Backcountry Sights Photos and stories from the outdoors Thu, 10 Oct 2019 00:16:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Backcountry Sights 32 32 123251974 Glacier National Park Day Hikes Thu, 01 Aug 2019 12:00:44 +0000 As we wind around Metahpi Peak, the alpine meadows of Preston Park recede behind the rocky slopes. We get a few glimpses of the Boulder Creek drainage lined with rust-red slopes, but soon lose that view as well as we reach Siyeh Pass. From that high vantage point, we're treated to a spectacular view of the valley we'll be hiking through for the remainder of the afternoon, the Baring Creek drainage. The massive Sexton Glacier feeds half a dozen cascades which in turn feed the roaring Baring Creek several thousand feet below the pass.

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Lost Creek Wilderness Backpacking Loop Tue, 09 Jul 2019 01:40:07 +0000 Once all our preparatory chores are complete, we begin “The Alphabetizer,” an off-trail route that hits four 12-ers (peaks above 12,000 feet high): Zephyr, Peak Z, Peak Y, and Peak X. According to the map, we’re somewhere below Zephyr, so we head uphill. As with the lower section of the hillside, it’s a steep climb, but the ascent is much easier with our lightened packs.

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A Night on the Tuscarora Trail Wed, 26 Jun 2019 21:00:07 +0000 The climb doesn't take long, and we're soon strolling along the rocky ridge line. A cool breeze blows through the trees, and the soft colors of sunrise still linger near the horizon. We spend some time relaxing on a rock that overlooks the Shenandoah River, soaking in the view and enjoying the peaceful morning.

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Mountaineering at Mount Baker Mon, 06 May 2019 12:00:31 +0000 My favorite part of the afternoon is learning about and practicing building haul systems: we use carabiners and prusiks to construct a system of pulleys that effectively reduce the amount of force the rescuer must exert to pull their friend out of the crevasse. As an engineer and an aspiring mountaineer, I very much enjoy using the laws of physics to gain a mechanical advantage with materials I'm already carrying.

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Haleakalā Summit Loop Sun, 20 Jan 2019 00:40:32 +0000 The trail continues to twist and turn between the numerous sandy cones, eventually descending into a large valley full of strange, twisted rocks. It looks very alien; Mars-like, perhaps. The lava doesn't even look solid, like some strange extrusion from a 3D printer. The path makes a beeline through these curious formations; I pause a few times to examine them more closely and then hurry to catch up with Brian and Diane.

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Day Hikes on the Road to Hāna Fri, 18 Jan 2019 13:02:45 +0000 Further up the trail, we cross a ravine full of deep pools and small cascades. On the opposite side of the ravine, we enter a bamboo forest. The bamboo stocks tower some 40 or 50 feet above the trail, blocking out most of the afternoon sunlight. I've never seen bamboo so tall, or so much of the stuff; our walk through the bamboo forest covers the better part of a mile!

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Autumn Day Hikes in the German Alps Thu, 06 Dec 2018 23:46:21 +0000 The path to the top soon appears as we reach the base of the cliffs. A set of stairs constructed from logs and back-filled gravel between two of the stone escarpments provide an easy route to the top. As soon as I reach the top I'm instantly distracted by the incredible vista that has appeared on the other side of the ridge. Multiple lines of craggy, snow-dusted mountains stretch across the horizon, their peaks hidden in the clouds. The long, tedious climb up the ski runs and gravel roads is well-worth this reward!

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Backpacking Along the Teton Crest Mon, 27 Aug 2018 01:30:11 +0000 The trail soon departs the airy ridge and begins descending, gradually at first but then more steeply, toward Alaska Basin. Along the way, Diane and I pass strange metamorphic rock that seems almost fluid, like the rippled surface of a slate-grey lake frozen in time. The entire plateau is covered with small, tile-sized pieces of the stuff as well as the occasional plinth protruding from the surface. Stranger yet, holes a few meters across and 1-2 meters deep lie scattered across the landscape; are these related to the volcanic history? Perhaps collapsed lava tubes? Yet another oddity: a murder of 30 or 40 crows sit perched on various rocks across the plateau, with a few floating just above the ground, riding the stiff wind like kites. Do they nest up here? Why are they all sitting around? I have so many questions and so few answers.

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The High Uinta Wilderness Sun, 19 Aug 2018 02:00:16 +0000 Unlike many trailheads, this one is perched high in the mountains at 10,370'. With such a lofty starting point, the first mile of our trip is actually downhill, an easy beginning to the trek. The weather this morning is perfect: bright sunshine bathes the landscape, a light breeze wafts through the pines, and a few fluffy clouds drift overhead.

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Sierra High Route: Lake Country Wed, 08 Aug 2018 02:00:16 +0000 From Cotton Lake, I follow Roper's instructions to descend a steep grassy slope to Izaak Walton Lake. The route instructions are oddly specific, but I understand why when I reach the lakeshore; most of the lake is surrounded by unassailable granite cliffs. Strolling around the southern shore, I can't help but admire the glassy water reflecting the nearby cliffs and distant, sunlit peaks.

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