Through this class, you will learn the basic skills and awareness to set out on our local trails and craft your own backpacking trips. Many of these skills can also be used for day hiking as well.
This class is unique in that it takes place on our local trails. As the best place to learn something is in the context in which it applies, in this case outdoors. You’re also probably interested in backpacking because you want to get out on the trails and experience nature more.
Past participants have said: “James and Sierra make a perfect team. They made the richness of the backcountry accessible to me, even though I started with very little experience. They helped open me to a level of connection with nature I had never experienced.”
“The best part was the combination of practical skills and teaching with the nature connection, as the two together inspired the confidence that I can do this.”
In general, the class covers three main areas: wilderness navigation; nature connection; and gear/trip planning.
Our approach to wilderness navigation is also somewhat unique. You will learn route-finding and orienteering skills that are not dependent on having a GPS or compass. While we do use these tools on occasion, knowing how to navigate without them can help build the confidence to hike anywhere.
Nature connection is also a big part of our time out on the land. For many of us, the whole point of carrying gear out into the wild is to immerse ourselves in the elements and feel a deeper sense of connection with the natural world around us.
We will cover the gear basics and provide insights into how to evolve your own gear set. You don’t need to buy the latest gear in order to head out into the backcountry; what’s more important is to have the basics covered so that you can get out there and get started.
Backpacking Made Easy
March 11 – 25
Santa Barbara and Ojai are home to a variety of incredible backpacking destinations, and yet, often the biggest obstacle is simply having the knowledge and skills to get started.
Through this immersive workshop, you will learn the basic skills needed to comfortably explore and enjoy our local trails.
Hot springs, waterfalls, epic views, and unspoiled wilderness are just some of the rewards for those who are willing to make the journey.
Each class takes place outside, on one of our local trails, and provides a mix of hands on instruction, immersive exercises, and council sharing circles that allows for learning on many levels.
Lay of the Land
March 11th 9AM-3PM
Learn how to orient yourself to the local landscape, and begin learning the skills and awareness that will help you remove the word lost from your vocabulary. Become familiar with maps and creating your own mental maps. Learn about the different gear options and how to choose equipment that suits you.
March 18th 9AM-3PM
Venturing out onto the land is even more enjoyable when we take time to develop a meaningful connection with it.
Learn to see the natural world around you as an ally, rather than an obstacle to overcome, and shift your hikes from feeling like endurance contests to journeys of discovery. And learn how to feel at home in the woods. Practical skills include trail navigation, menu planning, personal care and basic first aid skills.
March 25th 9AM-3PM
Many of our local trails are overgrown, particularly those off the beaten path. Learn how to read the trails, practice route-finding, and develop your own sense of “body radar” to help you navigate in the wilderness. Practical skills include trip planning, campsite evaluation, water assessment, and camp set up.
Overnight Backpacking Trip
For those who are interested, we will help organize a free, optional backpacking trip. Here’s a chance to put all these great skills to use, and build on the material covered so far.
Length of the hike and destination for the overnight trip to be determined according to current conditions and the capabilities of the participants.
James Wapotich is a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger with the Forest Service and the author of the Santa Barbara News-Press hiking column, Trail Quest. James leads guided hikes and has hiked many of the trails in our local backcountry.
Sierra Boatwright is a UC Certified California Naturalist, council facilitator, and nature connection guide. An alumna of Pacific Crest Outward Bound School, Sierra has backpacked in the Appalachians, Sierras, and our local backcountry.
Workshop is $225 per person, or bring a friend and both 20% off.
Limit 12 students. Must be able to comfortably hike 3-4 miles.
To sign up or for more information please contact:
James (805) 729-4250 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sierra (805) 708-4058 email@example.com