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#92448 - 03/13/08 03:53 PM Backpacking Guides?
AnnieJ Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/13/08
Posts: 1
I'm new to this website and I was wondering what people thought about hiring a guide to take you backpacking for your first couple of times to learn the basics? If anyone has hired a guide, how did you find them, who were they, and what do you look for in a guide service?

Thanks! P.S. I'm located in California.

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#92449 - 03/13/08 07:24 PM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: AnnieJ]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6760
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'd go with a group instead. The guide will do all the work (except the hiking part) and not teach you much (he won't want to put himself out of business). Look for outdoor clubs in your area. There's always the Sierra Club.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#92450 - 03/13/08 08:53 PM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: AnnieJ]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
What O.M. said. Probably much less expensive too.
_________________________
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#92451 - 03/14/08 08:16 AM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: AnnieJ]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I wouldn't worry about a guide. There is no substitute for experience. Just start small for your first trip (both in time and distance).

Try this to start. Camp in your backyard. Load everything you think you will need in your backpack and then cook dinner, eat, clean up, sleep, cook breakfast, eat, clean up, and repack. This will help you figure out if you have everything you might need. If you have to go into the house at some point then you must have forgotten something.

Next step is to go somewhere just for one night. Preferably not too far from civilization (where you cell phone still works and you can call if you are in trouble).

I would do the same to build experience in adverse weather. Purposely go out in your yard or a nearby campground on a day when rain is forecast, or on a day when it is going to get pretty cold. Learn what can go wrong and what to do.

This may sound silly but it's what I do. Every time I get a new piece of gear I try it out in the backyard. My first time in a bivy, my first time using a tarp, and my first time in a hammock were all backyard trips. My first time under a tarp in the rain was also in my backyard. I want to fuss with my gear in a controlled environment so that when I go out on a real trip I have some confidence in myself and my gear.

The same principle applies to hiking. Go on a fairly long day-hike with a fully loaded pack (as though you were going for a few days). Go 5 or 10 miles in or so in a loop that leads you back to your car. You can't know if your pack and clothing are comfortable unless you've gone a few miles in them. This will also give you experience with how to pack your pack, how to use your trekking poles (if you are a pole person, not everyone likes them), putting on and taking off layers of clothing as you need them, etc. Even though it's just practice it will still be enjoyable. A 5 or 10 mile hike into the backcountry is enough to really begin to enjoy the outdoors and the freedom of backpacking. (Be sure to stay hydrated on this hike, it takes more water than a beginner guesses that it will. Also bring plenty of snacks. Hiking 5 or 10 miles burns a LOT of calories and you'll start feeling weak if you don't refuel.)

Build your experience that way. Soon you will have the confidence to go a long distance on an extended trip.

Have fun!

Heber

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#92452 - 03/14/08 09:30 AM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: Heber]
Berserker Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 493
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Yeah, I'd also recommend going with a group or friend or two (if you know anyone that backpacks).

I think Heber gave some really good advice though in working your way up to it. In particular I like the part about going out and experimenting in a comfortable environment in bad weather just to see what it's like when things aren't perfect like all the pics you see in magazines. I usually try to do this on day hikes with my rain gear so that I know it's limitations when I am out on the trail. Plus, doing day hikes in the rain just simply gets you used to hiking in the rain so that it's not a big deal if you get rained on when you are actually backpacking.

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#92453 - 03/14/08 11:11 AM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: Heber]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:

This may sound silly but it's what I do. Every time I get a new piece of gear I try it out in the backyard. My first time in a bivy, my first time using a tarp, and my first time in a hammock were all backyard trips. My first time under a tarp in the rain was also in my backyard. I want to fuss with my gear in a controlled environment so that when I go out on a real trip I have some confidence in myself and my gear.


Heck, I still do this, and get odd stares from the neighbors. If I make my own stuff, and or decide on
some new idea on how I'm gonna use something, I wanna make sure It works for me before I end up
20 km in somewhere and depending on it. Recent examples - new hammock bottom insulation meant a snooze outside in the snow, Garage sale aquired svea meant leaving it out overnight in -20 then cooking
dinner over it outside in the snow, etc. etc.

Now I'll also do it one "bailout" trips when I decide to walk in a few clicks and know I can walk right
out again and give up if something goes wrong - or just car camping. but you should continue to do this, even if not a beginner.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#92454 - 03/22/08 02:07 PM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: phat]
tchiker Offline
member

Registered: 08/28/06
Posts: 162
Loc: Atlanta, GA, USA
yes it's more fun to go with a group and you'll meet some cool people too...just find a good outdoors social club near you...I'm sure there are a ton in southern ca

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#92455 - 03/22/08 08:57 PM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: tchiker]
eddie13231 Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 12
Loc: Midwest
I would suggest sierra club in your area. My local chapters are really active, which is a plus.

I have already signed up for 2 backpacking trips, one next week and one a few weeks after that. Here is the site:
http://www.sierraclub.org/

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#92456 - 03/25/08 10:49 AM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: eddie13231]
Cesar Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 217
Loc: El Paso, TX
When I first started backpacking (still pretty new at it) I once tried to sign up for a backpacking trip with the sierra club and they said I should go on a couple of day hikes with them first to get familiar with their traditions. Then I really should be a member to go on overnight trips with them but its not mandatory. I just wanted to go on an overnight trip they had scheduled I can learn as well. Never had an interest of joining.
Well later I sent them an email asking about a previous backpacking trip they had gone on and where the trail head was and never got a response back. Oh well. This of course was my local sierra club.

So instead just got a bunch of friends to go on a few overnights. All of us where new to backpacking but now should be going on my 4th overnight next month and on my first long trip, 4 days, in May. Pretty excited. I also tested some of my gear at home also. Wife thinks I'm a dork.
_________________________
My gear is no where near lightweight

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#92457 - 03/26/08 05:31 AM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: Cesar]
khanti Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 21
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Another great place to meet new backpacking buddies is on http://backpackers.meetup.com/ Most big cities and a fair number of smaller cities have active groups. I belong to three in various nearby cities and while I do a lot of solo trips, when I want to go out with a group, seems one of them always has something coming up. They generally have a good mix of beginners and more experienced folks leading everything from day hikes to multi-week trips.

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#92458 - 03/29/08 10:10 AM Re: Backpacking Guides? [Re: Cesar]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
I also tested some of my gear at home also. Wife thinks I'm a dork.


Unless you've married in the fold - the above is the truest sign that you're becoming a lightweight gearhead <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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