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


  Death Valley's Secret Stash (Men's Journal)

  Really Old Masters
(NY Times)

The World's Most Traveled Man?

(Men's Journal)

Skiing CA's 14ers

(Eastside Magazine)

Wild Ice

(NY Times)

Rituals: The Last Run

(NY Times)



Skiing California's Sonora Pass in Backcountry Mag

November issue on stands now."I SHALL NEVER FORGET THE 26TH OF MAY, 1827," wrote legendary fur trapper Jed Smith, having lost eight horses, a mule, and his pistol to a late-season storm on what would later become Sonora Pass.

The next day dawned "clear upon the gleaming peaks": just another bluebird powder day in the High Sierra. If only he'd brought his fat skis.

My note on Sonora, plus five other "Roads to Take You There," and even a quick word on our local custom ski crafter Michael Lish, in the November Travel Issue of Backcountry Magazine, on stands now.


Winter in the Woods: David Huebner's Paean-in-Gray to the Sierra Nevada Backcountry, and to Lives Excellently Lived

THIS IS THE WAY OF OUR TIMES: A man falls asleep reading a fine account of the rise and fall of the American Newspaper (in words printed on paper, in a magazine), from Gold Rush San Francisco to an equally tenuous present. He wakes to another rosy-fingered dawn over the White Mountains, as in a fable, or not, his children crawling all over him, kneeing him in the groin, laughing, pouting, fighting for his attention, clamoring for juice.

And the dreams go something like this. (The author at work.)Later he takes his coffee (and a pancake formed in the shape of a squirrel by his visiting mother-in-law) to the basement, where, surrounded by exposed insulation, and with the light coming up on the trees outside, he puts off the task at hand—that of writing the texts for a guide to winter adventure in Mammoth, as commissioned by the Ski Area.

He scrolls through the morning's tweets, comes upon the following from (of all possible sources) the Comfort Inn in Bishop (@ComfortInn395):

Check this video out--Winter in the Woods-Backcountry Skiing in the Sierra Nevada http://bit.ly/Lbywl.

And so he does, of course, and is immediately transported far beyond his cluttered desk, beyond the world of newspapers and social media and a too-sluggish computer, to an earlier time—a better time, he cannot help but think—and a time very soon to come:

And now he is ready for winter.


Who Is the World's Most Traveled Man?

Read part of the story in the September 09 issue of Men's Journal, or online here.“I don’t know where the hell we were—on a bus somewhere,” says Patrick Martin, pro photographer and aging surf dude who by his own account has “done a whole bunch of weird stuff,” but is resolutely not in the business of collecting stamps in his passport. We are sitting at the bar at Nevados, in Mammoth Lakes. “Anywhere in the world you’ll run into those people,” he says, “especially if you go somewhere other people haven’t been.”

He was on one of Bill Altaffer's adventures, on the way to or from Tuva, perhaps, as part of a small cadre of extreme travelers bouncing across a cold, exotic landscape with beautiful women on every corner and no ice for their whiskey. And sure enough, somewhere along the road, a guy got on bearing a U.S. passport fat with ink and border crossings.

“He was some kind of scientist for the government,” Martin recalls, “built an atomic bomb or something, made a lot of money and just started walking.” He had all the stamps: Pakistan. Kazakhstan. Mongolia. “He was like an old dog, wandering. No friends, no life, no nothing—no chicks.”

The dude didn’t talk much. Didn’t want to hook up. Didn’t want to hang out.

And then he was gone.

MJ September Style & Design Issue.

Hardest Place to Get to on the Planet?

Photo: André Brigiroux.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, lies the legendary island of Socotra (Suquṭra), ancient source of ambergris, dragon's blood, frankincense and myrrh. Its name derives either from the Sanskrit for "Isle of Bliss (or Tranquility)" or from an Arabic mash-up meaning "Market of Dripping Frankincense." Thomas the Apostle made it here, and Marco Polo, and Sinbad the Sailor (though he encountered some big angry birds and lost his ship). "It is one of those unique places in the world," says Spanish toptrotter Jorge Sanchez, founder of the well-respected Travelers Exploits Club, writing from Severobaikals, Buriatia, waiting for a train to Tinda.

And it has a long and distinguished history of being very hard to get to.

For the whole story, check out Matador.com.

Click to read more ...


Where to See the Perseids in CA? Why, Out Back of Course.

THE SHOW KICKS OFF TOMORROW (July 23) and is set to run through the 22nd of August, with the real tour de force sometime around the 12th and 13th of August. Here are a few places (and cool pics) recommended by Hugo Martin at the LA Times last year where a person might lie on his or her back and gape at the sky.

If we can pull it off, we'll be heading for some of the darkest skies in the Southwestern US, high up in one of the following ranges: the Glass, the Whites, the Inyos, the Cosos, the Argus or the Panamints. Maybe we'll see you there.


On Walden Pond (Notes from a Crowded June Lake in July)

Walden Pond in SummerTook a rare Friday morning off to join my family for some cold lake water and sunshine at June Lake. It wasn't nearly as crowded as in this shot of Walden Pond, outside of Boston, but the consensus was that our little secret beach paradise in the High Sierra hadn't been quite so busy for as long as anyone could remember. A couple nights earlier the boys and I had been hard-pressed to find 20 feet for the old fuselage at one of the campgrounds down along the San Joaquin. The news reports seem borne out in the field: people are out playing in the Great (Free) Outdoors this summer. And why not?

Beckett and Jasper at June LakeStill, it was hard not to imagine that someone had spilled the beans. Had someone put our favorite beach on TV in Orange County? Which line of thinking got me back into an old, old, useless twist about travel writing and the dangers inherent in sharing the places we love. The result, in part, was a preliminary foray into an online travel magazine/community called matador.

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