My feet have walked, run, wandered, sprinted, sauntered, skipped, and hiked many a path; single track and fire road, through endless forests and over countless peaks, the trail’s siren call has been a steady lure.
Until recently, that is. It seems I’ve fallen in love with abandoning signposts and mile markers, leaving the beaten path for something more…wild. I’ve lugged ten liters of water (ok…one of those was wine) miles across a trackless desert, abandoned my tent to sleep with an unobstructed view of a galaxy’s worth of stars, busted my calves on a steep ridge near Mt. Waterman for the most delicious sunset solitude, and emptied my tank traveling cross-country in Sequoia National Park to stand on a remote ridgetop that became the most perfect campsite I’ve ever seen.
The thing is, seven months ago I would have never imagined the adventures I’ve had this summer, couldn’t have dreamed I would be able to point to an unnamed meadow or a remote outcropping or a trailless peak and say, “I’m going there.” But with apologies to TLC, if we all stuck to the rivers and the lakes that we’re used to, we’re never going to experience all of the other really awesome stuff tucked away out there, just beyond.
If any of that gushy stuff resonates, I want to strongly suggest you consider signing up for the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club’s annual Wilderness Travel Course (WTC), because this is where I learned how to properly navigate, where I dialed in my slapdash backpacking skills, and where I met an endless supply of people who love taking the path less traveled. Registration just opened, and if you’re a Modern Hiker regular, you’ll know from previous posts that I can’t recommend it enthusiastically enough.
Here’s what you’ll experience:
- Ten weeks of class (lecture and small group time), including four diverse weekend field trips, from Joshua Tree peak-bagging to a three-day backpacking trip in the snowy Sierras
- Volunteer instructors who have incredible experience and fascinating stories to share
- Fellow students who might just become adventure buddies for life
- Instruction on navigation, meal planning, backpacking basics, snow travel, movement on rock, Leave No Trace principles, and countless other awesome outdoorsy things
- Challenges and triumphs, both in and out of the classroom
- Opportunities to take what you’ve learned and apply it during any array of incredible trips available to you once the classroom sessions end
Bonus – if the stars align, you might just end up with yours truly on the teaching end of your compass!
This is truly a course for everyone – our group was divided equally between newbies, more experienced hikers, and people who’ve tagged summits around the world, from Mt. Whitney to Kilimanjaro to Nepal’s Island Peak. For the most experienced, some of the information covered in class might seem somewhat elementary – but that’s balanced out by the field trip experiences, the ace navigation instruction, and the lifelong friendships you’ll forge with other outdoorspeople. While I’m on the subject, I can’t tell you how many couples I’ve encountered that met during WTC or on a Sierra Club trip – so keep that one in your back pocket if you’re on the market!
If you have any questions about the class, you can check out the FAQ on the course website, or comment below and I’ll answer as best I can!
Read more of Shawnté’s experience with the Wilderness Travel Course: