Rogue River, Oregon

Written by Jerrica

We left Idaho after running into van trouble and headed to Oregon with plans to hit up Mount Hood and do the Oregon coast thing.  Unfortunately the area near Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge were on fire, so we detoured to Bend to stay with Kevin's friend, Sam.  We were going to head to the coast from there but after looking at the weather for the coast vs the Rogue River, I changed plans quickly. The Rogue River looked like it had near perfect weather for the next 5 days, then after that things looked chilly.  I knew if we were going to run this river, we should do it right away.  I picked up a permit to put on the river in 2 days and we headed out.

The Rouge was only 34 miles long so we thought we'd do it in a day or two.  Surprisingly the river was slow moving and it took us 3 nights and 4 days to do the trip.  We took out right when the weather started to get cloudy and cold. Perfect timing.

The first major rapid we hit was Raine Falls on the first day, Class V.  We scouted the falls and watched the salmon jump up the falls.  We stayed there for about 15-20 minutes.  We didn't run the falls but took the shallow "Fish Ladder" route to the side. 

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There were a few different groups that left the same day as us.  We ended up bumping into a group of cat boaters several times and camped next to them 2 nights in a row.  They called themselves "5 Cats and a Dog".  They were all over 50; 7 boaters total on 5 catarafts and 1 dog.  This was a crew of pretty serious boaters and from the sound of it they have run some pretty gnarly rivers.  They recommended some rivers to us but I honestly don't think we could handle the stuff they run.  They were awesome company and had great stories to share.

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The Rogue was awesome.  We had amazing weather the whole time. One of the [many] highlight was a natural waterslide at Tate Creek. Another boater (a guide on the river) gave us the tip to hike Tate Creek.  It wasn't in the boater's guide we bought from the Forest Service so we would have missed it had it not been for him.  Like always, I was scared to go off the slide.  It was steep and narrow.  But Kev, like always, persuaded me to go for it.  (See the video at the bottom for Tate Creek highlights).

On the hike out from the waterslide, Kev saw a little fish in one of the pools leading out from the slide.  It took about a dozen tries but he finally caught it with his bare heads.  Kevin's infatuation with catching fish with his bare hands cracks me up... it must be the Wyoming blood running through his veins.

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Speaking of bare... our last night on the river a black bear walked through our camp. It was dark and Kev and I were camped under the stars without our tent watching a movie on my phone.  We heard rustling and got up quick to see a bear about 30 yards away.  Kev yelled at it and shined a flashlight on him, but he didn't seem to be bothered one bit.  He continued to casually walk through our camp and eventually left.  By some miracle I was calm and I was even able to sleep after.  I'm not sure how that happened considering how freaked out I have been of bears in Alaska and Canada.

The next morning I woke up before Kevin and decided to start breakfast. Soon I heard a splashing noise at the shore line in our camp and I got freaked out because I thought it was a bear again.  I turned to the shoreline and I was looking at what I thought was a baby seal (I know... I'm an idiot).  I quickly realized it couldn't be a seal and figured out it was a huge fish half-way in the water and half-way on shore.  

I started running towards it, but quickly decided to turn back and get Kevin.  What was I going to do anyway?  I don't dare touch 3" fish with my bare hands... I would be useless.  

I shook Kev awake, grabbed the camera, and followed him to the fish.  Within 60 seconds of being awake, Kevin had [sort of] caught a another fish with his bare hands.  He was on a roll.  The fish had a gash in his head so instead of throwing him back we decided to keep him.  After we got off the river we found a fish washing station at a campsite and the fish fed us very well for an entire week.

Our last minute decision to hit the Rogue was well worth the detour.  I love spending time on amazing rivers with my best pal.  Enjoy our highlight video.

Cascade, Idaho

Written by Jerrica

I feel like I could write a book about our time in Cascade.  Stopping in Cascade to visit Ryan and McKenzie Campbell was planned, but we didn't plan on staying there for 2 weeks.  Our van ran into some issues and we found ourselves waiting for car parts for a few days.  I'm sure we were a major inconvenience to the Campbell family but I felt so lucky we broke down where we did.  I LOVED hanging out with these guys and their 2 sons Nash and Reo.

Cascade is small but offers a lot for the outdoor enthusiast.  Among other things, we surfed at Kelly's Whitewater Park, we mountain biked, we hiked, we visited hot springs, we played in the water, we took Debbie the Ducky on the Payette River (the Cabarton), we rafted Hells Canyon, we made delicious meals in Ryan and McKenzie's amazing house, we had dance parties, we steamed right next to the river, we did LOTS of van repairs and trailer cleaning, and we spent a lot of time hanging out with 2 cool little dudes - Nash and Reo.

One of my favorite moments with Kevin was running the Carbarton.  I think some people don't believe me when I say Kevin is ridiculous... but this video proves it.   Kevin actually hurt his throat from screaming so much on this little river trip, and he had a scratchy throat for a few weeks after the fact.  Serves him right for being such a spaz.  In all seriousness, when we were on Hells Canyon I told Ryan that I have the most fun and feel the most happy with Kevin when we are on the ducky together.  Now you can see why.  I have included a short 1-minute highlight of the Cabarton, but if you're feeling up to it (trust me, it's worth it) check out the full 6 minute video.  You won't regret it.

The Cabarton - Short Version

The Cabarton - Long Version

I wish we had more highlights of the Campbells and of Cascade.  Our short highlight video just doesn't do it justice.

Hells Canyon

Written by Jerrica

Boy are we behind.  There's no way to adequately catch up and explain all the amazing things we've seen and done but I'll do my best to highlight a few favorites.

On August 30 we set out for Hells Canyon.  We were lucky enough to be joined by Spencer (Kevin's dad), Ryan Campbell (a college friend of mine), and Nash Campbell (Ryan's 3-year-old son).  It was nice to have Ryan and Nash with us because we were crashing at their place in Cascade to begin with. 

We set out with Walter the Raft and Debbie the Ducky.  Ryan rowed Walter with Kevin and Spencer fishing off the raft and Nash hanging out with his dad.  I spent the day in the ducky; Kevin joined me for Wild Sheep and Granite Rapids, the 2 big class IV rapids, then went back to the raft to fish.

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I have spent a lot of time on the Snake River, and I have done Hells Canyon in October of 2016.  In my experience, the Snake River is a COLD river.  So that's kind of what I was expecting.  I was pleasantly surprised when I paddled my way through the first rapid in the ducky and the water felt pleasant on my skin.  To me, nothing beats whitewater at pleasant temperatures.  I knew we were in for a great trip.

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We scouted Wild Sheep and had a fun ride with no problems.  Shortly after that we thought we were coming up to Granite, but we weren't sure.  We just didn't make a decision to pull over fast enough and ended up running the rapid without scouting it.  Ryan picked a great line... the same line that any of us would have chosen.  After a couple of rapids a lateral wave came from the right and ended up dumping everyone out of the boat.  Kevin and I watched from behind as Ryan, Nash, and Spencer got knocked into the river.  We shot through Granite to catch up and help out, but Ryan was super fast and got everyone into the boat before we got there.  Thank goodness Spencer was on the boat- he held onto Nash and kept him right by the boat.  After Ryan pulled himself on the boat, Spencer handed him Nash, then Ryan helped Spencer up.  It was all really fast and I was really glad we had Ryan's experience for something like that.

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After the dump truck we pulled over to let everyone catch their breath.  I was pretty worried about Nash... this was the first rapid he had swam through.  This kid was AMAZING!  He was a little shaken up for sure, but I never saw him cry or freak out.  He was a little nervous about the rapids for the rest of that day, but by the next day he was stoked for the whitewater again and spent most of the day in the ducky with Ryan.  I can't think of a braver 3-year-old.  He was a rockstar.

We camped by a ranch the first night.  We had some rain that night and most of us turned in early because of it.  The next day we explored the ranch and the caretaker gave us a little tour.  We ate figs off the fig tree and chatted for a while before we headed out. 

Day 2 was just fun with no incidents.  We fished, had lunch, hit more fun whitewater, and soaked in the sun.  We could have taken out that day but we decided to camp one more night instead of driving home late that night.

I loved our camp spot the second night.  It was a big sandy beach and I love kicking off my sandals and walking around barefoot.  Sand makes it hard to keep things clean sometimes, but the luxury and comfort of soft sand make it worth it for me.

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The next day we de-rigged and drove back to Cascade.  Besides rain that first night, we had amazing weather and warm temperatures.  I loved playing games with Nash and watching him enjoy the river.  He caught his first fish and, like me, wasn't too stoked about touching it.  He swam through his first rapid and he ended up being fine.  He was such a fun kid to have on the trip.  Ryan and his family help me feel optimistic about having a family of my own one day.  I love seeing friends do fun things with their kids.  I love that he and his wife share their passion with their boys and help them explore the outdoors, rafting in particular.  Very cool in my opinion.

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Enjoy a quick video recap of one of my favorite river trips.

Glacier National Park (Canada)

Written by Jerrica

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Glacier National Park of Canada was a awesome surprise for us. Neither of us knew much (or anything) about this place.  We headed into Glacier on Saturday, August 19.  We wanted to raft and hike, so we decided to raft on Saturday because we felt like hiking was a more sabbath-appropriate activity.  We took our duckie on the Illecillewaet River (totally don’t know how to pronounce that).  We got an incredibly detailed river google maps from Apex Rafting Company, out of Revelstoke, BC. http://www.apexrafting.com/trips-prices/river-rafting/.  

One of the bad things about rafting with just the two of us is the shuttle.  We only have one vehicle and long stretches of river make for a difficult shuttle.  Kev hitches rides when he can (I usually don’t feel comfortable hitching… call me a sissy) or one of us rides a bike.  This stretch of river was 26 kilometers, so it took quite a while.  Running the river also took a long time.  There were fun rapids in there, but we were both cold and ready to get off the river by the end.

We went to church the next day in Salmon Arm.  Nothing too eventful, other than the fact that Kev cleaned up, bathed, and shaved.  He was looking fresh for church.

We headed into Glacier National Park to hike the Hermit Trail after church.  This trail came highly recommended by another rafting company out of Golden, BC, Glacier Raft Company.  http://glacierraft.com/best-hikes-in-glacier-national-park-bc-our-recommendations-for-canada-150-and-beyond/ 

This was a steep hike, but well worth the effort.  The views were stunning.  What was amazing was all the terrain there was to explore once you got to the top.  This was the type of hike that just made you feel small.  We ended up in a bowl surrounded by rugged peaks and views of glaciers.  I think this was just as, if not more, impressive than Glacier National Park of the U.S.  Sorry America… you can’t win them all.

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Banff

Written by Jerrica

We hit up Banff starting on August 16th. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great time to be there because it was so dang smokey from the wildfires in BC.  The first thing we did was Johnston Canyon Falls.  It was crowded, but beautiful.  We practically walked in a line until we got past the falls, then the crowd thinned out and we were able to run up to the Ink Pots. It was worth the little jaunt up there away from the crowds and the Ink Pots were pretty cool.

Kevin at the ink pots

Kevin at the ink pots

The camped at the Lake Louise overflow parking for $10 CAD, first time we've paid for camping so far.  We cooked a good meal for ourselves in a parking lot of RVs and vans.  The shuttle to Lake Louise picks up at the parking lot, so we hopped on the first shuttle the next morning and hit Lake Louise early, trying to beat the crowds.  We did the hike up to Plain of Six Glaciers.  We got a decent view out from Lake Louise before we headed out on our hike, but it got more and more smokey as the day went on.  By the time we were at the top, visibility was poor and we really couldn’t see much of anything.  We hit up Agnes Lake on the way back to the bottom.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

above lake louise

above lake louise

Rafting below Takakkaw Falls

After Lake Louise we headed for Takakkaw Falls.  The falls leads into the Yoho River and Kevin got the idea in his head that we should roll out our duckie and hit the river.  I was nervous because the river was pretty wild, and because I didn’t want to break any rules.  I am truly annoying when it comes to rule-following.  We drove downriver looking for places safe enough to put on, and after much back and forth, I finally caved.  We found a reasonably wild section to raft.  It was short, but we definitely had a good ride.  I road in front and I felt like I could barely take a breath for the full 1.5/2 ish miles of the river because the rapids were so continuous.

That night we found an awesome camp spot on the Kicking Horse River. I think we were technically in Yoho National Park at this point.

The next day we took our duckie down the Kicking Horse.  This stretch of river was also awesome.  We were told by a local to look out for Portage Shotgun rapid and scout it before running it.  The guy gave us a description of how to find the rapid but his description wasn’t really matching up with the features on the river.  Long story short, we ran the rapid without scouting it.  No matter because it was awesome.  We actually tipped and swam the rapid before Portage Shotgun which, again, was no big deal.  We have dry suits so we are prepared for cold water.  Portage Shotgun came up pretty fast and Kev navigated us through it like a champ.  I think we were both pretty amazed that we stayed upright through the whole thing.

Kicking Horse River

We actually didn’t hang out in Banff/Jasper as long as we would have liked.  We were only there a few days and we realize we could have spend a ton of time there.  It’s frustrating not being able to see everything we want to see.  Sometimes we need to get real with ourselves and realize that a year really isn’t that long of a time if we are trying to make it all the way to South America.  It was also incredibly smoky throughout Banff and Jasper which was putting a damper on a lot of the big things we wanted to see.

Glacier National Park (U.S.A.)

Written by Kevin

We went to church in Sandpoint ID on Sunday Aug 6.  I took a nice long nap (2 hours) in the grass after church and we hit the road headed towards Glacier.  We got to Kallispel in the early afternoon. We did some shopping and used wifi to find info on camping and rafting and made our way towards the park.  

We used a free camping website (www.freecampsites.net) and found Blankenship Bridge about 7 miles outdoes of West Glacier.  This is a bridge right at the confluence of the north and middle forks of the Flathead river.  It’s a fantastic place to camp as it’s free, it’s right next to the river, it’s full of friendly and interesting people, it’s beautiful, and it’s a great jumping off point for lots of adventures.  

camping at blankenship bridge - a hidden gem

camping at blankenship bridge - a hidden gem

Monday we got up with the intention of running the middle fork of the Flathead, the section all the commercial companies do for Glacier whitewater.  We drove to the put-in, about 7 miles NE of West Glacier, unloaded the duckie and I drove the rig back to town for the end of the shuttle.  Jerr always has an easier time thumbing a ride because, after all, she’s a hot chick with lovely long legs.  But she doesn’t feel comfortable hitching and I can understand that concern so I undertook the maneuver.  In hindsight I would recommend getting out the bike and riding the shuttle to avoid frustration, but I just stuck out my thumb.  It took a good half hour to get a ride but eventually a nice Canadian guy with a summer home in MT gave me a ride.  Jerr had been ready for some time and was just chilling out at the launch.  I was a little frustrated when I got there because I saw at least 2 cars there that didn’t give me rides that were headed to the exact same spot to launch their rafts.  I had my lifejacket with me to let people know I was rafting, not just a dirty drifter.  

Highlights from our time in the Flathead National Forest

The float was much tamer than our last outing on the clearwater, but it was also warmer and more of a party atmosphere.  We had our new bluetooth speaker on the boat (it’s supposed to be water proof) and we jammed out while making our way down the river.  The rapids were fun but short and pretty spaced out.  There were sections of the river that had awesome turquoise water with deep slow moving pools.  We ended in town, grabbed the van and headed back to the campsite.  We steamed that night next to the river and jumped in between rounds 2 and 3.  It was a great place to steam, we didn’t have to load everything back in the trailer after we were done, we could leave it out without much fear of it being messed with, though we did load the bikes back in, better to not give someone too much temptation. 

Tuesday was chill out day.  We went into Columbia Falls and used wifi at the coffee shop for several hours (we caught a GF chili to not feel so bad about being wifi mooches.)  We closed the place down and headed back to our campsite to do a tire rotation.  We now had about 10,000 miles on the tires (10,000K into the trip) and the fronts were quite a bit more worn than the backs.  I got a very late start on the work as a local guy came over looking for beer and ended up talking to me for about an hour.  When I did get started I jacked up the passenger rear, threw a long under it for a jack stand, then jacked up the front only to have the whole van come inching forward and fall right off the log onto the ground.  I was not flustered, I thought it would be an easy fix, but a few hours, lots of cursing, getting soaked in an isolated rain shower and putting several dents in the van managed to change my easy going demeanor.  Some local good-ol-boys came but and were real life savers.  They had a little crappy floor jack that I was able to squeeze under the rear axle and git it lifted up enough to get the tire back on and call it a night.  We got out the handyman jack only to lift the whole rig up and have it come crashing forward 3 times with the result of scratches and dents in the number and rear door.  Jerr had called Les Schwab in Colombia Falls earlier in the day and they had quoted her $80 for a balance and rotation.  I thought the balance was probably okay (we weren’t feeing any wables ) and I could save a little cash by just doing it myself.  In the end it was a bad decision.  I ended up having to take it in anyway, and I had done some damage to the van in the meantime.  Live and learn.  

Highlights from Glacier National Park 

Wednesday we decided to go into the park and do some hiking/trail running.  We didn’t get an early enough start for 2 reasons.  First we stayed up too late with the whole tire chaining fiasco, second, and most frequently occurring, was we’re just lazy in the morning and slept through a few alarms.  We’re just not good at getting ready early in the morning, we need to either embrace that and deal with it (not get frustrated when it happens and we miss something) or make a concerned effort to change it.  That being said we rolled into the park around 9, unloaded the trailer down low (there’s a length limit on the Going to the Sun road) and got to the top of Logan Pass around 10.  This is far too late, but 10 the masses have congregated and there were no spots in the lot.  We ended up parking 1.1 miles (we know this with certainty because I said I thought it was less than a mile and Jerr was sure it was more and put a wager on it and made us measure) from the parking lot and trailhead.  We were both a little frustrated at this point.  We were supposed to be up there 2 hours earlier to avoid crowds, and we probably should have handled parking a little better and waited for a spot to free up.  We wanted to run the Highline trail, which we did, but not without getting stuck behind no less than 25 groups going at much slower paces.  Once we made it past the little summit that happens about mid-trail we had a much smoother run and could go as fast as our legs and lungs would let us.  We made it to the granite chalet and had a little rest then tried to decide which trail to take back.  We had 3 main options under consideration.  Take the loop trail down to the road and the shuttle back up to our car (the shortest option), take the same trail back to the car and fight traffic, or my preference of taking the Many Glacier trail down and hitch hiking back the the other end of the Going to the Sun Road and take the shuttle back up to our car.  In the end we both went on the Many Glacier trail and by the end of the day we probably put on close to 20 miles.  The Many Glacier trail had almost no one on it until we got to the end and had lots of berries as well as a young grizzly meandering by.  When we got to the campground/entrance we started trying our luck at hitchhiking back to the St Mary’s entrance where we could catch the shuttle back up to Logan Pass.  We ended up getting a ride with a nice young lady that worked on the trail crew based out of Many Glacier.  I forgot my iPod in her car and she mailed it back to my dad, what a lady, we really owe her one.  We did another steam that night to relieve some of the leg strain put on during the day.  We got a kid that was camping there to join us and he told us about his nomad life with primary employment as a marijuana plant trimmer. We later met another camper in the same campsite that was employed in the same trade.  

top of highline trail

top of highline trail

Thursday I bought a 2 day fishing license and spent a big chunk of Thurs/Fri fishing.  We floated the north fork of the Flathead Thursday morning.  It was a nice relaxing float but I think I only landed 2 little fish, one of them a whitefish.  We were only on the water about 2-3 hours, it ended up being a pretty short float back to our campground.  Jerr had run the shuttle by driving back to camp and riding her bike back to the put in.  After the float we had lunch, I had a nap and Jerr did yoga, then we drove into West Glacier to take me fishing and to drop off a fellow camper whose car was at the entrance to the park.  I spent a few hours fishing just upstream of the jumping foot bridge close to town.  I did better fishing catching 4-5 fish in the slow moving clear water.  A storm rolled in right at the end of the day.  The air got heavy, the sky went dark, and the wind went crazy.  A power pole went down right next to us and made a noise like a booming drum.  Tree branches were all over the roads and rain started coming down fast and hard.  Later we were told there were something like 115 lighting strikes in the park and several small fires were started shutting down trails and campgrounds.  

Friday we did another float, this time on the middle fork of the Flathead, just bellow the whitewater section back to our campsite.  This time I ran the shuttle and we loaded the bike onto the raft to not have to make a second trip to go get it after we were done.  It was another slow fishing day, but the water was beautiful as was the weather.  We ran into lots of people doing booze cruises down the same section.  Too late I decided I wanted to ride my bike off one of the medium sized cliffs right next to the river with a big deep pool underneath.  After making the decision I wasn’t able to find a good cliff so it didn’t happen. 

After mountain biking in Whitefish, Kev puts his foot in his mouth and Jerr acts a little dyslexic.

That night we decided to go biking in Whitefish.  We went to the Spencer Mountain trails and did the Maple Syrup and Otter Pop trails.  MS was rated as a Blue (intermediate) and Otter Pop was a Black (advanced) but Jerr thought those rating should have been switched.  MS was steep and rocky with natural obstacles.  Otter Pop was flowy with berms, jumps and drops.  We had a great time on the trails and splurged by going out to eat at a Pizza place in Whitefish (picked by Jerr - I always make her pick as I don’t want to be responsible for cross contamination.) 

Earlier in the day we ran into a sauna afficiando and his sun who were camping at the bridge.  We talked saunas and rivers for quite a while.  I felt a little bad that we weren’t planning to steam that night as I would have liked a fellow sauna-er’s opinion on the steam in the MHS.  

Saturday was our day to move on.  We got up relatively early and headed toward East Glacier and the Two Medicine entrance to the park.  After taking the van in we had started to notice a very strong pull to the right when braking and between gear shifts.  The play in the steering was enough to cause us some concern and make driving pretty exciting as you had to constantly be ready to compensate for the swerve when tapping on the brakes.  I drove as I felt better about my ability to compensate for the wonky steering. 

We made it to the park without incident and ran the Scenic trail which offered very few hikers, a nice 7ish mile jog, great views and a nice cold stream to dip our legs in on the way down.  We met a guy that looked just like Alex Hannold in the parking lot and out on the trail who was actually Tristin from Whitefish who writes for the Flathead paper (tribune - herald - beacon?).

I thought the steering might be related to the fluid level in the front differential (google had someone who thought that was a likely cause) so I tried to top off the fluid while we were parked at the trailhead after getting back to the van.  I succeeded in making a big mess, but the fluid was pretty much full.  At that point we more or less bid farewell to the big mountains and headed towards eastern MT to the flatter ranch land and to visit our friends the Beckers. 

top of scenic point hike

top of scenic point hike

We had a good time in Glacier.  The mountains and views were spectacular.  The rivers were clean and refreshing and the people were friendly and helpful.  Despite the hordes of tourists it’s worth a visit, spend a few days if you can. 

Jerr's fiasco with her female urination device while camping at Blankenship Bridge

Denali on a Dime - a poor mans guide and gear list for climbing cheap (Kevin)

Written by Kevin

This is long overdue - but here you go, hopefully this can help someone looking to climb Denali.

This summer on the start of our year long road trip adventure I climbed Denali with a good friend from Salt Lake.  Interestingly as we were preparing to leave on our trip I went home to Evanston Wyoming to see my folks.  I stayed in my childhood bedroom and looked through some things I had left there.  I came across a bucket list I had created as a freshman in high school.  Sadly I din’t take a picture of the list so I can’t itemize, but I do remember that I wanted to run 50 marathons, do an ironman triathlon, and climb Mt McKinley.  I remember thinking, man, I’ve already done most of these items and I’m climbing Denali in a few weeks.  

So with that in mind here’s my guide to climbing Denali on a budget.  

Before proceeding I would like to disclaim that saving money at the expense of your health or enjoying your experience is not a wise tradeoff.  You don’t want to loose any toes or fingers so make sure whatever gear you take will keep you safe.  My gear list might not work for you.  

My number one tip for climbing on a budget is to have good, generous friends willing to help you out. 

But you’re going to have to buy something so here’s the stuff I brought with me and what I spent on the items.  A lot of this stuff I already had for winter activities.  Long story short I spent about $2,100 for the trip, $1,000 for the climbing permit and glacier flight (unavoidable expenses) and another $1,000+ for gear and food I didn’t already have.

Here’s my gear list and what I spent:

Feet

Socks (4 pairs) 2 pairs that I had used for skiing for years, one thin and one thick.  I purchased 2 additional pairs of socks with high merino wool content.

Wool Socks https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1-Pair-Canada-Brand-The-Whole-Merino-Wool-Terry-Thick-Snowboard-socks-Ski-socks-Men-s/32725066596.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.YddC1e   $6.50

Socks (thickest pair I brought) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B2A9UM6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s03?ie=UTF8&psc=1  $18.99

Heated Insoles (I didn’t end up taking these - I lost the charger for them, also I was a little worried about the comfort of hiking in these, they have a very different profile than the stock insoles) 

Heated Insoles  https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Buy-Direct-From-China-Factory-Electric-Foot-Warmer-Remote-Control-Heated-Insoles-3-7V-1800mAh/32384988857.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.YddC1e  $35.76

Boots - Scarpa Inverno (purchased on ebay, they appeared to be new when I received them) When I tried them on for the first time they felt very uncomfortable out of the box.  It turns out the insoles were in the wrong feet.  After that adjustment they were fine, my shins at the top of the boot tongue got a little rubbed and I have a black toenail on my right foot from going downhill.  All in all they were great boots, no blisters and they kept my feet warm-ish.  $109 

Overboots - Savage Mountaineering - I can’t find any info on these, they were an eBay purchase.  These looked brand new when I got them though they were advertised as used.  They were great for wearing around camp with down booties inside.  I only climbed in them on summit day.  I get cold feet very easily and they kept me warm on the coldest day, but I can’t say they had a thorough test.  There are so many variables to consider it’s hard to know what kept you warm, was it elevated heart rate, mild outside temperatures, extra warmth from the sun, less heat loss from legs, head or hands allowing warmer blood into your feet? I was glad I purchased them and took them.  If for no other reason they are good camp boots and good insurance against cold feet if conditions get ugly.   $41.38 

down booties - Ali Express purchase - link not available - I would get something better, get a bootie with a good sole that can walk on snow without getting wet or cold - $18.78 

Gators - Granite Gear gators I bought about 15 years ago for hiking in WY and CO in snow.  They are pretty beat up at this point, and I broke a zipper while on the trip, but they worked really well and kept snow out of my boots and kept me from snagging my pants with crampons. 

 

Legs 

Wool base layer (merino) I talked to people that said they already had lots of base layers from skiing and other winter stuff.  I too had thermals but wanted to get something that was supposedly outstanding so I order a set (top and bottom) of extra thick (400g/m^2) merino wool thermals.  I did wear these for a most of the trip and they worked fine, although I don’t know if I would have told a huge difference from the fleece tights I bought 15 years ago.

Merino Wool base layer (400g/M^2)  https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Mens-Pure-100-Merino-Wool-Outdoor-Winter-sports-Long-Sleeves-fleece-Thermal-Underwear-Thicke-tops-bottom/1395897035.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.YddC1e - $117

 

Tights - I have a pair of fleece lined tights that I’ve had for 15 years that are absolutely destroyed.  They sprouted huge holes (6-8” diameter) all over and I mended them which has more or less worked for the last few years. I don’t know the brand or what I paid for them, I think I got them at Sierra Trading Post in the bargain bin, probably $20 or less.  I’ve used them skiing, biking, as a layer inside a drysuit, etc. and they have been bomber. I wore these the first part of the trip then switched to the wool when we got a little higher and colder.

 

down pants

Supposedly 700 Fill with 160 grams of fill.  I can’t speak to the veracity of that claim. Western Mountaineering pants are $250 with 60 grams of fill (850 vs 700)  I can say they were a little short for me (I’m 6’3” with a 34-36 inseam) but they kept me warm when I wore them, my leg layers were more than enough. These were super warm.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/BlackIce-ultra-light-outdoor-camping-warm-thermal-white-goose-down-pants-FP700-/201676236997?var=&hash=item2ef4d728c5  $99

 

shell pants 

Eider Gore-tex ProShell ski bibs (really more of a pant with suspenders)  I got these years ago from the local classifieds for about $85 for skiing.  They match my coat (neon yellow green) and make me look ridiculous.  they are also a little short if used without tall boots or gators (if you’re 6’3” with long legs) but they are good pants that kept me very dry and did a decent job of keeping out wind and holding in a little warmth.  I wore these every day and were a key part of my kit. 

 

underwear - these were good but since I don’t wear a lot of normal underwear I don’t really have a good point of comparison 

Merino Wool unswear  https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-Men-s-Midweight-Underwear-Wholesale-Hot-Sale-Male-Black-Boxers-100-Merino-wool-Panties/1410623555.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.YddC1e   $25.00

garments (1 pair) I took the spandex style bottoms and wore them for about 4-5 days.

 

Core

Base layer (see leg wool - top and bottom came in a set) 

Long sleeve synthetic (2 - I gave one of them to my partner) Thin long sleeve shirts to keep sun off and wick, a lot of travel is pretty warm and just a thin top layer works well.

Thin down coat (got from work) Patagonia Down Sweater, I wore this mostly in the tent and hanging out in camp - I did layer with it a couple of times, I probably could have gotten away with only taking a single thick down coat

Thick down coat - Mountain Hardware storm light ($50 used at a gear swap) I wore this in camp, especially at higher camps.  I brought it on summit day but didn’t end up putting it on, although this item is a must I didn’t really use it that much.  With this coat and a shell on I felt pretty bulky.  

Shell coat - Eddie Bower Summit Series with some synthetic lining (gear swap $15) I wore this every day, this was a key part of my kit.  I don’t know what water protection this coat offers, it appears to be pretty water resistant but I would’t want it in a rain storm.  It has a lining that makes it warmer, and comfier, than just a plain shell.  This was great for all conditions as it offered some warms, sun protection, a hood, and had good venting.  This gear purchase was the biggest bang for the buck.

I brought one mesh garment top that I wore the first 4 or 5 days

Head 

Balaclavas - this was a thicker fleece balaclava that I wore as a stand alone hat (or combined with the hood from my coat).  It covered my face and worked well for a mid-cold hat.  I used the merino wool liner style with a hat or helmet when it got colder. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0091CC1OG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1   $10.63

Balaclava (merino wool - thin) I wore this only at camp 4-5 and summit.  I do believe in natural fibers but I don’t have any conclusive proof other than my opinion, so maybe I could have gotten by with just a single balaclava, but it was nice to know I had a dry one that was  thin enough to fit comfortably under another hat or hemet. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LXUQ5X0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $15.75

Down Hat - my big down coat doesn’t have a hood so I had this down hat and another that can be converted into a neck warmer that functioned as my down hood.  I wore this a lot more in camp than while hiking, but I did wear it on summit day under my helmet and it worked well. This is a super warm super light hat.  The downside is that it looks ridiculous.  You look like the mushroom guy from Mario Bros.  Also it makes it hard to hear when you’re wearing it over your ears.  https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Blackice-Outdoor-Hikking-or-Climbing-Goose-Down-Bucket-Hat-for-Male-Female/32595881800.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.YddC1e  $16.76 

Down neck warmer/hat - I love this piece of equipment. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/LMR-ultralight-50g-white-goose-down-filling-comfortable-warm-cold-wheater-adjustable-size-carry-cap-hat/32496674387.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.hPNSum  $15 

Glacier Glasses  - These were a gift from the young men in my church, I wore these almost all day every day and only took them off when it was really foggy and snowy (when I wore ski goggles)  These have the added bonus of looking pretty rad. They have that classic mad scientist look you’re after.  I didn’t have a nose guard so I made one out of a manilla bubble envelope.  It worked well as my nose didn’t get messed up, but it did look pretty silly. https://www.backcountry.com/julbo-vermont-sunglasses-spectron-4-lens?CMP_SKU=JUL0241&MER=0406&skid=JUL0241-BK-ONESIZ&mr:trackingCode=2A4C456D-5CFA-E411-BDDA-BC305BF82376&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=plaonline&CMP_ID=PLA_GOc001&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PLA&k_clickid=53b21fc3-ca7b-4b97-9b98-c013939659f4&gclid=Cj0KCQjwwqXMBRCDARIsAD-AQ2g0PblSRlaAlDgG99ghChcchTzFDyK5J48TuH1wX1o1hyCXEQzhgrAaAq7oEALw_wcB

Sun shield shirt - this is an invention of my own device.  I did this for an ultra marathon a few years ago.  I took an old white t-shirt (actually a garment top) and cut in half (left what would be the back - retains the profile of a shirt but is only a single thickness) the back goes over your head and neck and the arm sleeves go over your ears and can be tucked under your glasses for a full face cover.  It works well to block sun, it’s light and breathable, it’s free, and it helps you get rid of a shirt you probably need to get rid of anyway. 

Visor - I have an old running visor that I used with my sun shined shirt, this combination worked well when it wasn’t very cold out and kept me well protected from the sun. 

Hands 

Wool liners -  I think I liked the cheaper ones a little more, they were a bit more roomy and agile, but both worked fine and kept my hands pretty warm when wet and dried out pretty fast.  I wore these a lot when hiking as my only had protection.  I also wore them under my mittens on summit day but didn’t like wearing them with regular gloves as I felt like they didn’t fit well and made the gloves hard to get on and off. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0065P1PT4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s03?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $17.99

Glove liners https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Washable-Merino-wool-Glove-Liner-Merino-wool-inner-glove/1501675930.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.YddC1e $9.37 

Down mittens (to go inside shells) I didn’t love these.  The were a little sticky getting on and off and seemed to ride up my hands a bit.  They also seemed to get wet pretty easy.  I wore these for the second half of summit day and in camp, but otherwise not much while hiking.  I preferred gloves with hand warmers as I had more dexterity. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019RM6NNY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $40.99

Gloves - Kinco leather gloves treated with snow seal.  I had a new pair of these that I bought at Smithfield Implement for about $25 (that’s the ultra deluxe version with extra lather on the palm and it’s own waterproof treatment packet - they caught on that a lot of skiers were buying the gloves) but I lost these fancy gloves right before the trip and ended up taking an older $7 version.  The snow seal was pretty worn out, as were the gloves so they didn’t stay super dry, but they did keep my hands pretty warm, especially when combined with hand warmers.  These got a lot of use on the trip, they were the most worn hand items. 

I also had a very old and very worn pair of Cabellas gore-tex gloves with lots of holes that I wore some when the Kinko’s were extra wet and frozen.  

I had a pair of OR gore-tex mitten shells (XL - these are huge) that a former roommate gave me 15+ years ago that I almost never use. They are monstrous and forget about any sort of fine motor skill movements, but they are great insurance against really gnarly conditions.  I pretty much only wore them on summit day.  

I used quite a few hand warmers on the trip.  Lots of people were giving these away on their way down, these are must haves for the trip in my opinion. I probably spent $10 on these at sportsman’s warehouse in Anchorage.    

 

Climbing Gear 

Helmet - Petzl (not sure what model) loaned to me by a friend, I wore this from camp 4 up while hiking. 

Harness - webbing - slings - rope - ATC - carabiners -  prusiks - 

If you’re thinking about doing this you probably already have all this stuff.  I haven’t itemized what all this stuff cost me, you don’t really want used gear that you don’t know the history of.  We didn’t take ascenders, that might have saved us some time when climbing and descending the fixed ropes.  You really only need 1 ascender if you’re going to take one.  You can use prusiks for getting out of a crevasse.

I believe I took the following 

1 harness 

4 pre-tied prusiks knots 

3 quick draws

3-4 loose carabiners

3 locking carabiners 

4 slings, 2 long 2 short

20-ish feet of webbing

1 ATC

2 Pulleys

500 feet para-cord

We took a super thick super old 50m rope.  We spaced ourselves 50 feet apart with knots tied every 10-ish feet.  I’m not sure about the knots, but I’m assuming it’s for extra friction if someone does fall in a crevasse (keep them from falling very far).  This rope was too long and too thick, but it was free (a friend that was getting married and decided she was done with climbing gave it to us) and was only good for top roping, rappelling, or this kind of protection at this point in it’s life.  I think it’s an 11mm or 12.   If you’ve got a thinner rope you’ll like not having to deal with a big fat frozen rope, but the big fat frozen rope worked fine, though a little heavy. 

Tent - Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3 Person.  This was loaned to us by a friend.  This was a good tent for the trip.  It would have been very crowded with 3, like our Irish friend said, it’s only a 3 man tent if 2 of them are making love.  with big bags and lots of gear you can assume any tent is going to be 1 person less than the listed value.  

Sleeping Bag - Big Agnes Crosho -20.  The same person that loaned the tent loaned me this bag.  It features Downtek (treated down supposed to work well when wet) and was pretty tough.  This is a big expense that I didn’t incur.  I made a down quilt years ago and was about to make a second to take on the trip (using both, a smaller inside of a larger - both 850 fill with 8 inches total loft) but I was loaned this bag and didn’t have to go trough the mess and frustration of making a second bag. https://thru-hiker.com/projects/down_quilt.php The -20 bag did great.  If you put a hot water bottle in the foot of the bed at night it’s super comfy.  

Sleeping pads - I bought this pad for my primary pad, specifically for this trip.   This pad was very big and very comfy for exactly one night.  The second night it sprung a leak(s?) and was flat the rest of the trip, despite multiple efforts to detect and patch the leak. It was a big bummer, but thankfully some climbers headed down gave me some extra padding they were looking to ditch. I would NOT recommend this pad. 

Insulated Sleeping pad https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N9QZY2N/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

$35.99

ThermaRest Z-lite - My wife had this before we got married and loaned it to me for the trip, this helped a ton, especially since my mat was flat. 

backpacking pillow - This worked well, however AFTER the trip it appears that it has sprung leaks and is no longer staying full throughout the night.  This is the second of these pillows to go flat on me after pretty short lives so I’m going to have to advocate getting something else. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LW4CRSM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $12.99

2L Water Bottle - I had a 1L of this same bottle that I brought but ended up being converted to the olive oil container when the oil’s bottle lid broke.  I had 3.5 liters total that I tried to fill up and drink once a day.  I liked the large capacity and flexibility of this bottle.  My partner had a camel back bladder with hose.  My experience is that the hose almost always freezes and is a pain to use. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000J2KEGY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $12.95

Insulate thermos - Despite making endless fun of my wife for her hydroflask, I purchased one of these assuming it would work well at keeping water from freezing.  It was a great purchase, and sadly fell out of my pack and into oblivion on our way to high camp.  But up to that point it kept hot cocoa hot all day.  I could put in hot water in the morning and it would be warm in the evening.  I would strongly recommend something like this.  Water freezing is real, and a little bottle cover will more or less take care of that, but one of these will allow you to drink something warm-hot later in the day when you’re feeling cold. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D2AN9A2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $28

My other water bottle was the old classic 1L wide mouth Nalgene bottle with a water bottle jacket that my landlord loaned me for the trip. The lid holder strap broke on the trip, and it got a bit warped when I pored in very hot water, but otherwise it worked well.  

Trecking poles - I used my wife’s black diamond adjustable ski poles (no cost).  You’ll want collapsable poles, but pretty much any pole should work.  

 

Snowshoes - MSR Lighting Trail - loaned to me by the tent and sleeping bag guy

These were MUCH better than Costco snowshoes.  My partner had the latter and constantly struggled with them coming off and buckles not working well.  The MSR’s had Voile style polyurethane straps that held nicely and had a thin sharp edge  wrapping the snowshoe that bit into hills and added to traction.  I don’t know what these cost so I can’t say if it’s worth the cash vs cheepo’s, but if you can borrow a pair I would highly recommend it.  

 

Crampons - Ice Axe

I purchased these 13 years ago, it was a package deal and I think I paid $100 for both.  They are Raveltik brand, I never see anyone else with this brand so I don’t know if it really caught on, but they haven’t failed me yet.  

Voile Straps - I had 4 of these with me and they were awesome as a backup to keep crampons from falling off (that’s always a hassle because they’re going to come off in an inconvenient place).  Those little dudes are a little pricey, something like $6-8 per strap, but they are real handy for holding gear on a sled or on a pack, so I would recommend something like these.  

Picket - These cost about $20 for a piece of aluminum, I borrowed 2 from the tent sleeping bag friend, so another big thank you for the use of these.  

Shovel - I have several (maybe 4?) of these collapsable shovels that I use for ski touring and having in the car for emergencies.  I think they cost about $15-20, this is a must have on the trip, you’ll have to dig a lot, the cheap shovel seems to do just as good as the fancier versions I’ve used.  

Snow saw - a friend loaned me a couple of G3 snow saws, we never had to use them as we had access to pre-made camps and blocks from climbers headed down.  I don’t know what these cost, and I can’t comment on the ease of use or necessity, we didn’t have enough snow and wind, and our campsite were already ready for us, so this didn’t get used.  

Stove -MSR Whisper Light - My dad gave me this 20 years ago - I bought a new pump for it for the trip

Stove Fuel Pump https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BBF2SS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $34.95 

We were told over and over NOT to use an isobutane stove (jetboil) but that turns out to be partially true.  If I were doing it again I would do the isobutane and just make sure the gas canister stays warm (keep in sleeping bag and place in bowl with standing unfrozen water when cooking.) We purchased 2 gallons of white gas and this was way too much.  Because we were there late in the season almost everyone was trying to get rid of gas.  I would take a jetboil and bring a whisper light, or similar, as a backup and rely on gas from other climbers headed down.

We purchased 2 pots at Walmart - one 12 quart and one 8 quart.  They were WAY too big.  I thought it would be nice to melt water once and be done for the day, but it just took way way too long because of the huge volume, so for the future take a smaller pot.  I think the pots cost about $20 for both. 

You’ve already got a bowl, knife, etc.  I bought a plastic bowl at Fred Meyers as well as 2 plastic knife/fork/spoon combos.  I brought a leatherman and a knife, that was unnecessary, I would just bring the leatherman in the future.  

Kindle - I bought this for the trip and it was nice.  I loaded something like 8-10 movies on it and watched about 4 on the trip. I think this is a good $50 investment. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018Y229OU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 $49.99

Solar panels -

2 x 7Watts - one was a Goal Zero borrowed from a friend, the other was from China 7 Watt Solar Panel (link is no longer available - I would advise Amazon and going for a higher efficiency higher wattage panel)  $21.46

We were constantly doing the solar panel dance to get all our stuff charged.  I only had my phone and my kindle.  My partner had his phone, GPS, and iPod and seemed to struggle keeping them all charged.  I would bring a good sized battery pack and either 2x7 Watts or one larger panel and use the battery when the sun isn’t out.  

GPS - Delorme InReach - my partner purchased this.  I was skeptical about needing this but it turned out to be very valuable.  It allows you to send and receive 140 character text messages via satellite.  It also sent 10 min position signals to our friends and family so they could see exactly where we were and send us messages.  I think he paid about $250 for the device and another $40 or something like that for service.  He was planning to sell it after he got back and recoup all but about $50 of the investment (although I think he lost it).  With the app you can use your phone to send the messages so it’s not so time consuming to type them out.  This was another key piece of kit, I would strongly recommend getting one of these, much cheaper and more reliable than a sat phone. 

Backpack and duffel bag -

I had an old Gregory Osprey pack, I read online that fully extended it’s about 85 liters.  I purchased the backpack when I was in school, I think I paid $100 for it,  it had been in a musty basement for years so it needed a little washing, but it functioned okay.  Fully loaded it gets a little wonky (wants to fold over on itself) but it did the trick and I didn’t have to buy anything for the trip.  I’ve seen a lot of people recommend 85-100 liters.  

Duffel Bag - I bought this on AliEpxress - I really liked having one big bag that everything fit into and filled the sled nicely.  It got real beat up over the course of the trip, but hey, it was cheap and I don’t really need a big long bag like this in regular life.   https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Lightweight-Water-Resistant-Heavy-Duty-Duffel-Gear-Bags-Hiking-Camping-free-shipping/32755820447.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.YddC1e  $23.10

Zip locks - trash bags - etc.  This stuff is intuitive and cheap. 

Food - I probably spent $300-350 on food.  I had way too much of it.  There’s no secret here.  I looked closely at calories per gram for the lightest calories, and that’s not a bad metric, but if you’re sick of eating stuff it won’t matter much how calorie rich it is.  As it turns out olive oil is one of the highest calorie per gram foods with something like 15 calories per gram, but I added liberal helpings to freeze dried meals, hash browns, mashed potatoes, etc. and very soon grew tired of eating it.  We went late in the season and were offered all kinds of food from descending climbers. It might be kind of sketchy to rely on food donations, but it’s very likely people will be trying to give you food.  If you REALLY wanted to save a couple hundred bucks you could bring very boring cheap food and hope you are gifted some better stuff, but I would recommend just biting the bullet and getting food you’ll be excited to eat.  Sausage and cheese tasted good to me throughout the trip, as did most candy bars.  Cooked stuff like powdered potatoes, hash browns, noodle dishes, got pretty old pretty fast.  If you know what you can keep eating for 2-3 weeks and it’s easy to prepare in the cold, bring it.  

The climbing permit is $365, the glacier flight is about $600-650.  So you’re into it $1,000 no matter what.  The extra expense is going to be gear and food.  My gear purchases came to about $800-900 and another $300 on food.  So my trip cost me $2,100-ish.  I drove to AK so I didn’t pay for a flight, I was also able to drive to Talketna and stay in my van, so I didn’t have those travel expenses (at least directly attributable to the Denali trip).  So the $2,100 doesn’t include any travel.  That’s about as cheap as you can do the trip and still have enough food and gear to be safe.  That also assumes you already have a bunch of winter stuff for other types of adventures that you can use for Denali.    

Let me know if this is useful info. 

Peeing

Written by Jerrica

Guys, van living is great and all, but finding a place to pop a squat can be extremely inconvenient for this gal.  I've tried one female urination device, the Pibella, and it gets a thumbs down from me.  If you have a good experience with another female urination device, I'm taking recommendations.  The Pibella went into the garbage today, as I have never walked away from the experience dry.  Yesterday was the worst.  See for yourself.

Clearwater River, BC

Written by Jerrica

The Clearwater River was an unexpected surprise for me.  To date, this section of river had the biggest drops we've ever taken in our beloved duckie, Debbie the Duckie (our Aire Tributary inflatable kayak).

Clearwater, BC was a place of interest for the Deibers because we have looked into the whitewater business in this area.  We decided to scope out the river on our way through British Columbia.  We slept in our van at the gas station in town and then headed into Wells Gray Provincial Park the next morning for some whitewater.

Kevin did most of the research (okay, all of the research) for the section of river we were running.  He didn't exactly tell me it was a kayak section of river... not a rafting section, but I figured it out pretty quickly after seeing the river.  I doubt many duckies float this section, but we were crazy enough to take it on.

Getting on the river took a bit longer than we had hoped.  I got Debbie the Duckie inflated and rigged up, but as we were taking off we noticed the entire left side was going flat.  So we got out our patch kit and spent the next 40 minutes or so patching her up.  Soon she was good as new and we headed out.

About 200 meters from the put in was Osprey Falls.  It's about a 10 foot drop and the biggest (maybe only) water fall we had done in the duckie.  We spent quite a bit of time scouting it out before we got back in the duckie and nervously headed for the falls.  Kevin was planning on bailing to the right when we went off the edge so that he wouldn't fall on me, and, of course, that didn't go as planned at all.  The falls was awesome - short and sweet and barely time to think.  Instead of Kevin bailing right, we both tumbled out the left side and quickly got back in.   There was a mixture of slight shock and tons of adrenaline and excitement from both of us. 

Next, we came to a horizon line that was Myanth Falls... or so we thought.  We got out and scouted the big wave train and hit our line beautifully.  We were feeling really good about our duckie skills when we soon come upon a much, much bigger horizon line.  THIS, was the actual Myanth Falls.  

We got out the scout the real Myanth Falls and laughed at ourselves for being so stupid to think that the previous set of rapids was the falls.  What idiots.  We spent about 20 minutes scouting this area.  Osprey Falls, at the beginning, was just one drop that was pretty straight forward.  Myanth Falls had 3 different falls, none as tall as Osprey, but just as tricky.  It was really wide and really rocky, with lots of drop pools and holes.  It was also full of boulders that looked like they could mess you up.  it's stuff like this that makes this section of river only appropriate for kayakers.  We didn't have much business being there, but, as always, Kevin talked... sorry... tricked me into doing it.  

We planned out a line that required a few tricky maneuvers in fast moving water.  We went over the plan a few times, and I finally told Kevin that it didn't do any good talking this plan through over and over... it wasn't going to happen the way we planned it.  There were just too many pourovers, too many rocks, too many holes.  We were going to get yanked around and we were just going to have to figure it out on the fly.

Which is exactly what we did.

We fell out at the first drop.

Somehow Kevin and the duckie were stopped on a rock and I stopped right underneath them.  Kev moved the duckie to me and held onto it as he hung from the rock above.  I climbed in and he slid off the rock into the duckie after me.  We must have looked ridiculous.  After getting our crap together on that first pourover we hit the second and third drop as perfect as we could have planned and we stayed in the duckie the rest of the ride.  We couldn't stop talking and laughing about Myanth Falls.  It was a wild, awesome ride.

We were careful to take out before the class VI waterfall a little ways past Myanth.  We got lucky in the duckie that day... but we aren't planning on pushing our luck on something that big.

My description really doesn't do Clearwater River a lot of justice.  Watch the video to get a better idea of our ridiculously fun and ridiculously funny ride down the river. 

The Matanuska River, AK

Written by Jerrica

I'm 1 month late getting this one up, but our 4th of July was a memorable one on the Matanuska River in Alaska.  This was our first time back on the whitewater after our Sixmile Creek experience from June.  

This section of the Matanuska is called Lion's Head, a class III+ to IV section that starts at Caribou Creek and ends near the entrance for the Matanuska Glacier... about 5 miles.  This river is glacier water so we geared up in a our dry suits and headed out on Walter the Raft (our 14' NRS Outlaw).

This river was just what I needed after Sixmile.  I admit feeling defeated and nervous to hit the whitewater again, but as soon as we were in the rapids I felt in my element again on the oars.  Kevin isn't much for cheering in the rapids, but I think he knew I needed the boost and he was whooping and hollering for me the whole way.  I was really grateful for this kind gesture from Kev.

The water is glacial-gray, which made the rapids difficult to read.  Sometimes I didn't see a rapid until we were just about in it, which made for a few surprises.

Lion's Head is a big hole that could easily flip a raft or at least keep you there for a minute.  As I was pushing the oars through the hole my right oar was pulled back by the recirculating water and it yanked me down with it. I was sucked out of the boat, bobbed around under the boat for a couple of seconds, then got popped out of the rapid downstream of the raft.  The water was obviously cold and shocking... thank goodness for dry suits.  Luckily Kevin and the raft didn't get stuck in the hole too long and they moved out of the rapid shortly after me.  Kev hopped on the oars and got to me pretty quickly.  Falling in the rapid wasn't scary at all; it just made for a better ride.

We made some friends at the put in - 5 locals who were in a paddle raft.  They gave us some helpful tips before we took off and they helped us out with a shuttle in the end.  I got a chance to talk to the 2 gals from the group during the car ride back to the van and they are pretty awesome.  I love meeting cool people on the river... or anywhere for that matter.

Liard Hot Sprigs

Written by Kevin

Written by Kevin

The night of July 30th we had to make a decision.  We were on our way southeast from Whitehorse.  We didn’t get away very quickly after church so we were trying to make up for lost time.  After dinner with friends in Palmer we had decided to travel the Cassiar highway (Highway 37).  But when we got to the junction of 37 and the Alcan it was about 10 pm.  This was the little roadside attraction we had stopped at on our way north when the van wasn’t running well so perhaps we were dealing with those unpleasant memories in addition to having to make a decision on which road to take.  It was late enough that we were worried about gas stations being open.  We had less than a half tank of gas left and realized that if we were going to go on the Cassiar we would have to camp and wait till morning, so we would lose a night of driving (4-5 hours).  In the end we decided to take the Alcan and go to Liard Hot Springs.  We had been told by several people that it was a cool spot and worth the stop.  We filled up in Watson Lake (the location of the sign post forest - the picture from the top of the Blog) and drove until just before Liard Hot Springs.  Setting our alarms for 8am we were looking at 7-8 hours of sleep, but I spent a bunch of time looking at the drone footage and by the time I hit the sack it was about 2 am.  When 8 am rolled around we hit the snooze, then hit it again, then turned off the alarms, and by the time we were up and coherent it was 11 am.  We ate what we could grab quickly from the cooler for breakfast and headed for the Hot Springs.  

It’s a 700m walk on a nice boardwalk through a swampy area to the hot springs.  We continued on the boardwalk up to the upper area where we saw the hanging gardens, then came back down, changed our clothes and got in the pool.  The water was hot indeed.  We did the water acclamation dance trying to get our upper bodies in and work our way toward the hot water inlet.  The first person we started talking to was a Canadian crane operator that tried to tell us the secrets of the hot springs and how to get to the cool pockets.  That conversation lead to another with a guy from Maine that had driven up to Alaska to run the Alaska Man triathlon.  I was excited about that triathlon so it was fun to hear his race report.  Then we started talking to a lady who was riding her bike from Alaska to Argentina (www.Nataliebybike.com) and it was interesting to hear the story of how she’s riding her bike around the world (what gear is she carrying, what does she eat, where does she stay, how does she finance the trip, etc.) 

Once we were thoroughly cooked we decided to hit the road.  Before leaving we wanted to get some drone footy, it was misty and magical when we came in and looked prime for a fly over.  While I was flying over a big group of jeeps rolled into the parking lot. The jeeps had “Alaska or Rust” stickers on the windshields.  Somehow one of them heard that we were planning to drive to Patagonia and the group leader came over and started talking to us.  He told us that they had 2 Brazilians in the group, one of which was turning 84 tomorrow (August 1st).  The old Brazilian had driven from Brazil to Fairbanks in 1955 over the course of a year.  The group had some antique jeeps that were already experiencing some mechanical issues, but all in all they looked like they were having a good time.  The leader had us sign his Jeep and gave us a couple of t-shirts and said he was going to post a picture of us on his blog (www.alaskaorrust.com).  All in all it was a good decision to head to the Hot Springs.  We met a lot of interesting people, got to chill out in the hot pots, and felt pretty good when we hit the road.  We’ll work on putting together a quick LIard clip.  

Whitehorse, Yukon

Written by Kevin

When we went biking at Kinkeade park in Anchorage we were told that Whitehorse had some decent biking and that we should check it out on our way back.  When we crossed the border it was pretty late (3:00am) so when we pulled over to camp we knew we weren’t going to make it into Whitehorse very early in the day the next day.  It was around 5pm when we rolled into Whitehorse, and followed the trailfroks app up the hill to the Grey Mountain trails.  We settled on a loop that included B&S, Mad to the Max, Your Way, a connector trail, My Way, El Camino, then back up to the car.  

B&S was a really fun, but short, trail.  Big fat berms, little mini double style whoops, and lots of skinnies and teeter totters.  My skinny skills are not up to par after spending too little time on my bike lately, so many of my skinny rides were short lived.   In between 2 sets of skinnies was a very steep teeter totter.  It took me about 20 attempts to get up and over the feature, you had to go really fast to have enough momentum to get to the top and I kept instinctively tapping the brakes right before I my front tire hit the ramp.  It felt real rewarding to finally make it up and over the thing.  I had to try so many times to get over the thing that I lost that fear you get when your attempting a jump or trick that pushes your comfort limits.  The rest of the downhill trails were pretty fast, the kind of trail that you enjoy bombing down, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking about the work you’ll have to do to regain all the elevation.  My Way and El Camino were similar.  They were fun loamy style trails, but not very flowy.  There were several spots that weren’t very friendly for wide bars and you could see all the battle wounds on the trees where bars hadn’t made it through the gaps.  There were some pretty killer views to be had along the trails.  There are lakes, rivers (the Yukon) hills, mountains, and a thick lush forest to enjoy along with a northern sunset.

We made the grind back up to the car and got the drone out for some Yukon footy.  I managed to crash the drone into a tree, but it managed to land on its feet.  I think the drone props are getting a little beat up.  It’s lilting to the left when it sits idle and you have to compensate.  Despite the crash the drone survives and flies again, although it wasn’t working on July 31 when I tried to get some roadside footy of a sow and cub black bear outside of Ft Nelson.  

After the ride we drove into town, got some gas, and headed for the church to set up camp and be ready to hit the services in the morning.  When we pulled into our spot we realized that one of the locks on our door was missing on the sauna.  Jerr thought she had seen or heard something fall off when we were driving through town, so we unhooked the trailer, hauled out the kitchen, and I stayed to cook dinner while Jerr went to see if she could find the lock.  Wouldn’t you know it, sure enough she found it.  We cooked up a dinner of GF pasta and Salmon and chilled out - or tried to chill out - for the evening.  In the midst of the dinner prep another traveling rig pulled into the church parking lot.  It turned out to be a family that has been traveling for a year with 6 kids (www.slobrood.com)  One of the kids and the dad popped over and chatted while we cooked.  

In the morning we got up about an hour before church, did the camping-style church prep and went to church with a few other traveling families and a nice local crew.  Services were solid and we enjoyed a little post church wifi, a lunch of eggs and quesadillas and hit the road around 3 pm.  Whitehorse was good to us.  We had a little rain when we rolled in, but biking, camping, churching and cooking were all dry and sunny.  The church sits pretty close to the banks of the Yukon river and we were going to fire up the sauna and jump in the river but it was too late Saturday night so no iconic Yukon river dip for us this time around.  

Nenana River

Written by Jerrica

We ditched the trailer for the Nenana River.  We put our duckie, Debbie the Duckie, in the van along with 2 paddles, our PDFs, and a couple of dry bags.  The Nenana is near Denali along the park highway.  We did the stretch that starts at mile post 220 and took out at the Jonesville Bridge below Kingfisher Creek.  The first 10 miles ends at McKinley Village and is relaxed and calm.  There is an option to take out here but we did an extra 10 miles of whitewater to the Jonesville Bridge… 20 total river miles.

Kevin dropped me off with the duckie and all the gear, then drove the van to the take out and hitched a ride back to me.  It was nice having the van at the end, but it took him about 30-40 minutes before someone picked him up.

The Nenana is glacial water, and the day wasn’t terribly warm (the high was 58 F that day), so we bundled up in some warm layers underneath our dry suits.

During this stretch of river there is a confluence with the Yanert River, which flows directly from the glaciers of Mt. Deborah and as a result the Nenana gets instantly colder, faster, and darker from the sediment load. 

One of the reasons we love the duckie is because medium-sized rapids are instantly more fun.  We take advantage of the duckie whenever possible, and this stretch was well worth is.  We got wet, and every time the water splashed me in the face it took my breath away, but it wouldn’t be as fun in a raft.

We’d recommend doing this stretch of river in dry suits, especially if you’re in a duckie.  You’d probably stay dry/warm enough if you’re in a raft.