Tag Archives: California backpacking

January 16, 2017 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Backpacking 150 Miles Through Wildest Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

In early evening on a bluebird September day, deep in the wilderness of northern Yosemite National Park, my friend Todd Arndt and I—with legs feeling a little weary—reached our fourth pass of that day. We had hit the home stretch of the 23-mile, second day of a four-day, 86-mile hike; only a steep, quad-melting, 1,500-foot descent stood between us and soothing our very tired feet in the cool sand and cold water at Benson Lake (possibly the most unbelievable mountain lake I’ve ever seen).

Just beyond the pass, we strolled past quiet tarns where a few parties of 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 most scenic multi-day hikes I’ve ever taken. Continue reading →

January 2, 2017

New Year Inspiration: My Top 10 Adventure Trips

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By Michael Lanza

I often get asked, “What’s your favorite trip?” And I can’t answer that one. To pick just one from all the amazing adventures I’ve had the good fortune to take feels like an impossible task. So instead, I’ve assembled the following list of my 10 all-time favorites (so far). It includes, among other five-star trips, backpacking the Teton Crest Trail and John Muir Trail; hiking across the Grand Canyon; and trekking in Iceland, Patagonia, and Italy’s Dolomite Mountains (lead photo, above). Continue reading →

December 19, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park.

Photo Gallery: Every National Park I’ve Visited

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By Michael Lanza

The National Park Service turned 100 in 2016. That marked not just the diamond anniversary of what writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called “the best idea we ever had,” but also the evolution and growth of that idea from a handful of parks created in the early days to a system in many ways without parallel, that protects 52 million acres of mountain ranges, canyons, rivers, deserts, prairies, caves, islands, bays, fjords, badlands, natural arches, and seashores in 59 parks. Without that protection, these places that draw visitors from around the world would otherwise almost certainly have been exploited and destroyed. Continue reading →

December 5, 2016 Sunset at Idaho's City of Rocks National Reserve.

10 Photos From 2016 Adventures That Will Inspire You to Get Outdoors

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By Michael Lanza

What trips did you take in 2016 that reinvigorated you and fired your enthusiasm for the outdoors? Looking back through thousands of photos I took over the past year, I’ve selected some favorite images I captured on 10 memorable adventures in 2016—including several with my family. The list ranges from multi-day backpacking, river, and climbing trips in five states to outings as short as a half-day within an hour of my home. These trips occurred in seven national parks and an equal number of places managed as wilderness, from Washington’s North Cascades to Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado, from California’s Mount Whitney to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Perhaps more than anything, these pictures illustrate the diversity and wealth of natural beauty that we have many reasons to celebrate in America. Continue reading →

November 14, 2016 Surprise Canyon, Panamint Range, Death Valley National Park.

A Mind-Boggling Chunk of Lonely: Backpacking in Death Valley National Park

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By Michael Lanza

“Can you believe how much water there is?!” Katie asks incredulously. It’s a logical question, and the response of silence from the rest of us answers her pretty succinctly: No, we can’t.

We’re backpacking in a lonely corner of the water-starved and nearly barren Panamint Range in southern California’s Death Valley National Park. One of the most insufferably hot and dry deserts on the planet, Death Valley averages less than two inches of rainfall a year. The temperature on this mid-May evening still hovers around a steaming 90° F in the shade, even as sunset fast approaches. That actually feels relatively frosty compared to when we stopped at the park’s Furnace Creek visitor center this afternoon, at 190 feet below sea level, where the outside thermometer read a searing 108° F. Continue reading →

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