The Best BACKPACKER Longform Stories of 2019

From a father-daughter journey on the PCT to a man's love affair with a California mountain, these were the stories that moved us this year.

We believe that some of the most compelling stories in the world come from the trail—it’s why we do what we do. And this year, we heard some incredible ones. Our favorite long stories of the year range from the funny to the terrifying. There’s a story of a family hike that spanned 2,650 miles and seven years; a man who dedicated years of his life to a single mountain; an unassuming hero hiker pioneering some of the White Mountains’ best routes; and an encounter with an accused predator that landed one hiker in the struggle of her life. These are six stories we’ll be thinking about well into the 2020s.

mount morgenson
John Dittli

Ranger Randy Morgenson’s Epitaph in the Sky

Some people get a gravestone. Twenty-three years after he died in the California backcountry, Randy Morgenson got a mountain. Read now


A Man and His Mountain

On California’s Mt. Baldy, Sam Kim found spirit, grace, and fulfillment summit after summit after summit. Read now


Kidnapped on the Pacific Crest Trail

A would-be thru-hiker hit the trail to change her life. She knew about the natural hazards. It was the human threat she never saw coming. Read now

JR Stockwell
Corey Hendrickson

JR Stockwell is the King of the Mountains

If there was a championship of local hiking, New Hampshire native JR Stockwell would be a lock for first place—except he never tells anyone about his singular adventures in the White Mountains. Read now


Growing Up on the PCT

When a father-daughter team tackles the Pacific Crest Trail over the course of seven summers, they learn something about long-distance hiking—and each other. Read now


Meet the Scientist Family Hiking America’s Most Remote Spots

Ryan, Rebecca, and Skyla Means’s quest for solitude turns into a decade-long effort to visit the most remote location in every state—and learn if true quiet still exists. Read now