The  mountains  are  calling . . .



New tips from an old pro: backpacking advice for your next trip from start to finish.

Backpacking Beginnings: 
Patrick Nagle(above), third year Civil Engineering major and member of SLO Sierra Student Coalition, about to to embark on a 24 mile backpacking trip through Big Sur. Nagle has been an active member of the Sierra Club ever since coming to Cal Poly and has been backpacking for most of his life. “Backpacking is challenging, but very rewarding. It teaches you about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. My top tips would be to carry more water than you think you will need, bring a sweet treat to share at the end of the day, and practice a leave no trace philosophy so that everyone can continue to enjoy these special places,” Patrick stated.
Lighten your Load:
Patrick (right) explains to his backpacking companion, third year English major Rebecca Hext (left), the importance of lightweight and compact items for backpacking. “I think it’s important to have a light pack because at times the terrain can get difficult and carrying any extra weight can add onto the tough hike to make you even more tired,” explained second year Journalism major and fellow SLO Sierra Student Coalition backpacker, Mandie Geller. Camping and Cooking:
“Cooking with a backpacking stove is easy and fun, but only if you have everything prepared. Find a comfortable spot and have everything you need within arms reach because a hot flame and a tiny pot leave little room for error,” Patrick (left) explained to Rebecca (right). Treat your Feet:
A sturdy pair of hiking boots is essential for any backpacking trip. “Unless you want to crawl or be carried, you have to take good care of your feet when you're backpacking. That means stopping to address blisters on the trail and kicking your shoes off when you get to camp,” Patrick revealed. “Also, never start a trip in a brand new pair of shoes. Break them in first on walks and shorter hikes.” The Hike:
“The first day we hiked 11 miles, the majority of it uphill, in 85 degree weather,” stated Rebecca Hext (left). “I was so sweaty and dirty by the time we got to our camp, but luckily there was a stream of fresh water 200 feet from where we were.  Once the sun fell behind the mountains, I washed off in the stream while we watched the sunset.” Take a Hike: 
Patrick (left) and Rebecca (right) hiking with their packs. “It’s such a surreal feeling being so far away from people,” stated Rebecca. “We saw two couples in the first 3 miles of the hike, and then no one again until the next afternoon when we reached the peak.  It's nice to be so removed from society, yet still feel completely safe and capable.” Peaked:
Patrick looking out over the ocean below at the peak of Nacimiento-Ferguson in Big Sur. “The hardest part was leaving the peak. Not only because it was extremely beautiful, but also because I knew we would be hiking through tall bushes for the next couple of hours. It was almost 90 degrees and we only had a couple of sips of water left. I was happy to make it back to the coast,” reported Patrick. Hiking Hardships: 
Rebecca (right) stretching and catching her breath on the hike in Big Sur. “The human body is capable of so much more than you realize. When you think that you couldn't possibly take one more step, stop for a second, drink some water, eat some food, and then start again. It's all a mental game,” said Rebecca. 
Looking Back on the Trip:
“The one big tip I would say is pace yourself and realize that backpacking is all about the journey,” Rebecca (left) stated. “The beauty you'll see along the way throughout the miles you walk should be appreciated just as much as the final destination.”


Sometimes things on the trail don't always go as planned. SLO Sierra Student Coalition member, Mandie Geller, knows this from first-hand experience and reveals the comical mishaps on her backpacking trip to the Sespe Creek hot springs.


Though San Luis Obispo was named one of the top adventure towns in the country by National Geographic, many students still like to adventure and explore the natural beauty of the surrounding areas. Here are some of Cal Poly students' favorite places to go backpacking outside of San Luis Obispo.