Trip Planning

Categories

Exporting & printing topographical maps from digital sources

By Andrew Skurka / July 24, 2015 / 32 Comments

Today we’re fortunate to have excellent online mapping platforms like CalTopo, Hillmap, GaiaGPS, and AllTrails. But until these platforms are available deep in the backcountry on devices that don’t break or need recharging, as part of my trip planning routine I export and then print my digital maps into a field-friendly paper set. Here is how:…

Backpacking Trip Planning Checklist: To do before you go

By Andrew Skurka / July 5, 2015 / 12 Comments

I have planned hundreds of backpacking trips. Many have been personal outings, ranging from long weekends in nearby destinations to multi-month thru-hikes in faraway places. The rest have been guided, when I’ve been accountable to paying clients. To maximize my working efficiency and to prevent oversights when getting backpacking trips out the door, I use a trip planning checklist — a spreadsheet,…

Finest route in the High Sierra? Introducing the Kings Canyon High Basin Route.

By Andrew Skurka / April 12, 2015 / 17 Comments

Seven years ago I thru-hiked with Buzz Burrell the Sierra High Route, which parallels the crest of the High Sierra between Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park. Its 200 miles represents less than 1 percent of the total miles that I have hiked, yet the experience proved to be one of the most…

Essential backpacking topo maps: types, sources & formats

By Andrew Skurka / April 7, 2015 / 50 Comments

When I mostly only followed established backpacking trails or routes, I relied heavily on existing resources — topographic map sets, route descriptions, databooks, and now digital trail apps — under the assumption that they were sufficient, which they normally were. But when my trips became more of the choose-your-own-adventure variety, I had to develop these…

Backpacking recipes: Ingredient information & sourcing

By Andrew Skurka / March 3, 2015 / 17 Comments

This page is intended to provide a single source of information about ingredients that I use in my backpacking breakfast and dinner meal ideas, which I will be posting over the next few months. Many of them are used in more than one recipe, so this page will prevent redundant information and allow for easy updating.…

Lessons learned in Big Bend National Park’s Mesa de Anguila

By Russell Johnson / January 2, 2015 / 14 Comments

Editor’s Note. Russell has been on two of my guided backpacking trips, and in April will join a third. He considers himself an “advanced beginner” backpacker, getting out a few times per year on trips of 2-4 days each. In mid-December I did a short trek with my wife and two sons at our favorite…

Top tips: Efficient backpacking trip planning, preparing, & packing

By Andrew Skurka / October 23, 2014 / 17 Comments

The first year I offered guided backpacking trips and courses in 2011, preparations for them were disastrously inefficient. My systems were nicely refined for solo thru-hikes, but I learned that groups of up to 10 clients for 3, 5, or 7 days at a time entail much more: more logistics, more food, more group equipment,…

Elk 1, Skurka 0: Lessons Learned and Relearned

By Andrew Skurka / October 16, 2014 / 19 Comments

What lessons did I learn and relearn on my Colorado elk hunt last week? Here are the big three: 1. In order to shoot them, you must find them It’s called “hunting” for a reason — it’s not as simple as just shooting and processing. While many hunters have filled their tags on the first…

Be Prepared? Absolutely. But against what? Why and how to assess environmental and route conditions.

By Andrew Skurka / May 30, 2012 / 11 Comments

On every backpacking trip, I have three primary goals. In order of importance, they are to: Survive, Maintain a realistic level of comfort, and Have “fun,” the definition of which is subject to personal interpretation. When I embark on a trip, I always try to abide by the Boy Scout motto — “Be prepared” —…

Sample: Environmental and Route Condition Assessment

By Andrew Skurka / May 30, 2012 / 2 Comments

Below I have included the Environmental and Route Condition Assessment that I assembled for a Backpacking Fundamentals course in Yosemite. It is a good template to use in assessing the likely environmental and route conditions for upcoming trips of your own. Read this post for or an explanation of why and how to assess environmental and route conditions. You…