Tag Archives: California

February 2, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What Are Your Top Picks For Long Backpacking Trips?

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Hi Michael,

I usually take a solo trip the first week of my summer vacation. (I’m an elementary-school teacher, and I’ve done a ton of multi-day backpacking and lots of long-distance trails. It can be tricky as it’s the second week of June and there is usually too much snow to attempt certain trails. I’m looking for a loop, out and back, or shuttle that allows me about 20 miles a day for about five days. I looked long and hard at the Mah Dah Hey Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but the 22-hour drive each way is a bit daunting. I’ve been looking at trying to find a closer alternative. Continue reading →

February 1, 2016 Hiking in the Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Facing the Biggest Challenge Inside: Friendship and Climbing Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park

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By Michael Lanza

A dry, invisible waterfall of heat pours from the desert sky as we follow a footpath through the Wonderland of Rocks, a vast archipelago of granite monoliths and spires floating in an ocean of sand in the backcountry of southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. My friend David and I are in search of one particular crack in one specific stone skyscraper, which feels a little like picking through hundreds of haystacks scattered across a farm in pursuit of one needle.

We high-step through gardens of prickly-pear cacti and other vegetation that has evolved to put a hurt on you for the easy mistake of brushing against it. I pause frequently to consult photos of some of these granite monoliths in my guidebook to help pinpoint our location. I also contemplate—as seems to happen whenever I head out rock climbing for the first time in a while—the complicated human relationship with fear. There’s the natural anxiousness that can accompany trying to claw your way up a sheer cliff. But fear and its antipode, courage, take many forms. One can be so difficult to confront that it destroys lives. The other can save them. Continue reading →

January 25, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park.

Photo Gallery: Celebrating the Centennial Year of the National Park Service

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

By Michael Lanza

When the National Park Service turns 100 on Aug. 25, it will mark not just the diamond anniversary of what writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called “the best idea we ever had”—it marks the evolution and growth of that idea from a handful of parks created in the early days to a system in many ways without parallel, that protects 52 million acres of mountain ranges, canyons, rivers, deserts, prairies, caves, islands, bays, fjords, badlands, natural arches, and seashores in 59 parks. Without that protection, these places that draw visitors from around the world would otherwise almost certainly have been exploited and destroyed. Continue reading →

January 18, 2016 White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

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

By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that my son, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which these days often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen to engage in physical activity for hours—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

Even though my kids, now 15 and nearly 13, have dayhiked and backpacked hundreds of miles, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades, and cross-country skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers, we still sometimes encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors. But we’re usually still successful, and our kids look forward to most of our adventures. Here are the reasons why. Continue reading →

January 11, 2016 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   7 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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