White Cloud Mountains

Below the Big Boulder Lakes, White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Ask Me: What Backpacking Trip Do You Recommend in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains?

[Note: This is a combined response to two similar questions from readers.]

Michael,

Your spectacular photos of Castle Peak and the White Cloud Mountains have inspired us to take a backpacking trip there this August or September. Do you have any suggestions for a loop hike? We have backpacked out West—Maroon Bells, Teton Crest Trail, all over the canyons of Utah. We can easily do 8 to 10 miles a day, as we like to go slow and admire the beautiful Western scenery, and probably 5 to 6 days on trail. Thank you for any advice, I love looking at your pictures. Your Mount St. Helens pictures brought back many wonderful memories of our Pacific Northwest trip.

Helen
West Chester, PA

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Ask Me: What Are Your Favorite Places in the Northwest and Northern Rockies?

Michael,

I’ve been checking out your excellent backpacking posts and think you may be the right person to help me out with my search. My partner and I have taken a year off work to travel around the U.S. We had a great time hiking and canyoneering in Escalante. So now we’re in the Northwest, and want to find a great wilderness base camp where we can set up for a few days and explore the surrounding area. I’ve heard great things about Idaho, but Washington, Montana and Wyoming are all within striking distance, too. So much choice! If you have any recommendations for us—even if it’s just a wilderness area to hone in on—they would be most gratefully received.

Thanks,
Brian
London, England

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Hikers on Trail 47 near 10,000-foot Castle Divide in the White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Head in the Clouds: Hiking In Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains

By Michael Lanza We gaze up at a wall of shattered, crumbling gray and white rock rising several hundred feet above us, a barrier of cliffs separated by severely steep gullies of loose stones. The gullies offer the only remotely feasible routes up or down, but they look about as stable as a mountain of marbles. We’re debating which gully …

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Below the Big Boulder Lakes, White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Exploring a Wilderness Hopeful: Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains

By Michael Lanza

In the long dusk that prevails in the shadow of tall mountains, we hike steadily uphill through pine forest broken by an occasional meadow with views of distant, rocky peaks. When dark falls, we don headlamps and continue hiking into the night.

My backpacking partner, my 12-year-old son, Nate, has never hiked late at night. For him, this is a new and mildly thrilling experience—it feels a little like breaking a rule without consequences. After all, there are wild animals out here, including bears and mountain lions that wander nocturnally in search of something to eat—such as a large, slow, two-legged creature with poor night vision and a useless sense of smell.

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The "Diving board," Half Dome, Yosemite National Park.

10 Favorite Images From 2013 Adventures

By Michael Lanza

After plowing through several thousand photos taken over the course of about 15 trips last year, I selected the following 10 that represent, for me, either the essence of each adventure or a moment when light, landscape, and composition came together just right. At this coldest and darkest time of year, kick back for a few minutes and daydream over these possibilities. You’ll find links in a few of the descriptions below to existing stories about these places at The Big Outside, and I’ll eventually post stories with many more photos from all of them.

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