Over the past two and a half years, we’ve graduated more than 120 backpackers through our GetBackpacking! program. They come in with little or no experience, after three training sessions and a weekend graduation trip to South Mountains State Park, they emerge competent backpackers.
It’s a question raised most recently by Mike Owen, who went through the class this past summer.
In fact, we have been thinking about “What next?” And until Mike wrote, it hadn’t occurred to us that the best way to answer this question is to ask you, “What next? What would you like to do, both those of you have graduated from GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking, and our backpacking friends in general?”
- Solo weekend. Several of you have mentioned that, someday, you’d like to solo. Understandably, there’s reason for concern: will I be safe? What if I get sick or injured? What if a vital piece of gear breaks? One thought we’ve had: a two-night solo with a shadow. We would have a clinic on soloing, about how to prepare, what’s different, what to expect, and how to get yourself out of jams that might occur. Then, on a Friday, we would head to the mountains; you’d be given a designated route — and pointed down the trail. Your instructor would be nearby, but out-of-sight. You’d be on your own — with a safety net.
Four-day, three-night trips. Leave Friday, return Monday. We’d have a clinic on preparing for a longer trip, going over clothing, food, water and how much different three nights is than two. In part, this course would help you gauge the difference between trips of different lengths. It would also give you a better sense of whether extended treks are for you.
- Self-directed group trips. We post general parameters — number of days, number of nights — then coordinate a planning meeting — a true planning meeting — for those who sign up. We would give some trip options, but you would decide on the actual trip. A good exercise in thinking through a specific route, figuring out campsites, how much ground you want to cover (and, based on topography, can) in a day, where you’ll find water.
- Trips outside the region. Are you interested in a week-long trip in the Rockies?
- Presentations and clinics. We also plan to start doing clinics and presentations in 2017. Someone who’s hiked the John Muir trail, for instance. Or someone who did a trip completely off trail. Let us know what you would be interested in.
Those are some of our thoughts, let us know yours. How would you like to build on your backpacking resume in 2017?
Email your thoughts to Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.