SPOT – Wilderness
The SPOT wilderness trips will take you out into the beautiful California wilderness for a five-day backpacking trip. Many of our participants are first time backpackers, and our leaders are excited to facilitate an enjoyable pre-orientation outing. Your group of 7-12 new students and 2-3 trip leaders will be entirely self-sufficient, carrying everything you need for the week in your backpacks. You will spend each day hiking about 4-7 miles with plenty of rest breaks. You will take in the amazing views as you cross mountain passes, feel refreshed as you swim in alpine lakes, and have lots of time to get to know your SPOT group. The focus of these trips is on sharing a wilderness experience, getting to know each other, and preparing for the transition to college-life and the year ahead. In the evening, at the campsite for that night, you will play games, share stories, and discuss life at Stanford. At the end of the trip, you’ll return to campus energized, with a fresh perspective and a new group of friends, ready to begin New Student Orientation.
Check out the Wilderness Welcome Packet here, which includes arrival logistics, important dates, and the gear list.
Wilderness Backpacking FAQ
What if I’ve never been camping?
SPOT Wilderness trips are designed to be appropriate for first-time backpackers/campers, allowing frequent rest breaks, great vistas, and comfortable sites for the night. We encourage everyone to participate even if you’re not a seasoned backpacker! Camping involves sleeping on the ground, under tarp shelters, cooking your own food with a backpacking stove, carrying all equipment that you and your group need for the duration of the trip! Most SPOT participants haven’t camped before and soon discover the joy of hiking and camping a s agroup. Your trip leaders will teach you living skills to be comfortable in the outdoors!
Do I need special equipment?
Each participant is responsible for providing his or her own clothing including rain gear and hiking boots with ankle support. SPOT and Stanford Outdoor Education provide all group camping equipment (shelter, stoves, maps, cooking gear, etc). Though we encourage you to acquire your own backpack (at least 4500 cubic inches/75 liters), sleeping bag (mummy-bag style and rated to 20°F or below), and sleeping pads (closed cell), you will have the chance to request borrowing on application. A backpacking equipment list is provided on the Equipment page; along with ideas on how to acquire gear and reducing costs. It will also be mailed to you in July with more specifics.
What type of physical shape do I need to be in?
SPOT Wilderness trips are NOT designated by difficulty. All trips cover moderate terrain and are intended to be inclusive to those without backpacking experience. However, hiking 4-7 miles per day with a full pack (30-50 lbs.) can be physically challenging. Wilderness backpacking trips cover high altitude (above 6,000 ft in elevation), and terrain that is uneven, rocky, and different from what many participants are accustomed to. Participating in some form of aerobic exercise during the summer will make for a more enjoyable trip.
What will we eat on trips?
Good stuff! SPOT provides all meals and snacks to provide for appropriate caloric intake for a multi-day, backpacking trip. Breakfast options include hot or cold cereal with tasty nuts and berry toppings. Lunch snacks include trail snacks, peanut butter topping to bagels, cheese, apples, carrots. Hot dinner each night varies from cous-cous surprise, darn-tootin’ chili, pizza/calzone tastiness, quinoa with veg, and other savory options. Vegan and vegetarian diets are easy to accommodate for. Please be specific if you have other medical or religious dietary restrictions in your application.
Who will my trip leaders be and what is their training?
SPOT Leaders and Crew are current students or recent alums who are enthusiastic about the Stanford experience and the wilderness as a venue of building community before you get to college. Many participated in SPOT themselves and had such an impacting experience that they completed training to become leaders. Many didn’t have the chance to participate in SPOT but heard it was such a meaningful experience that they became leaders! Leaders complete training that includes backpacking skills, wilderness medicine and first aid, leadership and group dynamics.
What will the weather be like?
Elevations will range from 6,000′ to 10,000′ or higher. Prepare for daytime highs in the 80s (°F) to nighttime lows below freezing. September is also the tail end of the summer thunderstorm season in the Sierra. There is always the possibility of afternoon rain, and maybe even frost or snow!