Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley


LTBackpackers (aka “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 it 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 thought about modifying our name/acronym to better reflect us, perhaps to include:

  • Rogue: for our home base (and roguish natures?)
  • Slow Backpacking (like slow food): we choose a leisurely pace (1-2 mph) to smell the flowers and enjoy the views
  • Elder: seasoned, wise?; old in years, but young in legs and heart. how can we hike over passes, yet not be ‘over the hill’?
  • Lightweight, though not usually ultralight gear
  • … suggestions?

Many of us became connected after taking Tysen Mueller’s “Lightweight Backpacking” course offered periodically at OLLI: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at So. Oregon University. Tysen’s course description: “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” trip for us is 3 days/2 nights, with 4-6 of us, to an area of Southern Oregon or Northern California < 3 hours away.
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; camp 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 done some trips that involve more nights, more people, more elevation change, moving camp more often, longer drives, and/or car camping — plus a few day hikes. Take a look at some our trips posted here — browse menus at top of screen by area or year; “Planning” (recent ones avail only to our members) summarizes all trips — even if we didn’t post photos and longer descriptions here afterwards.

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

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

REI (Medford) talks/classes

One step at a time: article about Mary Kwart hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Arizona Trail.


4 responses

  1. Hello, I enjoyed looking through your blog as I ‘ve done many of the same hikes you have. I’m surprised we have not met on the trail yet!

    April 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm

  2. Excellent series of photos and looked like a great trip! Sure brought back a lot of memories! I did the Emerald, Sapphire and Mirror Lake trip in Aug. of 2004. Spent one night camped along Stuart’s Fork — from there — day-hiked up the Suicide Ridge Trail — got a look at Upper Caribou Lake. Next day, rock-hopped, bushwhacked up to Mirror Lake — spent three nights there. (I’m 65 so very appreciative of your trips!) And — thanks — for sharing the photos with the web. Happy Trails …. -:)

    October 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm

  3. How do we make contact? My wife and I (both age 60) love to backpack, have gone on many of the same trips your group has in the Trinity Alps and Marble Mtns. We live in Grants Pass, please email us (Jim & Lanette) at Thanks!

    November 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    • ltbackpackers

      Sorry, Jim about the long, long delay. No one particularly looking. You can a) email me at or call 541-890-2924. The next meeting is at our house 7/14/13. There are also several backpacks on the trip matrix for 2013. Sorry again for the delay!
      -Terry Doyle

      June 20, 2013 at 9:18 am

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