Guided Backpacking Trips

Fall color trip this October 18-20, 2019!

Hiker overlooking the appalachian mountains

On the Appalachian Trail, Oct 18th-20th 2019.

Overnight Trip during Peak Fall Color

What to Expect:

  • 3 days and 2 nights of scenery and relaxation with naturalists as your guides
  • Wild food foraging in remote woods
  • “Rise with the birds” morning to learn Appalachian birds
  • Discussions on plants and wildlife
  • Mountaintop sunrise our final day
  • Easy to moderate level trip: 6 miles hiking on Sat and Sun (12 miles total) with backpack
Hiker stops for a break on bald mountain

Scenic Backpacking Made Easy

  • Intimate group experience with only 7 guests + 3 guides on trip
  • Fun skills discussions on primitive fire building and shelter building
  • Meals and their preparation included, and gear rental available
  • Transportation for you and your gear (from Asheville, to Appalachian Trail destination, and back to Asheville)
  • Assistance in your camping needs (preparation and tent sent-up)
  • Easy hike in on Friday, around 6 miles of easy to moderate hiking on Saturday, and again 6 miles of easy to moderate hiking on Sunday
  • Itinerary starts 12:00 (noon) Friday and finishes Sunday late afternoon/early evening 
  • $370/person (add gear to your booking at checkout)

Trip Instructors and Guides

Bill Sanderson, MS Zoologist and Avid Backpacker

I taught biology and zoology at Asheville High School for 30 years where I regularly took my students into the forest for field excursions.  Hiking and camping are my passions, and that naturally led to summers spent directing a wilderness program for a local conference center with over 3,000 acres of wilderness and 30 miles of trails adjacent to Pisgah National Forest and a day-hike away from Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountain range. 

Each summer I trained my Ranger staff in hiking skills, survival and “bush craft,” remote first aid, and basic search-and-rescue techniques. I’m now semi-retired, teaching classes in land navigation and hike leader preparedness/survival/emergency management through the Carolina Mountain Club and anatomy at our local community college.  

The fall is an excellent time to observe local animal species as they prepare for the long winter season, so we’ll look for migrating raptors and songbirds, and explore our surroundings for other wonderous animals and plants that call the southern Appalachians home.

On this trip, I also share my knowledge in outdoor skills so that you will feel more confident and capable in the outdoors. We pitch a tarp shelter, tie important knots, build and maintain a safe fire and learn the essentials to safety in the woods!    

Jennifer Gruhn, PhD Forest Ecologist and Company Owner

As a North Carolina native, my first backpacking trip in the Appalachians is when I decided to become a forest ecologist. I pursued research on our native flora and later on the tropical plants of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. For my Ph.D., I investigated the ecology and conservation of Rocky Mountain and Sierra Nevada pine forests. I have extensive backpacking experience across the United States and in South America and even joined a few multi-week National Geographic trips deep in the forests where new species were plentiful, and stories were made!  

On this fall’s overnight excursion, I look forward to helping you learn our variety of trees, shrubs and fall wildflowers, and enjoy those that are edible and medicinal. I also highlight fascinating similarities of our forests to those around the world – there are unexpected patterns and relationships among even the tropical forests, Appalachian forests, and those of the Rockies!

I have a strong passion for the way that the distribution of plants and wildlife has changed over thousands and even millions of years. Grasping how mountain building and ice ages impacted our flora and fauna makes for a discussion full of wonder.

Foremost, I strive to make guests feel comfortable and welcome, and be as accommodating as possible. We have a great trip planned for this fall, and I hope you can be a part of it.

David Wynn, BA Primitive Skills Specialist

I look forward to spending the weekend with you! Let’s learn how to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, make shoelaces out of tree bark, and blend in with the forest. Earth-based, ancestral skills and deep nature connection are my passions. I’ve lived off-grid, deep in the Pisgah National Forest for over a decade, foraging wild foods and practicing nature awareness.

I enjoy sharing these passions as an outdoor educator, hiking guide, whitewater river guide, camp counselor, and wilderness therapist. Few things are more empowering than being able to thrive in the outdoors through natural wisdom and practical skills.

My interest in Deep Nature Connection began with wild food foraging, quickly branching into friction fire, holistic tracking, hide-tanning, and much wandering. I’ve spent over a thousand nights in the field, with countless hours of “dirt-time.” As a certified Backcountry Survival Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, and Outdoor Emergency Care Technician, backpacking safety is a priority for me. Additionally, I spent a summer hiking the Appalachian Trail, and wish to share it’s unique culture and tips with you.

On this trip, I look forward to elaborating on primitive fire building, shelter building and a range of nearly-forgotten earth skills. I will highlight connections to the earth that have been important to our species for thousands of years.

child packpacking over mountain