Cedar Bench Wilderness, backpacking, agency sign, March
Cedar Bench Wilderness, 2022

As we researched a trip to Cedar Bench Wilderness, we were delighted with Prescott National Forest personnel who were familiar with trails and gave advice on best access. As we hiked up a rocky road climbing steeply from the Verde … Read More

Cabeza Prieta Wilderness, backpacking sign, January
Cabeza Prieta Wilderness, 2022

I awoke in predawn dark to two owls calling—lower and higher pitch indicating desert courtship. My mouth was dry, but I took just a sip from my bottle. We were 14 miles past our last water stop in Cabeza Prieta … Read More

Rincon Mountain Wilderness, sign, December
Rincon-Ramble “70”, 2021

Since we have concluded we “need wilderness,” once we settled for our first full winter in Tucson, David was anxious to hit the trail, not having backpacked since September. Cindy—temporarily derailed from backpacking after a knee replacement—suggested a 70-mile solo … Read More

Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness, Sawtooth National Forest sign, September
Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness, 2021

The Boulder Mountains which form a wavy line of soaring granitic ridges along scenic State Highway 75 between Ketchum and the Sawtooth Valley. Not many people visit these mountains because there are few maintained trails into the Boulders; day hikes … Read More

High Uintas Hurt Ends an Era

It happened on the third day of a three-week trip in the High Uinta Wilderness in northern Utah. I was coming down Red Knob Pass—the second, steep thousand-foot descent of the day. The first was a skittery scramble on washed-out … Read More

John Muir Wilderness, backpacking, near Italy Pass, September
Finding Sierras Solitude: Off the Beaten Path

Avoiding crowds in popular areas is always a challenge; and California’s iconic High Sierra mountains have always drawn people. First, they are only hours from the heavily populated California coastal cities. Second, their iconic splendor graces many scenic calendars. And … Read More

Cranberry Wilderness, welcome sign, August
Cranberry Wilderness, 2021

We expected to get wet in the Cranberry Wilderness, a series of ridges (with red spruce forest on the highest elevations) punctuated by two rivers and many creeks in southeastern West Virginia. Most of our spring and summer trips in … Read More

wilderness sign
High Uintas Wilderness, 2021

On our first visit to the High Uintas in summer 1975, we covered about 78 miles in five days, enjoying mellow trails. Long leisurely approaches up bright green meadows; winding switchbacks over high passes; smelling damp earth and seeing stately … Read More

Sierra Ancha Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, December
Sierra Ancha Wilderness, 2021 & 2017

I have vague memories of a 1975 overnight trip with University of Arizona friends to the Sierra Ancha Wilderness in central Arizona: a long drive on backroads, short hike through a clearing marked by “Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest” sign, a … Read More

Saguaro Wilderness, backpacking, National Park sign, February
Saguaro Wilderness, 2021

Dave first showed up Wednesday night when trips were reported and new ones planned. Richard and I had proposed a three-day trip to the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson; up the backside (southeast) to Happy Valley Saddle, climbing Rincon Peak, … Read More

Rincons: sad reminder of aging

Last month we celebrated my birthday with a backpack trip in Saguaro Wilderness east of Tucson—perhaps my 14th visit since 1970s hikes with the University of Arizona Ramblers. The area—astride the Rincon Mountains that roll up from 2,700 feet at … Read More

Hells Canyon Wilderness, 2020

The roar of the jet boat reverberated against the canyon walls. We stood on a gravel spit, watching our transport disappear up the river. The roar of the jet boat reverberated against the canyon walls. We stood on a gravel … Read More

Pioneer Wilderness Study Area: 2020, 2017 & 1987

The wind howled fierce and cold across Baptie Lake, at 10,000 feet our highest and coldest campsite on a nine-day loop in the Pioneer Mountains (Pioneers). All day we’d hiked through early winter in September. Chased out of Moose Lake … Read More

Jarbidge Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, July
Jarbidge Wilderness, 2020

Three signs—two on the outskirts of Jarbidge, Nevada and one near our trailhead for a weeklong wilderness trip—illustrate the infamy of disputed but rarely visited Jarbidge Wilderness. Mahoney Guard Station: Built by a sheep operation, the Forest Service occupied it … Read More

Private land access conundrums

We try to stick with public lands on our hikes; private land often spells trouble. In the 1980s, a week-long backpacking trip on national forest land in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains ended abruptly at a landowner fence. On a 1990s … Read More

Craters of the Moon National Wilderness, Park Service sign, July
Hailey-Craters Trek, 2020

It took three tries over three years, but we finally made it. Our weeklong journey across public and private land in the Pioneer Mountain area (Pioneers) provided nearly exclusive access to vast fields of flowers, high grasses and sagebrush, lofty … Read More

Dark Canyon Wilderness, 2020

Confusion about water dominated our 2020 return trip to Dark Canyon Wilderness—and led to other problems on what we thought would be a fairly easy canyon hike. Our first visit was in April 1985. The access road that crosses near … Read More

Aldo Leopold Wilderness, 2020

We had planned to revisit the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in southern New Mexico for years. Our first trip in late May 1982 whisked through the area on a loop encompassing part of the Black Range (on a short segment of … Read More

Aldo Leopold Legacy: gone up in flames

In 1980, Congress took 200,000 acres out of the 55-year-old Gila Wilderness and named it the Aldo Leopold to honor its namesake. Conservationist Aldo Leopold spent his early career years with the Forest Service in New Mexico and persuaded the … Read More

Four Peaks Wilderness, Still Recovering from 1996 Fire

We emerged from Four Peaks scratched, beaten and sporting minor injuries. My left knee—whiny under any circumstances—started to “pop” as I clambered up steep slopes through heavy brush in Alder Canyon. David, who clipped back manzanita and thorny ceanothus branches … Read More

Four Peaks Wilderness, backpacking, forest service sign, April
Four Peaks Wilderness, 2020

Two days into Four Peaks Wilderness, we had to accept defeat. Our plans to loop the well-known peaks visible from Scottsdale, Arizona, were foiled by postfire vegetative regrowth, unreliable information, and neglect. The trip started at the Arizona Trail (AZT) … Read More

Wild Times

Year 2020: unprecedented. Unpredictable weather continues. Phoenix, our winter home, missed its monsoon rains last summer but got them in fall and winter with cool temperatures. In late January we returned to Idaho for skiing. One small snowstorm and no … Read More

Superstition Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, December
Superstition Wilderness: 2020, 2019 & 2016

Nano warned me to stay out of the Superstition Mountains. As we traveled along Highway 60 towards Miami, she pointed out the red-walled mountains along our route. Having lived 50 years in this small Arizona mining burg, my grandmother was … Read More

Kofa Wilderness backpacking, Refuge boundary sign, December
Kofa Wilderness, 2020 & 2018

Alone in wilderness quiet, we broke camp and started a few miles cross country—over a hill, into a wash, and over another ridge into upper Red Raven Wash while skirting overhanging mesquite trees. A hawk dived down—maybe hunting a jackrabbit, … Read More

Melissa Green: Gila Trails Keeper

Steward Quit Job to Save Trails in Nation’s Oldest Wilderness Six weeks backpacking in the Gila Wilderness in 2000 sealed a long-term commitment. Melissa Green found a life purpose in the Gila, an extensive area of mountains, canyons, rolling ponderosa … Read More

Going to the Wilderness

It started in Virginia. And it led to revisiting favorite places across the country and rediscovering our own need for wilderness. A plan to visit all the wilderness in Virginia—and write a book about our adventures—was born in summer 2012. … Read More

Gila Wilderness, backpacking, Langstroth Trail, November
The GILA WILDERNESS nears 100; lost legacy?

I recently made my 10th visit to the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico—the nation’s oldest wilderness lying along a vast ridge and valley landscape with forests of ponderosa pine and oak-pinyon-juniper on ridges above Middle and West forks of … Read More

Wilderness Need Named Among 30 Top Wilderness Blogs

My WildernessNeed blog has been selected by Feedspot, an international marketing/promotion company, as one of Top 30 Wilderness Blogs in the world on the Internet. This Top 30 is an eclectic collection of adventure travel, advocacy, therapy and personal views … Read More

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