So you’ve registered and paid for the online course. Now what?


To help me run this course I have a manager, Joe McConaughy, who should be your primary contact and who will be posting most of the materials; and a team of instructors — Katie Gerber, Hunter Hall, Bec Bastian, Brandon Chase — who bring their own expertise and who will review your work. You can view their bios here.

Join Classroom

At least one week before your course is scheduled to begin, you will receive an email invitation to join our Google Classroom. Please accept it. Note: This invitation is sometimes flagged as spam.

If this direct invitation is unsuccessful, you can join Classroom manually with a code from us.

To access and use Classroom, you must login with a Google account. If you don’t already have one, you’ll be prompted to create it.

Join our forum

Last winter we created an online forum platform for the exclusive use of participants of our guided trips and online planning course. You will be added to the Planning Course group and to the Alumni group.

The forums will not house any essential information, but it will be incorporated into parts of the curriculum and is a valuable communication tool with your classmates. We hope you will use it to:

  • Connect more casually with current and past students and alumni;
  • Find hiking partners;
  • Exchange trip reports, gear reviews, and tips; and,
  • Buy and sell gear.

If you already created an account on my website when paying the course fee, you will have access to the forums. Click ‘log in’ at the uppermost banner on my website. You can find more details on how to use this resource during the curriculum.

If you did not have an account registered to your primary email address, we created one for you. You should have received an email notification to activate the account, which you’ll need to do in order to log in or change your password.

Gear Guide

You will be mailed a signed copy of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide. Some sections are required reading, and other sections will be helpful in completing the assignments.

If you live outside the US, you will be contacted directly and instructed to purchase a copy locally. A credit will be issued to you.

Freebies and discounts

Instructions to redeem the CalTopo and Gaia GPS subscriptions will be distributed during the module on mapping.

Redemption instructions to our other recommended vendors will be sent after the first four assignments. In particular, you will be required to:

  • Introduce yourself to your group;
  • Submit a goal trip;
  • Research environmental and route conditions;
  • Participate in the fitness module; and,
  • Submitting a gear list.

A High Route download coupon is given upon the completion of a course evaluation. This is to solicit feedback to increase the value of this course for future students.

This standard is by design. We want students to engage with the content, not simply register for the perks.


The full curriculum and schedule is available.


The total anticipated time commitment is 8 to 24 hours, depending on your existing knowledge and your engagement with the materials. Like most things, the more time and thought you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

Start thinking about…

At the start of the course, you will need to select an overnight trip that will be used as the foundation of the course. This “goal trip” should be interesting to you, appropriate for your skill set, and realistic.

Important trip details include:

  • Where?
  • When?
  • For how many days?
  • With who?
  • How many miles or how much vertical? And,
  • What style, in terms of camping versus hiking?

If you don’t have a particular trip in mind, we can help you identify one.

Many of our students are aspiring thru-hikers, and the 9-week course proved too quick for them to plan their entire trip. So for the sake of this course, our recommendation is to select a small section of a thru-hike, which will be more manageable. After the course is over, reapply what you learned to the rest of the trip.

Contact us

Joe McConaughy will be your primary point of contact. Email him at st********@an**********.com.

You can also contact Andrew.