Skills

Categories

Characteristics of an expert navigator: Part I — Equipped with proper tools

By Andrew Skurka / November 11, 2013 /

This is Part I of a series on the characteristics of an Expert Navigator. Read the Introduction. More installments are forthcoming. Every “Ten Essentials” list I’ve seen has included a map and compass, and modern versions sometimes also include a GPS. If only the first characteristic of an expert navigator — being equipped with proper…

Characteristics of an expert navigator: Introduction

By Andrew Skurka / November 5, 2013 /

Learning how to navigate was one of the most important and liberating skills that I have developed as a backpacker. On my earliest trips, when my navigation skills were at best rudimentary, I was unable to safely or confidently leave the security of obvious footpaths, foolproof blazes, and accurate signage. I also struggled to reliably…

My clothing system for backpacking in peak mosquito season

By Andrew Skurka / July 22, 2013 /

Last month I guided two week-long backpacking and packrafting trips in Alaska’s Hayes Range, a sub-range of the Alaska Range located just east of Denali National Park. Were it not for some scheduling constraints, I would have preferred to schedule these trips at another time of year since they coincided precisely with the region’s peak…

My new Suunto Core, plus how I use my watch while backpacking

By Andrew Skurka / June 4, 2013 /

It was time to replace my Highgear Summit watch after many years of reliable service. Its face was scratched up; its buttons have become loose and its water-resistance has become questionable; and, aesthetically, I was looking for an improvement, maybe even worthy enough to wear on the altar in August. I settled on the Suunto…

Advice to “Strider,” aspiring NCT thru-hiker, overwhelmed and beaten down by the Spring melt

By Andrew Skurka / April 26, 2013 /

Earlier this week I received an email from Bruce Matthews, Executive Director of the North Country Trail Association, asking a small favor to place an encouraging phone call to Luke Jordan (a.k.a. “Strider”), who is currently attempting a thru-hike of the NCT. Luke started his trip on March 27 at the NCT’s western terminus, Lake…

Trail running fall on Bear Peak: Why do accidents happen?

By Andrew Skurka / November 27, 2012 /

Last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I took a bad fall while running down the steep West Ridge of Bear Peak, the 8,461-ft summit of which sits 65 minutes and 3,100 feet above my house in Boulder. A foot must have tangled with a rock, root, or another foot, and I went skidding down a…

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

By Andrew Skurka / May 30, 2012 /

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 /

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…

Learning to backpack “the hard way”: How I wasted my money and (nearly) ruined trips through trial-and-error

By Andrew Skurka / April 26, 2012 /

Nearly ten years ago, on May 5, 2002, I started my first long-distance hike: the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail. The AT was one of my first backpacking trips as well — the first had been only two months earlier during Spring Break, when I’d gone to Yosemite Valley by myself and had gone on two one-night trips, to…

[email protected] – Ultimate Hiking Gear & Skills Clinic

By Andrew Skurka / April 5, 2012 /

Earlier this Spring I had the opportunity to present at Google’s main campus in Mountain View, CA, as part of the [email protected] program. Special thanks to Andrew de los Reyes for organizing and marketing the event — it was a huge success. The video below is fairly representative of the clinic with which I’m currently…