Pacific Crest Trail

A backpacker near Park Creek Pass in North Cascades National Park.

Primal Wild: Backpacking 80 Miles Through the North Cascades

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.

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A backpacker in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park.

Best of Yosemite: Backpacking Remote Northern Yosemite

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 …

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Photo Gallery: An 86-Mile Walk Through Yosemite

Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.
Todd Arndt backpacking in Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

By Michael Lanza

For years, I had gazed longingly at my topographic maps of Yosemite, eyeballing the biggest and most remote swath of wilderness in this flagship national park: the vast realm of deep canyons and mountains rising to over 12,000 feet north of Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Road, a region that includes the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River and a chunk of the Pacific Crest Trail. I had to explore it. So I finally decided it was time, mapped out an 86-mile hike, talked a friend into a four-day blitz, and we ticked off one of the most glorious backpacking trips of my life.

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