Tag Archives: Boise National Forest

March 12, 2014 Backcountry skiing Winter Corner near Idaho's Mores Creek Summit.

An Ode to Favorite Spots Most People Don’t Know

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By Michael Lanza

Fresh snow from the storm of the past couple of days blankets the ground, padding by inches a white comforter several feet thick. Ponderosa pine boughs sag under the weight of a substance equivalent to an awful lot of very tiny feathers. But that storm has passed like a dream you can’t quite recall. Now, the sun throws operating-room brilliance on every nook and cranny of a mountain I’ve come to know well enough to have a detailed map of its terrain in my head.

It’s the kind of winter day you want to put in a leftovers box, to save some of it for later.

Unfortunately, no one has yet invented a box like that. So two friends and I will cut laborious zigzags uphill and float downhill on our skis until our time limitations—and our legs—inform us it’s time to head home. And in the long stretches of silence, when we’re strung out in a line climbing uphill, or taking turns riding gravity like it was a galloping horse, I’ll find myself contemplating the curious intersection of chance, passion, and geography where we find ourselves falling in love with an obscure spot on the map. Continue reading →

February 27, 2014 Cross-country skiing the Beaver Trail, Boise National Forest, Idaho.

5 Kids, 4 Days, No Wifi… Only Trees and Snow

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By Michael Lanza

We pause at the top of a steep hill on the Elkhorn Loop Trail in Idaho’s Boise National Forest and contemplate where to go from here. My 17-year-old niece, Anna Garofalo, and I have cross-country skied for two hours to reach this quiet spot in the ponderosa pine forest, miles from the nearest road—and more than 2,000 miles and an experiential chasm from the only place she has ever known as home.

I lay out the choices to Anna: turn around and ski two more hours back to the Skyline yurt, where we’re spending three nights with my wife and kids and another family; or explore a trail I’ve never actually skied in the many trips I’ve made to this system of ski trails and yurts north of Idaho City. I’ve never skied it because, unlike most of the trails out here, it’s not groomed, and it lies out on the farthest perimeter of the trail system. Going that way would take us at least three more hours to reach the yurt. But I’ve long wanted to ski it, if for no other reason than its name: the Wayout Trail.

“Let’s do it,” Anna tells me. “After all, when am I going to be back here again?” God, I love that attitude. But I suppose that’s how you would look at something you’ve been literally waiting almost your entire life to do. Continue reading →

December 16, 2013 Gran4-67 Tonto East Trail, Grand Canyon

My Top 10 Family Adventures

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

How many outdoor trips do you have on the calendar for 2014 already? I have three, with five more in active planning stages. For me, this is the time of year for pulling out maps and guidebooks and poring over my list of adventures I want to take. My document slugged “Trip Ideas” is now 13,423 words long—and growing. I need to get busy.

If you’re looking for some ideas and inspiration for 2014, here are my 10 favorite family adventures at The Big Outside (another list that will keep growing and evolving), as well as a bonus 11th trip that made this list last year but saw its spot usurped this year. Continue reading →

December 5, 2013 Sunset above Buck Creek Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Photo Essay: A Year of Outdoor Adventures

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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 →

November 6, 2013 Jacob Hamblin Arch, Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

10 Tips For Keeping Kids Happy and Safe Outdoors

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

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 →

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