Backpacking Class & Trips

Mt. Wynn near Pinchot Pass on the John Muir Trail

I will be offering backpacking classes and overnight experiences at  Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (SRSP), Austin Creek SRA and other locations in California in the spring and summer of 2017. See “Dates” below for classes and trips for adults and kids. If you are interested in receiving information send me a message using the Contact Form (click “Contact” at the top of this page) and I’ll put you on the mailing list.


  • Classroom Class: A three-hour classroom class at SRSP will be held on March 18, 2017 from 10 am-1 pm. We’ll go over  introductory information in the first half and look at examples of backpacking gear in the next half. The instructors will bring a fully packed backpack, then unpack it so you can see what’s in it. No actual hiking is involved in this instructional session
    • Goal: The goal of the class is to introduce participants to modern backpacking techniques and equipment, which have generally reduced the expected weight that must be carried to enjoy a wilderness experience. If you have never backpacked before, if it has been decades since you backpacked, or if you’ve read the book, “Wild” and are inspired to start backpacking, this class is for you. Tips for all age groups will be provided, from backpacking with children to considerations for seniors.
    • Registration below, $10 + service fee for 3 hour classroom class
    • Parking: $8
  • Overnight guided backpacking experience: Guides with extensive backpacking experience will lead a small group into a backcountry camp at May 6-7, 2017. The mileage will be about two miles each day (4 miles roundtrip) over hilly terrain. This will be a wilderness experience designed to give you an introduction to the equipment and skills you need to to backpack in primitve settings. You may bring your own backpacking gear or rent from REI in San Francisco or other store (on your own). You may also rent from an online service, such as The CampKit (based in SF) or (mail order from AZ). I have a limited amount of gear that I can lend out upon request. No backpacking experience necessary but participants should be fit enough to hike two miles with a backpack over uneven, hilly terrain.
    • $75 fee (includes a donation to support Sugarloaf Ridge State Park)
    • All participants will need to sign a liability release
    • Registration below!

2017 Dates:

  • Three-hour backpacking classroom instruction:
    • Saturday, March 18, 21017 10:00 am – 1:00 pm at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, 2605 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood. Register at Brown Paper Tickets.
  • Adult beginner overnight guided backpacking  experience : 
    • May 6-7, 2017 in Kenwood (Sonoma County). Sponsored by Sugarloaf Ridge SP and Sonoma Ecology Center. Hike in to backcountry camp for Saturday night, return to parking lot Sunday. Register at Brown Paper Tickets.
  • Adult Overnight-Austin Creek SRA
    • June 10-11, 2017. Inga is leading a moderately easy Sierra Club overnight backpacking trip to Austin Creek SRA near Guerneville. Register at Sierra Club. See SF Chapter, Sierra Club calendar for more trips.
  • Kid’s overnight at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
    • June 13-15, 2017. A 3-day program for kids age 10-14 at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park led by Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC) educator, Tony Passantino (Inga Aksamit assisting). Register at Brown Paper Tickets. Register at SEC. See SEC calendar for additional events.
    • June 27-30, 2017. A 3-day program for kids age 10-14 at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park led by Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC) educator, Tony Passantino (Inga Aksamit assisting). Register at SEC. See SEC calendar for additional events.
  • Adult Multiday Backpack-Trinity Alps
    • July 28-30, 2017.  3-day, 2-night trip to Trinity Alps near Weaverville. Moderate trek of 9 miles each way with a layover day on Saturday. Optional day hike on Saturday to nearby lakes. Check SF Chapter, Sierra Club calendar or wait for link, coming soon.

Sonoma County Regional Parks (FYI only–I have no affiliation with this program)

About gear: If you don’t have backpacking gear you will need to borrow or rent the big four: tent, pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad. Beyond that you can pull many other necessary items from gear you have at home or purchase inexpensive items before you commit to the expense of buying high quality gear. For example, you probably have a water bottle or use a sturdy one like a Gatorade bottle. Bring a Tupperware bowl and plastic spoon for meals. A lot of hikers are moving away from heavy hiking boots in favor of trail runners–just make sure your footwear has good tread. You’ll need a trowel but you can get an inexpensive plastic gardening shovel or sturdy tent stake to dig a cat-hole (for human waste).

Important points:

  • No cotton! Avoid cotton, whether shirt, shorts, pants or socks. Cotton chafes when damp (which can contribute to blisters) and doesn’t dry out quickly. Instead look for synthetic or wool blends that have moisture-wicking properties.
  • See Backpacking Resources page for links to backpacking checklists. You will receive more information about equipment requirements, food and other topics after you register.
  • Appropriate hiking footwear is required.

About the instructors and guides:

  • Inga & Steve at the top of Kearsage Pass (Sierra)

    Inga & Steve at the top of Kearsage Pass (Sierra)

    Inga is an outdoor enthusiast and California State Park volunteer who is passionate about exploring backcountry trails safely and encouraging others to push their limits. She’s done the John Muir Trail, High Sierra Trail, Chilkoot Trail (Alaska), many trails in the Tahoe Sierra and has paddled 450 miles of the Yukon River (Canada) in a canoe. She discovered backpacking in middle-age and loves seeing seniors, solo female backpackers and young kids in the backcountry. On the John Muir Trail kids from 2-86 were spotted on the trail.

  • Steve Mullen, California State Park volunteer, has been backpacking since he was a teenager in upstate New York. He was a lapsed backpacker due to memories of heavy gear, uncomfortable nights and incessant rain, but the new, lightweight gear and the lure of backcountry adventures got him back on the trail. Since he’s married to Inga he’s done all of the above also.

For More Information: Click on Contact at the top of this page to send me a message, ask a question or be added to a mailing list specific to this class.


Below Muir Pass on the John Muir Trail

Below Muir Pass on the John Muir Trail

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity… (John Muir,  1838-1913)