Backpacking & Wilderness Navigation Course Itinerary

Upon sign up, we will send you our richly detailed, pre-trip information package.

Day 1

We will meet at our Seattle office for a 6:30 a.m. orientation and gear check. A big part of developing the necessary skills starts with having the proper equipment and food to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the wilderness. The guides will discuss each piece of equipment and ensure that everything is in good condition and is a proper fit. Next, we’ll move into backcountry nutrition and guides will work with students on their menu plan for the course. Finally, guides will evaluate conditions, discuss weather with the group, and make last-minute adjustments before departing Seattle. This is an invaluable part of the course and will often help eliminate many of the questions students have in regards to both equipment and the flow of the course.

From the office, we will drive to the appropriate trailhead, perhaps stopping for donuts (trail fuel) if needed. Before setting off, we’ll review the day’s travel plan on the map. We will aim to arrive at our first camp by late afternoon/early evening. An integral part of backpacking and mountaineering is being able to set up a safe and secure camp. As a group, we’ll practice these skills. Guides will discuss campsite selection, Leave No Trace principals, and personal maintenance & hygiene. Next, we’ll move into instruction on water treatment options and hydration, backcountry cooking, and proper food storage.

Days 2-3

We will wake up early, eat breakfast, pack up our gear, and continue on the trail. We will spend two full days traveling in the backcountry and set a different camp each night. On the trail, we will learn proper wilderness camping and survival techniques and apply this knowledge in a direct and immediate fashion. We can expect to encounter the diverse flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest, likely sharing the trail with whistling marmots and pika (to name a few), and might have the chance to forage for delicious wild berries. Weather conditions will be taken into consideration as we pair correct technique with decision-making along the trail. We will place emphasis on safety in the wilderness and discuss proper first-aid techniques.

Day 4

We’ll break camp, soak up the peace and solitude of our last day on the trail, and return to the trailhead and our van. The last day of the course provides the opportunity to utilize all the skills we have learned to this point. From the trailhead, we depart for Seattle, perhaps stopping for a celebratory meal if time and group interest allow.

Yes I enjoyed the course very much. I learned a lot of valuable skills, through-hands on practical activities. Yes I feel that I can use what I learned on future climbs.

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North Cascades
Goat Rocks Wilderness
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North Cascades
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North Cascades
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North Cascades
Glacier Peak Wilderness
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North Cascades
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Photo credit: Carson Torchia
Goat Rocks Wilderness
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North Cascades
Glacier Peaks Wilderness
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North Cascades
Goat Rocks Wilderness
Glacier Peak Wilderness
Glacier Peak Wilderness


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Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
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