Hiking

A view from the John Muir Trail of Half Dome, Liberty Cap, and Nevada Fall in Yosemite National Park.

The Magic of Hiking to Yosemite’s Waterfalls

By Michael Lanza

My seven-year-old daughter, Alex, is engaged in some heavy intellectual lifting. I can tell by the way she stares quietly, her brow knitted in thought, at Upper Yosemite Falls. We’ve hiked for 90 minutes up a thousand vertical feet of hot, dusty trail above Yosemite Valley to stand below this curtain of water that plunges a sheer 1,430 feet off a cliff, ripping through the air with a sound like fighter jets buzzing us.

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Trail Running Across Marin: Four Days, 42 Miles, Inn-to-Inn

By Michael Lanza

“You have to embrace the hills.”

That subtly foreshadowing line from an e-mail my running partner today, Janet Bowman, sent me a few days ago leaps to mind, as we struggle to run up a trail pitched at the angle of an Olympic ski jump. Perspiration streams off my head like a hard rain as, rapid-fire, I gasp for air and release loud bursts of breath—this even though we’re only moving at a pace that might be described as a determined shuffle. Just minutes into a 9.5-mile trail run across the rugged hills of Northern California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA)—one that will carry us up and down 2,300 vertical feet—I’m wondering how many anaerobic-threshold moments lie ahead.

And I’ve only gone less than a mile.

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Hikers on Blahnukur peak, near Landmannalaugar in Iceland's Central Highlands.

Earth, Wind, and Fire: A Journey to the Planet’s Beginnings in Iceland

By Michael Lanza

The land is on fire.

Actually, the land appears to be smoldering, stoked by some persistent furnace just beneath the surface. Which is essentially true.

Steam from hot springs and other geothermal features issues from scores of points from here to the horizon. Mud pots bubble and burp, and the color of volcanic activity is everywhere—paint-can spills of ochre, pink, gold, plum, brown, rust, and honey against a backdrop of purple pumice and electric-lime moss. An old, hardened lava flow pours down one mountainside in a jumbled train wreck of razor-sharp black rhyolite. Barren peaks extend ridges like the arms of starfish. Chattering streams carry the runoff from July snowfields smeared across the highlands. Scudding clouds stampede overhead, constantly rearranging the dappled sunlight splashing over the landscape.

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Conquistadors of Adventure: Discovering Multi-Sport Gold in Spain’s Valencia region

By Michael Lanza

I’m standing on a rocky ridgetop amid the crumbling ruins of a castle built by Moors during their seven-century rule over most of Spain. It looks like a good spot to dig in. Beyond these broken walls, the ground plunges hundreds of feet over cliffs and mostly treeless, double-black-diamond slopes of thorny desert scrub. Today, though, there’ll be no rain of arrows from attacking marauders—only me and my guide, José Miguel Garcia, hiking through a sea of craggy limestone mountains. Some 3,000 feet below us, bleached terracotta villages dotting the valley bottom hold out the promise of a post-hike feast of tapas and local wine.

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