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Mike QuineExplorer

...a year long journey through the American landscape of our National Parks. Disengaged from societal pursuits to set out alone and face the uncertainty guaranteed by the Wilderness. Hardening both hands and mind through tempered resolve.

After spending a year in the National Parks, my bias was warped and I gave little credit to some other NPS sites that are showstoppers themselves. Cumberland Island is one of those showstoppers. Your right up made me think of my amazing time on the island. Can't wait to go back!

Made it to the Fort. No sleeping bag and nearly stayed the night anyway. Though loyalty to a not-as daring friend forced me to abandon the dream of sleeping on the island. I'll just have to go back. Great place and great write-up

When I was on a year long journey through the National Parks, I was in the Redwoods National Park when the Government shut down. At first I was rather distraught though soon realized that the closure couldn't have happened at a better park. The State park system was independent from the National Parks system. Voila! Redwood State Park was open for business. Roosevelt Elk, Banana Slugs, enormous trees, and of course Fern Canyon! Nothing was lost!



If it weren't for a good friend's advice to check out this waterfall, I would have had the great misfortune of knowing I was so close but missed out on its greatness. That being said, I believe I should have take the time to explore the area further. I miss the Pacific Northwest.

If you are planning a trip to Zion National Park, this HAS to be on your list of things to do if you are able. I almost didn't due to minor time constraints. Man would that have been a mistake! There are many outfitters that can provide you with the necessary pants to keep you dry and warm through the waters. Trans-Zion Trek, Narrows, and Angel's Landing - the epic triumverate of the Park.

In my life, I have never seen a larger gaggle of photographers in my life. I mean I get it! The view is stunning and the arch pretty much create a perfect frame for the canyonlands below. If only the photographers knew what the views were like from the bottom, I think we'd be able to dilute their numbers across the park.

Less than .25 miles from the glacier! A cloud as transparent as concrete rolled over Cascade Pass and its neighboring peaks as I was less than a quarter mile from the Sahale Glacier. It remains a mystery to me still what the views from the top would look like. To be returned to one day...I vow!

Little Bennett will always be my HOME campground. The Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts, family camping trips, friendly camping trips...you name it, this was what got me into camping. The hike is great for beginners but can be enjoyed by all. Feeling nostalgic.

After recovering from a sever case of going snowbind in the High Sierras, I nearly forwent the opportunity to camp atop Glacier Point. Thank God, my senses kicked! The main trail was still closed for the season, though the rear route was open. A bit longer, though the reward at the end was surreal. Having this commanding view to yourself is a sensation that is very challenging to articulate. Having the view and falling asleep, exposed on a granite peak in the middle of a thunderstorm...also hard to describe.

Being no stranger to Shenandoah National Park, I tried to encourage some of my greenhorn buddies to join me on a backpacking trip in November. It became quite apparent that my packing list recommendations fell on deaf ears. That being said, we started our weekend journey by hiking up Little Stony Man. Though the weather became increasingly cold, our spirits were kept warm by the near-memories of the mornings hike up to this view. Though we had long missed the leaf-peeping time of year, the views were far from disappointing.

In 8th Grade, my middle school class, led by a retired Marine, led us up the bones of Old Rag. The trek was certainly memorable and only overshadowed by my first live sighting of a black bear cub. Never met the mom, thank God.

Every year while I was in the Boy Scouts we would have the much anticipated trip to Assateague Island! The wild ponies, the windstorms, and the serene settings made for unforgettable moments. Now that I have grown, I have not been back though with this new found inspiration, perhaps its time.

I spent a few days at Camp 4 though was probably the least deserving one there. My intent was not to scale the mountains but rather base camp there for several day hikes prior to the lead up to a large backcountry undertaking. Despite my mixed motives with the natives, the climbers were very accommodating and friendly. Maybe the next time I go back, I'll be ready to climb.

This Campground was the last camping adventure I went on before starting a year long sojourn into the National Parks. Coincidentally, it is also the last place I visited on that same year. Shenandoah National Park is like the Shire to me...there and back again. These woods have that majestic feel to them. Just reading this makes me want to go back...I think I will.

When I first arrived at Wrangell-St. Elias, I attempted to traverse across the Root Glacier only to soon discover that I was going to go NOWHERE without crampons. Fortunately, on the top of Bonanza Peak, this would-be stranger lent me his. Those first few steps would have been otherwise impossible to get over without them. He opened up a whole new adventure by toppling that hurdle.

I know others will kill me for saying this, but I have got to have the greatest luck. As you know, this trail is difficult to get a backcountry permit for due to the lotto system - obviously for a park this popular its necessary. I was fortunate enough to just show up the weekend before Spring break and the park happened to have ONE walk-in permit left. Since the North Rim was still closed, and since I was by myself anyway, the trek required the Rim-to-Rim route. As fate would have it, that turned out to be a great happenstance. The Rim to Rim trail offers a totally different perspective going in the opposite way...its like its an entirely different trail. Oh and go check out that waterfall if you can! Totally funky!

Having spent a year in the backcountry of the US National Parks, the Greenstone Ridge Trail was the absolute first trail that I trekked across. It was the first 50 miles of what would end up being thousands. The Greenstone Ridge trail set the bar sky high. Daisy Farm in particular will always hold a special place in my heart. Spectacular views, chilling water, unhindered stargazing, and great friends.

The West Rim Trail is entirely unforgettable! Having trekked the entire Trans-Zion Trek, the West Rim offers some of the most drastic changes in scenery and terrain along the way. Sweeping vistas and razor-edge trails all leading up to the terminus at Angel's Landing. Unbelievable! Fall is also the best time to do this to avoid the heat and catch the change in foliage.

The Sol Duc Falls is an amazing sights and sounds. In its own right it is a fantastic destination! I fondly recall the falls as being both the beginning and end to what was an amazing journey along the High Divide!

The weather had been severe for the five days leading up to my arrival backpacking arrival along the Olympic Coast. On that fifth day, I woke up without the sound of rain on my tent. In complete isolation, I remember feeling a sense of euphoria as I sat on the beaches starting at the sea stacks...not a cloud in the sky. If I were abandoned there like Robinson Crusoe, you wouldn't hear a complaint from me.

Though small by comparison, the Heart Lake was a highlight for me along this High Divide trail. I remember being very fortunate to settle along the ridge for the night during a full moon.

I arrived to Crater Lake NP in October and did not plan to see snow, yet low and behold! Voila! A winter wonderland. Great trail up, Watchman. Totally loved it.