Tag Archives: Darwin Lakes

June 25, 2018 Granite Park, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Big Wilderness, No Crowds: 5 Top Backpacking Trips For Solitude

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By Michael Lanza

We all want our wilderness backpacking trips to have two sometimes conflicting qualities: mind-blowing scenery, but also few other people around. A high degree of solitude somehow makes the backcountry feel more wild—makes the views more breathtaking. However unrealistic the notion may be, we like to believe we have some stunning corner of nature to ourselves. But in the real world, if you head out into popular mountains in July or August, you’ll probably have company—maybe more than you prefer.

Not on these five trips, though. From California’s High Sierra to the North Cascades and Wind River Range, and Idaho’s beloved Sawtooths to the peerless majesty of the Grand Canyon, here are five multi-day hikes where you’re guaranteed to enjoy a degree of solitude—at least on long stretches of the trip—that’s equal to the scenery. Continue reading →

August 11, 2016 Granite Park, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the John Muir Wilderness

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By Michael Lanza

Want to know where I shot the mountains photo in the banner across the top of The Big Outside? It was in Granite Park in the John Muir Wilderness, on a 32-mile traverse of one of the highest and most achingly gorgeous sections of California’s High Sierra, from North Lake, outside Bishop, to Mosquito Flat, between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes. My route linked up trails with long stretches of rugged cross-country hiking over lake-studded alpine basins and six passes between 11,150 and 13,040 feet, exploring corners of the Sierra rarely seen by people.

John Muir himself would have been pleased, as I think you’ll agree after seeing this photo gallery from that trip. Continue reading →

August 31, 2011

In the Footsteps of John Muir: Finding Solitude in the High Sierra

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By Michael Lanza

I’m slogging up a long ramp of beach-like sand toward Cox Col, an off-trail pass sitting a few ticks over 13,000 feet in California’s John Muir Wilderness. The high-altitude sun feels like a blacksmith’s forge hovering right above my head. My breaths come faster than my steps, and I feel lightheaded. But I’m thinking mostly about the pass ahead of us—and whether there’s a safe route over it. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker