Welcome Information

Last updated: December 1, 2023

You’ve been offered a spot on a guided trip and have confirmed it. Now what?


You will be emailed a PDF invoice with payment instructions the next time that I’m in my accounting files, at least within the next few days and probably sooner. I try not to work weekends.

Deposits are due within 14 days of receiving the invoice, and balances are due 75 days from the start of your trip. I will send out a reminder around this 75-day mark with your history of invoices and payments.

If you join a trip less than 75 days from its start date, we can work out an alternative payment plan. The deposit will still be due within 14 days, but the balance payments can be spread out. Please communicate to me what works best.

Gear Guide

To help you with the curriculum, particularly the creation of a gear list, I will mail you a copy of my book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, unless in your application you declined the offer to be sent a copy.

Books will be shipped periodically in batches, with more urgency if new applicants have been confirmed for rapidly approaching trips. The first batch will be mailed in late-January.


The trip schedule, its entry and ending points, recommended airport, and other important logistics information can be found under Trip Logistics.

During the Planning Curriculum we will create an opportunity for you to coordinate your travel with others in your group, if you’d like to reduce travel expenses and possibly make friends early.

Logistics for the Alaska trips are more involved, requiring an additional spreadsheet that will be shared with you.

Planning Curriculum

This 9-week course will help you get prepared, both for your trip with us and for future trips of your own. Participation is required. The more time you invest in it, the more you will get out of it.

For the full curriculum, refer to the online schedule.

Join Classroom

If the Planning Course has already started (refer to the dates in the linked schedule above), we will send you an invitation to join Google Classroom, the platform we use. The invitation e-mail subject line begins with “Class invitation.” If you don’t receive it, look in spam. To join, follow its instructions.

Reach out if you’re having difficulties. Sometimes, an e-mail domain is blocked from joining Google Classroom, notably domains ending in .edu or private domains using GSuite. In this case, you’ll need to enroll using a different email address.

Turn on Notifications

Under “Settings” in Classroom, be sure to turn on email notifications. If you don’t, you will have to manually check the Classroom website or app, and you are likely to miss materials and conversations.

Email forwarding

If you joined Classroom with a secondary account (e.g. with a Gmail account, but your normal email account is Me.com), set up an email forwarding system so that email notifications don’t pile up in an account you never check.

Catch up on assignments

Depending on when you join, you may have to catch up on these vital tasks:

  1. Introduce yourself to the group
  2. Finalize your personal travel plans
  3. Submit a gear list
  4. Reserve demo gear that you need, if any
  5. Prepare your daytime snacks/lunches
  6. Report food restrictions, if any
  7. Download maps to your phone for offline use
  8. Complete the Health Inventory and Participant Agreement

Find details about these assignments in Classroom.

You can ignore the others if you wish, or complete them after your trip when you have more time.

Google Groups

Classroom is excellent for distributing information and assignments. But to foster diaglog and community, we’ve found that another platform is needed. We specifically use Google Groups, which is a hybrid message board and listserv.

We have one group for each location (e.g. one for Utah, one for California, etc) and all members of all trips are added to it.

Critical pre-trip information and assignments will always be posted in Classroom. Groups is simply an extra resource; participation is optional. Instructors will monitor and respond to threads.

Getting started

You will receive an email notification that you’ve been added to Groups.

View recent posts here. Or, wait for the next one to arrive in your inbox.

To send a post, you can use the platform linked above, by selecting the “+ New conversation” button in the upper-left corner. Or, you can send an email to location@andrewskurka.com where “location” equals “utah,” “alaska”, “california,” “washington,” “yellowstone”, or “westvirginia.”

To respond to messages, you can use the web platform, or you can respond to an email.

Update your email settings

  • Log into Google Groups
  • Click on your group under the “My groups” heading
  • In the left hand column, My membership settings > Subscriptions > Choose your preference from the drop down menu> Save changes