The expression “timing is everything”, occasionally derided as a common-sense platitude, is compelling when applied to backpacking. Hiking along a knife-edge ridge at sunset, watching sunrise from a campsite above timberline, encountering wildlife unexpectedly, getting the tent pitched at the last possible minute before a storm – meticulously planned or completely serendipitous, such moments are part of the thrill of backpacking. The physical act of backpacking, simply walking with a burden of g
It is doubtful that T.S. Eliot had backpackers in mind when he wrote that “April is the cruellest month”. Literary context aside, I’ve found this observation to be unpleasantly accurate in regard to outdoor recreation in Montana. After the short days and cold nights of winter, April tantalizes eager hikers with longer days, blue skies and mild temperatures in the valleys. The skis are put away, but the trails are either too snowy or too muddy to provide much enjoyment. Conditions on most rivers,
In the summer of 2009 I was sitting in a hotel room in Hirosaki, a small city in the far north of Japan’s main island of Honshu, eagerly anticipating my upcoming hike. It was to be the second big hike I’d ever gone on in Japan, and I was determined that unlike my first journey into this country’s wilderness, this one would be perfect. Unfortunately for me, though, neither of the two friends I was traveling with seemed particularly enthusiastic about hitting the trails, and we had yet to make the
There’s something puzzling but incredibly satisfying about arriving at an empty trailhead on a sunny Saturday morning during Labor Day weekend. While some national parks are setting records for visitation and crowded campgrounds and packed trails are the norm, I had an entire canyon in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of Montana to myself for 24 hours. Ten miles of well-maintained trail passed through lovely coniferous forest and beside a delightful waterfall to reach four subalpine lakes. This
The trail before me had become a treacherous, muddy mess. My backpack felt like a sodden weight pulling me down, and my shoes squished and oozed water with every step. I was looking down at what would have been a sharp descent, now transformed into a muddy slide. As I debated between simply sitting down on the trail and letting gravity carry me along or staggering forward and attempting to remain upright, I thought again about how I had let this happen.
The answer involved a series of
They say fire warms the soul, better yet when that fire is in a potbelly stove set inside a historic cabin atop the spine of the continent burning wood you didn’t have to chop! Rachel and I decided to celebrate my 31st birthday and our recent move to Colorado by booking an overnight stay at one of the over 30 backcountry huts for rent in Colorado through the 10th Mountain Hut Association and the above scenario is exactly what we found. Based on some advice from fellow TrailGroove writer @PaulMag
It is one thing to conceptually understand that you have the gear to bivy at 7,500 feet in the Northern Rockies with a forecast of six degrees below zero. It is another thing entirely to find yourself in circumstances where you end up having to do exactly that. And it was in such circumstances that I found myself on the last night of 2015. Perhaps I shouldn’t have turned down that invitation to a New Year’s Eve party after all.
I left home that morning later than I would’ve liked and
The last two winters I’ve spent living in the American southwest, and before I left I planned to take a long bike ride. I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go, but I was leaning towards somewhere way out in the desert. I changed my mind many times in the months before the trip, but eventually decided to leave sunny California, and drive further inland, to Utah.
I had driven this highway once before, a scenic route through the southern part of Utah. Highway 12, “The All American Road
Hiking from one beautiful place to another on pleasant and well-maintained trails is a great way to spend five days. Doing so with a good friend and cooperative weather makes a great experience even better. Throw in a few synchronous strokes of good fortune and you end up with an incredibly rewarding and memorable adventure.
Neither John nor I had been on a four-night trip since March 2011 when he, myself, and my girlfriend at the time did a trek through the Chiricahua Mountains in s
Last month, my brother and I met up in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. My brother is more of a biker than a hiker, and as such our goal was to bike the White Rim Road that runs throughout the district and loop back to our starting point, a mountain bike ride totaling 103 miles.
We’d brainstormed a few ways to tackle the trip, from trying it in one very long day to taking things very easy over many days. Eventually, we settled on 2 nights…We'd be carrying o
A few weeks ago I was able to return to Canyonlands National Park, but this time stayed on the opposite side of the river from the Maze to join up with Ted Ehrlich and Christy who drove in from Colorado to backpack through Salt Creek Canyon and the Needles.
Our respective drives late on a Thursday night resulted in a noon-ish start from the Cathedral Butte trailhead the next day after shuttling a vehicle. The weather was slightly sketchy, overcast with what looked like rain in the dis
In mid-March, Ted Ehrlich and I spent a few days backpacking in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Maze is frequently referred to as one of the most remote spots in the lower 48, and though I’m not sure how exactly it ranks on that scale, it did require some significant of amounts of off-highway driving to reach.
The Maze is located in southeastern Utah, west of the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers and bordered by the both to the east. Though bordered by wa
Back in April, Ted Ehrlich and I spent a few days hiking and camping in southern Utah – One highlight of that trip had to be our hike through Buckskin Gulch, one of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world. With a snowy drive through Wyoming and then a whiteout in Colorado, the drive wasn’t a fast one and I met Ted at a deserted trailhead near Grand Junction around 10pm. From here we’d carpool into Utah. We drove west in the night, eventually moving past the snowstorm and into Utah, whe