Tag Archives: California

April 10, 2014

One Photo, One Story: Trail Running (or Hiking) Across California’s Marin County, Inn to Inn

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By Michael Lanza

Pausing along the Coastal Trail, which slithers across crumbling bluffs that plunge 400 feet to the ocean in the rugged hills of Northern California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, I’m struck by a sense of awe. Far below us, the surf sloshes loudly against the rocky shore of Pirates Cove, where stone pinnacles rise out of the sea, isolated by centuries of wave erosion. It’s the kind of scenery that makes talking sound like loud radio static, so we fall silent. Continue reading →

February 6, 2014 Granite Park, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the John Muir Wilderness

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By Michael Lanza

Want to know where I shot the mountains photo in the banner across the top of The Big Outside? It was on a 32-mile traverse of one of the highest and most achingly gorgeous sections of the High Sierra, from North Lake, outside Bishop, to Mosquito Flat, between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes. My route linked up trails with long stretches of rugged cross-country hiking over lake-studded alpine basins and six passes between 11,150 and 13,040 feet, exploring corners of the Sierra rarely seen by people. John Muir himself would have been pleased, as I think you’ll agree after seeing this photo gallery from that trip. Continue reading →

August 31, 2011 Sier2-88 Granite Park, Muir Wldrnes copy

In the Footsteps of John Muir: Finding Solitude in the High Sierra

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By Michael Lanza

I’m slogging up a long ramp of beach-like sand toward Cox Col, an off-trail pass sitting a few ticks over 13,000 feet in California’s John Muir Wilderness. The high-altitude sun feels like a blacksmith’s forge hovering right above my head. My breaths come faster than my steps, and I feel lightheaded. But I’m thinking mostly about the pass ahead of us—and whether there’s a safe route over it. Continue reading →

November 11, 2010 +

In the Land of Dr. Seuss: Exploring Joshua Tree

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By Michael Lanza

I feel the familiar nervous excitement just walking up to the base of the sun-warmed granite cliff, climbing gear jangling on my harness, rope over my shoulder. For various reasons, I haven’t gotten on rock in months. But as soon as I start moving upward and stick the first cam into a crack, I realize how much I’ve missed this intensity of focus, this sensation that there’s nothing else in the world except what I’m experiencing right here and now.

There aren’t many things in life that replicate the feeling of an eighth-grade date. For me, rock climbing still does it, after all these years. Continue reading →

July 22, 2010 Yos10-93 copy

The Magic of Hiking to Yosemite’s Waterfalls

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By Michael Lanza

My seven-year-old daughter, Alex, is engaged in some heavy intellectual lifting. I can tell by the way she stares quietly, her brow knitted in thought, at Upper Yosemite Falls. We’ve hiked for 90 minutes up a thousand vertical feet of hot, dusty trail above Yosemite Valley to stand below this curtain of water that plunges a sheer 1,430 feet off a cliff, ripping through the air with a sound like fighter jets buzzing us. Continue reading →

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