2 new startups seek to make California camping, backpacking trips easier to plan

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If you’ve ever missed out while trying to land a Half Dome hiking permit or state park campsite, you know that reserving getaways in California’s uber-popular outdoor areas is practically a competitive sport. In many cases, campsites and wilderness permits at desirable places made available online six months in advance are snapped up within seconds of being posted.

It’s only become tougher during the past 17 months, and the coronavirus pandemic is causing more Californians to explore the outdoors closer to home for a second straight summer. Parks and campgrounds around the state, not to mention adventure tour companies and guides, have reported receiving record interest and sales.

The demand has put aspiring-but-inexperienced outdoor enthusiasts at a disadvantage. Recognizing this issue, two new startups aim to streamline the sometimes arduous logistics involved in the simple act of getting outside for a weekend in California.

Somewhere Outside: Kendra Cobourn, 28, left her San Francisco job managing supply chains and operations for lifestyle brands last year to found Somewhere Outside, which provides customized backpacking, hiking and camping trip itineraries on commission. A two-day weekend camping trip for two to four people in Lake Tahoe, for example, costs $200. That includes pre-trip planning: an itinerary, maps, gear recommendations and permitting information.

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