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Backpacker May/June 2019

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

1 min
eva luna harper-zahn

Shortly after starting up Mt. Whitney at 1 a.m., Eva Luna needed a nap. She was feeling the altitude, and like most kids her age, was not accustomed to the body-and mind-jarring effects of an alpine start. But unlike most kids her age, she thought climbing a 14,505-foot mountain sounded like fun. So she took an hour-long break in her dad’s lap, then continued. Eva Luna, a second-grader from Berkeley, California, didn’t need another nap. She made it to the summit at 7:30 a.m. with her 9-year-old brother Sun and their father, Oliver. On the peak, Eva Luna had enough energy to make a joke—she pretended she couldn’t finish the final few feet—and then cried tears of joy at the top. “I felt so excited and happy because I made it!”…

3 min
private by nature

THE SMALL TRAILHEAD parking lot was packed. Over a dozen cars were sardined in, with more in the overflow lot 100 yards down the road. My heart sank. This was not what I’d expected when I planned a family-and-friends backpacking trip in California’s Trinity Alps last summer. I wanted to bring the crew to one of my favorite childhood lakes, and I had a vision of where we’d camp, where we’d picnic, where we’d jump from rocks into the cold, clear water. The crowded parking lot threatened that vision. Would we have to jostle for a campsite? Would the lake be a mob scene? What were all these people doing on my trail? Overcrowding is a frustration that hikers face more and more these days. The reasons are not surprising. First, there…

4 min

Mom Knows Best After we published Ted Alvarez’s account of taking his mother on her first backpacking trip (“Mom’s Big Adventure,” August 2018), one anonymous reader wrote in to ask for an update. “Mom had a hard time picking a favorite moment from red rock country, but she says the solitude and accomplishment she found in Capitol Reef offered the longest-lasting rewards,” Ted says. And she’s planning another life-list hike in Glacier or Yosemite this year. “The next big challenge: getting my two-showers-a-day dad on board.” LIVING PROOF The story of Christian “Buddy Backpacker” Thomas, who finished the Appalachian Trail at 5 years old and the Triple Crown at 9, inspired many readers when we published it in May 2015. But recently, reader and Triple-Crowner Michael Jurasius wrote in to ask us a…

1 min
1 get a look at this.

ROAN HIGHLANDS, TN/NC Whether pink and lavender clouds settle over the valleys or burn off to reveal long views over rhododendron-crowned slopes, the hike along Grassy Ridge promises a sensory overload of one kind or another in early summer. By June, the catwalk erupts with two types of rhododendrons: Catawbas (pictured) and rosebays. It’s becoming a bit popular, so check it out mid-week or early in the morning (better chance of fog), and head east from Carvers Gap. Follow the Appalachian Trail 2 miles across Round and Jane Balds to reach Grassy Ridge Bald and this view. PERMIT None CONTACT www.fs.usda.gov/cherokee…

3 min
2 baptism by fire

MT. RINJANI IS NOT A friendly volcano. When it goes, it ejects ash more than 2 miles high and deposits sulfur as far away as the Arctic. Some scientists think that Mt. Rinjani alone caused the second ice age. That’s a lot of pent-up volcanic violence humming beneath my boots as I trudge up its eastern flank. Many people visit Mt. Rinjani on the island of Lombok for this thrill. They want to get close—maybe uncomfortably close—to the seat of geothermal power. I get that, but it’s not why I’m here. For me, the risk is a means to an end, the gateway to some of the most exotic scenery on the planet and for sure its prettiest lake. THE RISK OF CLIMBING THIS VOLCANO IS A MEANS TO AN END, THE…

3 min
3 may flowers

PORTERS CREEK TRAIL GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, TN Every April, snow gives way to white of a different kind when phacelias, trilliums, and bloodroots burst into season. You don’t have to go far to see the show on the hike to Fern Branch Falls: The flora starts at the onset and doesn’t stop until you reach the 35-foot, moss-framed cascade at mile 2. Do it as a 4-mile out-and-back, beginning by walking past milky trilliums. Follow the blooms southwest alongside a lazy river (look for the crumbling stone walls of an abandoned farmstead). At mile 1.5, the springtime party will be in full swing, with delicate violets and mauve bleeding hearts mixing in with the snowy phacelias and bloodroots. Reach the turnaround point at the waterfall 2 miles in, then botanize…