I felt like I truly understood the phrase 'Less is More.' Now that I found minimalist backpacking, I don't think I would do it any other way. In fact, it inspired me to try and find other ways to minimize my footprint and lower my impact, and really help preserve the earth for years to come.

–Krista, Hiking with a Cause participant

This past February, one of our Brand Ambassadors, Duncan Cheung, helped us kick off a new blog series about hiking with a cause: What does it mean? How do we do it? Why is it important? This month, we wanted to share one of the stories from Duncan's initiative, Off Trail On Track, that gives a tangible example of hiking with a cause, and the profound impact doing so can have on the individuals involved–and beyond.

hiking with a cause

Hiking with a Cause in the Ventana Wilderness

As a part of Off Trail On Track, Duncan leads courses in minimalist backpacking. In 2017, he began co-leading these trips with his friend, Diana Oppenheim, who is a yoga teacher. During one of these courses, Duncan and Diana helped six yogis develop minimalist backpacking skills through a backpacking training curriculum and complimentary wilderness practicum in California's Ventana Wilderness.

hiking with a cause

This event went beyond your typical backpacking trip. All participants were hiking with a cause. The group collected a total of $1,700 in donations for the pre-trip course, which was then donated to the Vital Action Project. This nonprofit used that money to support job training within the conservation field for three families in Nicaragua. The work of those families then stopped 2,000 endangered baby sea turtles from being poached and sold in exotic animal markets.

hiking with a cause

Gathered around a campfire in the evenings, trip participants pondered the meaning of hiking with a cause even further. Duncan and Diana would provide prompts for trip participants to consider while writing in their journals, and then lead those kind of life-affirming conversations that so often occur when forming community in the wilderness:

  • What do you appreciate deeply about yourself?
  • What do you appreciate deeply about the other people here who you have just met?
  • How do we amplify this goodwill to all of the life around us?
hiking with a cause

Through hiking with a cause, these six yogis were able to have both a global and local impact. They could talk about conservation and how to shape the effort in a meaningful way–all while being held by the very nature they longed to protect.

Reflections on Hiking with a Cause

Gossamer Gear was honored to sponsor this event with backpacks, shelttrekking poles for the backpacking course. We hope that the trip photos and testimonials from this event below inspire you to start hiking with a cause, too.

hiking with a cause

I recently had the pleasure of going on a yoga and backpacking retreat with Duncan, and I have to say that it far exceeded my expectations. I was a little nervous at first because I had never been backpacking before, but Duncan made it so easy. He hosted a gear clinic, provided us with an amazing packing list, and let us borrow a bunch of stuff. By the end of the trip, I felt like I not only had the skills and inspiration to go again, but I also had the confidence to do it again maybe even by myself. Aside from all that, I feel like immersing yourself in nature is so grounding. There's an energy that's invigorating and kind of addicting, actually. I love that we were able to do all of it with minimal impact. I felt like I truly understood the phrase 'Less is More.' Now that I found minimalist backpacking, I don't think I would do it any other way. In fact, it inspired me to try and find other ways to minimize my footprint and lower my impact, and really help preserve the earth for years to come.


hiking with a cause

I've been practicing yoga and backpacking for over 10 years, but have never enjoyed them together and didn't fully understand how intertwined the activities were until this trip, which deepened my love and appreciation for both. Diana is one of the best yoga instructors I've ever had–her knowledge of the body and mind is vast, her instructions are purposeful, and practicing with her is energetic and challenging. Duncan's lessons on minimalist backpacking and venturing off trail have changed my approach to nature forever. I am so thankful for whatever force brought these two wonderful human beings together because their combined love for nature, life, and yoga is infectious–you will come out of this experience inspired and re-charged (and maybe a little sore).

–Nina Parikh

hiking with a cause

A truly magical weekend! The space created by Duncan and Diana to experience the outdoors in a rigorous and challenging way was diligently balanced with mindfulness, yoga, and collective learning that deeply infused our backpacking adventure in the wilderness.

–Cait Steiner

hiking with a cause

What an amazing trip with Diana and Duncan! As someone who hasn't backpacked in over a decade, I wasn't sure what to expect. Duncan and Diana are such a wonderful team though. They created a supportive and welcoming environment where I could safely play with the edge of my comfort zone. I would definitely go on another trip with them if the opportunity ever presents itself.

–Crystal Stone

hiking with a cause

Sharing More Stories of Hiking with a Cause

If you'd like to join Duncan on an Off Trail On Track adventure, check out the Off Trail On Track website for more details.

We'll continue to share more stories on the Gossamer Gear blog about the power of hiking with a cause–so stay tuned and get inspired! If you have your own story about hiking with a cause that you'd like to share with the Gossamer Gear community, please feel free to send your idea to korrin@gossamergear.com. We look forward to learning from each other and making a positive impact through our adventures.

May 21, 2019 — Korrin Bishop