Mountain Advanced Course, Introduction

You can go backpacking for a week….

You like heading into the mountains for the weekend, getting a little exercise, breathing clean mountain air, drinking cold mountain water, talking with friends around the campfire, and sleeping under the stars, but now that’s just not enough!

  • Challenging:  you want to go higher and further into the backcountry,
  • Longer:  you want to stay out longer, go greater distances, and see more country,
  • Accomplishment:  you want to know if you’ve got what it takes to be a “thru hiker.”

This trip is for you!

What is a Mountain Advanced Course (MAC)?

  • This summertime, graduate-level, wilderness skills course will teach you all you need to know and do in rugged, remote environments to be
    • wise in decision,
    • remain safe in action, and
    • feel confident in emotion.
  • It will
    • build on the skills you have learned thus far (Basics and Intermediate),
    • show you how to apply them in this new environment, then
    • let you lead as if on your own.
  • This course is tailored for those who want to learn how to calmly and successfully enjoy a thru or long, multi-week section hike of the John Muir or Pacific Crest Trails! It may involve a resupply point.

New for 2018:

1. The Tahoe-Yosemite section of the PCT (Echo to Tuolumne)!

Date:  TBA
Range of Elevation: 7,220 – 10,880 feet
Starting Elevation: 8,590 feet
Daily Mileage: 8 to 14 miles
Time Frame: 16 days
Exertion Level: Moderate to Demanding
Distance: 152 miles

2. The John Muir Trail!

Date:  TBA
Range of Elevation:
Starting Elevation:
Daily Mileage:
Time Frame:
Exertion Level: Moderate to Demanding


  • Mountain Intermediate or equivalent in knowledge and skills
  • Week-long hikes in your past
  • Excellent personal fitness with no health concerns.


This course emphasizes:

  • environmental awareness,
  • safety, and
  • wilderness enjoyment.

So we:

  • start each day leisurely,
  • teach relevant wilderness knowledge and awareness topics as they present themselves,
  • take lots of sit-down breaks to eat, drink, and enjoy,
  • demonstrate safety skills where needed, and
  • watch you practice until you understand.

Since we teach the group and individual, everyone stays and camps together to hear all that is taught day or night. Individuals enjoy their own “free time” after they have set up camp and on weekly “days off.”

What You’ll Learn:

  • Wilderness, personal, group, and community awareness = Personal Safety & Enjoyment,
  • Weather Awareness & Assessment, day and night,
  • Campsite selection, tent orientation & pitching, indoor & outdoor cooking,
  • Topographical Navigation on volcanic, magnetic surfaces without a compass,
  • How to visually orient and “read” a topographic map and relate it to what’s seen,
  • Hypothermia, Frostbite, Exposure, Dehydration, Altitude Sickness, Trail Trauma/Illness, etc
  • Hyperthermia, Blister care, joint/tendon/ligament/muscle caution, hypernatremia,
  • Hiking in the rain/hail/wind/snow/smoke/fire (or not!),
  • High Calories, lots of water, and plenty of sleep = strong body and alert mind,
  • Campfire construction (where allowed), water purification, trail design,
  • Backpack loading & adjustment for comfort, use of poles for balance and knees,
  • How to make wise wilderness travel decisions in the middle of nowhere, and
  • Emergency Communications, Search & Rescue, and Wilderness Medicine.


Suggested donation:


Simply fill out the Course Application. We’ll get back to you via email!

Pre-Trip Information, Preparation, and Instructions:

Instruction begins before you leave home! There will be lots of group email to you and your fellow students about the course’s details, organization, and itinerary.

More Information:

Full Course Description
MAC Gear List
Gear Rentals
Apply Now!

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