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Guiding for Andrew Skurka’s Ultimate Hiking Courses

Mount Osceola and East Osceola, White Mountains
Mount Osceola and East Osceola, White Mountains

Do you dream of adventure? Do you want to backpack a long trail, hike up high peaks or across pristine wilderness areas? Do you want to accelerate your transition to lightweight or ultralight backpacking? Do y0u want to build the confidence to be self-sufficient in the outdoors, to plan your own trips, or share the adventure of a lifetime with your son or daughter?

I dreamed about those things too. So I read a bunch of stuff about backpacking online and I started buying a lot of gear. Truth is, I had no idea what I was doing, I had my share of hiking fiascoes, and wasted thousands of dollars in the process. If anything, I discovered my calling which is to help new hikers and backpackers get the training they need without having to go through the trial-and-error process I went through.

Which is why I am eager to work as a guide for Andrew Skurka’s new Ultimate Hiking Trips. These are guided three-day and seven-day trips that provide you with hands-on training to become self-sufficient in the backcountry. There’s a curriculum where you’re taught how to plan a trips and gear/food lists for different routes and environmental conditions, about on-trail and off-trail navigation, how to take care of yourself in adverse conditions on a multi-day trip, and all about fast-and-light camping and cooking techniques. All of the learning is hands-on, some of it up-front before the trip, but most of it in-situ on your guided adventure.

A White Mountain Swimming Hole
A ‘Refreshing’ White Mountain Swimming Hole

Designed for beginner-to-intermediate backpackers, the purpose of the guided trips is to pass along the black magic voodoo skills that skilled backpackers learn the hard way. You don’t have to know how to filter water, predict the weather from cloud cover, ford streams, or pitch a tarp to go on these trips. You’ll get the opportunity to learn how to do that and more, in addition to trying out gear, some of it ultralight, from different manufacturers to learn how it works and see if you’re comfortable with it. That’s the benefit of a multi-day trip: you can get a lot of hands-on experience in challenging terrain with people who’ve mastered these skills and know how to teach them.

But the point of Andrew’s guided trips isn’t to turn you into a ultralight backpacker; it’s teach you the skills and decision making processes required for adventure travel in remote locations. While learning more skills can help you reduce the weight of your backpacking gear, that alone is insufficient for routes in challenging conditions where you may need to carry extra gear, food, and fuel. The point of Andrew’s trips, in fact his mission, is to teach you how to think through what you need to be safe and comfortable based on your chosen route and environmental factors.

In fact, if  you’ve never attended one of Andrew’s  Ultimate Hiker talks, you’re in for a treat. The guy likes to teach and he’s a walking encyclopedia of war stories and experience who’s very open to sharing his knowledge with others.

Group Trip Planning
Group Trip Planning

About the Guided Trips

Andrew’s Guided Trips are all set in challenging, picturesque locations like New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Pisgah National Forest, Shenandoah National Park, Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Northern California’s Henry Coe State Park. There you’ll meet up with Andrew and one or more assistant guides, including Mike Clelland, Alan Dixon, Buzz Burrell, Paul Magnanti, Brian Robinson, Thomas Ruriano or myself. With a 6-1 student-t0-teacher ratio and maximum of 12 students per trip, we’ll make sure you have a great time, receive a lot of personal 1-1 attention and see the sights.

For the White Mountain Trip, we’ll climb two 4,000 footers, Mount Osceola and East Osceola (top photo) and hike through Mad River Notch, Hancock Notch, and Livermore Pass in the Sandwich and Pemigewasset Wilderness Areas. This is beautiful country with ample opportunities to for a refreshing swim in the mountain streams and waterfalls that run beside many of the trails in the area. You’ll see moose, fox, pine martens, beaver, and all manner of birds and mini-bears.
The price of the 3-day trips is $200/day and includes:
  • Group gear, e.g. first aid supplies, repair kit, emergency communication device, etc.
  • Breakfasts and dinners
  • Loaning of hardgoods like shelters, sleeping bags, and cooksets if you need or want to try something
  • $100+ of free product from sponsors
  • Discount coupons for up to 50% off retail from sponsors
  • Transportation between our group meeting point and the trailhead (Wilderness Adventures only)
  • Discounts are available for 2 or more participants.
  • Gratuities for the Assistant Guide are greatly appreciated. They typically range from 5-10% of the trip’s cost.
If you still want more information, please contact us using the form below.


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  1. Congratulations for being chosen as a local guide! Your lucky participants will surely have an enjoyable and purposeful trip. And how fun for you to work alongside Andrew!
    Recently he came to Iowa, so I was fortunate to attend his presentations – inspiring to personally learn about his adventures and lightweight philosophy.
    You are a busy guy! Thanks for your continued investment in the outdoor community.

  2. Andrew and I have been talking about this for a while and I am really excited to be able to offer to this course with Andrew to hikers in New England who already know me. I’m also pleased that he included the Whites in with the other areas he offers the classes in. They are an extremely good place to learn and practice backcountry skills because the weather is so variable. More so than out west, I believe.

  3. Those gear discounts sound like they’d more than pay for the cost of the class if you wanted to buy gear from the manufacturers Andrew works with: Alpacka Raft, GoLite, La Sportiva, Mountain Laurel Designs, Mountain Safety Research (MSR), Sawyer, Therm-A-Rest
    and ULA Equipment.

    • Great point John – the discounts would likely cover the cost of the trip and you’d get to demo the gear beforehand to see if you like it. A lot of the stuff from smaller manufacturers is custom and not-returnable, so that is a big benefit. Good catch.

  4. Just a clarification, Andrew was never an Eagle Scout. He didn’t even stay in Boy Scouts very long – his troop wasn’t very active and he preferred sports.

    • You are hired – need a fact checker. He was in the cub scouts for a few years. Interesting that he spends so much time training with scouts now. He’s always visiting his old Scoutmaster and troop when he visits my area in Massachusetts.

      • I need more work – I wonder how much fact checker pays? :)

        Scouts (both youth and adult) are a perfect target audience for him so it makes sense to me that he works with them a lot.

        • Scouts are not a good market opportunity to be honest. They spend far less money on outdoor gear and education than you might expect, especially when compared to other older groups like people aged 20-60. People who teach scouts including Andrew and myself aren’t doing it for the money. If you’re lucky, it’s break even.

      • It’s fine that Andrew didn’t continue when he was of age. Scouting is the spark that lives on and he’s doing his part now. That is so cool.

  5. Another fact may need to be checked – is that cost correct? $200/day plus gratuties? While the AMC’s Beginner Backpack weekend will not offer free products from sponsors, we will offer a leader to participant ratio of no more than 3:1, gear discounts as part of the Spring Hiking Program and a cost of only $20 (that is not a misprint) for the weekend. Our groups will hike to four backcountry destinations in the Whites and three of the five groups will also be doing two 4000’ers.

  6. Not a misprint (and as you know, I’m co-leading the beginner backpacking trip with you). But the level of hands on training and instruction in Andrew’s guided classes is way beyond what we offer in the AMC beginner backpacking class or any other single Boston chapter class for that matter. Andrew’s guided course will include trip planning on trails and bushwhacking which we only teach in leadership and advanced navigation classes, more advanced thermo-regulation which we mainly teach the winter backpacking course, ultralight and lightweight backpacking which has no equivalent in the Boston Chapter, high mileage hiking techniques, free gear rental of some really high end gear, etc. It’s a different emphasis, that’s all. Taking the beginner AMC class (which is now closed) and doing some of the class backpacking trips would however be great prep for Andrews courses.

  7. Whoah! I go away for a few days, and THIS is what you get yourself into? ;)

    Phil, this looks pretty fantastic. I am looking forward to hearing how this all goes… it sounds to me like you’ve got a mighty busy summer coming up.

    • Andrew and I just clicked. We’d been talking about me guiding for a while and it made sense for me to join the White Mountain Trip this year. I think it will be a lot of fun and I’m excited by this and the other teaching opportunities I have this year. Lots going on. How are you doing?

      • Oh, pretty busy here, too. Trying to get my little business started, about to head out for a summer of traveling and (hopefully) working for NOLS, and trying to keep my life in order. You know… the usual :)

        I’ll certainly be interested to hear how your trips with Andrew go. I was always hoping BPL or NOLS would start up a lightweight backpacking course in New England, but I think Andrew and you will set the bar very high.

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