While most people love the idea of camping, getting organized with the right equipment and deciding where to go can be daunting. And camping alone is also not much fun,
Marie Holt started a new business here in Sonoma last year with her dog and adventure buddy, Otis, after realizing how many women are intimidated to go out on adventures in the backcountry.
“They want to, but don’t know how to get started, are scared, don’t know how to read a topographic map, or don’t know what to pack,” she said.
Holt has been backpacking for more than 20 years and she says she’s always found it to be an activity that centers her and proves to her how strong and resilient she is.
“I always come back from the mountains recharged and re-empowered,” she said. “There’s just something about standing on a massive slab of granite that makes me realize my problems are insignificant.”
Her idea for “A Girl and Her Dog Adventures” came from a desire to share that with other women and girls, as well as boys.
Clients come to her with a date in mind or just a general interest to go backpacking. Holt schedules a mutually agreeable date and discusses goals and interests. She says that most clients are interested in heading up into the Sierra mountains, although she also does local hikes and overnights in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. She can tailor hikes based on interests in geology, wildflowers, lower elevations, time of year, fishing, etc. Clients choose how long the trip is and learn how to read a topographic map, plus “leave no trace” ethics, trail etiquette, campsite selection, an introduction to flora and fauna of the area, and how to pack and fit a backpack.
Each camper is given a detailed packing list, but Holt supplies backpacks, sleeping pads, tents and a few basic camp necessities.
Holt has lived in Sonoma for the past eight years. She is a registered nurse by night, and by day and for fun on the side, she started A Girl and Her Dog. The company’s namesake, Otis, died recently but she kept the name.
Holt says that her experience on the trails throughout the Sierra Nevada, Rockies, Cascades, coastal ranges and deserts of the Southwest have taught her a respect for nature, weather and the alpine environment. She’s taken classes on geology, cartography, and leadership and loves introducing her passion for the outdoors to other women.
While most of her marketing is geared toward women, she has taken husbands and wives, women and their sons, co-workers and groups of friends.
Most trips are within a couple hours driving distance (nearby Sierras, Pt. Reyes, etc.) are $120 per person, per day (i.e. a three-day/two-night trip is $360 total). This price includes the gear (tent, pack, sleeping bag and pad) and all meals during the trip.
Learn more at agirlandherdogadventures.com.
A sample itinerary
AM: Meet at pre-determined location and caravan to trailhead. At trailhead, review gear, aspects of packing, expectations, and pack fitting. Hike to destination with plenty of water, snack, and lunch breaks, and a few good photo ops.
PM: Set up camp, discuss Leave No Trace Principles, enjoy dinner, possibly a fire and s’mores, and stargaze as the sun sets.
AM: Leisurely morning with coffee and breakfast.
Day: Choice of....
- day hike to surrounding lakes, view points, or peaks
- relaxing day reading a book by a lake
- breaking camp and continuing on to camp at a different lake
PM: Dinner and stargazing/ camp setup if relocating
AM: Leisurely morning lakeside with coffee and breakfast.
Optional departure after breakfast, or short day hike, then break camp, head back to trailhead.
Afternoon/PM: Depart trailhead for home.