Tag Archives: Sequioa-Kings Canyon National Park

February 19, 2017 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

Photo Gallery: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

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By Michael Lanza

The John Muir Trail is frequently referred to as “America’s Most Beautiful Trail,” and 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.
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January 30, 2017 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

My Top 10 Favorite 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 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 writing for this blog. Continue reading →

September 8, 2016 At Trail Crest on the John Muir Trail, Mount Whitney, Sequoia National Park.

Video: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

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By Michael Lanza

Every year, when the pleasant temperatures and bug-free days and evenings of late summer arrive, I’m reminded of one of the best backpacking trips I’ve ever taken: my thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. Do you have plans or dreams of backpacking “America’s most beautiful trail?” Take your first step on that adventure right now by watching this video of images from my JMT thru-hike. Continue reading →

June 28, 2016 Wanda Lake, in the Evolution Basin on the John Muir Trail.

Planning to Thru-Hike the John Muir Trail? Do It Right on This 10-Day, Ultralight Plan

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By Michael Lanza

Are you planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail? “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” should be on every serious backpacker’s tick list. After thru-hiking it in a week (read my story about that and see more photos and a video from the JMT), I became convinced that—while a week was very hard—the traditional itinerary of spreading the roughly 221-mile trip out over three weeks or more has a serious flaw: Because of limited food-resupply options, you’ll carry a monster pack that may not only make you sore and uncomfortable, it could cause injuries or other problems that cut short your trip.

Over the years, I’ve evolved from being one of those traditional, heavy-pack backpackers to traveling as light as absolutely possible, and the John Muir Trail is perfect for an ultralight strategy because of its generally dry, late-summer weather, well-constructed footpath, and moderate grades. Continue reading →

April 21, 2016

Ask Me: Questions From a 55-Year-Old Woman First Time Hiking the John Muir Trail

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Hi Michael!

I am a first-time JMT hiker this summer. I am an avid day hiker and will do some two- and three-day hikes in spring to prepare. I am also 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 along with 25 years of sobriety! I may have to hike part of the trail alone—I have friends with me for the first week and another friend joining the last week. I really want to pack light. I know I can do 10 miles/day, but I would like to try to average 15 mpd. I have read pack lists from women who have 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 →

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