Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.
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Backpacking 150 Miles Through Yosemite

Picture it: Hiking 150 miles through the “other” Yosemite, this flagship park’s wildest corners. Better yet, read about it now.

Backpacking 150 Miles Through Yosemite
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.
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My 10 Rules of Adventure Travel

Adventure is what transports you to a physical and emotional place you rarely go. See my 10 tips for getting there.

My 10 Rules of Adventure Travel
Trekking the Alta Via 2, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.
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My Top 10 Adventures… Ever

My 10 best adventures include trekking with my family through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. See the entire list now.

My Top 10 Adventures… Ever

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Gear Review: Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX Mountaineering Boots

January 19, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX

Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX mountaineering boots.

Mountaineering Boots
Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX
$480, 4 lbs. 1 oz. (mondo 25/men’s US 6.5/Euro 39)
Sizes: men’s US 6-13/Euro 39-46, women’s US 6-12/Euro 37-43
backcountry.com

For my 15-year-old son’s first technical mountain climb, a four-day, April ascent of the Mountaineers Route on California’s Mount Whitney—where we’d face conditions ranging from hot alpine sun to frigid winds, and be walking in snow with crampons for nearly the entire four days—I wanted to put him in a pair of all-around mountaineering boots that would feel comfortable for miles of hiking, handle the “technical” terrain of a moderately steep snow gully, hold a crampon reliably, and keep his feet warm. I decided on a proven performer that would serve virtually any climbing adventures on glaciers, snow, or ice: the Mont Blanc GTX. Continue reading →

Review: The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket

January 18, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket.

The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket.

Fleece Jacket
The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket
$179, 1 lb. 6 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
backcountry.com

What can you say about a fleece jacket? Its simplicity of design belies its versatility in all seasons, especially for on-the-move activities in cool and sub-freezing temperatures of fall, winter, and spring. Consider The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket, which kept my teenage son warm through several hours of backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, on a day when it snowed hard for hours and temperatures sat in the teens Fahrenheit (he wore it mostly under a soft-shell jacket). There isn’t much to this jacket, and yet, it could be the piece of outerwear you slip into more than any other. Continue reading →

January 17, 2017 Mangrove tunnel, East River, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Florida.

Photo Gallery: Paddling the Everglades

In Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I confess: Everglades National Park was not near the top of my adventure to-do list before I went there the first time, during an all-day layover in Miami waiting for a flight to Chile to trek in Patagonia. After a short hike in the park, I knew I had to return for a longer visit with my kids. My family spent our first day there paddling through a series of long mangrove tunnels on the East River (lead photo above), watching scores of exotic birds fly just overhead: snowy egrets, white ibises, black anhingas, tri-colored herons, brown pelicans, great blue herons (everything that flies here seems to have a color in its name). And we saw alligators—several of them, up to 12 feet long—floating listlessly on the river’s surface. Continue reading →

January 16, 2017 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Backpacking 150 Miles Through Wildest Yosemite

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

In early evening on a bluebird September day, deep in the wilderness of northern Yosemite National Park, my friend Todd Arndt and I—with legs feeling a little weary—reached our fourth pass of that day. We had hit the home stretch of the 23-mile, second day of a four-day, 86-mile hike; only a steep, quad-melting, 1,500-foot descent stood between us and soothing our very tired feet in the cool sand and cold water at Benson Lake (possibly the most unbelievable mountain lake I’ve ever seen).

Just beyond the pass, we strolled past quiet tarns where a few parties of backpackers were camped. And it struck me that they were the first people Todd and I had seen all day. That’s not an observation one expects to make in Yosemite. But we were exploring the “other Yosemite”—not the overcrowded park, but its most remote backcountry, on one of the most scenic multi-day hikes I’ve ever taken. Continue reading →

January 15, 2017 Star Lake and Mount Madison, Presidential Range, N.H.

Two Letters, Three Fathers, and a Reminder of What’s Really Important

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

About 20 years ago, when I was living in rural New Hampshire and syndicating a weekly outdoor column in newspapers across New England, I received a letter—yes, a letter, delivered by the U.S. Postal Service—from a guy who lived near me, offering himself as a hiking partner. He was a few years older than my father. But there was something about his letter that prompted me to write back, and it sparked an unusual friendship centered almost entirely on our hikes together.

But one detail of Doug’s life story inspired me the most: He had retired from his corporate job early, in his mid-50s. In other words: He had decided to make enjoying life his top priority. I’ve had many reasons to think about that philosophy and about Doug recently, and to contemplate the things that are truly important to me—which, in our fast-paced, hyper-connected culture, can be all too easy to forget. Continue reading →

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