Tag Archives: Pacific Crest Trail

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 →

July 2, 2017 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

My Top 10 Favorite Backpacking Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments

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 a mandatory qualification. 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 of my top 10 are in national parks or federal 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 humping a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

April 2, 2017 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What Are Your Top Picks For Long Backpacking Trips?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

Hi Michael,

I usually take a solo trip the first week of my summer vacation. I’m an elementary-school teacher, and I’ve done a ton of multi-day backpacking and lots of long-distance trails. It can be tricky as it’s the second week of June and there is usually too much snow to attempt certain trails. I’m looking for a loop, out and back, or shuttle that allows me about 20 miles a day for about five days. I looked long and hard at the Mah Dah Hey Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but the 22-hour drive each way is a bit daunting. I’ve been looking at trying to find a closer alternative. Continue reading →

January 16, 2017 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 the wilderness of northern Yosemite National Park, my friend Todd Arndt and I—with legs feeling a little weary—reached our fourth pass of that day. We had hit the home stretch of the 23-mile, second day of a four-day, 86-mile hike; only a steep, quad-melting, 1,500-foot descent stood between us and soothing our very tired feet in the cool sand and cold water at Benson Lake (possibly the most unbelievable mountain lake I’ve ever seen).

Just beyond the pass, we strolled past quiet tarns where a few parties of 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 most scenic multi-day hikes I’ve ever taken. Continue reading →

September 5, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Best of Yosemite, Part 2: Backpacking Remote Northern Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

Under a sky lacking even one tiny cotton ball, and so blue you want to pour it into a cup and drink it, Todd and I walk across Tuolumne Meadows, carrying full but light backpacks and hearts full of anticipation. Across the creek-cut meadows, Cathedral Peak knifes into the stratosphere, and domes of polished granite bubble up above the treetops. The temperature hovers around 60° F, the air is as calm as a monk.

When you’re hiking on a September morning at 8,700 feet in the high country of Yosemite National Park, life floats intoxicatingly close to perfection. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker