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Backpacker August 2018

Published nine times a year, Backpacker is a magazine of wilderness travel, offering practical, "you can do it, here's how" advice to help you enjoy every trip. Filled with the best places, gear, and information for all kinds of hiking and camping trips, each issue delivers foldout maps and stunning color photography.

United States
Pocket Outdoor Media, LLC
Back issues only

in this issue

3 min
higher calling

JOHN DID NOT WANT TO GO backpacking. The 14-year-old had much better things to do, he told me. Friends to hang out with. Video games to play. Heck, he said, he’d rather do nothing than go hiking for a week. This was a problem because his mom had signed him up for a kids’ backpacking trip I was guiding, and the teens were already at the trailhead in California’s Trinity Alps when John (not his real name) informed me of his wish to be anywhere else. Too late. So John shouldered his pack, grimacing as if the backpanel was lined with nails, and trudged up the trail with the others. Our group of 10 would spend the next five days hiking lake to lake as the kids learned basic skills like route…

2 min

Hike Now David Roberts’s essay on exploring Cedar Mesa in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis (“The Last Canyon,” May) inspired several readers to share their own stories. “Cancer steals our joys in life, at least for those of us whose passion lies in the wilderness,” KJ Stevens wrote. Ezra Zbach pitched a workaround: “My mother is disabled and can’t get out in nature in the same ways I can,” he wrote. “I have always wanted to record 3D video tours for her.” (We have a few to get you started at backpacker.com/360.) Lisa Pirkkala had some advice for the healthy: “Take time off from work, use your PTO, just get out there and live your dreams,” she wrote. “You never know what the future will bring.” BEAR WITH US There’s no…

1 min
find your peace

Take 13 miles of Lake Superior’s pristine coastline dotted with bluffs, beaches, caves, and islands, add in 70°F temps, then subtract the crowds, and you get the Beaver Basin Wilderness in midsummer. This small piece of Pictured Rocks doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but that suits hikers—and paddlers—just fine. There are a few ways to do it. Option A: Strong paddlers can kayak 20 miles northeast from Munising Bay, passing Pictured Rocks highlights Miners Beach and Chapel Rock en route, to Beaver Basin. Grab a permit for one of the four lakeshore campsites. Option B: Get there on foot. From the Little Beaver Lake Campground, follow the backcountry trail north to the shore before doglegging east to camp at Pine Bluff, the most remote site in Beaver Basin, near mile…

4 min
walk on the wild side

The geologic forces that built the Range of Light followed two different blueprints: On the west side, a long, gradual slope climbs from the Central Valley to the Sierra Crest. But on the east, the divide plummets dramatically to the flats, creating a wonderland of granite peaks and alpine lakes guarded by punishingly steep approaches. High summer is the best time to tackle the wilder side, and with topography like that, what are you waiting for? Visit Sailor Lake on an 11-mile out-and-back from the Lake Sabrina trailhead. THE INSIDER SP Parker has been exploring the eastern Sierra and its five wilderness areas and three national parks—up to 100 days a season—for a lifetime. A Kiwi by birth, Parker fled soggy New Zealand for sunny California almost 40 years ago and has been…

1 min
follow the rainbow

OK, we can’t promise you a rainbow, but shockingly green foliage, a reprieve from the summer sun, and surging waterfalls are all on the docket when you visit Savage Gulf in midsummer. Link the Stone Door, Big Creek Gulf, and Big Creek Rim Trails to create an 8.6-mile lollipop-loop that touches it all. Don’t miss short spurs to 50-foot Ranger Falls and 65-foot, two-tiered Greeter Falls (great swimming here) on the gorge floor before looping back along the view-packed rim. And, if it’s a rainbow you’re after, do the hike as an overnight so you’re in prime position when the morning fog lifts. Camp at Alum Gap (mile 4.9), where sites 4 to 8 sit right on the gorge’s rim ($8; recreation.gov). CONTACT bit.do/south-cumberland…

3 min
safari on foot

The equatorial sun sank to the horizon, turning the sky fiery orange. Under normal circumstances, I would have been mesmerized by this sunset. But at least 30 baboons kept distracting me, scampering around the rock dome where we were sitting, looking for a place to bed down for the night—away from hyenas, leopards, and other predators. They looked like kids on a jungle gym, jumping from perch to perch and skittering across the smooth stone. When I signed on for a Kenyan safari with my son Tate (then 11), I knew we wanted to see wildlife on its own terms. I wasn’t interested in drive-by sightings or staying in a stuffy lodge, the standard way to see the African wilderness. However, it’s hard to find an alternative. Wildlife preserves like Kenya’s…