Monday, March 21, 2005

Touring the Backcountry with Redwood Trails

I love getting deep in the backcountry, but as many do, I struggle with knowing that "the deeper you go, the more gear you gotta bring". If you want to go for 2-3 days, you have to weigh yourself down. Food is a tricky trade off - nobody wants to cap off a great day of running with beef jerky since it was the only thing light enough to bring along. Well it looks like Redwood Trails has cracked the code on this one with their new trail running/backpacking tours. Check it out...



REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - An increasing number of athletes are experiencing the wonders of training and racing on trails. But instead of running or cycling through the wilderness with time restraints or while focusing on a competition, why not take a slightly slower more peaceful approach ­ all without sacrificing the "exercise high" along the way.

That's the idea of Eric Gould, president of Redwood Trails, the San Francisco Bay Area's leading provider of premium trail events. As race director for more than a dozen triathlons, mountain bike races and trail runs, Gould is introducing the Redwood Trails Backpacking Experience.

Limited to groups of 10, Gould and a select group of experienced outdoor professionals will guide participants on catered journeys into some of the country's most scenic and exhilarating locations ‹ Hawaii, the Grand Canyon and the High Sierra backcountry of Yosemite. The destinations are remote and idyllic for small groups, but not conducive to larger groups or for official endurance events.

Instead of completing a three-to-five hour racing event and leaving the splendors of the outdoors all-too-soon, the Redwood Trails staff will organize trips that will take participants on journeys deep into the backcountry that last for several days.

Unlike trail races, the Redwood Trails Backpacking Experience affords participants time to stop and absorb the scenery, swim, take pictures, take off from camp and explore a side trail, read, sketch or meditate. But, these trips are for people who also want great workouts along the way too. Most trips include five to six hours of hiking each day and several hundred feet of climbing at altitudes up to 10,000 feet.

While the trips do not require any backpacking experience, and are perfect for first timers, they are geared to fit individuals who at a minimum completed one or two trail running events in the past 24 months.

"As with our races, we picked the very finest locales, and we're taking care of all of the details," says Gould. "Backpacking is our way of taking you to even more glorious locations for a full immersion fitness and nature experience."

Redwood Trails will provide all equipment and supplies necessary. Lightweight, high-tech yet functional backpacking equipment will be provided as well as all cooking equipment and food. Accommodations will also be provided, with options: single or double-occupancy tents.

"Our promise for these trips is that you'll come for the hiking, but you'll stay for the food," says Gould, who has several trips to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon planned already. "Our passion is to give folks a great outdoors experience, with plenty of healthy exercise, spectacular scenery and gourmet meals."

During the Redwood Trails Backpacking Experience, all participants' meals will be prepared by trip guides. Cuisine choices will be "real food," made from non-dehydrated ingredients. Accommodation choices will be impromptu but will be located at safe and secure locations far off the beaten path.

Gould believes the new exercise option will give participants the best of endurance activity choices. The objective is simple: great exercise, picture perfect locations, and fantastic food.

Trips start June, 2005.

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