Outdoor Courses

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Training Experience

I have created and taught over twenty four different professional Mechanical Engineering and Software Engineering training courses since 1988. The same techniques and materials are used in these outdoor recreation courses that I use in my professional courses. For example, for eight years I had a contract to teach all of the onsite C and C++ programming courses at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

        Wilderness in Winter Flyer in PDF Format

Backpacking Basics Course

The two day Backpacking Basics course has been offered and taught since 1998 for a variety of organizations including: Howard Community College, Sierra Club MWROP, REI, and Howard County Recreation & Parks. I've been hiking, backpacking, and backcountry skiing for many years in a variety of areas including the northeastern US, high alpine regions, deserts, temperate rain forests, coastal beaches, and winter backcountry skiing and snowshoeing trips. I have also been researching, planning, and leading multi-day wilderness trips since 1995, week long trips since 1997. This course is done in a lecture, discussion, demonstration format with some hands on exercises. All participants receive an 80 page notebook which includes extensive additional references. The intent is to cover the essential basics of backpacking thoroughly enough that you are qualified to go on backpacking trips at least as a participant. The necessary information and techniques that you will need to plan your own trips are also covered. Navigation techniques, using topographic maps and compass, are covered completely and thoroughly but there is little or no time to actually practice them in the class. Navigation, more than any other topic covered, requires practice. For that reason I would recommend either practice on your own with the techniques covered in the course, or a follow on dedicated land navigation course offered either by REI or Sierra Club MWROP. These are dedicated navigation courses that focus exclusively on navigation using topographic maps and compass with extensive hands on exercises for practice. Basic backpacking skills are essential of course for backpacking itself, but they are also the entree to other even more ambitious, fun, and exciting Wilderness adventures such as: backcountry skiing, telemark skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain climbing.

Backpacking Basics Topics

Wilderness in Winter

This training class covers the essentials of winter activities so that more dayhikers and backpackers can get out in winter time and enjoy the unique opportunities afforded by snow if we are lucky enough to get some locally, or where to go in the region where they usually do have snow. Canaan Valley, West Virginia, for example, normally gets 150" of snow annually even in years where we don't get anything here. No prior experience is necessary although the more you know about backpacking gear and techniques the better. This class starts at ground zero and will convey information specifically about winter travel for both day trips and multi-day trips.

I've been hiking, backpacking, and backcountry skiing for many years in a variety of areas including the northeastern US, high alpine regions, deserts, temperate rain forests, coastal beaches, and winter backcountry skiing and snowshoeing trips. This instructor led class is done in a lecture, discussion, demonstration format with ample time for questions. All participants receive a 40+ page notebook which includes additional references.

The intent is to cover the basics of winter outdoor activities thoroughly enough that you can go on day trips, possibly leading up to multi day overnight trips in the backcountry, at least as a participant under the guidance of an experienced leader or professional guide. Some of the necessary information and techniques that you will need to plan your own trips are also covered. Additional topics are discussed so participants are at least aware of their impact on trip planning and safety. These include: wilderness navigation, avalanche hazard, mountaineering techniques and training, and using a professional guide.

Wilderness in Winter Topics


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