John D'Onofrio

Havasu Canyon: Springtime in Shangri La

I first heard about Havasu Canyon from Edward Abbey. His idyllic description of it in Desert Solitaire really caught my eye when I first read it back in the 70’s. It sounded like paradise on Earth, a desert Garden of Eden. It sounded too good to be true. Thirty-five years later, my time had finally come to see Havasu for …

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The Quiet Joys of Huntoon Point

The journey to Huntoon Point on a winter’s day, when measured in miles, is very short. A mere three miles separate you from the clamor and bustle of the parking lot and the spirit-lifting hush of this magical destination. And it’s easy too. You’ll climb a scant 1200 feet along the way with only a few short steep bits, and …

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The Assiniboine Traverse: A Tale of Unrivaled Splendor, Grizzly Bears and Condiment Soup

For Europeans, the Matterhorn defines alpine beauty. At 11,870 feet, Mount Assiniboine, in the Canadian Rockies, is a similar momentous horn, cleaving the sky. The difference is that the Matterhorn is surrounded by tourist accommodations while Assiniboine rises in country that is by-and-large wilderness. Switzerland without the gondolas. Our intention is simple. We plan to traverse the high country across …

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Autumn in the San Juans

  “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away”.                                                                                                                          -Mark Twain We motor out of Bellingham’s Squalicum Marina aboard Shariyat, a 26-foot long sailboat, bathed in rare and succulent late autumn sunshine. We’re off for a …

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The High Divide: Walking the Green Horizon

The High Divide, that long sinuous ridge that stretches from Excelsior Peak to Welcome Pass has long been a favorite autumn backpacking destination. I’ve spent some glorious October days and nights on the Divide when the sweeping alpine meadows are positively lurid with the golds, reds and yellows of the season. But my visits in mid-summer flower season have been …

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The Wild Pacific Trail: Finding Awe on BC’s New Coastal Route

There is something about the edge of the sea. The unbounded energy of waves crashing on sculpted rocks with its attendant deluge of negative ions, the wind-lashed trees, the profusion of life – aquatic, terrestrial and avian. In the Pacific Northwest everybody loves a walk beside the ocean. Accordingly, there is a plethora of well-known trails along these northern coasts …

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This Weekend: A Pair of Spectacular Autumn Hikes in the North Cascades

The North Cascades are justifiably famous as a summer hiking Mecca. Emerald green meadows and carpets of wildflowers make for idyllic wandering beneath blue skies. But in autumn, the color scheme changes and the high country is ablaze with warmer hues of red and gold, orange and magenta, yellow and purple. At this time of the year, hikers can feast …

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Shi-Shi Beach: Shangri-La on the Olympic Coast

I’ve hiked pretty much the entire Olympic coast and can say without reservation that my favorite spot on this beautiful coastline is Shi-Shi Beach and Point of Arches. The Point of Arches is the dramatic highlight, thrusting out into the Pacific from the south end of the beach. On a spring backpacking trip, I was fortunate enough to enjoy several …

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Still Wild After All These Years: The Wilderness Act Turns 50

More than one hundred million acres. This is the quantity of designated wilderness lands in the United States of America today. This bounty is the result of the Wilderness Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964. The Act defines “wilderness” in language unusually poetic for legislation: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where …

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Walking the Edge: Explorations on the Wildest Coastline in America

  The towering headlands, crowned with mist, Their feet among the billows, know That Ocean is a mighty harmonist                                               – William Wordsworth There’s something about spending days and nights beside the sea. Maybe it’s the invigorating wind that blows across it, unhindered for 5,000 miles. Perhaps it’s the rhythm of the waves, like a heartbeat, slowing the pulse and …

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