Are you ready for an exciting season of packrafting? Whether you’re just getting into the sport or a seasoned veteran, building strength before your first trip is a great way to make the most of packrafting season. Practicing functional movements at home can build muscle memory in the pre-season, jump-starting your packrafting season for strong technique all summer long.
I’ve been packrafting Alaska rivers for years, and I’m also a fitness trainer. I’m excited to share these exercises that I know from personal experience will help you when you’re out on the water this summer.
First, a story: in the summer of 2018, my husband Luc & I were in the habit of doing a set of pushups every day. Then we left for a 10-day packrafting trip that started with 60 miles (97km) on the Yukon River. We knew that the Yukon moves at about six miles per hour...
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...
I recently joined Jacalyn Gross on the Women Empower Active podcast to chat about our outdoor stories and mindset reflections. The podcast is a production of UR Sportswear, a running apparel brand for women. Jacalyn and I had an open and honest conversation that we hope will normalize the messiness of each of our outdoor journeys.
Jacalyn and I focus on different outdoor activities in very different environments–she’s primarily a trail runner in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m a skier, backpacker, and nordic skater in Alaska. We had a great time chatting about the themes that are common to both of us, and we bet you’ll relate to our stories, too.
We focused a lot of our chat on how mindset matters in the outdoors, and what a difference it can make for our experiences. We talked about the power of community and our hopes for inclusivity and acceptance in outdoor spaces. Plus,...
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...
The podcast interviews keep coming and this has been a fun one! Recently I was honored to be a guest on the Packrafting Podcast, sponsored by Alpacka Rafts and hosted by the wonderful human and new friend that is Dulkara Martig.
As the title implies, the Packrafting Podcast content is anchored by the guest and host connections to the sport, though, I feel confident that even if you aren't a packrafter you will find inspiration and relatable content within the dialogues that take place here.
The episode I was on is titled: The Magic of Alaska, Mental Health, & Overcoming Fear.
Luc and I had lots of ideas about potential summer trips for 2020, but when COVID hit and rural villages across Alaska shut down-- with rightful concerns about limited medical infrastructure and intergenerational trauma from the Spanish Flu-- we knew we needed to adapt our recreation plans to keep us self-supported, out of villages & on the road system.
Luc put his trip-planning skills to work and came up with a ~350 mile loop that started & ended on the Haul Road, got us out to the Sadlerochit Mountains (which we'd wanted to explore since we floated past them in our 2017 Arctic Refuge Traverse) and incorporated a food drop that some friends of ours already had planned. We pulled in Will Koeppen (the pics in this post are Will's, & I'd encourage reading the daily journal entries he posted on his Instagram, starting here) and hit the road.
My biggest take-away from this trip was how well the nervous system and mind/body...
In June 2019, my husband Luc Mehl, our friend Josh Mumm, and I set off on a three-week traverse across the Western third of Alaska's Brooks Range. Luc and I had traversed the two other thirds of the Brooks Range in previous summer trips, and were curious to see what we'd find on this final and most remote section.
We started on the Ambler River, on a drainage we'd floated past on a previous trip and had wanted to check out at the time. Then it was raining, cold, and the Ambler was a flooded muddy brown color, so even though we were tempted to stop we didn't. This time it was pretty different!
Luc & I had done some walking along the Noatak River a few years back in the worst tussocks we'd ever seen, so we were mentally prepared for slow and tricky travel. Incredibly we found the opposite -- lots of nice hard, flat-ish ground, and much brush.
But the best part was that the further west we traveled the more caribou trails we ran into. By the...
We wouldn't do a workout without a warmup first, right? We know that's a recipe for injury and is easily preventable by spending a few minutes building up heat in the body and increasing blood flow to the joints & muscles.
I wonder, why is it so acceptable to jump right into our outdoor recreation without a warmup?
In the end, this one is a rhetorical question. The real answer here is that we'd all be better served if we DID warm up our bodies before starting our outdoor recreation ventures.
This is particularly important for packrafters & other whitewater paddlers since so often a whitewater run begins with the most technical part. We need our bodies to be ready for whatever comes our way, which could necessitate a snappy paddle stroke, a strong brace with the core, or a quick recovery from a line that didn't go as planned.
Even if you're just paddling flat water, or maybe you're not a paddler at all, this is relevant --...
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