If you want the most recent version of my long running guidebook to packrafting in Glacier and Bob Marshall you can have it now, here in fact, for five dollars.
This is a beta release, and a rather primitive one. You pay and register your email, and I will email you a 32 page PDF containing what I think is an elegant summary of my knowledge. The document is stacked with beta, but thin on photos, maps, and polish. Based on feedback, a fancier version will come into existence, some time.
Andrew and I had a long conversation last summer about guidebooks generally and this project in particular. His conclusions were (I paraphrase) that I should give up my idea of presenting a skeleton that provides a leg up for people totally new to the area while at the same time preserving the unknown, and instead produce a complete product. A packrafting guidebook to, at minimum, the South Fork of the Flathead is an inevitability, and for a variety of reasons I wanted to control how that conversation played out. The problem of crafting a guide that contains useful information without dictating, and in so doing creating, the terms by which a whole body of people see and explore a place has been an interesting one to wrestle with. As the extract above shows, to a certain extent I’ve split the difference. The guide covers some rivers and creeks, including almost all of what I’d put as the A and B list waterways, but certainly not all. A bunch have been intentionally left off, including a few gems I’ve made a point to never say anything about publicly.
What I’m hoping to achieve, besides providing the many new Crown packrafters with some decent advice, is to get a sense of just how much information people want, to what extent my balancing act has worked, and indeed whether the idea of a deliberately vague guidebook is widely appreciated. My presumption, based on the feedback I’ve gotten concerning the old, free version is that it is appreciated, but that might be a self-selecting audience which I’ve already mostly exhausted. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to write a traditionally modern, mile by mile book, but will keep my ears and mind open over the next few months.
We’ll shortly be able to put all that knowledge to good use, as with in a few weeks we’ll be taking up residence in Helena, Montana. The long and the short resolution to this post is that of the numerous offers I had, the ones in Helena and Flagstaff were by far the most attractive, both professionally and due to location. Conveniently, the tiebreaker was the job itself, as the intangibles and the companies level of interest made Helena all but impossible to refuse. Flagstaff is an utterly enchanting location, and the prospect of being closer to so many old friends was hard to walk away from, but for us Montana was the right place at the right time, and due to all that happened for and to us between 2008 and 2016 we might never be able to leave. I’ve long advocated for Helena, with its central location, lack of a tourist base to the economy, and considerably sunnier winters. Now we will shortly know if my assumptions bear out.
In a final note, the sticker experiment continues to be a success. We’re very far indeed from being able to fund LB’s voracious demand for pizza with stickers alone, but we soared into the black within 48 hours, and have been steadily cruising along towards the first financial goal. My attempts to hype the rivalry notwithstanding, the Go North sticker has kept the Car Camping sticker firmly in third place, though it will be interesting to see if volume wains now that our family’s destination is set. Every time I’ve posted about them sales have spiked dramatically, so today and tomorrow we’ll see what influence bottom posting has.
Financial success aside, the stickers have been a rewarding and delightful project that has left us with no reason to not continue into the indefinite future. The flagship B&P sticker will hang around more or less indefinitely, but the other two will likely be limited editions, replaced when they sell out with the new designs M has been working on.