Wilderness Skills - Olympia Branch: Jan 28 & Feb 4, 2017

Day Hiking Course

Wilderness Skills

Open to everyone, Wilderness Skills provides skills and practice for hiking and backpacking in the Northwest. It is also the foundation required for Alpine Scrambling, Basic Climbing and Backpacking courses with the Olympia Branch.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

Wilderness Skills is designed to prepare area outdoor enthusiasts for hiking or backpacking in the forests, mountains and trails of the Pacific Northwest. Open to all, this course is also the foundation required before the Alpine Scrambling, Basic Climbing and Backpacking Courses with the Olympia Branch.

The Winter 2017 course will be held Saturdays January 28 and February 4 at St. John's Episcopal Church in Olympia. A detailed SAMPLE agenda for both Saturdays is below. Exact times and content will be finalized before each course begins.

The course is offered twice each year - once in the winter and once in the spring -during two 8-5 Saturdays that include presentations and hands-on inside and outside activities.  Students must complete both Saturdays and report via email that they have completed a hike to graduate.

Backcountry skills and Unplanned overnights are covered in Wilderness Skills. Planned overnights are covered in the Backpacking course scheduled after the the spring Wilderness Skills course. 

Students must complete both Saturdays AND report via email that they have completed a hike or backpack.  

ALPINE SCRAMBLE AND BASIC CLIMB STUDENTS - FOR COURSES STARTING FEBRUARY 2016 WILL BE REGISTERED BY THEIR COURSE CHAIRS FOR WILDERNESS SKILLS. Please contact your AS/BC course leader with any questions. AS/BC students must complete both Wilderness Skills Saturday workshops before their Alpine Scrambling or Basic Climb course begins. The two Wilderness Skills workshops are offered on consecutive Saturdays shortly before the AS/BC courses begin. AS/BC students don't have to report that they have completed a hike; AS/BC course chairs will document this for them after their first AS/BC field trip. 

BACKPACKING STUDENTS: may register for the Backpacking course whenever they wish, but must complete BOTH of the Saturday workshops BEFORE their Backpacking course begins.  The two Wilderness Skills workshops are offered on consecutive Saturdays shortly before the Backpacking course begins (and earlier in the year).  Students must complete Wilderness Skills before beginning the Backpacking course, because essential skills for day hikes and unplanned overnights taught in Wilderness Skills are not repeated in the Backpacking course.

CONDITIONING HIKING SERIES PARTICIPANTS:  Wilderness Skills is useful but not required for the Olympia Branch Conditioning Hiking Series.

Below are SAMPLE Wilderness Skills agendas for the two required Saturday workshops. Exact times and content will vary from course to course. 

First Saturday

7:30 a.m. Instructors setup and student registration

8:00    Welcome and overview

8:10    Getting started with the right compass

8:20    Day hike equipment: the 10 essentials and more

9:20    “What’s in your daypack?” introduction

9:25    An unplanned overnight with what was in his daypack

9:45    Break/setup for small-group table presenters

9:50    Four daypacks - winter, summer, lightweight, & scramble/climb

10:50  Staying Safe and Healthy in the Backcountry - Injury Prevention and Response to Illness

11:30  Nutrition – Foods for healthy meals on the trail

12:00   Working Lunch – about nutrition of course (bring a lunch to eat at our tables)

12:30  Wilderness Ethics

1:10     Break

1:15    Safe water – Learn about and use chemicals, UV & filters

2:15    Backcountry Navigation – Maps and Compass

4:40    Preparing for the Outdoor Workshop - Things needed, questions and comments

5:00     End of day


Second Saturday

7:30 a.m. Instructors only setup

8:00    Check in for groups, one-to-one review of 10 essentials and other gear, questions

8:30    Intro to Outdoor Workshop and preparation for challenge course

8:40    What could go wrong? Hazards of the Backcountry

9:10    Hands-on with shelter, fire, stoves, first aid kits, animal protection and sanitation 

12:00   Break

12:05  Backcountry Navigation Refresher and Exercise  

1:00    Challenge Course

4:30    Find your next hike 

4:45    Course evaluation and closing

5:00     End of course

Cost: $60 for members, $90 for non-members

Equivalency: The Wilderness Skills Committee recognizes that there are other qualified backcountry travel, hiking and backpacking instructional programs and alternatives to The Mountaineers’ formal course. Individuals who have taken other qualified courses and/or have accumulated outdoor travel skills may wish to advance to other mountaineering activities participate in the club’s Alpine Scrambles and Basic Climbing training programs. To audit this course, follow the instructions given in the Wilderness Skills Course Equivalency form.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Wilderness Skills Jan 16
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Olympia
Sat, Jan 26, 2019
Registration closed Jan 26
19 participants
18 instructors
Online Classroom
Sat, Jan 16, 2021
Registration closed Jan 14
29 participants
Wilderness Skills Jan 30
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Olympia
Sat, Feb 2, 2019
Registration closed Feb 2
33 participants
18 instructors
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Olympia
Sat, Feb 1, 2020
Registration closed Feb 5
16 participants
9 instructors
Required Equipment

First Saturday: Be prepared to spend time outside regardless of weather. Most activities during the first Saturday will be inside or under cover. It may however not be warm or dry outside. Bring your lunch. Students are encouraged to bring a compass if they have one, but some loaner compasses are available.

Second Saturday: Be prepared to spend time outside regardless of weather. Students will bring their daypacks with the ten essentials, lunch and other gear for time outside during small group activities and the challenge course. Compasses will also be very helpful although some loaner compasses will be available. Compasses and other gear will be discussed during the first Saturday (the preceding week).

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.