Trips

Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range

A Walk in the Winds—Dayhiking 27 Miles Across the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

At 6:20 a.m., more than an hour into our hike, the sun surfaces through the thick layer of wildfire smoke in the valley below us. A blood-red sliver with clouds above it burning orange and yellow, it slowly blossoms into a partial disk, then a full, sharply defined orb glowing like a hot ember. It looks both beautiful and darkly sinister.

I’m trying to figure out whether this sunrise is a metaphor for our plans to hike 27 miles across Wyoming’s Wind River Range today. But I’m working on three hours of sleep and my brain’s functioning at about 20 percent of capacity. So I’m not sure whether this sunrise through wildfire smoke foretells us burning up the trail or, conversely, crashing and burning. As tired as I feel, I’m not sure that I want to know.

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Trekkers hiking through Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.

Walking Among Giants: A Three-Generation Hut Trek in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park

By Michael Lanza On a treeless tundra plateau deep in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park, we stop before a bouncy suspension bridge over a roaring, snarling whitewater river. I shoot a glance at my 75-year-old mom. In a tone that contains more fatalism than enthusiasm, she reminds me, “I’ve never crossed one of these.” I nod, and calmly assure her, “You …

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Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile's Patagonia region.

Patagonian Classic: Trekking the ‘W’ in Torres del Paine

By Michael Lanza We march upward through innumerable switchbacks on the steep and dusty last mile of trail to the Torres del Paine. Small stands of Patagonia’s ubiquitous, twisted lenga trees cling to an otherwise barren mountainside of dirt and rock, earth overturned by glaciers and continually rubbed raw by the abrasive wind. The whitewater roar of the Rio Ascencio …

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A backpacker hiking the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.

Walking Familiar Ground: Reliving Old Memories and Making New Ones on the Teton Crest Trail

By Michael Lanza

The moose cow and her calf block the trail, staring back at us with expressions that I swear look like confusion over what to do. So the feeling is mutual. They were coming down, we were going up, and now none of us are moving. With steep, rocky, wooded terrain on either side, we backpack-carrying humans aren’t interested in an off-trail detour. The moose don’t seem enthusiastic about that option at the moment, either.

We appear to be at a standoff.

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A hiker at the rim of Red Crater in New Zealand's Tongariro National Park.

Super Volcanoes: Hiking the Steaming Peaks of New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park

By Michael Lanza

We have just begun our all-day hike over some of the volcanoes of New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park when a trailside sign conveniently itemizes the life-threatening hazards awaiting us.

For starters, an eruption could eject large rocks into the air to rain onto us from the sky or release lava flows. Pyroclastic flows, which are clouds of ash, rock, and gas that can cook flesh, could come upon us at 60 mph. Just such a flow in 1975, in fact, formed the black rocks we’re standing on. Even short of a volcanic eruption, deadly volcanic gases can pool in the bottom of craters on calm, sunny days like today. And the rock on these peaks is so unstable that falling rock looms as a constant hazard.

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