Category Archives: Backpacking

Stories and images from the best backpacking trips in America and around the world, with trip-planning advice based on my personal, on-the-ground knowledge from having done the trip.

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

Backpacking 150 Miles Through Wildest Yosemite

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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

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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 →

January 10, 2017 Hiking to Forca Rossa, Alta Via 2, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

Ask Me: Should We Get Travel Insurance For Overseas Adventures?

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[Note: This blog post of an email exchange reveals the story of a reader who experienced a traveler’s nightmare in a foreign country. Her cautionary tale offers valuable advice for anyone who travels internationally.]

Hi Michael,

We are planning a hut-to-hut trip in the Dolomite Mountains this summer and I was wondering if you could give advice on travel insurance. When we went to Patagonia last year, I didn’t even think about it, but a doctor friend of mine recently highly recommended some sort of travel medical insurance for when we do hiking trips abroad. I know you do a lot of international hiking trips with your family, so it’d be great to hear your thoughts and experience! Continue reading →

January 9, 2017 Trekking the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

My 10 Rules of Adventure Travel

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By Michael Lanza

I remember well my first big “adventure.” Two buddies and I, all 19, biked from our hometown in central Massachusetts to the summit of Mount Greylock—the highest peak in the state. It took us four days to ride there and home again. We had cheap 10-speeds, bulky, old sleeping bags, no tent but two big plastic sheets to lay on the ground beneath us and over us if it rained—which it did the first night—and hardly a clue about what we were doing.

Although it was not evenly remotely exotic, in our minds, it was an epic adventure, and it helped kindle in us a fire for more experiences that would give us that buzz again—that feeling of being entirely on our own and not knowing what’s going to happen next, but whatever lay ahead, we were excited to leap into it. Continue reading →

January 8, 2017 Hiking the Taylor Creek Trail, Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: Hiking the Kolob Canyons of Zion National Park

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By Michael Lanza

Hiking in the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park, you get down to business with five-star scenery with your first step from your car. At the Lee Pass Trailhead, Taylor Creek Trailhead, or the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint, you’re immediately greeted with views of crimson cliffs soaring hundreds of feet tall. Then it just keeps getting better. Continue reading →

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