Holiday Gift Ideas for the Outdoor Adventurer
With the holiday season right around the corner I decided to share a few pieces of my favorite adventure gear that would make a good gift to a fellow adventurer. All these items can be used on most any adventure, whether it’s a river trip, backpacking, skiing or anything in between.
Patagonia is obviously a very popular clothing brand. Living in Salmon, we have a Patagonia outlet store just two hours away in Dillon, Montana. I have accumulated a large amount of Patagonia gear over the years. They have also treated me well if any other their products wear out over the years. There are a few items that are especially key pieces of gear in my collection. The Patagonia Micro Puff jacket is a hard to beat versatile piece of gear. I have worn two of these jackets almost to shreds over the years, and it is not because they are cheaply made. I just wear them a lot! These jackets are perfect on almost any chilly outdoor adventure. I wear mine on chilly mornings on the river, self support kayaking missions, yurt ski trips, cold days at the ski resort and it is pretty much a go to jacket on any cold winter day. I would almost guarantee if you dig through any adventure guides bag, you will find some version of Patagonia Micro Puff gear. Also, it packs down so small when not in use! Besides the jacket, I also have the vest and puff pants. The nano puff also makes a great layer, and being a lighter weight than the jacket makes it even more versatile. Any of these would make a great gift for an outdoor adventurer!
The Black Diamond Mega Light Tent is another very popular piece of gear among river guides! This tent packs up to the size of a football. It includes one pole for the center and lightweight stakes that hold the shelter up. This shelter is great for sleeping two people (Black Diamond says four but two comfortably). Weighing under 3 lbs, this is a great shelter option for backpacking, self support kayaking or just trying to keep your weight down. This shelter sets up quickly and will keep you dry in a rainstorm. Also makes a good winter backcountry ski shelter. Small, lightweight, functional, and a solid investment! It’s probably not the best use for keeping your mega light in prime condition, but it can also make a great river sauna!
A bivy is a breathable waterproof cover for your sleeping bag. If you often sleep out under the stars, this can be a nice item to have. A good bivy sack will keep any morning dew off your sleeping bag. Being breathable, it should also let any moisture from sweat escape as well. Growing up, my mom would sew us all up a bivy sac to use on our camping adventures. A few years ago I upgraded to an Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy. The alpine bivy also includes bug netting and one small pole to give you somewhere to hide under in a light rainstorm. You can sleep out in the rain for an hour or two, but probably not going to stay dry in an all night down pour. I roll up my thermarest pad inside my bivy every morning on the river. It helps protect your pad and also keeps you on your pad while you are sleeping. Some people don’t like the constricted feeling of sleeping in a bivy, but personally I don’t mind it and it adds a little extra warmth to your sleeping bag if needed. Two rules of sleeping in a bivy: don’t hunker down breathing into your bivy and don’t get the bivy twisted up, keep the Gore-Tex up and nylon down. Not following those two rules will result in a damp sleeping bag! I sleep out under the stars almost every night of summer, and my bivy sac always makes it into my drybag.
When looking for a dry bag, all bag bags are not created equal. There is also a huge range of prices you can spend on dry bags as well. If you spend a lot of time on the water and are looking for the best, Watershed is the answer. They are one of the few companies that have a “zip lock” like closure method. With a standard dry dag you squeeze the air out and roll down the excess bag to form the watertight seal. The method is simple and works well for most recreational uses. With the “zip lock” closure on Watershed bags, they are one of the few drybags that will stay dry even when submerged for more than a few minutes. They also make most of their bags in a duffle shape, making it easier to find what you are looking for without digging down to the bottom of your bag. One downside to the “zip lock”, if you don’t keep the zipper part lubricated with 303 protectant it becomes very hard to close. Unfortunately over the past few years they have changed their design to include a different material on the ends of the duffle bags. This new black material they are using does not stay waterproof if you are in several days of consecutive rain. The moisture seems to start wicking through to the inside of the bag. Even with this one design flaw, they still make a very good dry bag and hopefully they will fix this issue soon. I own four different sizes of watershed bags for different uses. I would certainly recommend the smaller bags both the Ocoee and Chattooga for a great camera bag or small day bag. The Big Creek is also a nice size for a day bag and has backpack straps as well which makes it convenient for taking on side hikes. The Colorado is the ideal size for a multi-day overnight bag.
If you are just looking for something small. A good headlamp is always a nice thing to have two of in your adventure kit. Petzl makes many different options for headlamp, the Tikka2 Headlamp is a nice basic and very affordable light. Another great affordable gift is a small first aid kit. Something you hope you don’t need and a must have in the kit. I would recommend starting with a basic stock kit, from there you should customize it to your specific needs. Be familiar with what you have and how to use it. A survival kit is also a great small item too that could come in huge if you happen to need it on a real adventure. Adventure Medical Kits is selling a kit named the Origin. I have made my own survival kit, but this seems like a nice small compact kit with some very useful tool. Often one kit, combination first aid and survival gear is a good option. Customize it to your adventure and what you may need.
I hope if you are looking for a gift idea for a fellow adventurer or maybe a little something for yourself, this has given you some ideas.
2013 Photo and Video Highlights
The 2013 season is now winding down. That means spending more time behind the computer instead of the oars. Although that is never an easy transition, it does allow for time to sort the many GigaBites of summer footage now stored on my hard drives. Over the next serval months we will have new videos showing up on our youtube channel and facebook page. Make sure to stay connected to enjoy the updates and relive highlights of the summer. I figured I would start with a few random photos from this season and a video from a trip back in June.
Wildflowers and Brown Water
Wildflowers and brown water on the Middle Fork in May! May is not a time you usually find yourself on a Middle Fork commercial trip. With the Owyhee snowpack and water levels well below normal this spring, we looked for other options to offer people who were hoping to run the Owyhee. Most people opted to wait for another shot at the Owyhee next year. Bill and Beau Bush, long time clients and friends here at WRO, decided they wanted to still go on a trip even though the Owyhee didn’t work out. After looking at possible options, they decided on the Middle Fork Salmon.
(Make sure the HD is turned on so you can see the stars…)
May is a great time to be out on the Middle Fork! In Idaho the weather in May is usually the only variable you worry about when heading out for a six-day trip. This week we hit exceptional weather! We were all prepared for possible snow showers and rainy days, but instead we had hot and sunny days that felt like July!
With the water rising ever day as a result of the warmer weather, we were able to quickly cover miles on the river. We were able to enjoy two lay over days and had lots of time for side activities, which made for a very relaxing trip! On our side hikes we identified many wildflowers and the flowers we didn’t recognize we picked a specimen and looked it up in the flower book when we got back to camp. With the hillsides covered in yellow Arrowleaf Balsm Root and purple Lupine, it was like floating through a 2.4 million acre wildflower garden in the Frank Church Wilderness!
On this trip, we were able to spend a lot of time exploring the waterfalls of the Impassable Canyon. With the hot spring days and rapid snowmelt, the waterfalls were running at full pour! Mist Falls and the Grotto were especially beautiful with the increased flow. We also stopped to check out the impressive Sheepeater pictographs at Stoddard Creek the last day before we ran some fun whitewater in the last 10 miles of the canyon.
I hope you enjoyed some of the photos and video from this early Middle Fork trip and please check back as the normal Middle Fork Salmon season starts to pick up in June!
~ Seth Tonsmeire
These are a few photos from the last two years that I’ve added quotes to. We have recently been posting these and other similar photos on the WRO facebook page. If you are a facebooker, make sure to subscribe to our page to keep a little whitewater in your news feed!
I thought this quote from Emma Smith would be a good fit for many photos. I decided to include it on this particular photo because on the Alsek there are many moments when the river sweeps you gently along, but every once in awhile there are rapids that seem to come out of nowhere.
The rapid in this photo is Lava North. After crossing Lowell Lake, a mellow float (if the wind isn’t blowing) through giant icebergs, you enter a very swift section with a few big rapids, including Lava North. Standing on the shore looking out over this massive rapid with holes hiding in the grey glacial water large enough to swallow a bus, Lava North is a rapid that will certainly get any boatman’s heart pumping.
Also check out a short video I made from our Alsek trip in 2012… The small amount of footage from Lava North certainly does not do it justice!
We usually scout this rapid from both sides of the river, often revealing very different observations. At first glance, you know river right is to be avoided at all costs, even large oar boats will not stand a chance on the right, but even after realizing this, the puzzle is still far from solved…
In 2012, I ran a line I had never run before. In years past I had been making a left cut after entering the rapid, trying to stay as close to the bank as possible. When scouting it last year the gravel bar looked as if it had shifted from years past, and I made my choice to run a line I never really liked the looks of before…a run left of center. The risk is extremely high in Lava North, so we often ask our guests to walk around this rapid. Keith was sharing a boat with John Griffith as a training trip on his first Alsek trip. John agreed he would walk around with the guests and Keith would run Lava North along with myself. Since there are melting icebergs in the lake not even four miles upstream, leaving this water a bone chilling 34 degrees, we put on our dry suits to prepare for the worse case scenario. Once you enter this rapid, suddenly you accelerate scary fast for being in a 16 foot raft! Once your in Lava North it’s extremely hard to keep your bearings. When you see the monster holes pass on the right and pass the large flip-potential haystack wave on your left, you’re feeling good, but it’s not over yet. It’s all about keeping your boat strait as you enter into the very large crashing waves that make up the run out of this long rapid. It’s like riding an icy roller-coaster!
When the waves start to shrink, it’s time to pull as hard as I can for the left bank where we pick up our walking friends. Looking back up river watching Keith’s boat disapearing behind every wave, then bust through the top of the next was awesome. Once I got pulled over, and tied up my boat I noticed my hands were shaking as the flood of adrenaline finished disperesing through my body. As Keith pulled over I could tell, he was feeling the rush of the experience as well. After some high fives we shared similar stories as we waited for John and the guests to show up. After a short float down to camp, a cold celebratory beverage was in order!
Further south and with a much a earlier run off, a place of equal adventure lays in the Idaho desert. The Jarbidge Bruneau River cuts through an ancient caldera volcano, giving us an incredible cross section through this areas eruptive geologic history. Driving to the river always surprises people, especially coming in for the 4-day Bruneau only at Indian Hot Springs, which requires a 4WD mission. You drive out across this flat grassland desert for miles and miles. As you start to near the canyon, you realize there is a slice of rock missing out of the middle of this flat desert landscape. This canyon was formed from the river eating away at the rock over the last 19 million years! In the bottom of this slice lays the exciting class IV whitewater of the Jarbidge Bruneau River. Breath taking canyon scenery and the whitewater to match it!
Bill Rinehimer came out for a Main Salmon trip with a bunch of friends a few years back. The whole group was very into the inflatable kayaks. I took the opportunity to take lots of photos of these guys. This shot of Bill in Five Mile is one of my favorites from the week. This quote is from Barry Lopez, the renown author of books such as Arctic Dreams, and I thought is was fitting for the kayak shot of Bill getting up close and personal with the Main Salmon.
I hope you enjoyed these photos, quotes, and stories. Make sure to subscribe to the WRO facebook page for more whitewater in your news feed!
~ Seth Tonsmeire
Halloween Fun at WRO
For Halloween here at the WRO office we decided to dress up Iris’s dog Zephyr as a throw rope! It took a little persuasion for this miniature Australian shepherd to agree it was a good idea, but nothing a few treats couldn’t take care of.
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