Exploring the ‘American Alps:’ the North Cascades

By Michael Lanza

The wind and horizontal rain battered us and the fog reduced visibility to 50 feet at times as we hiked up Sahale Arm. We struggled into the maelstrom with rain jacket hoods cinched snugly, our heads bent forward into the wind. Bullets of cold rain pelted my cheek. It was mid-July in Washington’s North Cascades National Park, but it felt like mid-October—no surprise in the northernmost and one of the wettest mountain ranges in the contiguous United States, where 110 inches of precipitation falls annually on its western slope. My friend David Ports and I were headed up toward some of the most severely vertical mountain scenery in the country—though that morning, it didn’t look like we’d get treated to any of it.

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.

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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A hiker at Zeacliff, overlooking the Pemigewasset Wilderness, White Mountains, N.H.

The Best Hikes in the White Mountains

By Michael Lanza

If you’re a hiker in the Northeast and especially in New England, you know about the White Mountains and either love them already or are eager to explore the tallest peaks north of the southern Appalachians and the most rugged mountains in the East. If you’re a hiker who lives outside the region, don’t be deceived or dissuaded by the fact that the highest in the Whites, Mount Washington, rises to a mere 6,288 feet. You risk missing out on hiking dozens of rocky summits with breathtaking panoramas, alpine ridges that stretch for miles above treeline, and some of the most challenging—and rewarding—trails found anywhere in the country.


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