adventure alan ultralight backpacking in the sierra nevada

Trip Reports

Whether you’re shopping around for your next big international trip, or just looking for something local, we’ve got you covered. These trip reports were written to inspire your adventures. Happy hiking and happy trails!

For hiking inspiration with detailed instructions, jump over to our trip guides page.

best spring backpacking pnw enchanted valley

Best Spring Backpacking Washington, Oregon, & PNW Trips

The 10 most scenic wilderness trips for spring backpacking in Washington, Oregon, and the greater PNW. These hikes are not to be missed!
Rwenzori Mountains Trekking

Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon Trek | Africa’s Best Trek without Kilimanjaro Crowds

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Also called the Mountains of the Moon the Rwenzoris have a dizzying array of spectacular plants, trees, animals, & varied landscapes that make you aware, at all times, that you are in a place like no other on the planet. And of course, you can stand on a glacier at over 5000m (16,000 ft) with world class views of Africa below you.

Huemul Circuit El Chalten Patagonia Guide

The Huemul Circuit El Chalten Patagonia is one of a few ways for mere-mortal for hikers to see the vast Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the 2nd largest non-polar ice field.

Bikepacking GAP Trail & C&O Canal Trail

Bikepacking the GAP Trail and C&O Trail from Pittsburgh to Washington DC is a superb mix of natural beauty, wooded trails, quaint towns, & American history. It’s the perfect introductory trip for those new to bikepacking. But it’s just as suitable and rewarding trip for accomplished riders. Virtually all of the trail is away from traffic on flat, wide, non-technical dirt trails (double track) that do not require great riding skills.
Finger Lakes Gorge

Finger Lakes Gorges Grand Slam Hike

The Finger Lakes Gorges should not be missed. And don’t let their popularity dissuade you from hiking and exploring these gems. Like Yosemite or the slot canyons of Utah, these gorges are held in high regard for a reason so hike them!

Patagonia National Park Trek – Guide to a New World Class Trek

Chile's new Patagonia National Park has it all — the high glaciated peaks of the Andes, wide valleys with ice cold glacial rivers, forests of southern beech hanging with moss, & startlingly green glacial lakes. It may soon be the "Yellowstone of South America"

Cerro Castillo Trek Guide

The Cerro Castillo Trek might be the best trek in Patagonia you’ve never heard of. It rivals drama and beauty of the Torres del Paine W Trek, yet has far less visitors.

2018/19 Torres del Paine W Trek and O Trek – Quick and Easy Guide to Essential Trip Planning

We believe this is the best guide to the Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit Treks, in-print or online. This guide was inspired by Alison and I finding a scarcity of accurate and up-to-date information anywhere...

Low Carbon AT Section Hike – Shenandoah to Harpers Ferry – No Car Needed

This Guide to the AT Section Hike - Shenandoah to Harpers Ferry, is an installment of our no-car-needed, low carbon AT hiking Guides.  This beautiful section has the infamous roller coaster, along with great vistas like Raven Rock and…

No Car Needed Appalachian Trail Section Hike – Roanoke to Shenandoah National Park

As of November, 2017 Amtrak offers service to Roanoke, VA. This makes another stunning section of the AT accessible via public transportation to most of the East Coast. This hike is just south of Shenandoah National Park. It's every bit as…

World’s Newest Long Trail: Cuba’s Ruta de la Revolución

See a Cuba tourists never see. Hike la Ruta de la Revolución trek which follows the historic route of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara that started the Cuban Revolution—from landing in Cuba in a foundering boat to their famous hideout deep…

A Very Different High Route – Escalante Overland Route

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The Escalante Overland Route is arguably the most exciting high route in the lower-48! It is certainly the most beautiful and challenging trip we’ve done. The beauty of its desert canyons and mesas are equal to the best the planet has to offer, Grand Canyon included. Breathtaking...
Guide to Colombia's La Ciudad Perdida Trek

Guide to Colombia’s La Ciudad Perdida Trek (Lost City)

It's like Machu Picchu, but remote and not overrun by tourists. So definitely put La Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) near the top of your travel list!  La Ciudad Perdida is a vast, ancient city in the jungles of the Sierra Nevada mountains on…
Southern Sierra High Route

Southern Sierra High Route – an alternative to the JMT

The Southern Sierra High Route (SoSHR) is a superb alternative to the JMT for the adventurous traveler. Compared to the John Muir Trail (JMT), the SoSHR is higher and more remote. It avoids the JMT crowds, the landscape is more spectacular, and the travel more challenging.
Low Carbon Appalachian Trail Section Hike

Low Carbon Appalachian Trail Section Hike via Train – Harpers Ferry WV to Harrisburg PA

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Take the train to the AT—low carbon, low stress. No car, no complicated shuttles. Just great hiking! This AT section hike has it all—an ideal blend of natural beauty, history, small towns, great local parks, and meeting interesting people. It's a perfect example of what makes hiking on the AT a unique and special experience.

10 Pound Backpack to Hike 100 Miles

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That's the total weight of everything in my backpack—gear, food, water, and stove fuel to hike 102 miles of the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park in 3 days. No fair weather hiking: with rain, sleet, light snow and hard freezes at night. I think I am very close to dialing in a Light Pack that is also supremely efficient at covering long trail miles.

Torres del Paine Circuit Trek Guide 5 to 6 days

We believe this is the best guide to the Torres del Paine Circuit Trek, in-print or online. This guide was inspired by Alison and I finding a scarcity of accurate and up-to-date information on how to plan for trekking in Torres del Paine. In…
Torres del Paine W Trek

Torres del Paine W Trek Itinerary for 3-4 Days

We believe this is the best Itinerary/guide in-print or online to do the Torres del Paine W Trek in 3-4 Days. This was inspired by Alison and I finding a scarcity of accurate and up-to-date information on how to plan for hiking Torres del Paine. In fact mainstream, supposedly reputable materials about the trek were missing essential information, were out-of-date, or were just plain wrong. Here is the the information you need to plan a great W Trek in Torres Del Paine

Wind River High Route – A Guide

The Wind River High Route is mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America. It stays close to the crest of the Continental Divide in one of the most rugged and glaciated mountain ranges in the lower 48. The route is thrilling and the scenery spectacular.

Technical Peak Climbing Yosemite Backcountry Part 1

Technical Peak Climbing Yosemite Backcountry Part 1 The first of a three part series - Alan Dixon and Don Wilson This summer, after years of "no-rope trips" together, we switched gears to do some technical alpine climbs in the Yosemite…

Old Trip Reports – 2008 to 2000

Looking for old trip reports? They're likely here: We just launched an entirely new site. Some of the older trip reports (2008 and earlier) haven't made it over yet. Scan through the list below and what you were looking for is probably there.

2.4 Pound Extreme Ultralight Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail

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2016 Update: I have redone this with a a new post "5 Pound Practical Ultralight Backpacking Gear List" which I believe is a far better approach to light on the AT. This new gear list is both light and practical. It can be used by many AT…

4.7 lb Super Ultralight Pack in the Sierras

A 15 lb pack (with food & fuel) for 7 days in the High Sierra It’s been six years since Colin dropped 30 pounds from his pack. Time to drop some more pack-weight! Once again the brothers and their sons ventured into the Sierras…

4.2 lb Olympic Mountains 2008

You can do amazing things with only 4.2 pounds of gear! Through coastal rain forest, montane forest, sub-alpine forest, alpine meadows and finally the rock and ice of Mt Olympus. We bivied in the snow in +45 bags. Link: 4.2 pound Olympics…

Utah Canyoneering 2009 – Ultralight Backpacking and Canyoneering

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Down to the Canyons of Utah - Another year of the spiritual spaces and beauty of the canyons and mesa. With a focus on photography.

Packrafting Alaska 2013 – Talkeetna & Susitna Rivers

A 100 mile rafting and backpacking trip from the headwaters of the Talkeetna River to the town of Talkeetna via the Talkeetna and Susitna Rivers. Route: Bush plane drop at the headwaters of the Talkeetna River. Float Talkeetna R to Prairie Creek. Heinous bushwack out of the Talkeetna River and cross the plateau to the Susitna River. Another challenging bushwack down to Gold Creek on the Susitna. Then float the Susitna to the Town of Talkeetna.

1999 Sierra Trip – Discussion of Weight Savings

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Killer Packs - Never again! Good planning (e.g. having a light pack) can make or break a backpacking trip, especially with kids. I found this out the hard way when I took my kids on their first extended trip to the high Sierra. Our experiences sparked my interest in ultralight backpacking

1999 Sierra Trip – Photos & Narrative

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This was a fantastic trip! Even a heavy pack can't spoil the incredible Sierras. Fabulous scenery, rugged routes, solitude, remote campsites, and great fishing. Please look at the photos of this trip as they say a lot more than anything I can write.

2001 Sierra Trip – Gear and Weight Savings

30 pounds lighter! Colin and I managed to reduce our pack weights by an amazing 30 pounds each. This included cameras, fishing gear and carrying some extra food for my brother and 10-year-old nephew. Our base pack weight was below 10 pounds. My brother and nephew carried very light packs as well.

2001 Sierra Trip – Photos & Narrative

This trip marked the demise of my beloved Olympus XA rangefinder camera. Many of the pictures on this page are soft. I have since replaced the XA with a new camera, an Olympus 3.3 Megapixel C-3000 Zoom. Not as light or easy to use as…

Scotland 2008 – Ultralight Hiking or Hill Walking

Alison and I took our first trip together to Scotland in 2003. Since then we’ve been on many trips in the US and around the world but, we’ve always wanted to return to Scotland. This year we invited my father and his wife, Judith, to enjoy…

Whitetail Peak and Beartooths (an ice climbing and fishing trip)

Montana 2002 Ascent of Whitetail Peak Via Whitetail Gully Ryan ascending the steeper upper sections of the couloir. The route up Whitetail Peak as seen from our acclimatization day at the high altitude fishing lakes. Alan…

Blueridge 2002 (day hike)

Blue Ridge Hike March, 2002 The day's summit, Hawksbill Mountain, 4,050 ft. Glorious views on a mild spring day. One of the smaller and more intimate waterfalls along the way. Not as large as many of the falls on the trip but no less…

Tetons 2001 Trip

Trip report for Tetons Alan Dixon & Ryan Jordan - August 2001 I ended up with some last minute free time in Idaho Falls. What else to do but go to the Tetons? I called Ryan and he gave me information on how to enter the park and possible…

Utah Canyons 2001 Trip

Trip report for Southern Utah - Early May, 2001 The beauty of Southern Utah is staggering. Deep canyons, fantastic rock formations, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and Ansazi ruins. Frogs singing by desert springs under a full moon, their…

Rocky Mountain Trip – text only

The following is a mix of anecdotes, gear reports, and fishing stories. Hope you enjoy the read. -Alan ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK TRIP, August 2000 Sad to say, as a native Californian and lover of the Sierras, but the Rockies are  better.…