Our Ultralight Backpacking course is a great opportunity to learn about minimizing your impact – both on your body and on the environment. The purpose of this course is to integrate two modern schools of thought about low-impact backcountry travel: the practice of ultralight backpacking (AKA “Beyond Backpacking”) and the principles of “Beyond Leave No Trace.”
What is ultralight backpacking? Simply put, ultralight backpacking is the practice of lightening your load to reduce wear and tear on your body. Following from the basic premise of reducing weight to reduce fatigue and increase enjoyment on the trail, we teach people how they can rework their backcountry kit and swap out extra gear for sharper skills. In particular, we focus on the fundamentals of ultralight shelter, sleeping and cooking systems.
Beyond Leave No Trace
We believe the practice of ultralight backpacking complements the ethical principles of an emergent philosophy in wilderness education known as “Beyond Leave No Trace.” Since the early 1980s, the Leave No Trace (LNT) program has substantially reduced backcountry users’ environmental impacts. However, we believe we have to go above and beyond LNT in order to rethink who we are as outdoor recreationists – as informed conservationists who have a collective stake in protecting wild lands. As such, our curriculum integrates the tried-and-true Seven Principles of LNT and with the more holistic approach of Beyond LNT.
Session 1 – Ultralight Backpacking Course: June 1-2, 2019
Session 2 – Ultralight Backpacking + Climbing Course: June 15-16, 2019
This course takes you through Paint Rock Canyon, one of the most pristine roadless canyons in northern Wyoming. Because of its unique positioning in the foothills, Paint Rock Canyon has long served as a natural pathway from the high desert of the Bighorn Basin into the glacial moraines of the Bighorn Mountains. Hiking through the canyon you’ll encounter an incredible array of geological stratigraphy and ecological diversity as you gain elevation, following in the footsteps of the first inhabitants of North America as you pass by archaeological sites over 10,000 years old.
Before setting out on the trail, we’ll start off with weighing all of our gear and packing for our ultralight mission. Then we’ll hike into Paint Rock Canyon through one of the oldest cattle ranches in the Bighorn Basin, the Hyatt Ranch. We’ll work our way up through the canyon, walking our way through geological time and if we’re lucky, spot some Rio Grande wild turkeys and elk. Further up the canyon we’ll pitch camp, do some skill work and explore the shady creekside crags of upper Paint Rock Canyon. The next day we’ll hike up to some stunning subalpine cliffs in Paint Rock Basin and take in the views of the west face of Cloud Peak.
This two-day course involves hiking between 10-15 miles up to 9,000 feet above sea level, so we recommend you establish a good base of hiking fitness and acclimate to elevation before going on this trip. Some backpacking experience is a plus but is not required.
We offer ultralight backpacking-only courses that focus on ultralight backpacking skills and ultralight backpacking + climbing courses that include technical climbing instruction. Our guiding curriculum includes experiential, hands-on lessons on the following topics:
- Ultralight backpacking skills and gear management
- Low-impact camping in the backcountry, fireless cooking and waste management
- Leave No Trace and “Beyond Leave No Trace” principles
- Lessons on Paint Rock Canyon’s unique geology, ecology, archaeology, and history
- Climbing safety, belay, and anchor systems (for backpacking + climbing trips only)
- Top-rope and/or lead climbing techniques (for backpacking + climbing trips only)
A $50 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot in any of these courses.
Ultralight Backpacking Course:
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Ultralight Backpacking + Climbing Instruction:
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Interested in taking an Ultralight Backpacking course? Feel free to ask us any questions you might have about this course!