Tag Archives: Castle Rocks State Park

February 6, 2017 At Kaweah Gap, Sequoia National Park, California.

Why I Endanger My Kids in the Wilderness (Even Though It Scares the Sh!t Out of Me)

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By Michael Lanza

A glacial wind pours through a snowy pass in the remote mountains of Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Virtually devoid of vegetation, the terrain offers no refuge from the relentless current of frigid air. Some of the troops are hungry, a little tired, and grumpy; mutinous doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility, so I don’t want to add “cold” to their growing list of grievances. I coax everyone to push on just a little farther, down out of the wind to a sun-splashed, snow-free area of dirt and rocks for lunch.

But I don’t like the looks of the steep slope we have to descend. Blanketed in snow made firm by freezing overnight temperatures, and littered with protruding boulders, it runs hundreds of feet down to a lake choked with icebergs—in mid-July. A trench stomped into the snow by other trekkers diagonals down to our lunch spot. It’s well traveled, but someone slipping in that track could rocket downhill at the speed of a car on a highway. I turn to our little party—which ranges in age from my nine-year-old daughter to my 75-year-old mother—and emphasize that we have to proceed extremely carefully. Continue reading →

June 14, 2016 Fishing at Lake 8522, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: My Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventures

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By Michael Lanza

The annual tradition began when my son, Nate, was five years old, and we hiked about a mile up a trail in the Boise Foothills, starting at a trailhead a 10-minute drive from our house, and camped beside a creek small enough to step over. It was the most mellow trip we’d take, and the closest to home, on the annual father-son outdoor adventure that we’ve come to call our “boy trip.” My daughter, Alex, two years younger, adapted that name and gave me a pass for my inferior gender when we began taking an annual “girl trip” together. Now it has grown into something bigger than any one, individual outing. Continue reading →

May 13, 2015 Hikers on Dog Mountain, Columbia Gorge, Washington.

Photo Gallery: My Best Wildflower Pictures

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By Michael Lanza

On a sunny, spring afternoon, we hiked through lush, quiet forest up the steep Dog Mountain Trail, on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. After climbing more than 2,000 vertical feet (the trail ascends a calf-pumping 2,800 feet in three miles to the summit), we broke out of the shade of trees onto slopes carpeted with one of the best wildflower displays you’ll see anywhere. Climbing higher still, we got sweeping views across the gorge to the snow and glaciers of Mount Hood. But the wildflowers stole the show. Continue reading →

May 21, 2014 Fishing at Lake 8522, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Boy Trip, Girl Trip: Why I Take Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventures

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By Michael Lanza

On a morning when the late-summer sunshine sharpens the incisor points of every peak and spire in the jagged skyline of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Nate and I step inside the Sawtooth National Recreation Area ranger station, south of the little town of Stanley, population sixty-three. I chat with the ranger behind the counter, mentioning that my son and I are heading out to backpack the 18-mile loop from Pettit Lake to Alice and Toxaway Lakes.

The ranger sizes up my six-year-old, 40-pound kid, and frowns skeptically. “You know, that’s a pretty rugged hike,” he tells me. Continue reading →

December 5, 2013 Sunset above Buck Creek Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Photo Essay: A Year of Outdoor Adventures

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By Michael Lanza

A few weeks ago, as I hiked with my daughter up the steep Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon, knocking off the last few miles of a three-day backpacking trip that had been wonderful on many levels, I was feeling awfully satisfied. For starters, through most of this fall, I’d had a bad itch to get out somewhere—and the Big Ditch, it turns out, is a pretty good place to scratch that itch. Plus, we’d just enjoyed three absolutely gorgeous, summer-like days of father-daughter time, and the company of two other families who joined us.

But seen from a longer view, returning to the Grand Canyon again felt like the perfect way to cap off another good year outdoors. In 2013, I got to seven national parks; five federal wilderness areas; an Idaho mountain range (the White Cloud Mountains) that might… no, should… become either federal wilderness or a national monument in the near future; and had the unforgettable pleasure of standing with my 12- and 10-year-old kids, my 15-year-old nephew, and my 76-year-old mom on the crater rim of Mount St. Helens. Continue reading →

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