For a long time, I've wanted to start/end a backpacking loop from my parents lakehouse in Grand Lake, CO, located on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. This year, my buddy and I did just that—we headed out from Grand Lake and spent 4 days/3 nights on the North Inlet/Tonahutu Loop. We took an extra day at North Inlet Creek to day hike to Lake Nokoni and Lake Nanita—the latter is one of the park's largest alpine lakes. On our journey, we encountered moose and a herd of elk, climbed nearly 5,000 feet, and saw some of the most beautiful Rocky Mountain landscapes.
Grand Teton National Park has been number 1 on my list of places to backpack/camp for a while—and it surly did not disappoint. A group of friends and I backpacked the Teton Crest Trail this past July. The area (and most of the Western US) got record snowfall this past winter, and therefore, we were greeted with a trail still around 70% snow-covered. This was the first time any of us had backpacked in the snow before, so it was an adventure with many challenges—but was one of the most rewarding trips of my life.
The diversity of the landscapes and ecosystems in Washington's Olympic National Park was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. On this trip, we split our wilderness adventure into two parts—the first route was along the rugged coast from Shi Shi Beach to Ozette Lake, and the second was in the mountains, Seven Lakes Basin Loop, from Sol Duc Trailhead.
I first fell in love with Yosemite on an unseasonably warm weekend in January, 2015—the massive granite rock formations towering around me as I stood in the valley wowed me unlike any other scene. After that first trip, I returned to backpack the Parker Pass–Lyell Canyon Loop, a loop that starts in Tuolumne Meadows and ventures out of the park into Ansel Adams Wilderness before heading back into Yosemite at Donahue Pass. This trip made us realize that, maybe, it's not such a good idea to drive from San Diego to Yosemite straight through the night to start a 4 day loop at 9500 feet the next morning. Those first couple days were rough.
I camped in Zion National Park in June 2015. The Narrows and Angel's Landing are still two of my all-time favorite hikes. I'll be back again soon for a backpacking trip in these canyons.
For my girlfriend's and my birthday in 2015, we took a week-long roadtrip up to Big Sur, California. During the week, we camped at Limekiln State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. This has become one of my favorite areas of the country for its combination of dense redwood forests and undeveloped, rugged coastline.
On my only trip to Sequoia National Park, I managed to get three flat tires driving to/from the park from San Diego. Luckily, the weekend out in the wilderness was worth it, providing us with warming, beautiful landscapes to pair with the cool, crisp October mornings.