Backpacker magazine has devoted its June issue to the national parks, and the 112-page mag packs quite a lot of information -- some great features on park destinations and a discussion-spurring list of parks the editor-in-chief would do away with in favor of new units -- between the covers.
I must admit I struggled a bit with how Casey Lyons approached his story to a long backcountry loop hike in Glacier National Park with a friend who suffers from biopolar II and "hypomania."
Doctors describe the latter as a persistent and pervasive euphoric, or "elevated," state characterized by infinite energy, fierce competitiveness, and a gluttony for risk. Mike described it has "a 24-7 cocaine high!" and laughed his crazy laugh.
That's not something you might imagine to find in Backpacker. But, to Mr. Lyons' credit, he deftly pulled off twining his friend's condition with the wonders of Glacier's backcountry into an interesting read.
Elsewhere in this issue you'll find Michael Lanza's story about introducing his two young children to the Grand Canyon during a family backpack trek, Ted Alvarez' adrenalin-spewing journey into Denali National Park's backcountry, Steve Howe's adventures deep in the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park, and, among others, Brian Beer's suggestions on how to flee the crowds at Yosemite National Park with a four-day exploration of the Clark Range.
Those all are good reads, the kind of stories that not only pull you into the landscapes but, at the end, leave you thinking, "I need to add that to my to-do list!"
But the editor's note, well, that one leaves you thinking about justifications made around the qualifications for units of the National Park System. True, this is not a new debate for Traveler, but it's always interesting to see how others would approach the selection process. Here's the bottom-line of Jonathan Dorn's position on the matter:
Tough times call for touch decisions. If Congress won't make new parks, we'll swap 8 for 8.
In: ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), Bruneau and Upper Owyhee Rivers, Glen Canyon, Lost Coast, Maine Woods, San Juans, White Mountains, Wind Rivers.
Quite the list, no? Not sure about adding Glen Canyon, since, technically, it's already part of the park system. But I like Maine Woods, the White Mountains, and the Wind Rivers. At the same time, I definitely would argue against removing Virgin Islands, Carlsbad Caverns, and Biscayne.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts here, and at Backpacker's website.