Meet our stellar instructor team, who guide students through our online backpacking course and pre-guided trip curriculum. Our instructors are fastidious planners, have great attention to detail and impressive backpacking resumes.

Our team:


Andrew Skurka

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. 

Read my full bio.

In Arrigetch Creek, Brooks Range, Alaska, 2019

Rebecca Bastian (“Bec”)

  • 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.

Needing a helping hand in the High Sierra

Brandon Chase

I grew up in Maine, just outside Acadia National Park. Following a brief stint as a Systems Engineer in the Washington, D.C. area after college, I joined the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer and spent most of the next decade living overseas and working at our embassies in Egypt, Cyprus, and Pakistan. While abroad, I picked up an affection for endurance athletics and have since competed in ultramarathons at 50k, 50 mile, and 100k distances all over the world.

In 2020 my wife and I resigned from our careers with the Government to spend more time with our families and our passions, and recently returned from a 5-month trip to Mexico. This summer we’re back in Maine where I’m a whitewater raft and wildlife guide.

Along with a 98-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I have summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked the West Highland Way, fast-packed in the Himalayas, and trekked around New Zealand. One of my favorite recent trips was to the remote Cederberg Wilderness in South Africa.  

I write about hiking, running, and fastpacking on publications such as Fit For Miles, TheTrek and TheStringbean.co. I look forward to working with you all and providing some helpful and useful feedback to help get the most out of your adventures.

Brandon in the Brooks Range of Alaska

Hunter Hall

I live in Los Angeles with my fiancé, Jenn, and our circus of animals; KingsleyMr. Muffin, and Capone. By day, I’m a lobbyist, consultant, and government contractor at the intersection of land use, legislation, compliance, and education.

When I’m not in Los Angeles, I spend most of my time in the mountains of Southern California and the Eastern Sierra where you can find me year-round. I love winter backpacking, and exploring less-traveled areas using the YHRKCHBRSHRSoSHR, and the JMT as baselines. In 2021 I’m excited to be heading to Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Southern Utah, and of course the magnificent Sierra where I’m eyeing a winter JMT thru-hike.

2021 will be my third year working with Andrew and I’m humbled to be teamed up with such an awesome group of outdoor professionals. I love helping people, teaching new skills, and group problem-solving. I look forward to working with everyone and making the most of our time together outdoors!


Joe McConaughy

I live in Seattle with my wife, Katie and Australian Shepherd, Crash Bandipooch. I work as an ultramarathon coach and as a backpacking guide for Andrew’s guided trips. 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.

In 2021, I’m excited for a thru hike of the Arizona Trail and weekend trips in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, I’ll be leading guided backpacking trips with Andrew in Utah, California and West Virginia.


Katie Gerber

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.

Katie Gerber on the Colorado Trail