Into the great wild open — Ned Tibbits to hold seminar called, ‘Holding The Hand Unseen: The Pacific Crest Trail Wilderness Relationship’ in Auburn |

Into the great wild open — Ned Tibbits to hold seminar called, ‘Holding The Hand Unseen: The Pacific Crest Trail Wilderness Relationship’ in Auburn

Ned and Juliee Tibbits founded and operate Mountain Education, Inc, a nonprofit wilderness school designed to empower people with the skills and wisdom needed to safely enjoy wilderness.
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHAT: Holding The Hand Unseen: The Pacific Crest Trail Wilderness Relationship

WHERE: Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center at the State Theatre, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn

WHEN: 7-10 p.m. Friday and 3-6 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $25, available at the door and at

INFO: For more information visit the website at or call 530-885-0156

Ned Tibbits not only talks the talk but walks the walk — literally. As a teenager in 1974 he set off on what would be a life-changing trek on the infamous Pacific Crest Trail, and since then has been training and educating others on how to safely do the same.

While spanning the nearly 2,700 mile trail, Tibbits was alone for much of his journey.

“I saw one person the whole time,” he said. “There was no internet; I didn’t have a partner that was able to stay with me. There are a lot of things that prey upon the human psyche, but one thing in particular, and that’s loneliness.”

However at no point did Tibbits consider abandoning his dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in its entirety.

“I never wanted to throw in the towel,” Tibbits said. “I didn’t go off trail. I was so geared toward living the wilderness life.”

All these years later, Tibbits’ passion for the outdoors remains as strong as ever. He is the founder of Mountain Education Inc, a nonprofit wilderness school designed to “empower people with the skills and wisdom needed to safely enjoy wilderness … no matter the season.”

As part of his mission to educate hikers and would-be hikers alike, Tibbits will be presenting “Holding The Hand Unseen,” a seminar that will cover everything from safety to skill preparation with a Q&A to follow.

The event will take place Friday and Saturday at the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center at the State Theatre.

According to Tibbits, the completion rate — that is, the number of people who start and finish the entire Pacific Crest Trail — hovers around 30 percent, and, “that hasn’t changed with the internet or lighter gear. If I can keep them safe they’ll go all the way; maybe not to Canada [but to] the inner answers.”

More than meets the eye

Tibbits maintains that there is much more to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail than the obvious physical challenges and benefits.

“Rising with the sun, breathing fresh air all day, [getting] exercise, the natural rhythms of the basics of life,” he said. “It changes you from the inside out. There is some spiritual component. Listen to it; it will teach you all about life.”

In addition to his many treks — too many to name here — Tibbits has nearly 50 years of wilderness experience. He also worked as a paramedic in San Jose and Sonoma, and for the Forest Service on Muir Trail.

He’s been a part of numerous Search & Rescue and ski patrol teams, and recently spent the past three months working with FEMA in their efforts to assist those affected by hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

Tibbits admits he’s a bit surprised at the popularity of Cheryl Strayed’s #1 New York Times Bestseller, “Wild,” which followed the author on her own somewhat ill-prepared ramble on the Pacific Crest Trail.

“Internally, [Strayed] was running from something and thought the trip would solve it,” Tibbits said. “Her story is more about the craziness on the trail.”

After briefly meeting Strayed at a book event some years ago, she gave Tibbits full permission to reply to questions and offer advice on her own Facebook page.

He also says that since the book and subsequent movie were released, the number of people venturing out on the Pacific Crest Trail has exponentially grown.

“In 2006, about 300 people were interested. After “Wild” came out, that number doubled. Then the movie doubled it again,” Tibbits said. With so many expressing a new-found interest in the trail, he feels his work is definitely cut out for him.

Tibbits reminds people: “[The PCT] is not your typical summer vacation thing. Mountain Education exists to help people be safe in the back country and to find their healing, identity, and direction.

“If you don’t plan right, there can be fatalities. I will harp and harp to everyone: be careful, be wise, this is what it is really going to be like, get prepared, and you’ll come out the other end a different person.”

He hopes his “Holding The Hand Unseen” seminar will not only educate but perhaps awaken a sense of adventure in his audience.

“The overall takeaway I hope will be that wilderness is good for healing. There’s so much beautiful music in the mountains if you just shut off your own.”

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at

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