Roads Rivers and Trails

Dream. Plan. Live.

Monthly Archives: July 2013


RRT Adventure: Gates of The Arctic Part 1

Inside the Arctic Circle
Projecting Your Dream
Written by: Bryan Wolf

The easiest part of a trip for me is when I commit to the trip.  Over a year ago I had no reason to say no, in fact if you ask early enough I’m not sure I ever could say no.  Alaska? Sure!  I figure anything that needs done be it planning, saving, packing, or training I have plenty of time to do it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to belittle any of those steps for anyone else.  Individually they are all huge endeavors. At some point however you have to become a Yes Man (or woman). Say “Yes” to adventure and allow yourself the confidence to make your dreams come to.  I like to set a goal and then put all of my energy to making it happen.  So, Saturday morning I’ll drive to Indy, jump on a plane and 4 more flights later step off in the wonderful wild that is Gates of the Arctic National Park.

So besides commitment what else goes into planning a trip like this?  How do you get to one of the most remote National Parks in the world? It takes a dream and a plan. In my case it also took a team.  Start by assembling your team and by projecting your dreaming.  This isn’t happening on two weeks notice for anyone.  Team leaders included our friend Scott and RRT owner Joe.  Scott is great at planning and organizing, when he got a break from work and wasn’t hanging from a wall at the Red, Scott was able to book permits for the park, bush plane and float plane flights, and hotel stays for the whole group.  We had our days picked and some ducks started filing into a row.  This is where Joe came in; Joe has been a guide in Alaska for years and to Gates of the Arctic three times already. With some topographical maps and some beers Joe, Scott, and I sat down to find potential routes.

The Gates don’t have blazed and maintained hiking trails, this is remote and untouched (hopefully forever) landscape.  Our entry point was restricted only by that of the size of the lake we wanted to fly to.  A lake has to be big enough for the float plane to land and take off again. Coordinating a pick-up and drop-off point with your pilot is an important step.  Once we arrive we are free to roam.  If we so chose we could frolic through the wild grass and lake side pebble beach for 10 days.  Honestly though, who goes to Alaska to be on the beach all week?  Looking at the maps we decided that the first two days would cover 8-10 miles per day through a valley on relatively low elevation.  The brush can be thick in places and the terrain is untamed so this is no place for light weight or vulnerable gear.  The game plan then shifts to much shorter days backpacking and setting up base camps earlier in the day.  Doing this will afford us some more flexibility in our travels.

There are 13 people in total on our trip this year.  If you have ever been with such a group you’ll understand that people often want to go at different speeds or even take different routes.  Our gear and trip planning will allow us to do that.  Staying in groups of 4+ we’ll be taking all the safety precautions.  A group of four or more will be much more safe when it comes to wildlife encounters.  We have also brought groupings of gear for just this reason.  We have several stoves, water filters, bear spray, first aids, and other essential items to divide amongst us.  This will come in handy mostly for our day hikes.  After setting up base camp we’ll venture out to higher elevations and bigger WOW moments.  We have already mapped out several snow fields that we’d like to hike up to in the 7,000 ft range.  I’ve only been to Alaska once so far but I can tell you that there is a sense of discovery and natural beauty that is unmatched when you discover your own path, when there is no trail.  Taking the time to stop and pay attention or to look around another corner may just mean that you are seeing something that no one else has ever seen!

By the end we’ll do a full circle right back to our original lake; Lake Agiak.  The loop mileage can range considering our open day to day plan but is expected to be in the 50-60 mile range for backpacking miles.  In doing so we can burn 2-3,000 calories a day leaving us pretty hungry.  That is where having a team member like RRT owner Emily helps out as she broke down our day to day meal plan for the group, which can apply to any back country experience. With food, weight and pack space are just as much of an issue as with any other gear, but unlike your Crazy Creek chair, this is one thing you can’t leave at home.  Here are some tips for your meal plan: try to pack things that you like at home, bring yourself some sort of comfort food or treat, pack some variety, always bring one extra day of food, but don’t over pack.  For ten days in the park we’ll have 1 and 1/4 bear cans each with our individual food weight at 14-15 pounds.  Same rules apply out there as when you are home, being hungry can turn you into quite the drama king or queen so eat often and keep fueled up.

For a gear or food checklist feel free to come buy the store and grab one.  We’ll also be happy to review specifics to your trip.  Always use and double check your checklist no matter how experienced you are.  Upon returning I’ll post Part 2 of this blog.  We will also have a presentation on 8/27/13 over our experience including a beer tasting by Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. I hope you can join us then.  A well planned trip and a well organized group will put you in line for unforgettable moments.

Here is what is in my pack, keep in mind that there are some group items not shown (like first aid, bear spray, and camp fuel):

gear layout

A. Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Bag Liner (Sea to Summit Coolmax and Trek III)

B. Trekking Poles (Komperdell)
C. Sleeping Pad (Big Agnes Q-Core SL)
D. Pillow (Thermorest)
E. Stove (MSR Reactor)
F. Pack Towel (MSR)
G. Rain Gear (Rab Latok Jacket)
H. Rain Gear (Sherpa Pertemba)
I. Hiking Top (Rab MeCo L/S)
J. Hiking Pants (Rab Alpine Trek)
K. Pack Cover (Osprey)
L. Sun/Rain Hat (Outdoor Research)
M. Backpack (Osprey Aether 85)
N. Bottles (Nalgene)
O. Bowl/Spork (Sea to Summit)
P. Bear Can
Q. Personal Hygiene
R. Bug Repellent
S. Knife (Helle Egan)
T. Bug Net
U. Beanie (Rab Fleece)
V. Matches
W. Gloves (Rab Phantom Gloves)
X. Vibram (Maiori)
Y. Tent Poles (MSR Hoop)
Z. Tent Body
AA. Tent Fly in own drysack
BB. Water Filter (MSR Miniworks)
CC. Insulating Jacket (Rab Generator)
DD. Extra Clothes/Layers
EE. RRT Buff
FF. Headlamp (Princeton Tec Vizz)
GG. All Purpose Tarp/Mylar Blanket

Gear Review: ENO Hammocks

I Love My Hammock Time!
The Hammock Lifestyle
Written by: James Mobley

My ENO Hammock obsession started about nine years ago.  I was rock climbing at the Red River Gorge, and hiked up to a climbing area where I saw one hung up between a couple of trees. The owner of the hammock was taking a well deserved rest from climbing, hot summer temps and just relaxing.  From that point on, I was on a mission to get myself one!  I now have a single nest, double nestbug nets, and slap straps for my hammocks, and an ENO lounge chair.  Additionally, both of my boys have their own double nest hammock, which is an investment that can last them a life time. What is the big deal about ENO products you ask? They are light weight (17 oz. for the Single Nest), pack down small (3.5 x 4.5 in. for the Single Nest), strong, durable, easy to set up and dry quick if they get wet.  No matter what adventure I’m on, I have one of my ENO products with me.

When I’m on my rock climbing adventures I enjoy my afternoon siestas, that is for sure!  Doing this in my hammock helps me to recharge my batteries, and take on more vertical play time on the rock that I call home at the Red River Gorge!  Typically my friends and I set up an ENO lounge area when we get to our climbing destination.

Terji and James ENO Time

My son Terje and I hanging out at a climbing area at the Red River Gorge.

The standard call out after we hang up our hammocks is “these hammock are community property for all to enjoy if anyone wants to relax in one.”  It makes for a fun and relaxing day for everyone that happens to be at our chosen climbing area. Often times, new friends are made from fellow climbers that have traveled from abroad to climb at the Red River Gorge.

I also carry my ENO gear in my general travels and adventures!  Some of my best nights of sleep, and most impactful memories to date with my boys, have been sleeping under the stars together in our ENO hammocks.  My favorite specific memory was when we were at Zion National Park.  The sky was crystal clear with no light pollution.  The stars were vivid and bright. You could see the silhouette of the rock cliffs, towering high above, as they surrounded us.

The cool thing about ENO products is you don’t have to be a rock climber or go on big adventures to have a need for them!  An example of this is how I setup a place for my boys hammocks in their bedrooms.  I simply put a couple of eyebolts into the walls, securing them into studs.  The hammocks hang above their beds and many nights they choose to make that their sleeping space.  If they have friends over it allows them the ability to hangout and sleep near there friends.  Although, often time there friends are the ones in love with the hammock setup and end up sleeping in them.  I can only imagine the conversations my boys’ friends have with there parents once they get picked up from my house.

I even setup a system in our 1987 VW Vanagon Westfalia for ENO Hammocks. Two hammocks can span the inside of the Westy when it is parked.  This provides a quick sleeping setup for my boys if it is needed.

ENO Hammocks also make a great gift for a family or just one person.  I’ve done this with my loved ones, and it is known that uncle James loves his hammock time.  For me, it is nice to know that they are creating memories in their hammock as well.

In summary, having an ENO Hammock should be a standard item in your inventory of important gear to own and use!

RRT Boat Pick Up!

What We Do
A Day In The Life Of An RRT Employee
Written by: James Mobley

Well it is kayak season and that means one thing, we need Kayaks!  Every kayaking season means the monthly process of going to get boats for inventory.  This season it was my turn to tag along with Joe White. The days are long but always full of fun and adventure.  The day trek takes us from Milford, Ohio all the way to Fletcher, North Carolina to a factory known as Legacy Paddle Sports. Legacy is owned and operated in North Carolina, where all of our boats from Liquidlogic and Native Watercraft are produced. The whole round trip is 778 miles and takes about 16 hours by the time you include stops and the loading and unloading of the boats. This season our biggest pick up was 27 boats!

So why do we do this?  Because it saves our customers money!  We do not add-on a delivery charge to our boats where other company’s do.  We also get to stay in tune with what is new and going on in the factory of this American Made product!  We are often brought into the factory and onto the main production floor where they share with us the latest technology or products that are in place. (Trust me, Legacy is making some pretty innovative and new products that we are so excited to see released.) The standards at Legacy Paddle Sports is the best in the industry so buy with confidence friends!

While the trip sounds long and like a lot to pack into a day, it isn’t!  Joe is good company, lots of good music is played, and good conversations are always to be had.  I must admit though, I do nod off at times as he drives!  Joe is a champ and is always at the helm as we travel and I continue to offer to drive but it is never needed.  I guess you could say Joe is a road warrior and being behind the wheel is what he loves to do, among other things.  The trips always offer great scenic views as we head south and go from state to state. My favorite parts always come when we get into the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.  The rock faces make me melt inside and all I can think about is my passion for rock climbing.  The rushing rivers filling the valley floor remind me of my love for the water and all the magical powers it brings.  Nature is truly amazing to me!

What I find most enjoyable about these trips are the happy faces from our customers when they come to pick up their new boats!  Many of our customers meet us at RRT as soon as we get back into town to pick up their new boat investment.  This means customers meeting us well after 11 pm.  As we unwrap their boats and help load them onto their vehicle you can see the happiness in their eyes and face!  They know, and we know, that they have made the first steps to make paddling a part of their lives.  They want to immerse themselves into mother nature and be surrounded by all of its magical wonders.  These customers continue to support RRT and share there adventures with us, and we are happy to have them as a part of the RRT family!

Each boat pick up is a process that leads to greater adventure and untold stories. So come on in and pick up your new boat today, and help us keep this boat pick up process going!  I’ve put together a fun video that will help you live our boat pick up adventure.  I hope you enjoy it!!

Paddle On Friends!!!

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