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Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive
Nine hikes as big as the hearts of their namesake wilderness visionaries.
Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
John Muir called the Sierra the "Range of Light," but it was photographer Ansel Adams who captured that light on film. Adams caught all the drama and exquisite beauty of wild places as far flung as Alaska's Denali, Acadia National Park in Maine, the Maroon Bells in Colorado, and the sand dunes of Death Valley, California. But as with all artists, his best work would spring from his soul and his soul was in the Sierra. His photos were not only works of art but a powerful weapon in the fight for environmental causes. Articulate, energetic, passionate, Adams worked closely with the Sierra Club, lobbied politicians with the power of his words and photographs, and brought the beauty of nature into homes all over the world though his books and prints. His work and life was the inspiration for many of the finest photographers working today. With every click of their shutters, Ansel Adams is remembered.
On the trail: Flower-filled meadows with blossoms dancing in the breeze, high mountain passes layered in late-afternoon sun, diamonds of light splashing in rushing streams-this 230,000-acre wilderness area captures many of the magical qualities that attracted the lens of Ansel Adams. Try the 23.7-mile, one-way Koip Peak Pass Traverse. It includes four mountain passes, five alpine lakes, and enough flower-filled meadows to use up all of your film. Be prepared for lingering snowfields, cold stream crossings, mountain weather, and magic light.
Contact: Inyo National Forest, Mono Lake Ranger District, P.O. Box 429, Lee Vining, CA 93541; (760) 647-3000.
Trail Guide: 100 Hikes in California's Central Sierra and Coast Range, by Vicky Spring. The Mountaineers Books, 1001 S.W. Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134; (800) 553-4453; $12.95.