Tag Archives: California backpacking
Going to Yosemite this year, 4-day trek. The Valley and hopefully Half Dome. Never been. Any suggestions?
[Originally sent as a message to facebook.com/TheBigOutside]
Yup, here’s what I’d do on a first-time trip to Yosemite if you want to hit the classic highlights like The Valley and Half Dome. This is close to what I did on my first backpacking trip in Yosemite, long time ago, but modified because I know better now.
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By Michael Lanza
What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.
Some things, though, don’t require explanation; the validation comes in just doing it. So I give you here my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of hauling a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →
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. I’ve since 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—which receive far more requests than they can fill. And the time for reserving permits is now.
I am a first-time JMT hiker this summer. I’m an avid dayhiker and will do some two- and three-day hikes to prepare. I’m losing 20 pounds and doing a lot of strength training. Here are my concerns: I am 55 years old and this trip is my way of celebrating this milestone and 25 years of sobriety! I may have to hike part of it alone—I have friends with me for the first week and the last week. I really want to pack light. I know I can do 10 miles/day, but I would like to average 15 mpd. I have read pack lists from women who ended up with 40 to 50 lbs.! I have no desire to carry that much. Can you give me an idea of a realistic daily mileage and how I can keep my pack 35 lbs. or under without running out of food and water, and where I should stop to resupply? Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
In early evening on a bluebird September day, deep in northern Yosemite National Park, my friend Todd Arndt and I—with legs a little weary—reached our fourth pass on a 23-mile day, the second day of a four-day, 87-mile hike. Only a quad-melting, 1,500-foot descent stood between us and soothing our feet in the cool sand and cold water at Benson Lake (possibly the most unbelievable mountain lake I’ve ever seen).
We hiked past quiet tarns where a few backpackers were camped. And it struck me that they were the first people Todd and I had seen all day. That’s not an observation one expects to make in Yosemite. But we were exploring the “other Yosemite”—not the overcrowded park, but its most remote backcountry, on one of the best multi-day hikes I’ve ever taken. Continue reading →