Jan “The Beekeeper” McEwen


Jan McEwen’s first backpack trip was in 2010. While she knew she would love it, since she adores hiking, camping and wilderness, she was concerned she would not have partners to pack with, so she purchased relatively inexpensive, ill-fitting, heavy gear. Jan was MISERABLE! For others, this might have meant the end of this endeavor, but for her, she knew she needed to find other options so she could be prepared for her next invite. Surprisingly she suffered through several trips that summer with the miserable setup.

In 2011, The Beekeeper upgraded her pack, but still didn’t know about reducing weight as her partners were all carrying more weight than her; Jan maxed out at 38-40lbs (fully packed). She is 5’4 so quite a feat, but the others she was packing with were also outsized by their packs, so she figured she just needed to get in better shape.

However she saw the light when she learned about the life of a PCT thru-hiker. Jan started following blogs, reading gear lists, researching UL options and got excited about the possibilities.

In 2012, she lightened her load by replacing the first of the big 3, her tent. Jan also reduced much of her other items to bare essentials and better weight choices. Her pack never reached above 30lbs even carrying 3+ liters of water and 6 days of food.

In 2013, more weight came off by replacing the second of the big 3, her pack. Initial indications are that her new pack weight will max out around 25lbs, with a base weight of 15-17lbs. To reduce weight further, she needs to replace her sleeping bag and pad, but she loves both, so it will be challenging.

By lightening her load, Jan’s body is happier and will stay healthier allowing her to hike more challenging terrain as well as more miles per day. In 2012 she backpacked 39 days, this season her expectations are for about the same – after all she still needs to find a way to work 30 hours per week…

Home: Redding, CA

Website: Jan’s Jaunts and Jabberings

Outdoor Organization Involvement: Co-Organizer and Event Host at Northern California Outdoor Adventurers (NCOA)

Favorite Training Grounds: Whiskeytown National Park, Lassen National Park, Shasta-Trinity Wilderness, Castle Crags Wilderness, Marble Mountains Wilderness, Russian Wilderness, and Trinity Alps Wilderness.

Current Plans: From fall through spring, I host twice weekly evening hill climbing interval sessions. During the winter we start pack training, adding 2lbs per week to our packs to ensure we have fabulously fit individuals for backpack season. Throughout the year I host short-notice snowshoe, hiking and backpacking adventures.