Tag Archives: Pacific Crest Trail

August 27, 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 →

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 →

March 18, 2018 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: My Top Picks For Long Backpacking Trips

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Hi Michael,

I’m looking for a backpacking loop, out and back, or shuttle that allows me about 20 miles a day for about five days. I’ve done a ton of multi-day backpacking and lots of long-distance trails. I’m an elementary-school teacher, and I usually take a solo trip the first week of my summer vacation. It can be tricky as it’s the second week of June and there is usually too much snow to attempt certain trails. I saw your piece on the Timberline Trail around Mount Hood in Oregon, which is an option, but I’m looking for more like 75 to 125 miles in total. Ideas would be sooo appreciated. Continue reading →

January 29, 2018 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.

Some things, though, don’t require explanation; the validation comes in just doing it. So I give you here my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of hauling a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

October 2, 2017 A backpacker near Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington.

Primal Wild: Backpacking 80 Miles Through the North Cascades

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By Michael Lanza

“Lots of bears at Grizzly Creek.”

Those words that a backcountry ranger spoke to me over the phone just yesterday echo through our heads now, as my friend Todd Arndt and I descend switchbacks from misleadingly named, 6,500-foot Easy Pass into the densely forested valley of Fisher Creek in Washington’s North Cascades National Park. Fog swirls around the jagged peaks nearly a vertical mile above us. Battleship-gray skies threaten a common meteorological occurrence in these mountains—rain—although we’ve seen only sprinkles and wind so far. We’re hiking downhill past ripe huckleberry bushes toward a thicket of slide alder and chest-high brush that the trail passes through—ideal bear habitat.

“That’s where they’ll be,” I say to Todd. Without taking his eyes off that tangle of alder and tall brush, Todd just says, “Yup.” Continue reading →

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