Trip Types

I offer three trip types, each designed for a specific experience level.

  1. Fundamentals, for beginners;
  2. Adventures, for intermediates; and
  3. Expeditions, for advanced backpackers.

We recognize that not every applicant or group of clients will fall neatly or universally into one of these categories, so we reset our teaching level for every new group and we work with clients individually to help them reach their goals.

Because experience and fitness are not necessarily correlated, we run each trip type in up to four intensity levels: Low, Moderate, High, and Very High.

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

As a first-time backpacker I think that this course was the best hands-on learning environment for which I could have asked. I was nervous beforehand, but once in the field I realized that I’d become properly prepared through the planning curriculum and group chats, where we covered gear selection, fitness, meal planning, and some core skills. I have a great base of knowledge now for going on short trips of my own.

C.D

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.

A tutorial on topographic maps, one of the most important tools in the navigator’s “tool kit,” along with a watch, compass, altimeter, and GPS device.

Level 2: Adventure

The Adventure trip was a pivotal outdoor experience for me. I had done several five- to six-day trips of my own, but I’d reached a point where I really needed help in developing more advanced skills. This trip has provided the foundation for many future adventures, starting with researching route conditions and assembling a gear list, and then navigating in the field both on-trail and off.

Keela P

An Adventure trip is best for intermediate backpackers who want to learn next-level skills and to undertake a more challenging trip than they would on their own. We also welcome beginners who are strong and ambitious, and advanced backpackers who are looking for a turnkey experience.

To create a solid foundation for adventure, early in the trip we run through our entire Field Curriculum. With more experienced groups, it’s more of a review and refresh; with less experienced groups, it’s similar to a Fundamentals course, but with more hiking in between tutorials.

With five or seven days at our disposal, we’re able to get deep into the wilderness, where few other parties roam; and we can undertake challenging off-trail routes, including sections of the Pfiffner Traverse, Yosemite High Route, and Kings Canyon High Basin Route.

Fitness requirements are higher for the Adventure trips, due to the increased rigor and pack weight.

Atop Peak 12,345 near Copper Peak Pass in Seqoia-Kings Canyon National Park

Level 3: Expedition

This was great introduction to an area (Alaska) that I would find difficult or impossible to pull off myself. The trip was extremely well organized in advance and executed essentially flawlessly. We had great guides and really gelled very well as a group.

Thomas H

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.

Upper Arrigetch Creek, Brooks Range, Alaska