Tag Archives: Mount Whitney

September 2, 2018 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

Photo Gallery: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Late summer always reminds me of my thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. Frequently referred to as “America’s Most Beautiful Trail,” 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.

If you haven’t done it, check out the photos below. They just might convince you that it’s time to move it to the top of your list.

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August 20, 2018 Sunset at Idaho's City of Rocks National Reserve.

Why I Never Miss a Wilderness Sunset or Sunrise

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The June evening was more than a few hours old when, without warning, the sky suddenly caught fire. The kids, teenagers and ’tweeners, and some of the adults in our group scrambled up onto a nearby rock formation at least 50 feet tall to observe the sunset from high off the ground. Like a wildfire swept forward by wind, hues of yellow, orange, and red leapt across bands of clouds suspended above the western horizon, their ragged bottoms edges, appropriately, resembling dancing flames.

For a span of just minutes that felt timeless, the light painted and repainted the clouds in ever-shifting, warm colors starkly contrasted against the cool, deepening blue of the sky—as if a vast lake had ignited. We stood hypnotized and enchanted on that evening during a long weekend of camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, until the last, dying flames of the celestial conflagration faded and were extinguished. For that brief time, the sunset had us all, adults and kids, completely in its thrall. Continue reading →

April 9, 2018 Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park

Tent Flap With A View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   30 Comments

By Michael Lanza

An unforgettable campsite can define a backcountry trip. Sometimes that perfect spot where you spend a night forges the memory that remains the most vivid long after you’ve gone home. A photo of that camp can send recollections of the entire adventure rushing back to you—it does for me. I’ve been very fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over nearly three decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. I’ve boiled the list of my favorite spots down to these 25.

I update this list every year, and each time, it becomes more difficult. This year, I’m adding a campsite in Titcomb Basin, in the heart of Wyoming’s majestic Wind River Range. Below my top 25 list you’ll find a second list of campsites that were previously in my top 25. Each campsite photo below includes a short description of where it is and the trip, and most have a link to an existing story about that trip at The Big Outside. Continue reading →

April 1, 2018 White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

12 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that my son, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which these days often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen to engage in physical activity for hours—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

Even though my kids, now 17 and 15, have backpacked more trips than they can remember, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades and Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers, we still occasionally encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors. But we’re usually successful, and our kids look forward to most of our adventures. Here are the reasons why. Continue reading →

February 20, 2018 Michael Lanza's family in Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park.

7 Tips For Getting Your Family on Outdoor Adventure Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

In the Digital Era, the idea of families spending lots of time outdoors—and actually taking trips built around some outdoor adventure enjoyed together—can seem an antiquated notion, like riding in a horse-drawn carriage to go on a picnic. But that lifestyle is a reality for many families (including mine), and one that brings parents and children together for sustained periods of time (hours! days!) that’s unplugged and genuinely fun.

How do you create that kind of lifestyle for your family? As the father of two teenagers who are maturing into avid backpackers, skiers, climbers, paddlers, and intelligent, fine young people who make me proud, I will tell you that this goal remains not only entirely feasible in the Digital Era, but all that much more critical—especially for kids. And when it’s done right, you and your children will consider the time you spend together on outdoor adventure trips some of the best you share as a family. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker