Tag Archives: Idaho

March 13, 2014 Saddle Creek Trail, Hells Canyon, Oregon.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking Hells Canyon

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By Michael Lanza

North America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon, is a place defined by extremes—of scale, solitude, grandeur. Although protected as wilderness, it still harbors evidence of the settlers who, many decades ago, tried to carve a life out of its rugged contours and harsh climate: falling-down cabins, rusted farm equipment. Perhaps more than any wild land I’ve known, this canyon fills me with a sense of having dropped out of time, of diving, wide-eyed, into Alice’s rabbit-hole. The biggest disconnect? That a place so ruggedly beautiful could attract so few visitors. See for yourself in this photo gallery, then read my story and see more photos from a four-day, 56-mile, rim-to-river-to-rim, solo backpacking trip on the Oregon side of the canyon. 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 →

February 21, 2014 Skiing below Mount Heyburn, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: Backcountry Skiing Idaho’s Sawtooths

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By Michael Lanza

Idaho’s best-known mountain range, the Sawtooths remain surprisingly, pleasantly uncrowded. I’ve taken backpacking trips on gorgeous weekends at the height of summer without seeing more than a few other hikers. But come here when snow blankets the peaks and you may see no one else for days. And from a spacious and warm yurt at 7,400 feet near the Bench Lakes, below the sharp pinnacles of Mount Heyburn, backcountry skiers and snowshoers can explore a rich bounty of moderate terrain—and have the snow to themselves. Continue reading →

October 16, 2013 Rock Slide Lake.

Going After Goals: Backpacking In Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

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By Michael Lanza

We reach an unnamed pass at 8,450 feet early on a September evening that could hardly be nicer, with temperatures in the low 60s and a soft whisper of breeze in the air. I’m hardly breaking a sweat; I love hiking at this time of day. Below us, the green valley of Johnson Creek falls away into deepening shadows below a skyline of granite spires glowing golden in the low-angle sunshine.

A feeling of anticipation fills me, a low-grade excitement over finally getting to a goal I’ve had on my to-do list for years. My friend Jeff Wilhelm and I are backpacking into the deep interior of central Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—into the most remote and probably the least-visited part of Idaho’s best-known mountain range that can be reached by trail. Continue reading →

August 9, 2013 Big Boulder Lakes, White Clouds Mountains, Idaho.

Weekend Inspiration: Backpacking to the Big Boulder Lakes in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains

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How about a little weekend inspiration? I took this shot of my 12-year-old son, Nate, on a three-day backpacking trip we took this summer into the Big Boulder Lakes basin in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains (a place that deserves designation as either federal wilderness or a national monument). I hope you’re getting out to find some wild place to enjoy this weekend.

 

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