I’m thrilled to have assembled this all-star guide team, and to work beside them. Each one is an expert backpacker and guide — they combine extensive first-hand backcountry experience with a passion for teaching, excellent people skills, relate-able family and work lives, engaging story-telling, and necessary medical certifications.
- Andrew Skurka
- Alan Dixon
- Brian Robinson
- Caroline Kellough
- Christy Rosander
- Dahn Pratt
- Dan Durston
- David Eitemiller
- Hazel Platt
- Jeff Wohl
- Jessica Winters
- Joe McConaughy
- Katie Gerber
- Mary Cochenour
- Matthew Bright
- Melodie Kao
- Rebecca Bastian
- Scott Christy
- Shawn Forry
- Client evaluation: 4.98/5.0 in 2020; 4.96/5.0 in 2019; 4.95/5.0 in 2018
I’m 39 years-old and live in Boulder, Colo. with my wife Amanda and feline fur child, Oden. Since founding Skurka Adventures in 2011, I have led 83 trips and have spent 369 days in the field with clients.
As a twenty-something I was a prolific long-distance thru-hiker. My most notable trips were the:
- Alaska-Yukon Expedition (6 months, 4,700 miles),
- Great Western Loop (7 months, 6,875 miles), and the
- Sea-to-Sea Route (11 months, 7,775 miles).
More recently, I’ve focused on high routes and long-distance running. I pioneered four off-trail backpacking routes and created guidebooks for each of them. I own a marathon personal-best of 2:28:24, have completed six 100-mile races, and in August 2020 set a fastest known time on the Pfiffner Traverse.
My definitive book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail, was published by National Geographic and has sold over 125,000 copies.
What did clients from 2020 say about Andrew?
- “Andrew was firing bullseyes from the beginning! He was exceptional in all the important aspects of this course — he has a broad and deep knowledge of the material; he communicates concisely and effectively; he was organized and knows how to lead; he projects mutual respect for others; and he made learning a fun experience!”
- “Andrew is very humble, but he has extreme competence without being cocksure.”
- “Andrew shared his vast experience with us without being ‘bored’ by teaching mostly beginners skills that must come natural to him at this point. He was respectful of different backgrounds and experience levels in the group, and made sure everyone was comfortable with the daily plan, speed and distance we traveled.”
- “He taught us and then let us make our own decisions, mistakes included.”
- “Andrew is an excellent speaker and storyteller, has strong teaching skills, and overall is a very friendly, pleasant, and humble person.
- “They say not to meet your heroes but Andrew is down to earth and treats everyone as equals. His stories were worth the price alone.”
- New for 2021
I am 31 years-old and spend much of my free time wandering up ancient alpine volcanoes and through dry desert climates near Bend, Oregon. I grew up in southeast Idaho where my family taught me to find value in the outdoors. This will be my first season working with Andrew and the rest of the crew, and I am ecstatic to join, learn, and share.
I worked as an elementary school teacher in the public school system, but post-Covid I’ve been a private homeschool educator. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I became a member of the Washington Trailblazers and began volunteering with the state to pack trout fry to hundreds of Washington’s alpine lakes. From there I completed the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide Trails, and I’ve recently taken on the challenge of learning about, planning, and attempting various routes in southern Oregon, Nevada, and Yosemite.
I am also passionate about rock climbing, yoga, mountaineering, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, front and backcountry skiing, running, raveling, art, and baking. I love learning about different cultures and languages and I am fluent in American Sign Language, passing in French, and conversational in Zulu.
- Client evaluation: 5.0/5.0 in 2020
I’m 36 years old and live three miles north of the White House in the heart of Washington, DC, where I work for a global think tank developing climate change policy.
Like the Lorax, I love the trees and turned that love into a PhD in environmental science. My friends like to say I’m a “stop and smell the flowers kind of a guy.” I strongly believe that an understanding of the context and details of an ecosystem are a necessary spice to any backpacking trip through the Eastern Hardwood forests.
In 2021 I’m excited to share my knowledge of the geology, flora, fauna and history of West Virginia. This will be my third year guiding with Andrew.
My backpacking adventures include thru-hikes of the Long Trail, Sierra High Route, West Highland Way, and Cotswold Way; loops on the Wind River High Route and Pfiffner Traverse; and numerous other trips on both coasts and all points in between. My latest project is climbing Colorado’s fifty-eight peaks over 14,000 feet.
To keep in shape while living in a city, I run and am currently training for the Boston Marathon in 2021.
What did clients from 2020 say about Matt?
- “Matt is fantastic — he has SO much passion, general knowledge about everything, and technical skill. Would also sign up for a trip with Matt again.”
- “Enduring optimism, a great person to have around in the cold & wet rain, I really felt like I got more than my money’s worth with the unexpected addition of natural history lessons, loved hearing about the plants and history of the area.”
- “Other than just being a genuine badass? He was super funny and great to be around. Super nice guy, took a lot of shit from the group and took it like a champ.”
- “Matt is a walking encyclopedia!”
- Client evaluation: 5.0/5.0 in 2020
I’m 44 years-old and live in Lander, Wyoming in the rain shadow of the lovely Wind River Range. For over twenty years I’ve taught backpacking skills for NOLS and helped develop the NOLS lightweight backpacking program. In that capacity, I’ve had the honor of backpacking and training a diverse range of participants including NASA Astronauts, MBA students, US Marines, and Google directors.
I’ve been lucky to backpack and adventure all over the globe, from Chilean Patagonia, to Alaska and the Yukon, with countless more miles hiked in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, California, and Arizona. In addition to other backpacking adventures I’ve been particularly excited about long packrafting trips in northern Alaska and canyoneering explorations of the Grand Canyon in the past few years. In addition, it turns out that lightweight backpacking systems really work exceptionally well for bikepacking and elk hunting!
When not spending time outdoors I produce audio stories for radio and podcasts, including the Telemetry podcast for Yellowstone National Park. I also serve on the command team of my local Search and Rescue unit in Wyoming.
What did clients from 2020 say about Scott?
- “If I could give Scott and “10” on a scale of “5” I would. He was outstanding in every way! His portfolio of experience is amazing, he is a fun and effective communicator, and he cares for the clients on a personal level. Wow, I think you are very fortunate to have him on the team!”
- “Scott was very experienced in the terrain, but most importantly, he had a very calm approach that gave everyone in the group confidence that we could handle a couple of the more difficult places. ”
- “His attitude, knowledge, ability to teach and overall love of what he was doing was infectious. There were a couple of really rough hacking through brush moments that he made easier with laughter instead of just having a suck it up attitude.”
I live in Helena, Montana, with my husband Matt and our two kids, Kennedy (12) and Cameron (10). We are outdoor fun hogs, spending most of our time skiing, mountain biking, and backpacking in the Northern Rockies.
I work for Gaia GPS, which is a new and exciting career — in late-2019 I resigned as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Montana after fifteen years in law. At Gaia GPS, I write and edit copy for the blog. I also produce and co-host the company’s Out and Back podcast. You can listen to this episode of the podcast to learn about how I got into backpacking and how a man stalked me in the backcountry for almost an entire summer. It’s a crazy story!
Before kids, I guided forty-two rafting trips down the Grand Canyon, patrolled the Desolation Wilderness for seven summers as a US Forest Service ranger, and worked as a ski patroller at Heavenly for ten seasons. I have a lot of experience with wilderness first aid, avalanche safety, and search and rescue.
I’ve been backpacking for more than three decades and have lived through the entire ultralight transformation of the sport. My experience includes the John Muir Trail (x3), the Wind River High Route, the Brooks Range in Alaska, the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail, the Wonderland Trail, the Circuit in Torres Del Paine in Patagonia, and countless miles of beautiful trail and off-trail routes in mountains and desert all over the West.
What did clients say about Mary?
- “Mary is the whole package – intelligent, experienced, strong, and personable.”
- “Mary has a client-first mindset. I heard her several times ask, ‘What can I do to make this experience more comfortable/amazing/exceptional for you?'”
- “Mary is super motivating and was a great role model for women.”
- “There is a fine line between being responsible and having fun, and Mary walked it perfectly. I honestly couldn’t imagine anyone else I would rather have lead the trip.”
- “Mary had a lovely way of offering a small tip or piece of advice in the context of a situation. These micro-doses of learning felt relevant, not like a scripted curriculum.”
- “Several times Mary had to scout out a bit of the off-trail terrain before the group, to make sure it was safe — it was amazing to watch her in her element and tell us her thought process and reasoning.”
I’m 60 years-old and live in Washington, DC, with my wife and adventuring partner, Alison. I have two children and two grandchildren. Five years ago I retired as an environmental engineer, and now focus mostly on Adventure Alan, one of the oldest and most respected sources for ultralight backpacking.
Since joining Andrew’s program in 2012, I have guided 30 trips (including 19 where I was the lead guide) in Alaska, the Sierras, Utah, Alleghenies, and the Appalachians, and the Great Northwest Woods.
I’ve been backpacking for over 50 years, and ultralight backpacking for the past 20. In 2001 I co-founded Backpacking Light, and was the Gear Review Editor there for many years. I pioneered the Wind River High Route and Southern Sierra High Route, and am one of the few people to have completed the Escalante Overland Route. In recent years, I’ve been making annual trips to explore off the beaten path areas in Patagonia, Alaska and other remote areas in the world.
What did clients say about Alan in 2020?
- “The guy knows everything!!! He’s so freaking experienced, it’s scary.”
- “Alan comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience, and many, many stories. He is able to share that knowledge in an open way without being condescending or overwhelming. He’s friendly and approachable, and very smart.”
- “Alan is the BEST storyteller ever — the trip could not have been more engaging!”
- “The instruction and guidance provided by Brian and Alan was over the top. And the group was amazing, cohesive and free of egos and challenges. I have come out with a great experience, I am a stronger backpacker with skills in micro, off-trail navigation, trip planning and training, trail running, river crossings, digital navigation, backcountry protocols and lightweight backpacking.”
- “Scott and Alan *totally* made this trip. The program was fantastic, the educational component was spot-on, and there was a great mix of challenging aspects…”
I am 37-years-old and live in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in Golden, British Columbia, with my wife T. I have an insatiable passion for both outdoor adventure and gear, which has led me into ambitious gear projects and even more ambitious sufferfest trips (where my perpetual optimism tends to get me through).
After thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014, I went on to complete a wide range of challenging on- and off-trail trips, notably the:
- First yo-yo of Canada’s Great Divide Trail (1500 miles, 4 months);
- Bob Marshall Wilderness Open (five-time fastest finisher, 80 to 120 miles in 38 to 66 hours); and,
- FKT on the Stein Valley Traverse (60 miles, sub-20 hours).
Recently I have been scouting and refining several high route alternates for the Great Divide Trail, and bushwhacking into remote river valleys for packraft first descents.
Professionally, I work as a fisheries biologist, with a strong interest in botany. I have authored a popular online hiking guide to the Stein Valley. And in conjunction with Drop, I designed the popular and widely acclaimed X-Mid 1P and 2P Tents.
I was supposed to guide with Andrew in 2020 in Alaska, but the coronavirus wrecked those plans (and those of many others). So 2021 will be my first season.
- Client evaluation: 4.92/5.0 in 2020
I am 61 years old but don’t let that impress you, I live in a 40 something brain and body. I live in Monument, Colorado and have two grown daughters and 4 amazing grandkids who call me “Gramps” Since retiring from a long and successful career in Asia as a Senior Executive for major paper, packaging and printing companies, I’ve turned my attention to more fun stuff. I’ve guided with Andrew since 2018 in Alaska, Yosemite, the San Juans and Escalante.
I spend most of my days recovering from or planning the next adventure with my adventure buddies. I’ve backpacked most of my life. My most notable trips include the Wind River High Route (twice) and the Pfiffner Traverse, and portions of the Sierra High Route, Kings Canyon Basin Route, and Yosemite High Route.
In addition to backpacking, I fly fish, hunt, ski, trail run and am finishing up my “adventure van” – Slide 25 (Walter Mitty). I’ve also completed four 100-mile races and many others in the 50K to 100K range, notably the San Juan Solstice 50 (four times). In 2019 I set the 60+ age group record at Run Rabbit Run 100, and was the only 60+ year-old to secure a Golden Buckle for a sub-30-hour finish.
What did clients in 2020 say about Dave?
- “Approachability. Friendliness/warmth. Constructive guidance. Felt like we would have followed him anywhere.”
- “For someone who has the hiking resume that he has, he was extremely humble and open to all ideas. He was inclusive and was a fantastic teacher. I also just enjoyed chatting with him – he’s a great guy and was a lot of fun to be around.”
- “Dave’s manner gave me the sense that I could immediately trust him completely.”
- “Dave was excellent at explaining the situation and his thought process when we would reach decision points.”
- “I felt really safe around Dave. He was never rude even though there were times he had to wait on me because I was slower than the rest. He was always encouraging me.”
- New for 2021
I’m 39 years-old and have resided on historic Donner Summit near Lake Tahoe for the past decade. Since my first overnight backpacking trip in my early-twenties, I’ve logged over 25,000 miles of wilderness travel.
The 2021 season will be my first with Andrew’s program, but I’m not new to outdoor education, having worked for Outward Bound for 14 years. In my first seven years I instructed 700 days of backpacking, climbing, and dog-sledding expeditions. Later on I oversaw all California-based programs and organizational risk management as the Director of Programs and Safety.
Long distance self-supported endeavors are my biggest passion. After completing the Triple Crown at age 25, I turned my attention to lesser-known routes around the world, notably Te Araroa and the Great Himalaya Trail. In 2015 I completed the first-ever winter completion of the Pacific Crest Trail and was subsequently inducted into the California
Outdoors Hall of Fame. Recently I have focused my efforts on long distance ski touring and bikepacking. To engage more hikers in the “fourth season,” I have authored Ultralight Winter Travel, published by Falcon Guides.
I’m 35 and live in Salida, Colorado with my 15-year-old tabby cat, Mo. I run my own business as a holistic health and nutrition coach for outdoor adventurers. Through my work, I have the immense pleasure of helping clients of all age ranges optimize their health and physically prepare for their backcountry adventures. I’m also an online course creator, freelance writer, and soon-to-be author.
I grew up in Ohio, and in 2009 discovered the magic of extended time in the wilderness on the Appalachian Trail. Since then, I’ve also thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Oregon Desert Trail, Colorado Trail, and Wind River High Route, amongst shorter adventures. When I’m home in Colorado, I enjoy trail running, hiking to high peaks, and skiing. What I most love about the outdoors is the opportunity to continually challenge myself, learn, and grow.
The 2021 season will be my first year with Andrew’s program and I couldn’t be more excited to meet clients and support them in having fantastic outdoor adventures.
- New for 2021
I’m 32 years-old and a new transplant in Santa Cruz, California. By day I’m an astronomer and astrophysicist. By night, I dance social Argentine tango. And when I feel like I’ve spent too much time pondering the Universe, backpacking brings me home to Earth.
Since my first trip in Torres del Paine in 2010, I’ve gone on numerous solo adventures, notably biking up the Pacific Coast Highway, thru-hiking the John Muir Trail, and hiking my own 320-mile loop in the Sierra. This summer I’ve been section-hiking the Yosemite High Route and have plans to thru-hike the Wind River and Kings Canyon Basin High Routes. I also spent a week with Andrew’s program in the Brooks Range, which turned into an unexpected recruiting opportunity.
I care deeply about making science and backpacking more equitable and accessible to the broader public. I believe the skills gained in these arenas help us grapple with challenges that we face in the rest of our lives. As a guide, I draw on my extensive experience and training in education: teaching astrophysics classes and non-technical skills workshops, guiding graduate students through research projects, directing tango immersion programs, mentoring women and people of color in STEM, and leading 7-day WildAstro trips for novice backpackers at Arizona State University.
In addition to backpacking, I am an avid reader and love running, going on long walks, having solo dance parties in the dark to Taylor Swift, writing letters, and sketching.
- Client evaluation: 4.7/5.0 in 2020
I am 31 years-old and currently live in Salt Lake City, at the base of the Wasatch Mountains with my scrappy trail dog, Oso. I grew up in the flatlands of this country but quickly found my passion in the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest where I learned to backpack and climb.
Initially I trained as a guide in the Yukon Territory, where I completed the Donjek Route at nineteen. Since then I have taught in wilderness education and worked as a family and group therapist at a wilderness therapy company in Utah’s West Desert where I’ve racked up over 300 field days.
I’ve completed several long walks like the Camino de Santiago (2015) and the Pacific Crest Trail (2018), plus shorter ones all over northern New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Oklahoma. In 2020 hiked a 140 mile section of the Colorado trail.
My most recent front country endeavor has been creating my own guiding company, Desert Song, that offers folks small group, therapeutic expeditions. When I’m not hiking I’m often found baking, climbing, and singing at the top of my lungs — my trail name is Songbird, after all.
Last season was my first with Andrew and I was lucky enough to get to explore Grand Staircase Escalante with an amazing group of clients.
What did clients in 2020 say about Caroline?
- “Caro was great at helping everyone. She walked with those who were slower, was very patient, and always exuded a calming presence during hard stretches.”
- “She was fun to talk with and was very knowledgeable about the Utah area. She also offered a Yoga/stretch class after long hikes – so helpful for my sore legs!”
- “Extremely kind, chimed in to clarify or solidify concepts, always smiling, shared her other interests along with her backpacking experiences.”
Joe McConaughy (“Stringbean”)
I live in Seattle with my wife, Katie and Australian Shepherd, Crash Bandipooch. I work as an ultrarunning coach and Andrew’s Program Manager for both his guided trips and the online planning course.
Backpacking and trail running are my two favorite ways to experience the outdoors. My stringbean-y figure on the trail gave way to my trail name, Stringbean.
I’ve set Fastest Known Times on the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail (52 days, supported in 2014), the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail (45 days, self-supported in 2017), Ireland’s 100-kilometer Wicklow Round (17 hours in 2018) and Vermont’s Long Trail. I’m an athlete for Columbia Montrail.
Fun fact: I love learning languages and travelling. If you join me in Utah, California or West Virginia, we can practice Spanish, German, French or even English to pass the time!
What did clients in 2020 say about Joe?
- “He could not have been better in any category. He was always cheerful, helpful, friendly, and anything else that could be evaluated. Definitely a MVP or your team.”
- “Joe was awesome! He was always kind and had lots of good feedback/answers to questions. He heated up extra water every meal and offered to share so that people could have tea which is a small but mighty way to do something extra and show he cared.”
- “Sweet, fun, strong and game for a swim.”
- “Joe is a truly exceptional guide. His affable, loving life personality is as apparent as his completely bad ass physical ability as is his desire to humbly help others.”
- New for 2021
I am 27 years old and have spent most of my outdoor life in the Appalachian Mountains. After a stint in the tech industry and startup world, a thru-hike of the Long Trail in 2017 changed my perspective — I feel that the future hinges more on responsible land and resource stewardship than it does on cutting-edge technology.
In summer 2021 I’m thru-hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail. Previously I served as a wilderness specialist and ranger on the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, overseeing 50,000 acres across four Wilderness areas; and I instructed Penn State’s Wilderness Literature course, which examined the concept of Wilderness throughout history and through different perspectives, and included a guided field experience in Dolly Sods Wilderness.
I am an out and proud member of the trans community and aim to help make the outdoors more accessible to queer and trans people.
This is my first season with Andrew’s program and I’m excited to share my understanding about the human and natural histories of West Virginia, the management of wilderness areas, and the complexities of the United States public land system.
- New for 2021
I am 30 years-old and currently live in Toronto, Canada. I grew up on a Kibbutz in the Negev Desert of Israel and spent most of my adolescence on the East Coast of the United States. I am one of five children, and have ventured into the backcountry since an early age with my siblings.
A lifetime ago I was a Bronze Medalist at the Canadian Track & Field National Championships in Triple Jump. In the summers I worked on a helicopter-assisted sled dog camp in the Panhandle of Alaska on the Denver Icefield. After University I was a teaching assistant for a travel abroad program and also taught Human Kinetics, Geography, and Orienteering at an International School in Tokyo. I have also worked with various non-profits focused on interpersonal and leadership skills in an outdoor setting. I currently work for Atlas Guides (makers of Guthook Guides).
Between late 2017 and early 2020 I hiked over 10,000 miles in perpetual summer along national scenic trails in various countries, even pioneering a 1,250 mile loop in the Middle East called the Peace Trail, a combination of the Israel National Trail and the Jordan Trail. I’ve hiked and guided extensively on six continents and look forward to learning more and sharing the knowledge I’ve gained from around the world as a guide in 2021.
Brian Robinson (“Flyin’ Brian“)
- Client evaluation: 4.95/5.00 since 2014
I’m 59 years-old and live in Monterey, California. Since 2011 I’ve guided 35 trips over 187 days with Andrew, starting with his very first High Sierra trip. I prepare tax returns during tax season, and volunteer as a trail maintenance crew leader in the Ventana Wilderness of Big Sur.
I’ve been backpacking since the 1970’s and helped to popularize ultralight gear and techniques. In 2001 I became the first person to complete the Calendar Triple Crown, which entails thru-hiking the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails (7,400 miles total), all in the same year. This feat earned me the trail name “Flyin’ Brian” and induction into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame. It also caught the attention of Andrew, at the time still a college student, who would take my far, fast, and light style to the next level.
I’m also an accomplished ultra runner. I was the seventh finisher (out of 15 total now) and former course record-holder of the infamous Barkley Marathons, and I completed the 224-mile John Muir Trail in 4 days 7 hours. Before they were really a thing, I established FKT’s on the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide, and High Sierra Trails.
What did clients from 2020 say about Brian?
- “He is a super knowledgeable guy and has answers for every question. He is a good teacher, from map and compass to trail nutrition. We learned so much from him.”
- “Absolute backpacking encyclopedia. Beyond patient.”
- “I trust him with my life out there.”
- “After I learned about the Barkley Marathons and the Calendar Triple Crown it was like realizing you’ve got Einstein teaching your 3rd grade class and that was awesome.”
- “I’m talking about Flyin’ Brian here, do you really need me to list the ways he’s an awesome guide? :-)”
I am fortunate to live in Tehachapi, California, the gateway to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with my husband, Dan. I’ve been married for 33 years and have three adult children and two grandchildren. The 2021 season will be my second year guiding with Andrew.
As an elementary school teacher for 20 years, I took advantage of my breaks to hike extensively solo or with family and friends. I love hiking in remote and wild places and documenting trips through photos and video.
My most notable trips include:
- Long-distance trails like the Pacific Crest, Great Divide, John Muir (4x), Theodore Solomons, and Tahoe Rim Trails;
- Off-trail adventures like the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, Yosemite High Route, Sierra High Route (2x), Lowest to Highest, Scotland’s Great Outdoor Challenge, Wind River High Route, and Southern Sierra High Route, plus some DIY itineraries in the Grand Canyon, southern Utah, and Death Valley;
- Big peaks like Rainier, Shasta, Russell, Williamson, Whitney (via the Mountaineers Route, 4x), Sahale, Banner, and Ritter.
In addition to backpacking, I backcountry and alpine ski, road and mountain bike, paddleboard, and rock climb.I’m committed to staying healthy and fit, and having fun. With enough determination and skill, age really has no limits. A positive attitude, good planning, a bit of spunk, and lightweight gear are a few of the keys to longevity in this sport.
What did clients from 2020 say about Christy?
- “Not only is Christy an excellent guide with great experience and an ability to teach, but her people skills, attitude, and enthusiasm are superb. She is a joy to be around.”
- “Christy’s enthusiasm for hiking and sharing knowledge was obvious from day one and her positive attitude throughout the trip kept spirits high when things got difficult.”
- “Upbeat and fun energy, very supportive and encouraging. Talked me off the ledge (literally) when I was freaking out climbing up a steep section. Tons of great information provided on gear and field skills. She and Dave’s personalities vibed really well.”
- “What a firecracker!! Her infectious personality was incredible. No better person to share 5 days with..loved her!!!”
- “Christy is so upbeat that she made you think you were having fun even when hauling 4 L of water.”
Jessica Winters (“Wildflower”)
I’m 43 years-old and live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest near Seattle. This will be my 4th season working with Andrew and I can’t wait to lead my 2021 groups, meet new clients and reconnect with those I’ve guided for too!
When I’m not in the field, I’m a full-time yoga teacher. When not in the studio, I lead outdoor yoga and rafting expeditions down wild and scenic rivers like the Middle and Main Forks of the Salmon, the Grand Canyon, and the Tatshenshini/Alesk Rivers in Alaska. Previously I was a school teacher but now tutor privately. In my spare time I’m a steward for a youth adventure program, and I lead events and classes for the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women’s Group.
Starting in 2002 I completed backpacking’s Triple Crown by thru-hiking the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide Trails. While I love long trails, I have an equal passion for shorter adventures: I’ve traversed Iceland, hiked the Arizona Trail, explored Canada’s Yukon, and adventured in Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic along with thousands of miles hiked in my backyard ranges, the Cascades and Olympics. I’ve climbed two of the highest summits of the world, Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro, and am checking off the the summits and highest peaks of the Cascade volcanoes.
What did clients in 2020 say about Jessica?
- “Jessica’s “free spirit” complemented Andrew really well, and I’m glad I got to spend some time with her on this trip and learn from her experiences. She was incredibly helpful, e.g. making sure everyone was set up for camp even before setting up herself. She really made sure everyone had a great time out there.”
- “Jessica was a wonderful guide! She was fun and easy to talk to and I loved hearing her life story. We had a fun morning yoga session and I enjoy the kind of energy she brings to the table/group.”
- “I have seen Jessica now for the second time pull off a miracle of “hiker whispering” in talking Jenny up and down the talus slope of Rincon pyramid. She’s nothing short of amazing.”
- “It was SO important to me to have a female guide as a female client and I really appreciate the intentional effort to make this happen. Jessica is incredibly sympathetic and aware of the needs of people in the group and always willing to go the extra mile to help. When I was at an absolute low point, she boiled water for me for a cup of coffee in the morning, which was a meaningful gesture at a tough moment. She has a wealth of trail knowledge and I felt safe in her hands.”
- “Jessica was an amazingly positive presence needed by every group working hard under the hot sun. She was empathetic, caring, patient, energetic, knowledgeable and at the same time, an amazingly accomplished backpacker. It was really awe-inspiring to hae her as one of my teachers and I remember thinking that if I hiked 10% of what she did, I would be very happy indeed.”
- New for 2021
I live outside of Lander, Wyoming, with my partner Nikki, two dogs, and sometimes horses and even raised ravens and magpies. We built every aspect of our home with our own hands.
I grew up in Wyoming and climbed my first 13’er when I was six. Now 43 years-old, I still get as excited about outdoor adventures. This is my first season with Andrew’s team, but I’ve been an outdoor educator for over twenty years and have spent 200 weeks in the field instructing backpacking, climbing, horse-packing, caving, and winter programs for NOLS. The majority of my personal trips are in the weekend to 2-week range, but I’ve also thru-hiked the Continental Divide Trail.
I have also worked for The Nature Conservancy as a naturalist alongside experts such as ornithologist David Allen Sibley, bear biologist Chuck Jonkel, and Smithsonian paleo-botanist Scott Wing. My book, Alaska: Illustrated Guide for the Curious, is a friendly illustrated guide to common land and marine creatures and their habitats.