Frequently Asked Questions

ridiculous view.jpg

 

Who is my instructor and wilderness guide?

Hi! Duncan Cheung here. I’ve been teaching and guiding backpacking for over 6 years to 100+ people like yourself.

Why place your trust in me?

  1. I learned how to backpack properly from world-class masters of ultralight backpacking. I hike 750-1000 miles a year, often off trails

  2. I have been serving as a Brand Ambassador with several outdoor brands, including Gossamer Gear

  3. I’ve been teaching and guiding minimalist backpacking for the last 6 years to 100+ people, from beginners to scout masters. Every one of my students will back me up on my credibility and reliability

  4. I keep my wilderness knowledge and Wilderness First Responder certifications up-to-date (I practice rescue scenarios weekly on my son!)

Background: I’m a dad, a guide, and a human who cares. I take my 6-year-old son hiking, orienteering, and mining (yes!). For over a decade, I advised executives on their companies’ growth strategies, marketing, innovation, and environmental programs. I’ve since left the corporate world after a decade to pursue deeper fulfillment in life and drive environmental progress.

Are there physical / fitness pre-requisites?

The Storyteller Edition of Off Trail On Track trips are what we consider Level 2 (out of 3 levels)

Level 2 trips require some backpacking experience and a basic level of physical fitness. This should not be your first ever backpacking trip. Our students’ ages range widely, from early 20s to late 60s. (We recently had a 65-year old gentleman celebrate his birthday on our trip). You should be prepared to hike for 3 days in the mountains with limited creature comforts.


That said, the courses are learning-oriented, moderate intensity trips, not boot camps or test-your-limits peak-baggers. A typical day for our trip will involve hiking for 7-10 miles, with 2,000-3,000 total elevation gain per day. We adjust depends on the fitness level and desires of the group.


We'll get plenty of time to rest, eat, huddle around campfires, and learn. Our packs will be light and I'll show you how to walk efficiently and with ease. If you do some exercise regularly and have done long day hikes somewhat regularly or a few overnight/2-3 day trips, you should be able to handle a Level 2 course.

 

Who are my trip mates?

People at their best. Perhaps like many of you, I am my best self when I'm in deep wilderness.

I've found that when we're in the mountains, we are more willing to share our vulnerabilities, more able to unpack our burdens and let the mountains and each other in.

You'll get to depend on each other and feel more intimate with each other as just humans, especially around a campfire.

I’ve decided only to allow adults over 21 on my level 2 and level 3 trips as these are learning-intensive and the content and pace are catered to adults. 

 

Safety and Liability

Over the last 6+ years of guiding trips, we’ve honed in on our safety protocol and are pleased to report that we have not had any injury or illness (whether related to being in the mountains or not) that warranted evacuation or emergency medical treatment.

Core to our protocol is that we make route selection and go / no-go decisions as a group and we do not attempt anything that any participant deem unsafe to undertake. Every wilderness guide holds an active Wilderness First Responder certification.

By joining this trip, you agree to be responsible and liable for your own health and safety.  Off Trail On Track does not provide health and travel insurance to participants.

We’ll ask everyone to commit to being responsible for their own safety during our introduction conference call.

Let's help each other enjoy the trip safely!

Should I apply for Level 1 or Level 2?

Level 1 is the most basic course. Experience is not required but a reasonable fitness level is. If you exercise at least once a week for 30+ mins you should be fine for level 1.

Level 2 coursework requires some experience. It should not be your first ever backpacking trip. You should be prepared to hike for 3 days in the mountains with no creature comforts.

That said, the courses are learning-oriented, moderate intensity trips, not boot camps or test-your-limits mileage-baggers. Typical day for a level 2 trip will be 10-15 miles with 2,000-4,500 total elevation gain, depending on the group’s fitness level and trip objectives.

We'll get plenty of time to rest, eat, huddle around campfires, and learn. Our packs will be light and I'll show you how to walk efficiently and with ease. If you do some exercise regularly and have done long day hikes somewhat regularly or a few overnight/2-3 day trips, you should be able to handle a Level 2 course.