It’s 2F outside as I sit here in the comfy chair, sipping coffee from the 28 oz Yellowstone NP trout mug. Our neighbor two house down just, as he does whenever snow gives him the chance, cruised by in the process of snowblowing the entire sidewalk on this side of the street. He greated/accosted me as I was leaving Sunday morning, bundled up, pack on, snowshoes in one hand, inflated packraft in the other. Just like when we lived in Moab and the neighbors could never figure out why in a desert you’d constantly have wetsuits drying on the front porch railing: we’re a bit odd. Anyway, our neighbors a Bobcat fan (Montana State, Bozeman), while as I’m a alumnus I’m presumed to be a Griz fan. The Griz lost the annual “brawl of the wild” Sunday due to some apparantly humiliating fumbles. If I were in charge, I’d do away with the football team, their scholarships and gratis private tutors, and put that money towards bringing the undergrad graduation rate up (only about half manage it within 5 years of matriculating).
We Americans must look odd, sometimes.
On that note of international adventural cooperation, I’m taking Hendrik’s Goof-off Tuseday challenge. I’m not yet at work, and as the minutes pass it’s looking less and less likely that drifting snow last night will have closed the office. Upstairs in the case management bullpen we were all a bit squirrely and goofy, enlivened by the extreme weather and distracted by the short week. Bit irrespective of the weather I’ll have to make my way up to Columbia Falls for some home visits late this afternoon, and into the office tomorrow to finish some reports before we drive down to Missoula to fly to Des Moines, via Denver.
Visiting Des Moines isn’t my idea of an Ultimate Trip. In fact, deciding on just one seems like a more substantive act of intellectual parsimony than I care to undertake this morning, so I’ll list and discuss a few different trips, in order from the most esoteric and theoretical (in implementation) to the least.
A reenactment of the Dalai Lamas trek walk into exile, and a way to see some amazing high desert and mountains at the same time. Requires suspension of geopolitical disbelief. Start in Lhasa (in making this up from looking at Google sat) walk a bit north then west. Avoid roads, visit villages, check out those lakes and isolated sub-ranges. Got to be some packrafting. Reup and repsyche in Ngari before crossing the Himalaya and ending in Dharmsala, which my sister tells me is a lovely place to relax and spend some time.
I imagine you’d want to do this in high summer, and even so that it’d be rather cold and dry. So a good down sleeping bag, or perhaps a down and Pertex quilt from Nuntak would be in order. A hooded Shaka as well, for the cold nights. Fleece gear, neo socks, and paddling pants for the cold waters of the Himalaya. Maybe I’ll make that version of the MLD Thing I’ve been thinking about, and bring it along. My Yukon Yak of course, and a new all-carbon, 200 cm, four piece Werner Sho-gun paddle. I’d bring my Trailstar, my North Fork pack, Sportiva Crossleathers, and other odds and ends.
That’d be cool.
2) The Arctic 1000 route, with packrafting and a food drop
This is where I start with trips that I hope to do fairly soon. The arctic sounds fantastic, new, and the Arctic 1000 route sound the same, so long as I get to packraft and not carry 40 lbs of food at the start. In June, before the bugs and after the snow, of course. With whatever deviations Roman recommends to maximize stellar walking and fun boating.
I’ll bring the Yak, homemade PFD, Werner paddle (Forrest’s was sooo sweet), North Fork pack, Trailstar, paddling pants, and fleece gear. My standard kit with a few blingy refinements, really.
This is a trip I plan to do over a three day weekend in May, as wilderness classic training. It will require the right combo of water coming up, but snow still hanging around.
Start in Benchmark, float and then trek up and over White River pass, float the White River and then the South Fork almost to the reservoir. Trek over into Long Creek, down to the Middle Fork, float down to West Glacier and have a burger while waiting to be picked up.
The gear list for this one will be fast and light, and what I actually expect to take.
Yukon Yak, Aquabound Shred paddle, inflateable PFD, helmet. All-pack, ridgerest pad, emergency bivy sack. Paddling pants, NRS Expedition socks, homemade Epic/Pertex anorak, pile pants, pile jacket (I want a Patagonia Los Lobos). Snowpeak 600 mug, food. I’ll sleep Mehl-style, around the fire, and be moving 20+ hours a day. I’ll also need my fast shoes and adjustable poles for snow travel, and perhaps some Hillsound Trail crampons as well.
Other dream trips that will happen this year include a winter descent of The Narrows in Zion, and years of creek to raft in Glacier and the Bob.
Thanks Hendrik, it’s going to be good.