Hells Canyon Wilderness, clip-art sign
Hells Canyon Wilderness, 2020

The roar of the jet boat reverberated against the canyon walls. We stood on a gravel spit, watching our transport disappear up the river. We backtracked to Granite Creek to drop our packs, hike up the canyon a couple miles, … Read More

Pioneer Wilderness Study Area, trail sign, September
Pioneer Wilderness Study Area: 2020, 2017 & 1987

The wind howled fierce and cold across Baptie Lake, at 10,000 feet our highest and coldest campsite on a nine-day loop in the Pioneer Mountains (Pioneers). All day we’d hiked through early winter in September. Chased out of Moose Lake … Read More

Jarbidge Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, July
Jarbidge Wilderness, 2020

Three signs—two on the outskirts of Jarbidge, Nevada and one near our trailhead for a weeklong wilderness trip—illustrate the infamy of disputed but rarely visited Jarbidge Wilderness. Ironically, the 113,000-acre wilderness we traversed for a week was a world apart … Read More

Private land access conundrums

We try to stick with public lands on our hikes; private land often spells trouble. In the 1980s, a week-long backpacking trip on national forest land in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains ended abruptly at a landowner fence. On a 1990s … Read More

Craters of the Moon, wilderness sign, July
Pioneers-Craters Trek, 2020

It took three tries over three years, but we finally made it. Our weeklong journey across public and private land in the Pioneer Mountain area (Pioneers) provided nearly exclusive access to vast fields of flowers, high grasses and sagebrush, lofty … Read More

Dark Canyon Wilderness, sign, May
Dark Canyon Wilderness, 2020

Confusion about water dominated our 2020 return trip to Dark Canyon Wilderness—and led to other problems on what we thought would be a fairly easy canyon hike. Our first visit was in April 1985. The access road that crosses near … Read More

Aldo Leopold Wilderness, sign, April
Aldo Leopold Wilderness, 2020

We had planned to revisit the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in southern New Mexico for years. Our first trip in late May 1982 whisked through the area on a loop encompassing part of the Black Range (on a short segment of … Read More

Aldo Leopold Legacy: gone up in flames

In 1980, Congress took 200,000 acres out of the 55-year-old Gila Wilderness and named it the Aldo Leopold to honor its namesake. Conservationist Aldo Leopold spent his early career years with the Forest Service in New Mexico and persuaded the … Read More

Four Peaks Wilderness, Still Recovering from 1996 Fire

We emerged from Four Peaks scratched, beaten and sporting minor injuries. My left knee—whiny under any circumstances—started to “pop” as I clambered up steep slopes through heavy brush in Alder Canyon. David, who clipped back manzanita and thorny ceanothus branches … Read More

Four Peaks Wilderness, backpacking, forest service sign, April
Four Peaks Wilderness, 2020

Two days into Four Peaks Wilderness, we had to accept defeat. Our plans to loop the well-known peaks visible from Scottsdale, Arizona, were foiled by postfire vegetative regrowth, unreliable information, and neglect. The trip started at the Arizona Trail (AZT) … Read More

Wild Times

Year 2020: unprecedented. Unpredictable weather continues. Phoenix, our winter home, missed its monsoon rains last summer but got them in fall and winter with cool temperatures. In late January we returned to Idaho for skiing. One small snowstorm and no … Read More

Superstition Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, December
Superstition Wilderness: 2020, 2019 & 2016

Nano warned me to stay out of the Superstition Mountains. As we traveled along Highway 60 towards Miami, she pointed out the red-walled mountains along our route. Having lived 50 years in this small Arizona mining burg, my grandmother was … Read More

Kofa Wilderness backpacking, Refuge boundary sign, December
Kofa Wilderness, 2020 & 2018

Alone in wilderness quiet, we broke camp and started a few miles cross country—over a hill, into a wash, and over another ridge into upper Red Raven Wash while skirting overhanging mesquite trees. A hawk dived down—maybe hunting a jackrabbit, … Read More

Melissa Green: Gila Trails Keeper

Steward Quit Job to Save Trails in Nation’s Oldest Wilderness Six weeks backpacking in the Gila Wilderness in 2000 sealed a long-term commitment. Melissa Green found a life purpose in the Gila, an extensive area of mountains, canyons, rolling ponderosa … Read More

Going to the Wilderness

It started in Virginia. And it led to revisiting favorite places across the country and rediscovering our own need for wilderness. A plan to visit all the wilderness in Virginia—and write a book about our adventures—was born in summer 2012. … Read More

Gila Wilderness, backpacking, Langstroth Trail, November
The GILA WILDERNESS nears 100; lost legacy?

I recently made my 10th visit to the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico—the nation’s oldest wilderness lying along a vast ridge and valley landscape with forests of ponderosa pine and oak-pinyon-juniper on ridges above Middle and West forks of … Read More

Wilderness Need Named Among 30 Top Wilderness Blogs

My WildernessNeed blog has been selected by Feedspot, an international marketing/promotion company, as one of Top 30 Wilderness Blogs in the world on the Internet. This Top 30 is an eclectic collection of adventure travel, advocacy, therapy and personal views … Read More

Gila Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, June
Gila Wilderness, 2019 & 2015

During college days in the late 1970s, I backpacked 11 days in the Gila Wilderness in southwest New Mexico in early May: strolling mellow trails through big ponderosa pine stands, glimpsing elk on the edges of verdant parks, crossing the … Read More

Elk Trail Management in the Pioneer Mountains

As an avid hiker I’m saddened by loss of legacy trails, especially on National Forests. The U.S. is blessed with a vast trails system on public lands. Some were early Indian and trapper routes; others built for mining, grazing and … Read More

Exploring Angst on the Appalachian Trail

Thru-hiking seems on the rise. Some even do a “triple crown”—Appalachian (AT), Continental Divide and Pacific Crest (PCT) Trails for a total 7,750-miles. I love trails. The idea of the 2000-mile trail AT intrigues me. I longed to do it … Read More

Earworms, The Cars, power of music and memories

Blogger’s note: since I have other interests besides hiking wilderness (including reading, writing, music, physical fitness, triathlons, spirituality), I will sometimes weigh in on these topics when we’re taking a break from our explorations. An earworm, also known as a … Read More

Shenandoah Wilderness, park sign, June2019
Shenandoah Wilderness, 2019 & 2014

We hiked the eastside of Shenandoah National Park for 14 years before we realized much of it is wilderness—the 2nd largest in the East. Forty percent of this popular park astride the Blue Ridge Mountains was designated wilderness in the … Read More

The Grand Surprise

I’ve posted an article on our recent revisit to Grand Gulch—a long canyon in southern Utah winding down from high mesas to the San Juan River and chock full of cliff dwellings, granaries, kivas and petroglyphs from a group of … Read More

Grand Gulch Wilderness Study Area, sign, May
Grand Gulch Wilderness Study Area, 2019

In April 1981 we hiked Grand Gulch—a long canyon in southern Utah known for cliff dwellings and artifacts—from Kane Gulch to the San Juan River. Photos and memories conjure up a hot hike slogging sand, minimal vegetation cutting across meanders; … Read More

Mazatzal Wilderness, backpacking sign, March
Mazatzal Wilderness: 2019, 2018 & 2016

The green grass and wet winter tricked me. On two January 2019 visits to the Mazatzal Wilderness, I was delighted by carpets of green on the mesas, pools and streams, and early spring flowers—results of a rainy late fall and … Read More

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