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Women-only Sessions

Update, January 18. The womens-only sessions have been cancelled for 2019, due to inadequate demand. One-third of our applicants were women, but most seemed to prefer mixed-gender groups. We will try again in 2020.

In 2019 we are offering two women-only sessions. Both are scheduled for early-September in Rocky Mountain National Park during peak fall foliage.

Why a women-only trip?

The goal of these sessions is for women to learn to backpack and to have a legitimate wilderness adventure in a comfortable, nonjudgmental, and supportive environment.

Our women-only and mixed groups share the same Planning Curriculum and Field Curriculum, and the same emphasis on lightweight backpacking, long-distance thru-hikes, and off-trail high routes. But the women-only sessions will be more attentive to women-specific gear (e.g. backpacks, clothing, shelters) and women-specific skills (e.g. hygiene, personal safety), and should have greater female camaraderie.

Trip types & dates

The Fundamentals course is best for beginner backpackers, and for day-hikers and car-campers who have never before gone on an overnight trip. The 3-day/2-night outing will start on Friday, September 6 and conclude on Sunday, September 8.

The Adventure trip is best for intermediate backpackers, and for ambitious beginners who want to accelerate up the learning curve. The 5-day/4-night trip will start the day after the Fundamentals course ends — Monday, September 9 through Friday, September 13.

The trips start at 9 AM on Day 1, and usually exit between 10AM and noon on the final day.


These women-only sessions will be guided by Jessica Winters and Mary Cochenour. Both are extremely friendly and enthusiastic, and beyond competent.

Jessica has hiked the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails (the “Triple Crown” of long-distance backpacking) and is now a full-time yoga instructor in Seattle. When Jessica is the guide, morning and evening yoga sessions are complimentary.

Mary is a former wilderness ranger, ski patroller, and Grand Canyon river guide who more recently has been organizing and leading groups of women on backpacking trips in the northern Rockies. She’s also a mom of two and a Montana State Attorney.

I’ll be around at the start to help check gear and distribute food, demo gear, and maps. And I’ll be on-call during the trip if the group needs immediate assistance.

Apply now

To apply for one of these trips, submit an application. In Section 2 of the form, indicate your interest in a women-only trip when asked.