My 10 Most-Read Stories at The Big Outside
By Michael Lanza
Which story of mine first led you to find this blog? Which stories here interest you the most? (I’d really appreciate reading your answers to those questions in the comments section below this story.) I can tell you what your fellow readers of The Big Outside come to my blog looking for. I’ve compiled below a list of the 10 most-read stories over the past several months at The Big Outside. It includes feature-length stories about the adventures my readers most want to do, and some of my articles of tips on outdoor skills to help you make every trip a success. Check out this list: You may find it useful as you’re thinking about your next adventure.
Undoubtedly one of my blog’s most popular stories among international readers, my feature story about trekking “the W” route in one of the classic destinations in Patagonia—and the world—Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, tells the story of my visit there with a friend, and includes lots of photos and information on planning this trip of a lifetime yourself. Honestly, it’s hard to encapsulate this experience in words. Just go there and live it yourself.
Hiking and backpacking can be hard on your body—we all know that. But you can actually make it harder or easier, depending on how you do it. Over the years, I’ve learned various tricks to softening the blow of hard miles, and the strategies that help enable me to hike 20, 30, even 40 miles in a day can also make a difference whether you’re hiking five, 10, or 15 miles. While it’s natural to think that walking is walking and there’s no secrets to doing it better, like many endurance sports, there are ways to hike a trail more efficiently, conserving energy and reducing its physical toll. Read my advice on that before your next hike.
Without question, Glacier is a must-see destination for any hiker or backpacker. But while Glacier attracts backpackers drawn in by the possibilities for long, multi-day, remote wilderness hikes with good chances of seeing megafauna like mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears, dayhikers can also explore much of the park’s most scenic and wildlife-rich terrain—especially hikers capable of knocking off 15, 20 or more miles in a day. That probably explains the popularity of my story about my favorite, long dayhikes there, “5 Perfect (Big) Days in Glacier National Park.”
See all of my posts about Glacier at The Big Outside, including “Descending the Food Chain: Backpacking Glacier National Park’s Northern Loop” about a 90-mile trek, and my story about a family trip, “Jagged Peaks, Mountain Lakes, and Wild Goats: A 3-Day Hike on Glacier’s Gunsight Pass Trail.”
One of my first big, Western backpacking trips and still a favorite—and step for step one of America’s greatest backpacking trips—the Teton Crest Trail has consistently ranked among the most-clicked topics at The Big Outside. Few trips generate as many questions from readers. (See all of my Ask Me posts about Grand Teton National Park.) Read my story “American Classic: The Teton Crest Trail,” my story about a family backpacking trip on the TCT, all of my posts about that great hike, and all of my stories about Grand Teton National Park.
One of the most-read stories at this blog since I posted it almost three years ago, my hard-earned advice on raising your kids to like getting outdoors—especially challenging these days—now has over 14,000 likes on Facebook and has been shared widely in social media and by other blogs and websites. I like to think that’s not just because of the cute and inspirational photos of my kids in the story, but also because it imparts some useful takeaway information for parents. My kids, now 15 and pushing 13, have accumulated an impressive CV of adventures in their short lives. But most importantly, they look forward to every new one—and that’s the goal.
More and more readers are finding my blog because they’re searching for information about backpacking Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, which I think of as a cross between the Tetons and California’s High Sierra, but with far fewer people. Two stories about the Sawtooths rank among the most read at The Big Outside: “Going After Goals: Backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains” tells the story of a trip into one of the most remote corners of the range, an area of gorgeous mountain lakes; and my Ask Me blog post describing my favorite dayhikes and backpacking trips in the Sawtooths.
See all of my stories about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including this one about hiking to some relatively accessible lakes, “Jewels of the Sawtooths: Backpacking to Alice, Hell Roaring, and Imogene Lakes.”
I’ve field tested scores of models of hiking, backpacking, climbing, and trail-running shoes and boots over the years, from numerous different brands, all of which fit slightly differently. I’m constantly wearing new footwear right out of the box on trips—usually without doing anything more than trying them on. And I very rarely get a blister. This tips list explains how I avoid them. This story’s comments section is also filled with some great suggestions from readers on strategies to prevent blisters.
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Here’s a grim statistic for you: Roughly three of every four applicants for a backcountry permit to backpack across the Grand Canyon, South Rim to North Rim via the popular corridor trails (North Kaibab and South Kaibab or Bright Angel), get rejected. It’s comparably difficult to get backcountry permits on popular trails in marquis national parks like I’ve since been shot down trying to get permits for popular hikes and paddling trips in parks like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Denali, Everglades, and Glacier. But I’ve learned a few tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in those flagship parks. In this story, I share those tricks.
We’ve all had special campsites in the backcountry that came to define a trip for us. Sometimes we have photos from them to remind us of those spots. I’ve been very fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over more than two decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world—including the one above, from the Dome Glacier, on the Ptarmigan Traverse in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness. I’ve boiled the list of my favorite spots down to the 25 in this story—the second-most-read story at The Big Outside. If you’re out hunting for the best wilderness campsites, read it now, and then check out my photo gallery of the nicest backcountry campsites I’ve hiked past.
If you could do one thing to make every backcountry trip more enjoyable, would you? After two decades of backcountry trips as a field editor and correspondent for Backpacker Magazine, experience has convinced me to keep my pack as light as possible—every ounce removed from it makes my trip happier.
The most-read story currently at my blog actually ranks high on this list about every month. Whether you’re focused on backpacking as light as possible, or just want some guidance on making your trips easier and more fun, read this story and discover why it’s the most-clicked blog post at The Big Outside.
See all of my stories with tips on outdoors skills at The Big Outside.
Lastly, although it didn’t make sense to include it on this list, my All Trips page consistently ranks top 10 among the most-clicked links at The Big Outside. See also my top 10 adventure trips ever, my top 10 family adventures, and my “Photo Gallery: 20 Big Adventures in Pictures.”
I intentionally left gear-related stories off this list because I’ve compiled them in a separate list of “My 10 Most-Read Gear Reviews.”
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