Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, forest service sign, September
Sierra Nevada Trek, 2017

I first saw the Minarets from a high pass in California’s Sierra Nevada (“snowy range”) as a college student, helping with a church youth group backpack trip. The jagged peaks in the Ritter Range northwest of Mammoth stuck in my … Read More

Bryce Canyon Backcountry, wrongly called wilderness, May
Bryce Canyon Backcountry, 2017

I once hiked nearly half of Bryce Canyon’s Under-the-Rim Trail in a morning. Forty-two years later, my husband and I spent most of a day hiking this distance (along with a loop from Rainbow Point). We found this lightly used … Read More

Bear Wallow Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, May
Bear Wallow Wilderness, 2017

Bear Wallow Wilderness may have been a popular backpacking area—but now it is only famous as the source of Arizona’s largest fire in recent history. In 2011, two careless backpackers left a smoldering campfire by Bear Wallow Creek. The flames … Read More

Blue Range Primitive Area, Forest Service sign, April
Blue Range Primitive Area, 2017

We used to admire the Blue Range—a sprawling hunk of high-elevation wild country on the Arizona-New Mexico border—during our student days in Tucson. We often hiked the nearby and better known Gila Wilderness, and could see the “Blue” ridge upon … Read More

Brigantine Wilderness, sign, November
Brigantine Wilderness, 2016

In August 2000, we made our first visit to the only wilderness in New Jersey—inadvertently. Our teenage daughter had insisted on a “real” beach vacation with no camping or backpacking, so we took the Cape May-Lewes Ferry from Maryland to … Read More

Assateague Island Proposed Wilderness, 2016

“Going to the beach” is an iconic ritual for many Eastern U.S. residents. Thousands make the spring or summer pilgrimage east seeking undulating coastal expanse, shorebirds, shells, salt air, and wild skies along humanity’s favorite wilderness: the restless, ever-changing ocean. … Read More

Central Idaho Trek, 2016

I finished the last long switchback to crest of Sleeping Deer Mountain. For past two days I had trudged up hot side slopes, clambered over logs, and fought chest-high brush in wet bogs, the 9,881-foot white granite peak in my … Read More

Catalina-Rincon Trek, 2016

During our student years at the University of Arizona, five from our hiking club attempted to trek across the Santa Catalina (Catalinas) and Rincon Mountains (Rincons) that frame the northeast corner of Tucson, Arizona. We started in pre-dawn dark aiming … Read More

Galiuro Wilderness, Forest Service sign, January
Galiuro Wilderness, 2016 & 2015

The Galiuro Wilderness in southern Arizona once boasted 100 miles of legacy trails—still touted in recent articles and shown on a map posted at some trailheads and online trail descriptions (click outside map to close it). But two recent efforts … Read More

Cumberland Island Wilderness, sign
Cumberland Island Wilderness, 2015

It took two trips to Cumberland Island Wilderness to figure out how to visit it. Although the nation’s only barrier island wilderness available for backpacking offers miles of roads and trails, dikes for marsh access, sand dunes, and lonely beaches—you … Read More

Miller Peak Wilderness, sign, October
Miller Peak Wilderness, 2015

It was the first time we had hiking guests, and we wanted it to be perfect. My younger sister, Chris, and brother-in-law, David R, were active hikers and cyclists but this was their first backpack trip. Cousin Mike was an … Read More

Stone Mountain Wilderness, 2014

We were about three miles from the trailhead and about 2000 feet straight up, breaking camp on Olinger Peak in the Stone Mountain Wilderness, when we heard a mechanized hum in the distance. An ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) rolled into camp, … Read More

Southern Blue Ridge wilderness areas, 2014

A mile into Little Wilson Wilderness, we were deep in wet leaves on an eroded trail. Jackie Street Trailhead was well marked from the road and a nice walk through a gate and past cattle in a green pasture. When … Read More

Southern Ridge & Valley wilderness areas, 2014

Our Virginia Wilderness Project was going well. Between 2012 and mid-summer 2014, we had visited 16 of 24 wilderness areas. But other work and life caught up, and we didn’t hike for two months. In September 2014 we squeezed in … Read More

Central Ridge & Valley wilderness areas, 2014

The long ridge of Potts Mountain runs for miles along or near the Virginia-West Virginia border north of Interstate-84 between Pulaski and Roanoke. Six wilderness areas on or close to Potts could offer interesting backpacking opportunity in remote country—with a … Read More

Northern Ridge & Valley wilderness areas, 2014

It was getting dark and David had lagged behind. But I was determined to find the lovely green flat and chimney remnant from Sexton cabin on Jerry’s Run Creek. Years ago my preteen daughter and I lolled on the greens … Read More

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