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Lost Tribe Lakes in Colorado's Indian Peaks Wilderness after a violent afternoon monsoon storm

Tutorial: How to predict backcountry weather conditions || Methods & sources for short & long trips

I have said this before, and continue stand by it: there is a right way to backpack: equip yourself with the gear, supplies, and skills that are appropriate for the conditions and your trip objective. Among the conditions that I consider (there are about 10; view the full list), the weather — specifically temperatures, precipitation, […]

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In just 2.3 miles, the Pfiffner Traverse climbs Thunderbolt Creek, tops out at Paiute Pass, and drops steeply on the other side to Pawnee Pass Trail. It averages 1,350 vertical feet of change per mile through this section.

It’s the vertical, stupid: How many days should I budget for a high route?

Last week on r/Ultralight, member u/TeddyBallgame1999 asked multiple questions about the Wind River High Route, including: The essence of this question — “How long will it take me?” — has been posed before, in the context of the WRHR and similar routes like the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, Pfiffner Traverse, Glacier Divide Route, and […]

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Current snowpack versus other "big winters" from the past 20 years, as recently as 2010-11.

No longer #snowpocalypse: Just an “average big winter” for the High Sierra

Through the beginning of March, California was having an extraordinary winter. Snowpack in the High Sierra was keeping pace with the wettest winter on record, 1982-83. If the trend had continued, conditions would have been very challenging for aspiring Pacific Crest and John Muir Trail hikers, due to extensive lingering snowpack and high run-off, probably […]

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Extensive snow coverage on the north side of Mather Pass, looking towards Palisade Lakes, after a very wet winter. Taken June 28, 2006.

Reader question: Should I change my High Sierra itinerary due the heavy snowfall?

A reader question from Gabino: I’m sure that every backpacker planning to undertake the PCT, JMT, Sierra High Route, Kings Canyon High Basin Route, or any other high-elevation route in California’s High Sierra is wondering the same thing right now. Here are some thoughts: California’s snowpack: The Facts There are many ways to record and analyze […]

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The Davidson River, Pisgah National Forest

Thought it impossible: Wildfires close 140 miles of the Appalachian Trail

Along the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails, closures and fire bans are considered normal, especially after dry winters or late in the summer. Ditto for other long trails through arid or semi-arid environments like the Arizona Trail or Colorado Trail. But I considered such trail closures impossible on the Appalachian Trail, which is nicknamed “The Green Tunnel” […]

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From Sentry Peak Pass, looking across the upper Middle Fork valley towards the next pass on the Wind River High Route, Photo Pass.

Repeating myself: Section-hike (don’t thru-hike) the Wind River High Route

The Wind River High Route is world-class and represents a “best of” backcountry experience in one of the wildest mountain ranges in the country. A similar statement could be made about the Sierra High Route, Kings Canyon High Basin Route, and Glacier Divide Route. A thru-hike of any one of these routes is likely to be a lifetime memory. But for nearly everyone, […]

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A gear explosion in Amanda's 600 square foot apartment. It did not go over well when she arrived home from work.

A backpacking gear list: Its importance and core functions

On a trip planning checklist, what’s the most time-consuming task? Making travel plans, preparing food, selecting a route — yes, they can all rank up there. But gear selection probably tops the list, especially for new backpackers and for veteran backpackers without experience in a particular location or season. A gear list will make this process much easier, for current […]

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The permit station at Road's End in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park

Permit directory: Wilderness & backcountry camping in the Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada mountains are world-class, encompassing two National Parks (Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings), the John Muir Trail, and a half-dozen Wilderness Areas like Desolation, Golden Trout, and Emigrant. The heart of the range extends from the Kern River in the south, to Lake Tahoe in the north. Backcountry use is accordingly significant, by residents of […]

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