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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…

Outdoor fitness & training for the female athlete

By Alexandra Lev / June 22, 2020 /

Since I never played sports in high school or college and since I don’t enjoy conventional forms of working out, I’ve never really considered myself an athlete. Yet everything I do in the mountains is a form of athleticism and requires training, especially as my mountain goals have become more technical and challenging. The first…

Should I stay home or can I go? Navigating Covid-19 restrictions

By Andrew Skurka / May 8, 2020 /

Based on what we currently know about Covid-19 and on the best practices that you plan to follow, you may deem the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19 acceptably low. And, therefore, you want to start your trip. I would generally concur with you: thoughtful behavior in a backcountry setting — which has constant air…