Category Archives: Hiking

Stories and images from my many dayhikes, from family- and beginner-friendly trails to hard-core ultra-hiking.

October 18, 2017 South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Ask Me: How’s November For Hiking in the Grand Canyon?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

Hi Michael:

During the second week of November, a buddy and I are considering a rim to river to rim hike in the Grand Canyon. We are planning to descend South Kaibab Trail, walk along River Trail, and ascend via Bright Angel Trail. Plan would be to start early and complete the hike in the same day. We will carry survival gear. Neither of us has been to the GC. One of us is very experienced (and in excellent physical condition), and one of us has moderate experience (in very good physical condition).

We would appreciate your comments on hiking in November—weather, trail conditions, and anything else that may assist us. We both prefer not to hike in the wet, and neither of us wants anything to do with snow! Also, if November is the wrong month to do this, we would delay until next year. Continue reading →

October 15, 2017 On the summit of Mount Luxmore, Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Best, Uncomplicated Hut Trek: The Kepler Track

In Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The forecast for New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park looks particularly grim, even for this chronically wet region that receives more than 30 feet of rainfall annually—or about 10 times as much rain as Seattle. A “Southwesterly,” a fierce and not uncommon type of storm that blows in from the Southern Ocean off Antarctica and can offload several inches of rain, will slam into Fiordland’s mountains and fjords over the next couple of days. With that kind of forecast, locals just hunker down indoors and wait it out what they refer to as a “weetha bum” (Kiwi for “weather bomb”). My friend, Jeff, and I, however, are going hiking. Continue reading →

October 10, 2017 Day two in The Narrows, Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking Zion’s Narrows

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

By Michael Lanza

The sound of rushing water increased in volume as we walked downstream in the calf-deep North Fork of the Virgin River, where walls press in close and reach toward the clouds in The Narrows of Zion National Park. Turning a bend in the canyon, we came upon one of the most incongruous sights in the desert: a waterfall pouring from cracks in the canyon’s sandstone wall. Known as Big Spring, this oasis of cascading water and greenery clinging to a redrock cliff is just one of the many wonders awaiting backpackers in Zion’s Narrows. Continue reading →

October 9, 2017 Looking Glass Rock, Pisgah National Forest, N.C.

A Perfect Week of Hiking in the North Carolina Mountains

In Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Warm rain drums lightly on the lush deciduous forest around me as I walk up a long-abandoned dirt road that has narrowed to a trail with the gradual encroachment of vegetation. The wind assaults the treetops, the outer edge of a hurricane hitting the Southeast coast right now; but here, far from the storm, it sounds like waves rhythmically lapping up onto a beach and retreating. It’s a gray, early evening in mid-October in the basement of a compact valley in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina—a valley that, due to its tight contours, sees precious few hours of direct sunlight at this time of year—and the daylight has filtered down to a soft, dim, tranquil quality.

A bit more than a half-mile up this quiet footpath, I reach my destination—and unconsciously catch my breath at what must be one of the most lovely cascades in a corner of North Carolina spilling over with waterfalls. Continue reading →

October 8, 2017 Campsite, Dome Glacier, Ptarmigan Traverse, Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades.

Ask Me: How Can You Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Michael,

With sleeping bags, we have temperature ratings. But with down/insulated/puffy jackets, what is best way to determine if a jacket will be warm or warmer or hot? Is it the amount of fill? Some but not all jackets indicate the amount of fill.

Thanks.

Bruce
Virginia

Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker