On the flight home from my last guided trip of 2013 three weeks ago, I began outlining my schedule for next year. Finalizing it takes time: it requires input from a number of people (e.g. Amanda, assistant guides, partners), hinges on the availability of commercial permits for land use, and — most important — demands that I think hard about the direction of my business and my desired balance of work and play in 2014.
I’m not prepared to release a full schedule yet, but I’m confident in giving a few specific details:
- For the first time I will offer Backpacking Fundamentals sessions in or near Texas. These trips will be scheduled on the weekend surrounding Presidents Day, February 17.
- The Winter Backpacking session will be held in Colorado (within 2.5 hours of Denver) and take place Friday, February 28 through Sunday, March 2.
- I will not offer Alaska Adventure sessions in 2014. If I keep with the every-other year cycle (2011, not 2012, 2013, not 2014) then I’m due again in 2015. If you’re interested, I’d advise you to take a less ambitious trip with me first — Alaska is a very committing and risky place, and I need to be sure that everyone in the group is ready for it.
- Despite my fondness for Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains, I will not be offering this location again in 2014. The explanation: I needed to tighten my schedule for an improved work/life balance, and this was low-hanging fruit since it was my most logistically challenging location. Mid-Westerners may consider a Mid-Atlantic location; I apologize that I can’t serve you better — travel really takes a toll on me and my home life.
And here are a few more details, though less specific:
- In April I will be offering Fundamentals and Adventure trips in the canyons of southern Utah or northern Arizona, probably the former. The Adventure trips will probably be non-technical, and I may shorten them to five days, thinking this length may be more appealing to some than the usual seven days.
- In May I will be offer Fundamentals courses in three Eastern locations: Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina is a definite; the White Mountains are my preferred location for the Northeast; and I’m debating Mid-Atlantic locations right now in Virginia and Pennsylvania, the latter of which would be more accessible for Mid-Westerners.
- There will be two Fundamentals sessions in Colorado, probably in late-June and August.
- I’ll be returning to the High Sierra for the fourth consecutive year in September to offer both Fundamentals and Adventure trips.
Like last year, registration will be opened first for returning clients, probably in early-January, and for new clients a couple of weeks later. The exception will be the Texas trips, which will open in December as soon as my permit application is approved.
Returning clients will be notified through their Google Groups email lists. New clients can stay tuned to this blog, my Facebook page, or — most reliably — receive an email from me by submitting your information.
I anticipate very high demand for every trip, especially the Southwest Canyons and High Sierra Adventure sessions, and the Fundamentals sessions that are scheduled on weekends. Last year my three Adventure sessions were oversubscribed by 55 percent at the end of the first day registration opened to the public, yet I probably will only offer one additional session next year. I wish I could satisfy the demand, but please consider the toll of being away from your spouse for 120 days in a year, as I was in 2013. So my recommendation is simple: if you want to join me on a trip this year, commit as soon as registration opens or as soon as you can.