Friday, December 30, 2011

Ten Pound Packraft

That's been the limit some of us set as a max weight on a packraft. And now I am there.

My 2011 Llama came heavy, with its extra heavy duty spray deck, made from fabric nearly as beefy as the tubes, plus a fat four inches of velcro down its tall waist-wrap. It arrived weighing around 7 pounds.

Then I added a thick poly-pro line to the bow and stern so I don't get separated from my boat like this guy does. In the past, the "chicken line" went right round, but for creeking, just fixing the four front together with poly-pro and the back two seems both necessary and sufficient.

All last season it had beefy metal D-rings for thigh straps fore and aft, anchoring thick, padded Aire Deluxe Thigh Straps. I added sticky-back velcro stabond-glued on the inside tubes to hold an early 2000's style seat as a beefy backrest. This brought it up to over eight pounds

And most recently, in anticipation of creeking on long slides and big drops back East, I added a cut-to fit 1/2 inch closed cell foam lining, a 12" x 12" minicell pad under the stock seat and an 8"x8" foot pad.

The next mod may well be replacing the thigh straps with knee cups, which may take it back down again.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Europe Dreaming

Silly Season Dreaming like Mountain Biking in Slovenia:

This slow motion techie downhill riding looks appealing to me:

That would be wonderful.

Peggy wants to go to Italy and Greece to trail walk, eat, drink and soak up the sun. And Scandinavia would be great for packrafting. All those train+packrafting trips, too. But my summer is filling up fast, and will try to get to Tibet's SE corner for ice worming in August.

Then there's the Wilderness Classic in July, and while Timmy J. is considering teaming with me and Luc admitting it'd be fun to join the two of us to paddle the Class III and IV for maybe half the route from "Valdez to McCarthy" (not literally, but figuratively -- the most innovative course in a decade), I fear (1) that I'll burn Tim out on "training runs" beforehand and (2) Luc will realize that the paddling route, while adventuresome, may not be winning.

So then there's June, Peggy's birthday month and the best month for wilderness travel in Alaska (did I say that?). And she's got a beautiful new aluminum Fatback (makes my 907 look ugly), so we have some beach ride in mind. Not sure where, but it will likely include beach combing, maybe even a Bob to cart all the treasures.

Brings us to May, a good time for creeking in AK and maybe hiking in the Chugach and Kenai and putting the two together for a season of first descents. It's time. Enough running the same old stuff, trying to prove packrafts are for real boaters. It's time to find and link some wilderness FD's, no planes, no helicopters, but Class IV-V wilderness runs with 10-15 mile walk-ins. Maybe the new Witchcrafts, which Alpacka is sending Timmy for trial and error, will make that happen.

I'm not getting any younger: just slower, weaker, blinder, dumber, more achy and in further awe of Dick Griffith. He was 55 when I met him thirty years ago and in that thirty years since he's done as much as most of us old enough to be his children or grandchildren. By the time I am 55 I will likely be done with this stuff. Instead, I'll be planting bonsai, coding R, and maybe, painting watercolors.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Silly Season's Greetings

Silly in so many ways.

Running around in fresh snow over black ice.

Spending money on the wrong things for the right people.

Looking back. Feeling guilty, sometimes regretful, mostly thankful.

Looking ahead, excited, maybe. Older. Achier. More forgetful.

Sleepy, here in the darkness north of 61 degrees.

And overfed, maybe over-medicated, if you know what I mean.

My semester kicked me to the curb and then spit on me.

But. It's over, I'm alive. And addicted to "R", for the small handful of you who may know what that is and read posts here.

I have a lot of things to say but no time to say them, maybe no readers to hear them.

Not only have I been unable to blog, or meta-blog, but I have not been able to read anybody else's blogs really.

OK so I look at MC's photos now and then (how is he so good?), maybe peruse B&P's latest musings (liked that Dave C thought our bikenraft was the best trip of the year), see what my old Sherpa packraft is up to at Dirt and Dogs, check out blogpacking in Finland, of course, occasionally (which some how may have led to seeing a lone, crazy, Italian bikenrafted the Parsons/Kentch route making it a bit more of a trade route these days).

Hig sent me a link to his Malaspina pics. Awesome. While luc Mehl got the "Golden Paddle" award this year for documenting the most significant uses of a packraft in 2011, I must say that Hig continues to dream up trips I want to do even after he does them.

He wrote me about Malaspina,
"The route, with some minor refinement, should become a classic AK trek like Aniakchak. It's totally awesome to cross the ice to the ocean, and both the Samovar Hills and the coast end are incredible. And there's a lot to be missed if you stick to the beach. And the geo-geek stuff is intense. We're ruminating on designing a "how-to" kind of thing that includes info on the route, and also includes a series of photo-reoccupation points and other re-occupiable activities (e.g. plumping depth of growing glacial lakes) that would help illustrate the incredible change going on there. Would love to chat with you about this idea."
Hig and Erin's Wild Coast movie, "Journey on the Wild Coast", edited by Greg Chaney, won an award at Banff, which is cool and appropriate. The 30 min Banff version is good, particularly all the couple's talk. It's short on interactions with other people, people who must have been interesting, but it was their trip and the movie is a good complement to the book, as it was edited by Greg and his take on the trip is good. There is an Epic Eric cameo on their so-called "victory lap" around Unimak (maybe it was a hubris-hating bear that bit them in the boat, there, at the end), which adds a lot as well.

Apacka sent Tim Johnson and Luc some hyper-cool new Llamas. Cool in looks and function. They each have spray deck cowlings that function like a hardshell cockpit -- i.e. the spraydeck stays on your waist and comes off of your boat. Luc's is particularly colorful, apparently inspired color-wise by his wonderful Bird-Spelled-Backward video. We three are going to the steep creeks of NC in early January to test them out.

Yes, that silly season. Silly thinking of next year and all the wonderful possibilities.

Life is short and always getting shorter -- gotta try and live it well, which starts by dreaming.

What are you dreaming up?
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