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A poster caught my eye. Andrew Skurka was going to put on a free backpacking clinic on Saturday followed by a slide show of his hike around Alaska and the Yukon. I knew I wouldn’t miss it.
With the start of my thousand-mile hike only a week away, I was desperate for any last minute tips. He was great! His first hike in 2002 as a college student was the A.T. He learned a lot from his mistakes on that hike. A half dozen other long distance hikes followed including a 7700 mile Sea-to-Sea (Quebec to Washington State) hike in 2004-2005.

His latest hike, the Alaska-Yukon Expedition in 2010, was 4700 miles in which he not only hiked but snow skied and pack rafted. He averaged 33 miles a day for 6 months. His clinic wasn’t exactly what I expected. I had brought my fully loaded 35-pound pack with me hoping for some last minute tips. He spotted it and asked to show it to the audience for comparison with his ultra-light, no frame pack. When I handed it to him, he said poking fun at the weight, “Wow! We’ve got some work to do here!” He’d been able to hike the Yukon fully loaded with food and water for about 20 pounds.

I didn’t mind the teasing. I was just glad to be there. I didn’t get the personal help I wanted, but I learned so much from his demonstrations I went home and ordered an 11oz tarp tent to replace my 4 pound double-wall tent, and I redesigned my alcohol stove that had given me a fit on my shakedown trip with granddaughter, Stacey.

Instead of a beverage can stove that you can build following a You Tube video, I now recommend Skurka’s alcohol stove. Mine wouldn’t stay lit. He made a point of mentioning in his demonstration that the only “problem” with his alcohol stove was it was difficult to put out.

Complete directions for his Fancy Feast cat food can stove can be found in his book “The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: tools & techniques to hit the trail.” It’s a must-read for every long distance hiker. Look up his tour schedule on:, and while there you can order your own copy of his book under the “shop” link. You need to catch Skurka’s presentation-you’ll love it. The clinic is followed by a slide show (still slides and video) of his Alaska-Yukon Expedition. He signed my book, “To Donalee-Step by Step, Mile by Mile. Andrew Skurka.”

That’s how a thousand mile hike is done-step-by-step.

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