For 2019 I am offering three types of trips, each designed for a specific experience level: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Some crossover is expected, and we adjust our teaching level accordingly.
We offer each trip type in several intensities (Low, Moderate, High, and Very High) because experience and fitness are not necessarily correlated. For in-depth descriptions of these intensity ratings, go here.
If you have questions about the trips or are uncertain what trip type is most suitable for you, please contact me.
At a glance: How do the trips compare?
Level 1: Fundamentals
This course is designed for beginner backpackers, and for day-hikers and car-campers who have never backpacked before. It will help you accelerate up the learning curve, so that you avoid years of trial-and-error and thousands of dollars in regrettable purchases.
During the pre-trip Planning Curriculum and the 3-day/2-night trip, you will learn critical skills including: gear selection, meal preparation, map making, on- and off-trail navigation, overnight food protection, water purification, campsite selection, human waste disposal, and more.
By the end of the trip — on which we also try to have a lot of fun — you should be able to plan and complete overnight trips of your own, and perhaps informally lead family members, friends, and Scouts.
The Fundamentals course is suitable for most applicants who are in average (or better) shape relative to their peers.
Level 2: Adventure
An Adventure trip is best for intermediate backpackers who want to take their skills to the next level and to undertake a more challenging trip than they would or should on their own. But we also welcome beginners who are strong and ambitious, and advanced backpackers who are looking for a turnkey experience.
To create a foundation for adventure, with most groups we spend the first few days teaching critical skills, just as we would on a Fundamentals course. With more experienced groups, we will just brush up on them and/or work one-on-one with clients who need extra attention.
With a 5- or 7-day itinerary, we’re able to get deep into the wilderness and to complete a section of an advanced route like the Pfiffner Traverse, Yosemite High Route, or Kings Canyon High Basin Route. We spend significant time off-trail, sometimes for several consecutive days, and rarely see other people during these stretches.
Fitness requirements are higher for the Adventure trips, due to the increased rigor and pack weight.
Level 3: Expedition
Our Expedition trip is the most advanced that we offer, and is designed to be a capstone backpacking experience. It will be entirely or mostly off-trail, and may require a bush plane or a packraft to enter or exit the wilderness.
An Expedition is suitable for graduates of our Adventure trips (to whom we give priority) and for similarly capable newcomers who want some oversight when planning a trip to and exploring a wild landscape like Alaska. We expect that your gear and skills are dialed, and that you will arrive in requisite fitness.
The fitness requirements for an Expedition are the same as for an Adventure. But big wilderness tends to favor strength over speed: you will need to power across tussocks and bogs, and through thick brush; and to carry a heavier pack.