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Video tutorial: Research historical temperature & precipitation data

By Andrew Skurka / March 12, 2021 /

In a recent post on my favorite resources for researching the conditions that I will likely encounter on a backpacking trip, I plugged the Environmental Centers for Environmental Information, which tracks temperature and precipitation data for thousands of locations throughout the United States. It’s an extremely helpful website, but it can be difficult to navigate…

Template: Environmental & Route Conditions Assessment

By Andrew Skurka / March 2, 2021 /

Nineteen years ago at the start of my first real backpacking trip — an over-my-head thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail — I was simultaneously over-, under-, and mis-prepared, and had justified many decisions on the basis of what if and just in case. For example, I had three methods of purifying water but only “water-resistant”…

Considerations when flying to a backpacking destination

By Brandon Chase / February 26, 2021 /

If you need to travel long distances, perhaps over several days, to reach a backpacking destination, how you can assure that you’ll have all the necessary gear when you finally get there? I suggest two measures: Choose the most appropriate method of travel, and Plan around known restrictions. The easiest & fastest option: Fly and…

Trip planning research: My go-to resources

By Andrew Skurka / February 22, 2021 /

A six-week hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, starting at the US-Mexico border on June 6, 2006, sounded hot and dry to me. But fifteen years ago I had no experience with southern California or deserts generally, so I didn’t know how to properly prepare my gear, supplies and skills. What clothing, sleeping bag, and…

Trip Planner Template: Stay organized & track details

By Andrew Skurka / February 11, 2021 /

In preparing for a backpacking trip, especially outings that are beyond the normal weekend getaway in a familiar place, I rely on a handful of tools that collectively help me to be more efficient and thorough in my planning efforts. Previously I’ve posted about two of the most important: Backpacking gear list, and Environmental and…

Online course: Learn to (better) plan a backpacking trip

By Andrew Skurka / February 3, 2021 /

Eleven months ago the world was turned upside-down by Covid. For years I’d wanted to offer an online course, and last spring was an ideal opportunity — the expansive stay-at-home orders kept most people inside and also put a freeze on my guided trip program. Over a few weeks, Joe McConaughy (who was freshly unemployed)…

Tutorial: Plan a backpacking trip in these 7 steps

By Andrew Skurka / February 3, 2021 /

Preparations for my earliest backpacking trips were clumsy, and I made every mistake possible. I recall carrying way too much stuff for an overnight in Yosemite, shivering all night in a too-light sleeping bag in Tennessee, stomaching an unpalatable couscous dinner in the Adirondacks, struggling to find topographic maps of eastern Montana, quitting a trip…

74 testimonials about our online trip planning course

By Hunter Hall / January 30, 2021 /

Since 2014 I’ve asked our guided trip clients to complete a post-trip survey to gather feedback about our guides, locations, meals, and curriculum, plus their overall satisfaction. Reviewing the results is a multi-day project but entirely worthwhile: they confirm what we’re doing right, and they give me a checklist of improvements for the following year. Naturally, we…

Tutorial: Smoke forecasting in Yosemite & the High Sierra

By Andrew Skurka / September 16, 2020 /

For five of the past eight years, we’ve guided trips in Yosemite or Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks in September. Wildfires have occasionally affected us — like with trail closures and hazy air — but we’ve typically found ideal conditions: comfortable days and crisp nights, no bugs, and low backcountry traffic. September 2020 has presented us…

A women’s guide to backcountry hygiene || Menstruation, pee & poop, UTI’s, skin care

By Alexandra Lev / August 14, 2020 /

Has the fear of managing your bodily functions kept you from hitting the trail for a weekend of fun in the outdoors? Does the thought of dealing with your period in the backcountry prevent you from backpacking for several days in a row? Don’t fret! You are not alone in having hesitations about managing feminine…