Technology Hiker

The Art of the 24 Hour Trip

JPK backpacking IMG_4250Getting outside and exploring a new place energizes me.  There is no replacement for exercise, fresh air, and pushing boundaries in the mountains.

Caring for two young boys and a demanding career make it difficult to escape for long periods.  How to I balance my thirst for the outdoors with my day to responsibilities?

The 24 hour trip is my answer. A few simple principles  help with the 24 hour trip

  • Schedule, Schedule, Schedule: Circling the date on the calendar is critical. By picking the date and communicating w/ friends and coworkers, folks know you’re committed to the trip.  Having a friend join you increases the fun, raises your commitment, and also facilitates driving.
  • Reasonable Distance: “Reasonable” is up for debate, but I’ve found destinations 3.5 hours away or less are ideal. This equals more trail time & less driving time.   Since I live in the Bay Area, a 3.5 hour circle includes the Western side of the Sierra from Tahoe to Yosemite and the Big Sur.
  • Early Start: Typically, I either leave the previous evening or a 4 am early morning start. Driving the night before allows me to break up the journey and camp on the way to the destination.  Either way, I arrive at the destination soon after sunrise to maximize the day.
  • Go (Ultra)Lightweight: I want to pay attention to my surroundings and not the weight on my back. I take the lightest gear available or leave it at home.  With quick trips, I seldom bring cooking gear or a tent.  A wrap provides a hearty meal and remains tasty after 24 hours in the open.
  • Flexibility: Adjust your plans w/ the weather conditions. If the forecast is not favorable, I’ll visit another trail.  If the conditions are not favorable in the Sierra, I’ll explore the Big Sur coast.
  • Set an Objective: This fits the type 1 person inside, but my trips typically have a goal. During a long day, a clear goal helps motivates and helps explore a destination.  My goals usually involve a stunning overlook or a peak to climb.

Following these simple guidelines help me consistently to visit bigger mountains.  These quick trips also help me plan the next destination.  Two weeks ago, I explored the Mokelumne Wilderness ( and climbed Mount Reba w/ a buddy.  Other recent 24 trip destinations include the Hoover, Desolation, and the Ventana Wildernesses.