Tag Archives: California backpacking

February 19, 2017 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

Photo Gallery: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

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By Michael Lanza

The John Muir Trail is frequently referred to as “America’s Most Beautiful Trail,” and there may be no long backpacking trip that’s more spectacular, step for step, than a thru-hike of the JMT through California’s High Sierra. From Yosemite Valley to the summit of 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park, you walk 211 miles past jagged peaks of clean, golden granite, through a constellation of sparkling mountain lakes and more waterfalls than anyone could name, and over numerous passes from 11,000 to over 13,000 feet.
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February 5, 2017 Summit of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: Where to Backpack First Time in Yosemite

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Hi Michael,

Going to Yosemite this year, 4-day trek. The Valley and hopefully Half Dome. Never been. Any suggestions?

Jody
Cibolo, TX
@soldierscoach Continue reading →

January 30, 2017 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

My Top 10 Favorite Backpacking Trips

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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 a mandatory qualification. 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 of my top 10 are in national parks or federal 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 humping a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and writing for this blog. Continue reading →

January 22, 2017 Campsite by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids, Grand Canyon.

Photo Gallery: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

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By Michael Lanza

Everyone has favorite campsites from unforgettable backcountry trips. I’ve been fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great campsites over nearly three decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. This photo gallery spotlights several camps from my list of 25 all-time favorite campsites (which I update annually). Among them are jaw-dropping spots like Death Canyon Shelf along the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park, Sahale Glacier Camp in North Cascades National Park, and a magical spot by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon (lead photo above). Continue reading →

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 →

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