The Tatshenshini–or “Tat” for short–is an epic journey starting in Canada’s Yukon. From there, you float and paddle downstream on the Tat through the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park, merging into the Alsek River, and ultimately ending up in Alaska’s Glacier Bay area.
Along the way, the river carves through pristine wilderness. Getting permits for this long, international trip is one of the most competitive permits to land, and it’s not hard to see why! In fact, this is the only float trip in Alaska popular enough to even require permits. Between the towering mountain ranges on either side of the river, the many glaciers alongside, and the icebergs floating through the river, the scenery is unforgettable.
We were lucky that some very motivated friends of ours navigated the permitting process and the itinerary logistics, meaning we could just tag along. Taking turns with the...
For the last several summers, my husband Luc and I have been taking three-week long outdoor backpacking trips through the wild parts of Alaska. We look forward to this time as a way to both restore our spirits from our busy lives and connect with each other. These trips are a foundational piece of our relationship and a time we both cherish.
This past June, our big backpacking trip took us through Alaska’s Baird Mountains where we did some hiking and paddling. We had some magical moments plus some big learnings.
Right off the bat, we knew this trip would look a little different from our past summer trips. As we’ve been navigating fertility challenges, I wasn’t sure how my body would feel when the trip came around. We knew we needed to build a lot of flexibility into our trip plan.
To stay adaptable, we designed a basecamp-style trip. This way, we could flex the total mileage and intensity of our trip depending on how...
Whether you’re dreaming of days in the mountains, along coastlines, or through the desert, planning your first backpacking trip is an exciting process. Congratulations on making moves toward this rewarding new hobby! To make your experience as positive and fun as possible, it’s important to find a beginner-friendly backpacking route that suits your experience level.
Here are some tips for finding the best route for your first backpacking trip.
When looking for ideas for your first backpacking trip, where should you start? Good news: there are lots of great resources to identify beginner-friendly routes. As you’re researching, try to find information about the same route from multiple sources. If you find broad agreement across several sources about a route, you can feel more confident in that information.
Pop into a local...
Many adventurers go into backpacking trips with the mentality that they will “use the trip to build fitness.” While a trip will certainly help make you stronger, striking out on a big adventure with no foundation of training can easily lead to getting in over your head or hurting yourself. Not the best way to have a good time!
While simply doing more hiking can help us build our trail fitness, it’s important to remember that hiking isn’t the whole story. By training our bodies as holistic systems and reinforcing healthy, functional movement patterns, we can be stronger hikers.
Strength training before and between our outdoor adventures helps us build the resilience we need for injury-free outings. When we’re not derailed by pain or struggling to keep up, we can have more fun and focus on enjoying things like the beauty of our surroundings and the great company of our trip companions. As we build...
After you have gained a full picture of what risks you’ll be dealing with on your trip, you can then formulate your risk and emergency plan. In order to do that, educating ourselves around risk can build our confidence and mitigate the real risks we might face. For backpackers of all backgrounds and experience levels, the best thing you can do for your own safety is planning and preparedness.
Before diving into this post, read up on the basics of risk management and safety in our previous post, which will lay the groundwork for this discussion. In this post, we’ll get into more detail about specific concerns as well as creating your risk mitigation plan.
In our last blog post, we talked about how to identify risks and introduced the idea of each major risk as a (metaphorical) lemon. Consider creating a document with a list of risks and how severe the risk is (i.e., how...
Risk management is one of the most important elements of planning for backpacking trips. Whether it’s your first trip or your two hundredth, spending time thinking through the hazards you might encounter and what you’ll do about them is essential both for your own safety and for those with you.
While you can never completely eliminate risk, appropriate planning means you will be more prepared if something bad does happen. Having a safety plan can mean big wins like smarter decision making, shorter time to receive rescue assistance, or the ability to handle the situation on your own without needing outside assistance at all.
Let’s dive into principles of risk management in backpacking and how you can manage your safety proactively and mindfully.
The first step to managing risk is thinking through and understanding what risks will exist on your trip. Thorough risk...
After a challenging day of backpacking, many people experience soreness around their hips. While sore hips are an extremely common problem for hikers and backpackers, the pain can put a damper on the rest of the trip. Thankfully, there are solutions! Let’s talk about what causes sore hips, then we’ll break down what you can do about it.
Our hips are key for powering the action of walking. They propel our legs forward and keep us stable and balanced. When you spend a long day out walking in the mountains, that adds up to a lot of hip exertion.
But it’s not just the long days. Backpacking adds another key ingredient: weight. Most of us don’t carry around 20-30 extra lbs for hours (or days!) at a time, but that’s exactly how we’re spending our days out on the trails. Our hips have to work much harder to power us with that much extra weight.
Spring is here. The thaw is in progress. The snow is gradually retreating from the peaks and melting its way into streams. Plant life is beginning to burst joyfully from the soil. And we humans are getting our first real taste of the intoxicating effects of brighter days.
With the promise of summer only a few weeks away, planning warm weather adventures is in full swing. It’s so exciting to feel the anticipation for all of these and experiences on the horizon.
The shifting of the season fills our spirits with renewed energy for life, but as with anything, we can have too much of a good thing. The burst of energy might have us overcommitting, overstressing, and setting ourselves up for a frazzled, frantic summer instead of a season where we thrive.
Yes, summer is precious. If we don’t make intentional plans, time can slip through our fingers and we can miss beautiful opportunities. On the other hand, swing the pendulum...
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