a conversation with the earth guidebooks + guided hiking

Don't dream it. Plan it.

Hi, I'm Kathy, co-owner of hikingcamping.com and co-author of all the guidebooks presented here. Thanks for visiting our website. I applaud your interest in hiking and travel. If you're dreaming about a hiking-focused vacation, I'll help you plan it.


I love planning trips. I learned long ago that smart, thorough planning is trip insurance. Knowing what you want and don't want to do, and knowing how best to organize each day, allows you to pack more in and create a fulfilling journey. That holds true whether you're pushing hard, roughing it, perhaps on a long-distance trek, or enjoying a leisurely vacation, perhaps dayhiking while staying at B&Bs.

When I was 11, I planned every day of my family's two-week vacation from Arizona to the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks and Vancouver Island. My father noticed how astutely I was reading our road atlas, so he let me take charge of everything except the steering wheel. The trip was a success.

That first encounter with the Canadian Rockies later inspired me to suggest Craig and I return north. We did, repeatedly, until we immigrated from the U.S. to Canada so we could live next to the Canadian Rockies. You could say we found our way home as the result of the diligent planning I did as a child.

Publishing Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, the Opinionated Hiking Guide, was my first effort to help others plan their hiking adventures. I recognized that most "guidebooks" offer facts but rarely venture an opinion, so they fail to truly guide. I resented those authors' lack of courage. I wanted to arm people with much more than just the facts, so they could make optimal use of their precious free time.

Having now co-authored and published 13 guidebooks, I frequently receive notes from avid hikers all over the world. Some ask me to tailor the detailed advice in our books specifically for them. Others seek my counsel on hiking destinations elsewhere in the world. They've read the mini-guidebooks Craig and I have posted in our blog, and they want my help planning a similar trip.

So I'm now formally offering my services as a hiking/travel counselor. I'm available to do for you what I'm constantly doing for myself and Craig.

I have a lifetime of experience planning trips devoted to hiking. Destinations I'm intimately familiar with include not just the Canadian Rockies, the West Kootenay in British Columbia, the North Cascades in Washington, and Utah canyon country, but also Arizona's Superstition Mountains, Glacier National Park in Montana, the Costa Blanca Mountains of Spain, Mallorca's Serra de Tramuntana, the Alpes Maritime and Hautes Alpes in France, Italy's Cinque Terre and Monti Liguri, the north and south islands of New Zealand, and Cuba (where Craig and I cycled for six weeks). You'll find photos of all these places on the Photos/Videos page of our website.

I'm confident I can help you make the most of the time, energy and money you invest in your next hiking-focused vacation. If I know I don't have personal experience that will be of value to you, I'll say so.

I will, of course, charge for my service. My fee is $50. In return, you'll receive (1) my research and planning on your behalf (about 90 minutes for a seven- to nine-day trip and (2) a detailed trip plan (in writing, via email) customized specifically for you. If your trip is a longer one and/or requires extra research and planning, I'll let you know and get your approval to charge $25 for each additional 45 minutes.

Whatever interests or concerns you have regarding your upcoming trip, I'll address. You might want to know... "What should I absolutely not miss?" "What should I avoid, so I don't waste a day?" "If rain keeps me from hiking a premier, alpine trail, where else should I hike?" "If we're exhausted from our previous day's hike, are there less challenging options for the next day?" "What campgrounds, hotels, or B&Bs do you recommend?" "If we want a couple days off from hiking, what sites or activities do you suggest?"

About the only topic I'm not qualified to address is restaurants. Craig and I rarely eat out. We prefer to cook for ourselves. The money we save helps fund our next adventure.

If you've considered splurging on a guided trip, you might find my counseling service, particularly the customized trip plan you'll receive, will save you big money. I'll definitely help you feel more comfortable about traveling independently. I believe in empowering autonomy, because...

autonomy = freedom
freedom = flexibility
flexibility = fulfilling travel

Soon, I'll pose questions here that you'll need to answer prior to our phone consultation. I'll ask about your destination, time frame, fitness level, preferences, etc. Your answers will help me understand your unique situation before we begin talking. Meanwhile, if you think you might want to hire me as your personal hiking/travel counselor, send a note to nomads@hikingcamping.com, and I'll suggest how to proceed.

The queries I receive via email were, as I said, a strong indication that people like you might appreciate my hiking/travel counseling service. But what finally motivated me to take action was a magical event. It occurred while Craig and I were traveling, of course, and it illustrates one of the many aspects of travel that make it so intoxicating: travel cultivates serendipity. Here's the story...

It was February. We were in France, in the Alpes Maritime, hiking above the village of Cuebris. Along the way, we discussed how many people dream of what they want to do someday, and how few people go beyond dreaming and begin planning.

I told Craig, "My advice to all those dreamers would be 'Don't dream it, plan it. Otherwise you'll never realize your dreams."

It struck me as a provocative statement: Don't dream it. Plan it. So I recorded it (I constantly take notes while hiking) and eventually forgot about it.

After completing the hike, we didn't return to our apartment in Vence. Attempting to squeeze more out of the day, as is our habit, we drove into the Var Valley. I wanted to walk at night in the ancient village of Entrevaux. "We're so close," I said. "Let's not miss it."

Shortly beyond the village wall, we strolled into a small plaza illuminated by only a few sconces, and I glanced up at a stone plaque: "Place de Planet." The setting was so atmospheric, I initially thought I wasn't reading this but imagining it.


Plan it? The very thought that I'd contemplated and jotted down in my notepad earlier that day was now manifested before me? The name of this plaza had been on the wall for perhaps two thousand years, and today of all days I'm standing beneath it, staring at it, when there was a good chance I'd never come here, and an even better chance that, though I did come here, I wouldn't notice it?

I gazed, transfixed.

You just don't ignore a sign like that. And, as you can see, I haven't.

I hope to get together with you soon. Let's plan a wondrous trip for you.

Smiles, Kathy