Tag Archives: Cathedral Range

June 3, 2018 A backpacker in Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Backpacking Trips in Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

When I was a young, very green backpacker looking to expand my horizons on my first big backpacking trip in a major national park, my focus fell quickly on Yosemite. That fact certainly places me in the company of innumerable backpackers, of all ages and experience levels, who train their sights on this pearl of the High Sierra every year—for very good reasons. Simply put, few places possess Yosemite’s breadth and variety of scenery and inspire the same powerful sense of adventure. There’s only one Yosemite.

I’ve returned to backpack and climb in Yosemite numerous times since that first, unforgettable trip. And here’s what I’ve learned: Its backcountry harbors such an abundance of soaring granite peaks, jagged skylines, rushing creeks, waterfalls, and shimmering alpine lakes—plus, over 700,000 acres of designated wilderness and 750 miles of trails—that you can take many, many trips in America’s third national park without running out of five-star scenery. It unquestionably belongs on any list of the best national park backpacking trips. Continue reading →

January 15, 2018 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 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 →

August 31, 2015 Hiking Clouds Rest, Yosemite National Park, California.

Best of Yosemite, Part 1: Backpacking South of Tuolumne Meadows

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By Michael Lanza

I am floating in the stratosphere.

The feeling reminds me of childhood dreams of flying, but this is no dream. We are hiking across the slender, granite spine of 9,926-foot Clouds Rest, between sphincter-puckering abysses of deep air in the heart of Yosemite National Park. Below my left elbow, the rock drops off like a very long and insanely steep slide for several hundred feet before reaching forest; and that’s the side that feels less exposed. Below my right elbow, a cliff face sweeps downward a dizzying, stomach-churning 4,000 feet—that’s a thousand feet taller than the face of El Capitan. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker