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Let’s chat: Sign up for my “office hours” (free)

By Andrew Skurka / December 2, 2021 /

Next week — Wednesday, December 8 through Friday, December 10 — we are hosting “office hours” (for free), and are inviting you to schedule a chat. We can talk about anything related to backpacking: Locations, Permitting, Likely conditions, Fitness, Gear selection, Meal planning, Skills, Women-specific considerations, And, of course, our 2022 guided trips and Plan…

Kickoff: The 2022 trip schedule, locations, and application dates

By Andrew Skurka / November 23, 2021 /

The 2021 season ended just six weeks ago, but it’s already time to start 2022, since in another six weeks we will start offering spots on our spring trips. The 2022 schedule & locations Yesterday I published the first iteration of the 2022 schedule. Some parts of the schedule look like past years: Southern Utah…

Tips for the packraft-curious: How to get started

By Luc Mehl / November 8, 2021 /

[An introduction by Skurka] Luc recently published, The Packraft Handbook, a definitive how-to resource for this game-changing and rapidly growing mode of wilderness travel. It’s based on his thousands of miles of paddling experience and his swiftwater safety instructor expertise, and includes 150 illustrations to help convey critical information and skills. It reminds me of…

Book review: From the River to the Sea || The railroad war that made the West

By Andrew Skurka / August 11, 2021 /

From the River to the Sea: The Untold Story of the Railroad War that Made the West, by John Sedgewick, was released in June and published by Avid Reader Press. I’m uncertain why I was sent a media copy, as I’m not a prolific reader or book reviewer. But I’m thankful that I was. I…

Long-term review: CalTopo || My go-to mapping & GPS navigation platform

By Andrew Skurka / August 9, 2021 /

Let me sound old for a minute. When planning the Sea-to-Sea Route in early-2004, I relied on USGS 30- x 60-minute paper maps at 1:100,000 scale to plot, measure, and follow a 700-mile route across North Dakota and Montana to link the North Country and Continental Divide Trails. Two years later, when planning the Great…

Blowdowns & wildfires: Pfiffner Traverse conditions update

By Andrew Skurka / July 12, 2021 /

Several sections of the Pfiffner Traverse were significantly impacted by wildfires and storms in fall 2021, including both on- and off-trail portions, and both the Primary Route and Section Hikes. These events caused an official area closure by the National Park Service and de facto closures on NPS and US Forest Service lands because of…

Toilet paper-less: My evolution in butt cleaning

By Andrew Skurka / July 7, 2021 /

When I began backpacking nearly twenty years ago, I used toilet paper exclusively for cleaning my butt after pooping, just like I did at home. I’ve pooped outside thousands of times since then, and now prefer to do the exact opposite: I use no toilet paper at all. Instead, I rely on natural materials, a…

Bear spray: Three proper carrying methods

By Andrew Skurka / June 8, 2021 /

Our Brooks Range trips start next week, so both clients and guides are in the final stages of their preparations. One question that hit my inbox this morning was: What is your recommended method of carrying bear spray? This is a great question to ask before a trip, because your options may be limited or…

A 7,000-mile hike || The Earth Beneath My Feet

By / June 7, 2021 /

Like millions of people – like you perhaps? – I grew up in the sprawling suburbs of a city. I spent my childhood with carpet and concrete underfoot, not the wild earth. But from the second I saw my first mountain at the age of fifteen the city faded into insignificance.  Trouble was, the city…

Review: Somewear Global Hotspot || 4.0 oz with seamless messaging

By Andrew Skurka / May 28, 2021 /

For years Garmin has dominated the satellite messaging category with its family of inReach devices. But competitors have emerged, thankfully, and it’s helping to keep prices down, drive product innovation, and perhaps improve customer service. For nearly three weeks this spring I used the Somewear Global Hotspot ($280, 4 oz/113 grams), one of these newer…