Category Archives: Paddling

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

January 21, 2019 Backpackers on the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places

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By Michael Lanza

Over many years of taking wilderness trips of all kinds, I’ve gotten pickier about my backpacking and other backcountry adventures. The best-known trails, peaks, and wilderness waters are usually beautiful; but sometimes, for various reasons, they just don’t do it for me. More and more, I seek out the places and multi-day adventures that inspire a powerful sense of awe. It often requires getting farther from civilization, onto paths less traveled, and occasionally entails greater physical, navigational, or technical challenges. But those adventures feel wilder. And that’s what I’m after.

The 10 places shown in the photos below are exactly that: They still remain wild. Continue reading →

January 20, 2019 A backpacker in Glacier National Park.

10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit

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By Michael Lanza

The first time I backpacked in Yosemite National Park, more than 25 years ago, I applied for a permit to start at the park’s most popular trailhead, Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley—and I got it. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was (and it’s even more difficult to get that permit now). Over the years since, I’ve been shot down trying to get permits for popular hikes in parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Glacier. But I’ve also learned many tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in those flagship parks and others—which receive far more requests than they can fill. I share what I’ve learned in the following, detailed tips, which I’ve just updated.

And if you want to take a trip in one of those popular parks this year, the time for reserving permits is upon us or coming up quickly.

Continue reading →

January 15, 2019 Michael Lanza of The Big Outside in the Monolith Valley, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Planning Your Next Trip? I Can Help You Do It Right

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Do you have a classic national park backpacking trip or other outdoor adventure in your sights for this year? The Teton Crest Trail? The John Muir Trail? Anywhere in Yosemite, Glacier, the Grand Canyon, Olympic, Mount Rainier, Zion, Sequoia, Canyonlands, North Cascades, or another park or wilderness area?

Now is the time to be planning it, and The Big Outside can show you exactly how to make your dream trip happen. Here’s how. Continue reading →

January 13, 2019 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; mutiny 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 7, 2019

New Year Inspiration: My Top 10 Adventure Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I often get asked the question, “What’s your favorite trip?” And I don’t have an answer. To pick just one from all the amazing adventures I’ve had the good fortune to take over the past two-plus decades feels like an impossible task. Instead, I’ve just updated this list of my 10 all-time favorites (so far). It includes some of America’s best backpacking trips, from the Teton Crest Trail and John Muir Trail to Glacier National Park; hiking across the Grand Canyon; trekking in Iceland, Patagonia, Norway, and Italy’s Dolomite Mountains (photo above); and some places that might surprise you. Continue reading →

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