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When I first heard about Backpacking Light’s Wilderness Trekking III course I knew right away it would be a fabulous way to spend a week; big wilderness, avid hikers, and a curriculum designed for shared uncertainty and maximum learning. When I learned more about how the course would push our limits, I got even more interested. There would be no trails, no GPS, no watches, no canister stoves, no matches, no lighters, no toilet paper, no down-filled insulation and only a mysterious, less than complete map. Winter conditions were likely. Pack weights would be 12 to 14 pounds, even if we had to carry snowshoes and avalanche beacons. Perfect. Count me in.

It all started back in August when ten course participants were chosen for the program from a pool of several dozen applicants. All were experienced hikers, but they represented a diverse set of skills, ages, and geographic origin. Soon after selection an email dialogue began, focused on the gear and technique challenges we would face. Each person completed an online gear list, and all were challenged to minimize pack weight and the number of items we would carry. The two course facilitators, Ryan Jordan and Ryan Connelly, led a series of online discussions focused on navigation, sleep systems, packing systems, footwear and group behavior. Each participant posted a short online biography. By the time we all met in Bozeman, it was almost like a reunion of old friends.


  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4

# WORDS: 5110
# PHOTOS: 13

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