Tag Archives: Mount Whitney
I am a first-time JMT hiker this summer. I’m an avid dayhiker and will do some two- and three-day hikes to prepare. I’m losing 20 pounds and doing a lot of strength training. Here are my concerns: I am 55 years old and this trip is my way of celebrating this milestone and 25 years of sobriety! I may have to hike part of it alone—I have friends with me for the first week and the last week. I really want to pack light. I know I can do 10 miles/day, but I would like to average 15 mpd. I have read pack lists from women who ended up with 40 to 50 lbs.! I have no desire to carry that much. Can you give me an idea of a realistic daily mileage and how I can keep my pack 35 lbs. or under without running out of food and water, and where I should stop to resupply? Continue reading →
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; mutiny 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 →
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 16 and 14, have dayhiked and backpacked hundreds of miles, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades, and cross-country skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers, we still sometimes encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors. But we’re usually still successful, and our kids look forward to most of our adventures. Here are the reasons why. Continue reading →
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 the largest nearby rock formation 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 completely in its thrall. Continue reading →
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 more than two 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 two spots where I camped in the past year: below the East Face of Mount Whitney, and on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. Below my top 25 list you’ll find a second list of campsites that were previously in my top 25. Continue reading →