When Donald Trump took office he appointed as his Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, a former member of Congress with a 4% lifetime score from the League of Conservation voters. Like Trump’s other cabinet members, much ink has been spilled concerning Zinke’s qualifications, the “fox guarding the henhouse” nature of his appointment, the various scandals that have surfaced during his time at Interior. Perhaps less well known to the general public is that Secretary Zinke, under orders from President Trump, recommended major changes to ten of the nation’s National Monuments. The most famous and contentious of these Monuments are Bears Ears and Grand Staircase – Escalante. But Organ Mountain – Desert Peaks, tucked away in a quiet corner of New Mexico, made the list as well.
Notes from the Field
Narratives that expand on the trip report format by including a discussion of pre-trip rationale for choices made, during-trip experiences (e.g., an annotated photo essay), a post-trip summary and analysis (including gear notes). More room for subjective author commentary and communication of personal experience than in the Expedition / Trip Report format.
The Canadian Rockies are full of backpacking opportunities which are well-traveled but secluded. One scenic route is the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. I have had the benefit of backpacking many of the trails in the Canadian Rockies. However, I have never managed to make it out to the Skyline Trail. Also, the limited number of backpackers permitted on the trail at one time ensures a relatively private trip, and the elevation of the trail provides unparalleled views.
The Rancherias Loop Trail in Big Bend State Park is one of the last wild places in West Texas. With few visitors and stunning scenery, it is not to be missed.
Luke Schmidt tests his wilderness skills with a Glacier National Park packrafting trip over Ptarmigan Pass and down the Belly River. He shares photos from the trip and the gear he used.
Luke Schmidt shares photos and commentary from his solo Teton Wilderness Packrafting trip on Pacific Creek and discusses some of his gear choices.
The author ventures to the Upper Yellowstone River area and experiences the peace found only in a beautiful and remote location.
The Absaroka range is known for rugged terrain, and we decided to test our winter backpacking skills there by hiking Arrastra Creek Montana.
A backcountry hunting trip exposes the author to new ways of looking at his gear as well as an excuse to go off-trail and wander with a purpose.
In February of 2015, a traumatic farming accident landed me in the hospital. Three 1800 pound (816 kg) bulls crushed my entire upper body between two steel cattle panels and left me physically broken and devastated. This is the story of my return to the backcountry. It includes information about my recovery and training, the story of my re-entry trip in the Canadian Rockies, and of course, my gear list!
A quick overnight trip to a nearby lake chain offered opportunities for camaraderie with a friend and communion with nature.