2019 Backpacking School is a Success!

By Nancy Ball, MGSC Outings Committee

The Miami Group Sierra Club’s newly relaunched backpacking school wrapped up in May with a trip to Big South Fork National River and Recreation area. It was a hot and sweaty weekend, but with clear skies and beautiful scenery! The trail was challenging with some elevation gain and a couple of significant water crossings, but the 4 students who participated in the 2-night trip made it through with flying colors. 

A total of 10 students signed up for the course which began with 2 all-day Saturday classes held at Roads Rivers and Trails in Milford. 5 instructors covered the basics of gear, safety, food, water, navigation and planning. After a gear check, students then participated in a 1-night April shakedown trip at Morgan’s Riverside Campground at their hike-in backcountry site. 

The Big South Fork trip marked the end of the class. Afterward, students received a graduation certificate, a customized Buff, and a trail name! Most importantly, they now have the knowledge and confidence to spend time in the backcountry, backpacking on their own and with others. It was exciting to see their level of enthusiasm for the sport!

Class participants requested additional opportunities for beginner backpacking trips and further training. We were listening! 

The Outings Committee is planning a follow-up trip to Yahoo Falls in Big South Fork this fall, especially for the 10 students in the backpacking school. It’s a beginner level trip to another beautiful section of BSF, on the Sheltowee Trace. Date TBD. And an Orienteering Course will be offered October 12th. Watch the Miami Group MeetUp site for more information as details are developed. 

In addition to the 10 students who participated in the class, there were more than 20 others we had to turn away because the class was full. Due to this level of interest, and given that the first class was successful, we will offer it again in the spring, and we’ve started a search for additional instructors so that we can increase the size of the next class.

If you are an experienced backpacker and are interested in serving as an instructor for the spring 2020 class, please contact Nancy Ball for details: [email protected]. If you are a new or beginner backpacker, who would like some expert assistance getting started, stay tuned! Spring 2020 class dates will be announced later this summer.

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