Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley


“BIG” (Backpack Interest Group) hikers live in Southern Oregon, including Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass. Many of us used to backpack in our 20s and 30s, stopped for various reasons, and have rediscovered this pasttime in our 60s and 70s. Senior backpacking is still possible and enjoyable with less ambitious goals, trekking poles, lighter gear, wonderful companions, and many uncrowded, nearby, beautiful destinations.

We’ve considered modifying our name/acronym to better reflect us, perhaps to include:

  • Rogue Backpackers: for our home base (and roguish natures?)
  • Slow Backpackers: we choose a leisurely pace (1-2 mph) to smell the flowers, take pictures and enjoy the views
  • Elder Backpackers: seasoned, wise?; old in years, but young in legs and heart.
    We can hike over passes, but are not yet ‘over the hill’
  • Lightweight Backpackers: though not usually ultralight gear;
    this blog “LTbackpackers” was created by Elizabeth Aitken in May 12, 2009
  • … suggestions?

Many of us became connected after taking Tysen Mueller’s “Lightweight Backpacking” course that was offered periodically at OLLI: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at So. Oregon University. Tysen’s course description summarized some of the reasons we joined BIG:

“Have you backpacked in your younger years? Are you interested in exploring this great pastime? Are you aware of the new backpack technologies such as lightweight equipment, trekking poles, GPS receivers and trip planning software? Come join me in exploring the exhilaration of backpacking in the Pacific Northwest.”

A “typical” BIG trip is 3 days/2 nights, with 4-6 of us, to an area of Southern Oregon or Northern California within a 3-hour’s drive.

  • Day 1: Drive to trailhead (TH); leisurely hike (up to) 7 miles (with moderate elevation gain) to a beautiful spot; camp
  • Day 2: Day hike, or rest, while camped in same spot
  • Day 3: Pack up, hike out, drive home; if within ~20 miles of TH, stop at Etna Brewing Company for late lunch/early dinner

We’ve also had trips that involve more nights, more people, more elevation change as well as moving camp more often, longer drives, and/or car camping. In addition, we have periodic day hikes.

Please explore some of the trips posted here. Browse menus at top of screen by area or year; “Planning” pages (available only to our members) summarize all trips — even if we didn’t post photos.

We usually get together every month or two in the Ashland area for a dinner potluck to show slides of past trips, and talk about upcoming trips.

Roles and Responsibilities for Trip Leaders and Participants (updated: 6/29/2017).


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