What we're about

Chicago Backpackers is a club focused on wilderness backpacking - hiking self-sustained for consecutive days in a wilderness area carrying all necessary supplies in a backpack.

We have three main areas of focus:

*Trip and event organization*

The group's volunteer organizers plan a variety of trips throughout the year, from one-night beginners-only trips up to week-long advanced trips. Individual organizers choose the location, plan the route, and take care of other trip logistics. Members are solely responsible for their own gear, their own food, general well-being, and communicating with the organizer to ensure that they fully understand risks and challenges and are prepared for the activity.

*Backpacking education*

The club shares knowledge about backpacking: We do this through trips, clinics, and online presentations that provide opportunities for all members, old and new, to continually improve their skills and learn from one another.

*Backpacker community*

By going on trips, attending events, and frequenting the various online message boards, members are encouraged to connect with other backpackers who share similar interests. Members can also plan their own trips and ask questions using the Meetup Discussions page to further connect with other members.

We follow several organizing principles:

*Practice low-impact, Leave No Trace backpacking.*

(http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php). Our trips usually consist of 6 to 12 people to minimize the impact we have on our favorite locations and new trails, to keep them as fresh as possible for ourselves and other backpackers.

*Work together on the trail.*

The organizers and event hosts volunteer their time and experience to make our trips as safe and smooth as possible, but we can’t do everything ourselves. In addition to preparing and carrying your own gear and food, lend a hand, volunteer to get water, gather firewood, etc. If you have any concerns or are having a difficult time on the trail, speak up. Clear communication makes it safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

*Be safe, be sensible*

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just the organizer. Do not endanger yourself and others. Keep in mind that backpacking is an intense cardiovascular activity that may involve a variety of potential health and safety risks, and is subject to unexpected weather, trail conditions, animal encounters, etc. While organizers and other trip participants may help to facilitate trip planning and logistics, each trip participant must know their own capabilities and is solely responsible for their own safety. Withdraw from trips and situations where you may feel unsafe or unprepared.

*Be respectful and inclusive*

Treat others with respect and tolerance. Avoid bullying, sexism, racism, or bigotry of any type. If your words or actions unintentionally offend others, take responsibility and make the appropriate apology.

*Communicate with event organizers prior to the trip*

Until we get on the trail, most of the information we have to give you is written down in trip descriptions, emails, and announcements. Pay attention, or you will miss valuable information which could lead to a poor experience on the trail. If you have questions, please ask. You are required to confirm your understanding of trip logistics and electronically sign a Release of Liability form which will be provided electronically prior to the trip. Members who fail to complete these steps, or who do not respond promptly, may lose their reservation on the trip.

*Gear sharing, ride sharing*

Each participant is responsible for obtaining and carrying their own meals and gear and getting themselves to and from the trailhead. Anyone interested in gear sharing (water filter, stoves, etc.) is encouraged to post trip comments on Meetup.com. The same is true for ride sharing (offering a ride, asking for a ride). This is purely optional and not something managed by the club or its organizers.

*Use of meetup.com.*

Virtual and local events are open to all members and their guests. Overnight events require an RSVP on meetup.com. If a trip is full, post a comment to reserve your place on the waitlist. Message the organizer with any questions. Attendees must be at least 18 years old and individually registered (no +1s). Prior to participation, attendees are required to communicate with event organizers, confirm their understanding of trip expectations/logistics and sign an electronic Release of Liability form. Members who fail to complete these steps, or who do not respond promptly, may lose their reservation on the trip.

We have a variety of ways to participate:

Follow us online on Meetup.com. Review our upcoming or prior trips (Under Events link). Post comments on the trip descriptions themselves. Engage with other members by posting comments in the Discussion area. Direct message organizers if you have any questions.

Attend an event virtually. We began hosting virtual events during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. These have been popular, and we plan on continuing to offer virtual participation options for the foreseeable future. That’s good news if you live outside the Chicago area, or if your schedule does not allow for in-person gatherings.

Attend a local in-person event. From time to time we host local events in the Chicago area. Over the years we’ve offered work days for local habitat restoration, seminars or clinics, training hikes, and purely social events. These events are a great way to meet like-minded people, learn something new, and build our local backpacker community.

Join us on an overnight event. In typical years (non-pandemic) we host approximately 30 overnight trips, ranging from single night beginner trips to multi-day advanced trips, and most anything in between. Geographically, the majority of trips are within a 6-hour drive from Chicago, and typical events are 1-3 nights in duration. Trips vary greatly, based on terrain, mileage, hiking pace, weather, park conditions and degree of experience required. Always read the individual trip descriptions for more details. The vast majority of our overnight trips are backpacking, but we may also post a car camping trip in the winter season, or include a boating component along with a backpacking route.

At any time, message one of our organizers or post questions to the Discussion Area.

Upcoming events (4+)

Backpacker Book Club: Social & Past Selection Recap

Online event

Join us online for a Backpacker Book Club social! Whether you've attended Backpacker Book Club in the past or not, please feel free to join us for a discussion of past titles (full list below) and a chance to socialize and share recommendations.

After eight book discussions and two article/podcast discussions, this will likely be the last book club event for the foreseeable future.
We've enjoyed getting to know so many members of our backpacking community over the past year and a half, and we hope that we'll see you all at future club events and trips!

Please feel free to post a comment or message us with any questions. We'll post Zoom meeting information on the day of the event. Hope to see you there!

Sarah & Sonja

Past Selections:

Books:

Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart (Carrot Quinn)

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (Robin Wall Kimmerer)

Wolf Island: Discovering the Secrets of a Mythic Animal (L. David Mech)

Classics of Backpacking (Full list here: https://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Backpackers/events/275413079/)

Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail (Suzanne Roberts)

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes (Dan Egan)

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey (Derick Lugo)

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home (Heather Anderson)

Article & Podcast Discussion Topics:

Bears! (Full title list here: https://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Backpackers/events/279679534/)

Emily Ford & the Ice Age Trail (Full title list here: https://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Backpackers/events/278452688/)

Intro to Backpacking at Forest Glen

Forest Glen Preserve

$20.00

Trip Status: If the trip is filled, add a comment to join the wait list. Wait list closes Oct 23; all transfers from the wait list end by Oct 27.

Trip Summary:
Mileage: low
Terrain/conditions: moderate
Duration: 2 days / 1 night
Location Details: River Ridge Trail in Vermilion County, IL
https://vccd.org/forest-glen-preserve/

Requirements:
This is an educational trip for beginners 'trying out' backpacking.
Please click on the "read more" button under the "what we're about" heading on the club's homepage to understand several organizing principles for our events:
https://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Backpackers/
Want more details? Here is a link to a Q&A specifically about the "Intro to Backpacking" trip: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sOzrWUpWr5l4fV3lOIgxKcaS3OHMZpoc/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=109708013968589482975&rtpof=true&sd=true
Contact one of the organizers if you have any questions about the trip. Tom is the Organizer who has filed this event's camping registration.

After you RSVP, a trip organizer will contact you via email and share a Release of Liability form. Your electronic signature is is required to confirm participation on the trip.

**Anyone who attends will need to show evidence of full vaccination.

We will hold a virtual orientation session approximately 2 weeks prior to the trip, and we are expecting you to be responsive to emails to assist with planning. Respond to organizer emails in a timely manner or risk forfeiting your spot on the trip. Participation is at the discretion of the Organizers.

About the Trip
Summary: This is an one-night hiking/camping trip to Forest Glen Preserve. We leave early on Saturday morning, hike approximately 8 miles to camp, and finish on Sunday with about 3 more hiking miles.

Map of the area: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gP2MekCJHFHXEhmXdPWEl70OSztY0nLD/view?usp=sharing

Itinerary:
Saturday, October 30
Leave home in time to arrive at Forest Glen Preserve by 10:00 am. (normally 3 hours from downtown Chicago)
Hike approx. 7-8 miles to back-country camp over hilly single-track trail.

Sunday, October 31
Hike approx. 3-4 miles back to cars.
Drive home.

Transportation:
Trip organizers do not arrange carpools but we do encourage carpooling. If you want to offer or solicit a ride, use the Comments section for the trip. Confirm your travel arrangements before you RSVP for the trip.

Each member is responsible for getting to the meeting point on time. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late, contact the trip organizer as this affects the entire group.

Costs:
$20 meetup fee (refundable only if trip is canceled).

Acknowledgement:
As a member of the Chicago Backpackers Group, by registering (RSVPing) for this event, you accept that Hiking & Backpacking can be a dangerous sport and fully assume all risks associated with such participation, including travel to and from the event. You agree to be responsible for your own safety and equipment. You realize that conditions, obstacles, and weather are always changing, and your personal safety cannot be guaranteed. You understand the Meetup.com Terms of Service agreement which you signed when you joined Meetup (link below) and accept that participation is at your own risk. You agree to communicate with event organizers to plan for the trip and sign the Release of Liability provided by the organizers prior to participation.

Click here to review the Meetup.com Terms of Service.
(https://www.meetup.com/terms/)

We are happy to discuss trip details and answer any questions. Contact us through meetup.com messaging.

Organizers: Tom & Doug; Event Host: Darcy

Monthly Meeting & Trail Talk - Porcupine Mountains (Winter)

This is our regular monthly meeting but in a virtual format. We will do a quick review of the club and then there will be a presentation on winter backpacking on snowshoes.

Trail Talk Location: Porcupine Mountains (Winter)
Presented by: Steve

Sylvania Wilderness 3-day weekend

Needs a location

$10.00

Trip Status: Posted - RSVPs open on Fri, October 22nd, 7am.

Trip Summary:
Mileage: low
Terrain/conditions: moderate to difficult (depending on snow levels)
Duration: 3 days / 2 nights (depart early Friday)
Location Details: Sylvania Wilderness (National Forest)
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ottawa/recreation/natureviewing/recarea/?recid=12331&actid=62

*Depending on trail conditions, you may need snowshoes for this trip. A local outfitter should have snowshoes for rent. (to be confirmed)*

**For early November, average overnight lows are 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Be prepared for the cold. If weather conditions are extreme, the organizers will first attempt to reschedule for a different winter camping location. If the trip is canceled due to weather refunds will be offered.**

Requirements:
This is a trip for experienced backpackers who are prepared for winter conditions. Review the club guidelines posted here.
https://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Backpackers/
Contact one of the organizers if you have any questions about the trip.

After you RSVP, a trip organizer will contact you via email and share a Release of Liability form. Your electronic signature is is required to confirm participation on the trip.

**Anyone who attends will need to show evidence of full vaccination.

We will hold a 30-minute, virtual orientation session approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the trip. We will use emails for trip planning, so respond to organizers in a timely manner or risk forfeiting your spot on the trip. Participation is at the discretion of the organizer.

About the Trip
This trip is an advanced level trip to Sylvania Wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for 3 days and 2 nights of backcountry camping in pristine hardwood forest. The route will be 10-15 miles total. While the mileage may sound low for a weekend, the short daylight hours, potential for deep snow, ungroomed trails and route finding may slow down our pace.

Area Map:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd665359.pdf

Itinerary:

Fri, November 12: Depart Chicago area by ~7am. Drive time ~6 hours from the city. Plan for arrival at the park at entrance station no later than 2pm central. Hike into campsite - up to 3 miles. (sunset at 4:30 central)

Sat, November 13: Hike 5-8 miles to wilderness campsite.

Sun, November 14: Hike back to cars - up to 5 miles. Drive back to Chicago.

**Mileage will be adjusted based on trail conditions. Exact parking and campsite details will be shared with confirmed participants prior to the trip**

Transportation:
Trip organizers do not arrange carpools but we do encourage carpooling. If you want to offer or solicit a ride, use the Comments section for the trip. Confirm your travel arrangements before you RSVP for the trip.

Each member is responsible for getting to the meeting point on time. If you are going to be late, contact the trip organizer as this affects the entire group.

Costs:
$10 meetup fee

Acknowledgement:
As a member of the Chicago Backpackers Group, by registering (RSVPing) for this event, you accept that Hiking & Backpacking can be a dangerous sport and fully assume all risks associated with such participation, including travel to and from the event. You agree to be responsible for your own safety and equipment. You realize that conditions, obstacles, and weather are always changing, and your personal safety cannot be guaranteed. You understand the Meetup.com Terms of Service agreement which you signed when you joined Meetup (link below) and accept that participation is at your own risk. You agree to communicate with event organizers to plan for the trip and sign the Release of Liability provided by the organizers prior to participation.

Click here to review the Meetup.com Terms of Service.
(https://www.meetup.com/terms/)

We are happy to discuss trip details and answer any questions. Contact us through meetup.com messaging.

The Organizers (Brooke and Mike)

Past events (759)

Photos (19,207)