Explorer's Guide to
(2nd edition)

by David T. Page

"Open to any page and you'll find a great story, along with details that will inspire travel—and more reading." —Westways 

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Explorer's Guide Yosemite & the Southern Sierra Nevada - David T. Page
Notes Index

About the Author

The author, Belmont Bowl, MT (ca. 1971)
National Magazine Award Finalist, 2015
(Powder Magazine)

Best Dramatic Narrative, 2015
(American Society of Journalists and Authors)

Best Guidebook, 2010
(Bay Area Travel Writers)

2009 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award
(Society of American Travel Writers)

CA Outdoor Writer of the Year, 2008
(Outdoor Writers Association of California)

Best Magazine Feature, 2008
(Outdoor Writers Association of California)

DAVID PAGE has written for the Los Angeles Times MagazineMen's Journal, SkiSkiing, PowderThe New York Times, EsquireOutside, and many other publications. He is the author of the Lowell Thomas Award-winning Explorer's Guide to Yosemite & the Southern Sierra Nevada (Countryman Press/W.W. Norton), now in its second printing. His work has been anthologized in the collection Travel Stories from Around the Globe, edited by National Geographic Traveler's Don George, and California Prose Directory: New Writing from the Golden State (Outpost 19). Most recently, he has written about traveling with the first medical team on the ground in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, what happens to people when they get deported, and the psychology of decision making in avalanche terrain. He lives on the side of a volcano in Mammoth Lakes, California, with his wife, their two sons, and their illegal migrant canine.


ROAD TRIP: Land Speeder

“Where Ruess had two burros, we have a new German sport-utility crossover vehicle with four-wheel drive, high clearance, steel springs, leather interior, satellite radio and 23.7 cubic feet of supplies strategically packed into the luggage compartment...”

Click Here for an Offbeat Experience

“A NEW generation of travel-sharing Web sites matches travelers with knowledgeable locals for offbeat, authentic and mostly very economical experiences — across the globe or across town...”

On Safari in the Bodie Hills

(Wilderness Magazine)

“WE BOUNCED INTO BODIE the way most of the lumber and firewood once did, up from the shores of Mono Lake on the old Cottonwood Canyon wagon road...”


California Four-Wheelin': A Real American Exploration into (Skiing) the Eastern Sierra Nevada

“RED-LINING THE OLD LANDCRUISER through virgin, hub-deep snow like some overloaded pirate tug angling for a beach to run aground on...”



Hurtling Toward the Range of Light

“AND SO IT WAS that on a clear Sunday morning in late June, in the company of an unflappable photographer named Osceola (after the famous mixed-blood Seminole war chief), I found myself sprinting through the streets of San Francisco on my old hard-tail mountain bike, with full camping and cooking kit and a week's supposed essentials in tow, harrowingly late for the Oakland Ferry....”



Death Valley's Secret Stash

“ONCE UPON A TIME there was a certain utility to climbing mountains: to get the lay of the land, to see which way to run the wagons, to be the first to do it. That time is gone. And yet there we were, on a long haul to the top of the biggest mountain in the lower 48, deep in the Mojave Desert, in the dark, with skis on our backs....”


Really Old Masters, from 16,000 Years Ago

“WE WERE INSIDE RESTRICTED AREA R-505 of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, rolling in a minivan across the vast salt pan of an extinct Pleistocene lake...”


The Battle to Be World's Most Traveled Man

“NO ONE IS THE WORLD'S MOST TRAVELED MAN,” says Bill Altaffer, hunched over the dining room table at his second home in Mammoth Lakes, California, beneath a collection of spoons and exotic masks...”


Skiing California's 14ers

(Eastside Magazine)

“FROM A DISTANCE it looked perfect. Perfectly epic...”

Rituals: A Fire Must Be Fed

“FOR NEARLY A WEEK the forecasters had been watching the next big system: a straining mass of gelid air down from the Aleutians, stalled off the California coast. Then a part of it began to move...”


Paradise and Safe Haven on Hawaii

(also: International Herald Tribune, SF Chronicle)

“RINALDO BRUTOCO AWOKE to the sound of myna birds and leaf blowers...”


Rituals: The Last Run

“I WAS SOMEWHERE below the knob on Horizon Ridge, midway through a long solo slog from the Ostrander Ski Hut in Yosemite, dogged by deep slush, mud, a too-heavy pack and a hopelessly broken binding...”

Bond of Brothers in a California Wilderness

“HAVING JUST SCRUBBED OUT AFTER AN EMERGENCY C-SECTION, Jonathan Bourne, an anesthesiologist at Mammoth Hospital in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., threw his pack and skis into his brother’s secondhand Suburban and slid into the passenger seat...”


Wild Ice

“WE DROVE UP INTO the High Sierra at first light, on roads that by the end of the day would be open only to travelers on cross-country skis or snowshoes...”

Damn Cute Menace

(Los Angeles Times Magazine)
First Place Magazine Feature, 2007, Outdoor Writers Association of California

“THEY COME IN OFF the utility lines. Like airborne chipper-shredders they dispense with the season's pecans, tear yards of bark from the avocado tree, send half-chewed fruit, seeds, shells, leaves, whole limbs crashing to the flagstone...”






SERIES: The Human Factor

"Avalanche accidents are so painful because they're so obvious in retrospect," said renowned ski mountaineer Andrew McLean. "It's like the opposite of a perfect crime."


Haiyan Diary: The Inside Story of Typhoon Haiyan's First Medical Relief Team

“From darkened doorways and balconies, from blown-out window frames and half-demolished second-story rooms open to the stars, people watched the spectacle in the street..."


FEATURE: This Family Is Trapped Between U.S. Border Patrol and the Mexican Mafia

“At the other end of the corridor —humanitarian volunteers call it “the chute”—is Plaza Pesqueira, a pedestrian alleyway lined with dentists, pharmacies, and liquor stores catering to a diminished trickle of day visitors from the U.S., and inhabited by point men for the Mexican Mafia..."


Touring Transylvania:
A Romanian Ski Trip

“With stray dogs in tow, we click and glide atop buried gas lines, mile after mile past iron crosses and haunting rock formations evocative of old women in babushkas, around hay wagons piled high with garbage and pillaged by ravens and bears...”


Feasting in the Forest

“Of mushrooms I know only that they come sliced or whole in my local supermarket, brown (which somehow hints of the wild and is more expensive) or white; that a particular hallucinogenic variety can be obtained on the black market for recreational purposes; and that a high percentage of those that grow in the wild will either make you very sick or kill you dead...”



Blood, Guts & Tarweed: Mountain Biking the Foothills of Sequoia N.P.

“I'VE BEEN AFFORDED A TERRIBLE GLIMPSE of a future in which I can no longer ride a bicycle off-pavement, in which I am old and frail and unpleasant to be around. I go the way of the grizzlies and wolves and Indians: into oblivion. 'That was awesome,' I say. 'I'm gonna have to come back and try that again sometime.'...”



When Travel Goes Wrong, or The Importance of the Nadir

(Also anthologized in Travel Stories from around the Globe, 2012)

“I HAVE ONLY ONE SNAPSHOT from the hour or so we spent at the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. All formal and technical considerations aside, I would like to offer it for your consideration as a classic of modern American travel photography...”


Writing and Driving: Notes from 1000 RPMs

“WE'D PICKED UP A HITCHHIKER on the way out of Mammoth. He was wearing a dark suit, a pressed white shirt and tie, and a porkpie hat. He held a document folder on which he’d written: INDEPENDENCE (THE TOWN)...”


Dispatch: The Future of Freelance Journalism (3-part series)

“I PARK IN FRONT OF A CLASSIC STUCCO MOTEL handsomely done-over in Euro boutique style (where I will pay the standard, slightly-discounted group rate of $155 for a room overlooking the ice machine, plus $3 for toothpaste and $4 for shaving cream). I’ve beaten the googlemaps estimate from SF by 14 minutes. I’m dosed up on NPR and coffee, and cheered by the dissolution of the fog...”



Twilight of the Travel Guidebook

“IT'S ALWAYS BEEN A BASTARD GENRE, of dubious utility, of uncertain reliability, generally unpleasant to sift through, practiced in a great percentage of cases by amateurs and hacks — or worse: boosters and opportunists —, and inherently quick to obsolescence. Now, finally, in the age of GPS, Wi-Fi, googlemaps and lithium-ion batteries, maybe it’s time we let it go...”




Traveler’s Omertà: Is There No Place We Should Keep Secret?

“YOU BEAT YOUR WAY to the next great “undiscovered” village, the last “lost” culture, the ultimate “secret” beach. You write about the wonder of the place. Maybe you give it away for free; maybe you get two bucks a word for it. But in your wake the wonder is gone. The place will never be the same again...”


Adventures in Weaning

“HE'D SUCCESSFULLY WEATHERED his first slabs of dark-chocolate cake, had begun to stand on his own stubby feet for seconds on end, had shown a precocious interest in beer bottles and off-width crack climbing. Now seemed as good a time as any...”



Do Freebies Undermine Honesty in Travel Writing?

“PERHAPS THE BEST WAY to maintain independence as a travel writer is to have a large trust fund, or a productive uranium mine.”


Writing Fire: A Brief Anthology on the Burning of Los Angeles

“IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN: wildfire season. Los Angeles is burning. Like in the Bad Religion song...”


In Search of the Real Dude: Notes from a Lebowski Fest Past

“CHRIS IS WEARING A TRENCHCOAT, calf-length Indian moccasins and black sunglasses. He is not the original Dude, he says. “It’s just that they made a movie about a guy who’s life mirrors mine in a way that’s crazy...”


How to Get to Socotra

“SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 189 and 217 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen (depending on your source of information), and some 130 off the coast of Somalia, like a tiny, glittering tongue-stud in the gaping maw of the Gulf of Aden...”

Book Excerpts

Yosemite & the Southern Sierra Nevada

(Countryman Press/W.W. Norton)

“IN THE SPRING OF 1868, less than a month before his 30th birthday, a wild-haired itinerant college-dropout by the name of John Muir, "with incredibly little money," and no guidebook, stepped off a Panama steamer at the Port of San Francisco...”