Corey Smith is one of those guys who take’s full advantage of his surroundings. Born in Pensacola Beach, Florida; Corey now resides in Leucadia, California with his wife Valerie. Corey splits up his time working for Patagonia, surfing the beaches around Cardiff, and skipping town for climbing and backpacking trips in the Eastern Sierras (a world-famous mountain range about 3 hours drive from Los Angeles). I sat down with Corey mid-summer 2018 to pick his brain about backpacking around California.
JW: What does a typical backpacking trip look like for you?
Corey: I try to explore new trails as much as possible. Having a destination such as a peak, a pass, or a lake is always the most fun. I try to do midweek trips with less traffic (other hikers) and more solitude. Most of the time I’m hiking with my brother Kevin or our close friend, Nick. Most of the time we can get out for three days and two nights, but the week-long trips are really what we’re after when work and life permit it.
JW: What equipment do you bring?
Corey: Every trip I try to go lighter. My three key items are my 35mm camera, my jet boil stove, and my sleeping pad. Capture the moments, boil water quick for coffee and meals, and get a good night sleep on the pad after a full day of hiking. A Bear Canister is key in certain areas (a container for your food that can be rented at most ranger stations) such as the Eastern Sierras. The Patagonia Provisions camping food is of really good quality and it’s delicious. Of the Patagonia Provisions products, I like the Salmon Jerky, the breakfast grains, and the soup and chili.
JW: What do you enjoy most about backpacking?
Corey: It’s a way to disconnect from your routine. Being in nature makes me feel super alive. After a trip, you come home feeling refreshed and at your best.
JW: What do you think is the most challenging aspect of backpacking?
Corey: When you start backpacking there is a fear or hesitation when you step into a wild place on your own. You have to trust that you are powerful and that you can survive and even be relaxed and enjoy yourself. It can be unnerving for some.
JW: Who influenced you to start?
Corey: A few mentors got me into climbing, which really leads to more time in nature. In some climbing locations, you need to backpack in to get to the climbing location. Matt Carrier definitely encouraged me.
JW: Got any pointers for people who want to give backpacking a try?
Corey: Pick a trail that seems really appealing, something with a gorgeous destination in mind like a lake or a pass. Pick a shorter trail for your first time. Do some research, check your equipment, and just don’t forget the basics, “what do I need for sleep, food, and water?”
JW: Enjoy the wilderness this season. Thanks for chatting, Corey!
Corey: Sure thing. Anytime, Justin.