Welcome to Hiker Midnight

Connecting heart, mind and feet to the trail

Hike Your Own Hike

There is no right or wrong way to backpack.  


We help people of all ages and ability levels learn how to backpack on their own. Specializing in:

  • personal coaching for first-time backpackers, from gear selection, to food preparation, to how to poop in the woods.  When your trip comes, you'll be ready physically and mentally to tackle the mountain.
  • organizing women's backpacking trips, focusing on self reliance, empowerment, and confidence in the backcountry. 
  • coaching first-time solo backpackers -- the ultimate meditation experience.
  • teaching families with kids as young as five years old how to backpack and enjoy it.

Beginner Backpacking Series



Initial goal-setting meeting to plan location and set dates.

Five 30-minute sessions with personalized one-on-one coaching.

  • Gear list, physical training prep
  • Clothing
  • Food, hygiene
  • Camping, animals, leave no trace
  • Trail safety, maps, simple navigation

A final gear review meeting to make sure you have what you need.

Unlimited online coaching until the date of your planned trip.

The goal of this series is to get you feeling confident and prepared to accomplish your very first backpacking trip. 

About me

You're not gonna believe this....

My name is Mary Cochenour and I am a middle -aged lawyer.  But wait, don't go. I haven't always been a lawyer . The law came late in my life.  Before this lawyer gig, I was a newspaper journalist, a ski patroller, a Grand Canyon River Guide, and a Backcountry Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service in Desolation Wilderness, Lake Tahoe Basin. 

I 've logged thousands of backpacking miles, including the John Muir Trail, the Wonderland Trail, the Circuit in Torres Del Paine, Chile, Canyonlands, Zion, Paria-Buckskin Gulch narrows, and so many beautiful sections of trail in western Montana, where I live now.


What I am and what I am not....

I am NOT a guide.  Nope. I've been a guide before. I took people down the Colorado river. I cooked for them, entertained them, cared for them.  It was fun.  But what's more fun is helping people  achieve their very own self-directed backpacking goals.  

I am a personal coach for people who want to learn to backpack but don't have a friend, or family member, or partner who is experienced enough to teach them.  I am that person for you.  You set the trail goal and together we walk you through it.  

I was a beginner once...

I remember how it felt to be a brand new first timer.  I remember feeling intimidated by the gear.  I was unsure of the food.  Worried about animals and weather.  Because I know what that feels like, I practice patience and understanding while guiding you through your own discovery of backpacking.  

In the end this will be YOU doing this backpacking.  This will be YOUR trip, YOUR mountain to climb, and YOUR accomplishment. You will go home talking about your trip, instead of talking about the trip you took with a guide.

The best part for me? When you finally get back into cell service and call me to tell me you had the time of your life.

So contact me soon for custom, beginner backpacking plans. The sooner you contact me, the longer we will have to build your trip this summer.    


Julie S.

"After a long hiatus from backpacking, I got invited on a three-day trip with some friends.  I was nervous about getting back out there but Mary was there to answer all my questions.  Her kindness, humor, tell-it-like-it-is approach gave me the confidence to get back on the trail.  By the time the trip rolled around, although I still felt a little nervous, I felt prepared and ready.  As I took those first steps into the wilderness for three days, I felt empowered and expectant.  Having Mary guide me through the preparation phase was invaluable and made the trip all the more enjoyable because I knew I was ready to go out there on my own.  Mary provided the blueprint for a perfect hike, starting with months of personal consultation leading up to the trip, then picking the best route for our group, campsite selections, permit and area leave-no-trace practices, and even arranged a taxi shuttle so we made a point to point, through hike over a high mountain pass."

Jessi B.

"My first time backpacking would not have happened without Mary's guidance, patience, and trail wisdom.  From answering my questions (no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential) to talking me through my outdoor fears (there were many!), Mary empowered me every step of the way.  Her enthusiasm for the trail is infectious.  My dream of a backpacking trip came true because of her."

Lindsay B.

"As a backpacking newbie, I had questions about gear (what I truly needed to buy and bring -- nothing extra!), food preparation, and what to expect regarding weather and animal activity.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed.  Mary's expertise was essential to my first trip's succss.  She provided thorough advice and recommendations and encouraged me in my personal goals.  I highly recommend Hiker Midnight's services!"

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