Category Archives: Paddling

Stories, photos, and videos from my kayaking, canoeing, and rafting adventures in the U.S. and around the world.

February 13, 2017 Liberty Cap, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Photo Gallery: 20 Big Adventures In Pictures

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By Michael Lanza

Everyone loves a good picture—it’s worth a thousand words, right? At this blog, I’ve now posted hundreds of stories with photos about outdoor adventures I’ve taken, many of them with my family. What better way to begin exploring ideas for your next trip than by scrolling through 20 inspirational images from stories at this website? Continue reading →

February 6, 2017 At Kaweah Gap, Sequoia National Park, California.

Why I Endanger My Kids in the Wilderness (Even Though It Scares the Sh!t Out of Me)

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By Michael Lanza

A glacial wind pours through a snowy pass in the remote mountains of Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Virtually devoid of vegetation, the terrain offers no refuge from the relentless current of frigid air. Some of the troops are hungry, a little tired, and grumpy; mutinous doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility, so I don’t want to add “cold” to their growing list of grievances. I coax everyone to push on just a little farther, down out of the wind to a sun-splashed, snow-free area of dirt and rocks for lunch.

But I don’t like the looks of the steep slope we have to descend. Blanketed in snow made firm by freezing overnight temperatures, and littered with protruding boulders, it runs hundreds of feet down to a lake choked with icebergs—in mid-July. A trench stomped into the snow by other trekkers diagonals down to our lunch spot. It’s well traveled, but someone slipping in that track could rocket downhill at the speed of a car on a highway. I turn to our little party—which ranges in age from my nine-year-old daughter to my 75-year-old mother—and emphasize that we have to proceed extremely carefully. Continue reading →

January 23, 2017 Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.

The National Park Everyone Must See: Yellowstone

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By Michael Lanza

When I think about Yellowstone National Park, I recall seeing a wolf pack suddenly appear on a skyline ridge high above me and begin howling at the vast, impervious sky; and another wolf pack, on a bitterly cold winter day, descend at full speed upon an elk herd, spurring the entire herd to dash off, moving in unison as if it were one organism. Thinking about Yellowstone conjures mental images of Lower Yellowstone Falls pouring thunderously into the colorful magnificence of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, both in summer and half frozen in the depths of winter.

I remember smiling at the reactions of my kids to geysers erupting in the Upper Geyser Basin, or whistling fumaroles in the Lower Geyser Basin, or the kaleidoscopic surface of Grand Prismatic Spring. Watching a bear sow with cubs in tow shuffle across a meadow at dusk, and hundreds of bison quietly grazing a grassy valley. Hearing the nasal shriek of an elk bugling as I stood on a boardwalk amid the steam of Mammoth Hot Springs at dawn on a chilly autumn morning (lead photo, above). Continue reading →

January 22, 2017 Campsite by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids, Grand Canyon.

Photo Gallery: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

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By Michael Lanza

Everyone has favorite campsites from unforgettable backcountry trips. I’ve been fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great campsites over nearly three decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. This photo gallery spotlights several camps from my list of 25 all-time favorite campsites (which I update annually). Among them are jaw-dropping spots like Death Canyon Shelf along the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park, Sahale Glacier Camp in North Cascades National Park, and a magical spot by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon (lead photo above). Continue reading →

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

Photo Gallery: Paddling the Everglades

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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 →

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