Credit: Courtesy

Senior Writer Matt Kettmann has worked on our annual Blue & Green issue ever since he started at the paper in 1999, and he has been its primary editor for more than a decade. Each year, Matt goes on a backpacking trip for the Memorial Day weekend.

What originally inspired you to start doing backpacking trips?  It was actually three of my good friends who started this annual Memorial Day backpacking trip way back in 2005. It’s often a pretty brutal haul, sometimes more than 40 miles through the rugged Los Padres National Forest over five days. But it’s tamed down a touch in recent years, due to illness and injuries. Despite beliefs otherwise, there is evidence to suggest that we are getting older.

What is one of your favorite things to do on the trip?  I would not be lying if I said eating gourmet meals and drinking fine wine — as longtime readers know, we bring way too much stuff despite the distances — but the real magic is just hanging out in the deep wilderness with friends, some of whom I only really see on this trip. Being surrounded by pristine nature without cell coverage is a privilege that’s harder to find with each passing year.

What advice would you give to people who want to start backpacking but have never done it before?  I’d highly advise going with someone who has at least a little experience for your first time, especially here in the Los Padres. Though beautiful, it’s not a forgiving place, so ensuring that you have enough water, food, and the proper supplies is critical to your enjoyment and, sometimes, your survival.


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