Tag Archives: Washington hiking backpacking

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 →

Photo Gallery: Hiking Mount St. Helens

January 29, 2017  |  In Family Adventures, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Crater rim of St. Helens.

My family at the crater rim of Mount St. Helens, with Mount Adams in the distance.

By Michael Lanza

More than three decades after it erupted, Mount St. Helens has become one of the most sought-after summits in the country—for good reason. Hikers on the standard Monitor Ridge route, on the mountain’s south side, begin in shady, cool, temperate rainforest, but soon emerge onto a stark, gray and black moonscape of volcanic rocks, pumice, and ash, with little vegetation and sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains. From the crater rim, you get a panorama that could steal the breath away from God.

And the time to get a permit to climb St. Helens this year is coming up.

Continue reading →

January 22, 2017 Campsite by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids, Grand Canyon.

Photo Gallery: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

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By Michael Lanza

Everyone has favorite campsites from unforgettable backcountry trips. I’ve been fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great campsites over nearly three decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. This photo gallery spotlights several camps from my list of 25 all-time favorite campsites (which I update annually). Among them are jaw-dropping spots like Death Canyon Shelf along the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park, Sahale Glacier Camp in North Cascades National Park, and a magical spot by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon (lead photo above). Continue reading →

December 22, 2016 Rainbow Lake, North Cascades National Park Complex.

3-Minute Read: Backpacking 80 Miles Through the North Cascades National Park Complex

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By Michael Lanza

I decided to tackle a big piece of unfinished business this fall. Over the course of several backpacking and climbing trips in Washington’s North Cascades region over the years, I had yet to explore the very heart of the North Cascades National Park Complex, a sprawling swath of heavily glaciated mountains and deep, thickly forested valleys. So in the last week of September, with huckleberries ripe and tasty beside the trails, and the fall color giving the larch trees the appearance of glowing yellow in sunlight, my friend Todd Arndt and I set out for an 80-mile stroll. Continue reading →

December 19, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park.

Photo Gallery: Every National Park I’ve Visited

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By Michael Lanza

The National Park Service turned 100 in 2016. That marked not just the diamond anniversary of what writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called “the best idea we ever had,” but also the evolution and growth of that idea from a handful of parks created in the early days to a system in many ways without parallel, that protects 52 million acres of mountain ranges, canyons, rivers, deserts, prairies, caves, islands, bays, fjords, badlands, natural arches, and seashores in 59 parks. Without that protection, these places that draw visitors from around the world would otherwise almost certainly have been exploited and destroyed. Continue reading →

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