Required Reading Before Attending a Hike with Jesper Widén


Even after two decades' worth of leading hikes with the City of Irvine, I am often in disbelief of my fortune: I have gotten paid to hike through Southern California with friendly and adventurous people. Possibly you heard about these hikes from a friend or saw the community services brochure ad. If you are interested in being a part of these hikes and wish to learn more about them, read the following information. It will be invaluable to you. If you have been with us before, I still recommend the reading: Please help me educate others about our hiking excursions.

Hike Categories and Levels:

The hikes are divided into 2 categories:

· Hiking the Trails – Beginning / Intermediate Levels

· Hitting the Trails – Advanced Levels

First and Foremost:

If you have never been on a hike with us, it is STRONGLY recommended that you try a hike at any of the levels. An ill-prepared hiker in an advanced class is a recipe for disaster. Much like a novice strapping on skis for the first time, an attempt at a double-black diamond ski run could prove to be a costly day. Please sign-up for hikes that offer the appropriate challenge for you. If you try the levels with us and feel "frustrated" because the hikes aren’t offering enough challenge, this is a good sign that an advanced class is right for you. On the other hand, if you try the levels with us and feel exhausted, you may wish to try the street walking classes offered through The City of Irvine.

Essentials for a Day of Hiking with Us:

All classes leave promptly at the scheduled departure time. Please show up at least 10 minutes before departure. Return times are all estimated, especially with advanced hikes. I have been as many as three hours late as well as three hours early. When flying, you can rarely expect your plane to land on time. It’s the same thing with me. I’ll do my best to get back at the estimated time, but I cannot control the weather, traffic, police, trail conditions, etc… If you signed up for an advanced hike and your evening plans are more important than the summit, I’d recommend not coming. Our regular Hitters, including myself, rarely schedule social plans for the evening. Personally, I’m perfectly content if my evening plans involve only a warm Jacuzzi with cold refreshment in hand. As far as equipment is concerned, only time on trail can provide the answers you need. If you are completely new to this, I recommend three essential items for a day:

1) Appropriate layering of clothing (for warmth)

2) Sturdy footwear

3) At least 3 liters/quarts of water

Obviously there are many other items one should bring (food, sun protection), but these are my bare essential recommendations for a self-reliant day.

People who would like to show up for just the day must pay the full fee. To check availability, please contact me one week prior to the event. (Via email is always the best - Those who register through the City will always have priority over those who wish see if there's availability the morning of the hike.


A certain element of risk is involved when one is immersed in the wilderness. I have seen bears, rattlesnakes, cougar tracks, poison oak, ticks, swarming bees and other bugs, rain, lightning flashes, snow, tattooed rednecks, etc… and been able to come back and tell about it. This is a class in nature, so please embrace what it happens to offer for that day. (Yes, we hike in rain and snow.)

I have witnessed people push themselves past the point of exhaustion in order to reach the summit. The unfortunate thing is that the summit marks only the halfway point. Would you swim one mile from shore if this were the extent of your capabilities? Obviously not, but this typically happens on land with inexperienced hikers. They exhaust themselves to "make it to the top" but then stagger back to the van in an untimely manner. Being that many are involved in these excursions, the group should not have to pay (with time) for an individual’s achievement. When we hike, I would like all participants to think of the group as a giant rubber band. We all have different abilities, and we are bound to "stretch out" from one another, but when it comes time to return to the van, my hope is that we all "snap back" relatively together. This problem of extensive wait time occurs more often with the hikes than the hikes. Bottom line: People who fall too far behind the group may have to forgo the summit.

Like in scuba diving, all Hitters and Hikers should not venture alone. Fortunately, on the hikes, we do not get too "stretched out," but on the hikes, we do. It is imperative that I have a group of extremely self-reliant and knowledgeable Hitters. If one got injured, obviously, we, as a group, would help, but if one is simply tired, or cold, or lost, this person should not be in an advanced class.

Last, But Not Least:

We stop after each hike for a coffee and/or ice cream "reward." After a full day of hiking, I figure we’ve earned it, and this is not negotiable! If I haven’t answered all your questions, please contact me, Jesper Widén, at