July 20, 2016

The Selway Bitterroot - A Crossing

...since the first time I drove Montana's Bitterroot Valley, I wondered at what lay behind that tremendous curtain of mountains.

Big Creek lake from near Packbox Pass


A couple of years ago when Lisa and I hiked the Highline Trail in Utah we talked of doing a trip that was big and different, without the confusion of a crowd. 
The Selway Bitterroot Crossing was an old idea of mine that I've had since the first time I drove Montana's Bitterroot Valley, wondering at what lay behind that tremendous curtain of mountains. I proposed it to Lisa after our lottery application to hike the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier was denied. She immediately agreed, and it became the endeavor of our 2016 backpacking season.
The plan was to cross the third largest wilderness area in the contiguous United States. Starting in Montana's Bitterroot valley, emerging along the Lochsa River in Idaho.

13 days of food

When I ordered the plastic Forest Service maps for the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness they were huge, big enough for a table cloth. I cut them down into 6 pieces each so I could leave out the areas where we wouldn't be, and so they'd be more manageable on the trail. The route for our crossing changed dramatically from the way it started out. I originally planned to camp in the canyons, near water, and spend the days traversing high ridges with big views, hopefully away from mosquitos that I speculated would be down low.
I had a couple conversations with Brad Bence, wilderness specialist in Kooskia, Idaho. After I told him my plan, on the first call, he politely asked me to call him back when the date was a little closer. About a week before we were to set out I called again. He didn't try to talk me out of it, but gave me the objective info I needed to make decisions. Rather than telling me what I wanted to hear he finally said; "Mick, I just think your going to have a real tough trip". I hung up the phone, and tried to swallow the lump in my throat. My hands shook as I folded the maps and put them away. I sought out my usual therapy; an hour long run.
A couple days later I returned to the maps with Lisa and told her about my talk with Brad, then asked if she was sure. I could tell my report from Brad made her nervous, but with her best game face she said she was sure. For the first time I knew the trip was going to happen and it greatly intimidated me.

The problem that Brad referred to is called deadfall, downfall, or blowdown, you get the idea. It's especially bad now as a result of the bad wildfire seasons that have plagued the West in recent years. Wildfire kills the trees, leaving them brittle. The winter storms bring the weight of snow, combined with fierce winds, sometimes over 100mph. These storms blow down trees in swathes of tens of square miles at a time.
The Forest Service, and it's partners, can only clear so many miles of trail during a summer season. As Brad said, "nobody really does what you guys are doing" which, I guess, is part of the reason they don't get the funding they need to keep trails clear and maintained. To be honest, it sounded awful, and maybe I'm an idiot, but it sounded like the perfect reason to go. There was no guide book, or permit system to manage the hoards of people fresh out of REI. I like the idea of meeting the wilderness on it's own terms; even when it's inconvenient. The problem was that I was about to get more than I bargained for.
After talking to Brad, and changing the route, I made a plan B in case the miles took longer than anticipated, and a plan C in case things went bad and we had to get out. Brad said that Moose Creek Ranger Station was staffed and that we could use the satellite phone to call out if we ended up running behind and needed to let people know. He said there would be a Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) trail crew working down from Elk Summit and that the Moose Creek trail should be open to the Selway River giving us an option for a quick exit if we needed it. As it turned out we had to use plan B after taking 8 days to get to Moose Creek Ranger Station; what we thought we could do in 5.
July was a priority so we could be done before wildfire season got going, and before the streams started drying up too much. We had never done a trip this ambitious before, certainly never packed 2 weeks of food. I didn't even see how it was possible to pack 2 weeks of food and still keep packs at a manageable weight. Even now I still don't because Lisa did it all!
Planning to take 11 days, we packed a couple extra days of food, just in case. As it turned out our packs handled the load well with room to spare, even though we both carried a bear canister. We both started the trip with packs that weighed 25% and 20% of our body weight respectively.
Usually we don't carry a SPOT device, but would on this trip. Our plan would be to SPOT-in once every morning. I gave my co-workers, Jim and Dave, copies of maps with our intended route, and contact info for Brad if we disappeared. This part of the planning is a cardinal rule. It's a bit freaky, but in order to have confidence in what we were doing I needed to take things seriously, especially with the deadfall challenges creating the added risk of injury.

Day 1 - July 9th 2016:

In Hamilton, Montana we got breakfast at the Coffee Cup Cafe. Our drive to the trailhead was almost done and if I had any questions time was running out to ask them. I looked around the cafe and it didn't look like anybody could've answered them anyway. I thought of Brad saying "nobody really does what your doing", and tried to think of something else. I grabbed a Missoula paper and it had a warning of a winter storm coming to the high country in the next couple days. I tried to cool my nerve by convincing myself that it'd be a quick moving storm that drops a couple inches of snow that melts by noon. Alas, I told myself. We were here, we were going, we were on our own, and we were prepared.
The last of the drive took us north to Victor then west to the Big Creek Trailhead. It'd been raining, but the sun was peeking through as we got packs ready to go. The first steps were the usual slow slogging rhythm of walking with a heavy pack. Adjusting to things, especially feet, and giving everything a good systems check.
Big Creek trail was easy on us and gained elevation slow and steady. Huckleberries were out, much to our surprise, and we would eat them every day of the trip. A mile past the wilderness boundary it began to rain, and didn't quit for the next 3 days. Backpackers and lots of day hikers were on the way out, the last people we'd see for 5 days. When we got to Big Creek Lake there was nobody around. Everyone but us were smart enough to heed the winter storm warning, we guessed. Around the far side of the lake was a nice ledgy campsite and mosquitos, with a big Bald Eagle sitting high in a dead tree. The Bald Eagle peered at us with his best eagle glare as we violated his space, and set up in the steady rain, preparing for a long night in the tent. After dinner Lisa read out loud from our shared book; The Long Walk.

Day 1: the wilderness boundary in Big Creek

Big Creek trail - easy going

Camp 1: Big Creek Lake

Day 2:

At first light, suspicious that today was going to suck, I got up to make coffee. I can deal with a day that sucks as long as I have coffee first. I set lake water on the stove to boil looking up to see our eagle friend still sitting in the tall tree. The Starbucks instant packs, were OK at best. The rain had slowed to a light drizzle and the lake was beautiful in the morning light. I told Lisa the coffee was ready so she got up to join me. I made breakfast, and tried not to let my nerves get out of hand about what lay ahead.The further we went around Big Creek Lake the more the sign of people fell away. There started to be a few blowdown trees across the trail, but nothing too crazy. The rain fell steady and it was getting colder as we approached Packbox Pass. We were both cold by the time we found a lunch spot on the Idaho side of the pass, but we knew food would help. Packbox Creek was a beautiful forest full of flowers, but it was lush with grass sometimes six feet tall, making the trail difficult to follow. Somewhere before the intersection with Colt Killed Creek is where the burn area started, and where the going got difficult. For the next several hours the progress was slow, sometimes half a mile an hour. Earlier in the afternoon I thought about turning back, but decided I'd rather struggle the next 90 miles than do the last 10 again. I was also stressed out about one of us getting injured climbing across wet and slick trees. We periodically coached each other with words like "use your poles" or "over the log, not on". Amazingly, none of our rain gear got shredded.
Our goal for the day was the intersection of Big Flat Creek and Colt Killed Creek. Just before dark, still pouring rain, we emerged from the burn area to a lovely little camp full of daisy's in the lodgepole pines beside the creek. It took us 12 hours to go 11 miles. A couple years ago we started carrying a three person tent for camps exactly like this one. We could throw all our wet gear on one third, and sleep on the other two thirds. Use one vestibule for cooking, and the other for entry/exit. I cooked our steamy gruel as Lisa read our book by headlamp. We sipped our whiskey and listened to rain coming down hard on the tent.      
climbing away from Big Creek Lake

Big Creek Lake from Packbox Pass

near Packbox Pass

Packbox Ck: checking out a herd of elk

camp 2: Colt Killed at Big Flat Ck.

a hard day

Day 3:

Day 2 was such a complete beating that we were not very motivated to get going the next day. I lay in the tent for a long time thinking about how deep in the wilderness we were at that moment. The thought gave me a tentative smile. The rain quit during the night, so we made a fire to dry stuff out, then decided to stay put for another night. The day was mostly dry, but the surrounding country was fogged in. Late in the afternoon the fog lifted just enough to show the high snowy ridges that surrounded us. With nerves finally starting to adjust to the wilderness I suggested we worry about those snowy ridges tomorrow. During the day I did some fishing in Colt Killed Creek, which was more of a river than a creek, it was running fast, but clear. Unfortunately whoever had been at this camp long before us left it a mess so we burned as many of the trash bits as we could find before leaving.
That night we had a special dinner just for the hell of it. The closest thing to exotic we had was dry pea soup mix from Winco. We called it la soupe aux pois and designated it an official French dinner. French dinners naturally call for red wine and we just happened to have some. Our table would be a chunk of firewood, as usual. I tied a daisy to a tent stake and stuck it in the crack of a log then stoked up the fire to take the chill off the evening.

camp 3

a daisy of a dinner date, deep in the wilderness

stretching for today's 8 hr. workout

Day 4:

I crawled out of the tent to a pretty nice looking day, but the ridges were still snowy white. I made a morning fire and coffee and thought of the warning in the Missoula paper, 4 days ago at the cafe. Today our supposed route had us crossing Frog Peak at a little over 8,000'; the highest terrain of the trip. Right after starting out we did our first big stream crossing of the trip at Colt Killed Creek which was waist deep. The trail started out nice, enjoying almost a mile without any big trees down. The climb to Hidden Peak Ridge started with a few switch backs and lots of huckleberries and raspberries where we stopped often to snack. Then the burn area started again.
Lisa tried hard to stay positive commenting at how nice the blooms were. The steep burned terrain was covered in wet and slippery grass. It was an older forest so the downed trees were big. The morning turned into a maze walking around trees instead of climbing over them, while trying to keep an eye on the trail that was grown over by vegetation. Our progress was again down to about a half mile per hour. Most of my friends would say that I can have pretty foul language, but this kind of work is surely where curse words were invented. At one point I stood on a log staring ahead at the mess with no end in sight. I was cursing is disbelief when it occurred to me that if I didn't take so many ****ing curse breaks that we may actually be able to cover some miles. Even the notes that Lisa put on the map are full of profanity, such as: "finally a fu**ing trail". Ha ha - it's funny now 4 months later.
Just before our lunch stop on top of Hidden Peak Ridge we started getting into the quickly melting snow. At about 1pm we stopped having made 4 miles in 5 hours. I was excited to be up on higher terrain with the possibility of big views. At lunch the weather still looked good. We dried our feet a bit and changed socks. After lunch we made our way up Hidden Peak Ridge towards the lookout tower, getting into deeper snow.
I was tracking the elevation contours on the map to see how much further we had to ascend compared to how much snow was on the ground. Just short of the lookout tower came the first report of the thunder. Still in a burned area, the downed trees were smaller and easier to get past. The weather was really going bad as we approached Frog Peak and the snow was deep enough to completely obscure the trail. Navigating turned mostly to following tree blazes and I was trying to ignore what the day was turning into, knowing that my attitude was dangerous.
The thunderstorm was dumping snow and the wind was whipping it into bad visibility. We stopped, out of the wind, in a thicket of high altitude spruce bushes, and discussed our options. The trail was obscured by the snow, and if we were to proceed it would only be by reading the terrain, finding the trail again somewhere on the other side of Frog Peak. The map showed the trail crossing the summit then following a narrow ridge down the other side. Even on a beautiful summer day it would've been difficult and dangerous because of the snow cornices left over from the winter before.
The GPS on my wrist told me we'd come 5 miles since lunch, and it was late afternoon. We talked about camping in the spruce thicket, but neither of us liked the idea of a snow camp. Lisa unwrapped a frozen Clif bar for us to share while I looked towards the summit of Frog Peak obscured in the fog. Crossing Frog Peak today simply wasn't going to happen, which made for one option; we were turning around.
The new plan was the only alternative and it would backtrack us to a more protected location, preferably out of the snow. By the time we got back to our lunch spot it was late. Our lunch spot wasn't a campsite, but it would be tonight. About a half mile away was the nearest creek where we collected water in the MSR dromedary. A 14 mile day, and 10 of them were for naught. It would've been easy to be depressed over the wasted time and miles, but we were proud of ourselves for making a safe decision.
Having a record of safe decisions is most of the source of our confidence to set out on trips like this in the first place. There is always risk and nothing is certain, but I believe risk can be managed. For me the reward is a unique experience.

before the new storm; near Hidden Pk lookout

wilderness as far as you can see

Frog Peak: before the storm

camp 4: Hidden Peak Ridge

Day 5:

Since we backtracked off of Frog Peak the only alternative was to go the other way off of Hidden Peak Ridge, working into Big Sand Creek. This change in the route wouldn't end up being that many extra miles other than the backtracked miles from yesterday. Again the morning was lovely. Frog Peak sat there in the eastern sky taunting us with another try today, but we would not. The trail was nice walking with a big sunny view of Hidden Lake, to the south, as we worked toward Big Sand Creek. The blowdowns got bad in the drainage bottoms and in the last few miles of Tr10 before we reached Big Sand Creek, but for the first time in 5 days our feet were dry, which was a real boost of the spirit. Near the junction with Tr22 we saw a black bear and cub. It was one of the funniest bear encounters I've seen. The mom saw us and the first thing that occurred to her was to turn and run like hell. The cub saw the mom run away and hauled ass up a tree. Then the mom stopped so fast she about went ass-over-tea-kettle, and was like: "wait, I can't leave my cub!" So she ran back down the hill towards the cub, incidentally, closer to us. We stopped laughing and got outta there. I don't think either one had ever seen humans.
Big Sand Creek was nice walking. Lots of blowdowns, but most of them weren't very big. It looked like a great place to see a moose, but we didn't. Happy in spirit, and it was a fantastic day in the woods. The plan was to turn south on Tr627, but we set our sights on Big Sand Lake for camp, about a mile past the 627 turnoff. Feeling stronger, we stepped out the miles through the stillness of the afternoon.
When Tr4 came in from Elk Summit we saw the first foot prints since day one at Big Creek Lake. This was a weird phenomena. After seeing foot prints we felt a lot better about things for some reason. Sort of a kinship through hardship thing I guess.
The camp at the mouth of Big Sand Lake was one of the prettiest yet, in the tall unburned trees, a refreshing sight to see.
looking SE from Tr10

Looking SW towards Hidden Lake from Tr10

Tr10 near Big Sand Creek jct.

Big Sand Creek

Blow downs in Big Sand Creek

Big Sand Lake

Camp 5: Big Sand Lake

Day 6:

We began by backtracking a mile from Big Sand Lake to pick up Tr627 that would take us into Moose Creek. About a half a mile from camp we ran into a group of hikers. It was Dan Browder and friends from Hamilton. They were on the last full day of a 9 day trip that started at Corn Creek on the Salmon River. We chatted with them for probably half an hour. They asked us about our trip and vice versa. They saw the trail crew, that Brad mentioned, working in Moose Creek and we were really interested in getting an update on them. The MCC trail crew worked down from Elk Summit into Moose Creek then down stream from there. By now we knew our original plan, to come out on the Lochsa at Wilderness Gateway Trailhead, wasn't going to work. Dan offered to call Lisa's mom and give her an update on our progress, letting her know our plan was changed. Just in case we couldn't use the phone at Moose Creek R.S. we had to get word out that we planned to exit at Race Creek on the Selway River. Just after parting company we ran into another group of guys at the 627 jct. that we just said hello to in passing. Jeez, grand central station all of a sudden! A crossing at Big Sand Creek began our ascent of Jeanette Mountain. The trail was steep and again relatively free of deadfall so we were able to make good time. Near the top was a marshy area where some big biting flies were going crazy. The flies made us delay lunch until the other side of the pass where we found a spot with a big view towards Blodgett Mtn, several miles east. We guessed Dan and crew were probably up on Blodgett Pass about now.
Going down super steep switchbacks into Dead Elk Creek we were glad there wasn't any deadfall which would've made for tough going, because the terrain was so steep. As it was we made good progress. In one place there were so many huckleberries that we dropped packs for a bit to pick some, planning on adding them to oatmeal the next morning. It only took about 20 minutes to fill a nalgene.
In the bottom of Dead Elk Ck. and for the first mile or so in Moose Creek the trail was easy going. Thinking we were golden, the burn area started again. Moose Creek was getting narrow, and steep, with big cliffs on either side. In a few places the map showed the trail going high into the rocks to go around waterfalls and such. I watched the GPS closely, but didn't want to miss one of these trail diversions, especially in the waning daylight. The berries were a big distraction because they were everywhere in the burned area. Again, we stopped often to snack, but knew we needed to find a camp before dark. We ended up having to scratch out a place to camp along Moose Creek. It looked awful on first glace, but ended up being pretty nice. Again, I was too tired to fish, or just didn't give a damn. We'd been eating so many berries that neither of us were very hungry so we made a partial dinner by headlamp.         

Tr627 looking east into the head of Dead Elk Ck.

Lunch on Tr627

the long awaited Moose Creek

Hucks and a little oatmeal

Camp 6: Upper Moose Creek

Day 7:

Day 7; a week in the woods. We celebrated by eating nearly 20 ounces of huckleberries in a cup of oatmeal. The breakfast gruel was funny looking, and purple, but super good. A week of Starbucks singles were starting to suck, but I was still glad to have them. High on huckleberry sugar we had no problem finding the trail diversion that went high above the canyon floor. We were glad we camped where we did. After the trail let us back down on the canyon bottom we got into the most amazing cedar grove I've ever seen. The place demanded reverence. We didn't hike, but strolled through, the way you would walk through a museum. Taking our time, glad it hadn't burned, we wondered if the Forest Service had protected it from burning, the way they would somebody's personal property. I sure hope so! We found a lunch spot and sat against a massive old cedar tree eating quietly. Lisa finally said "it feels like were inside of a stately old art gallery". After lunch we continued about a half mile to the Tr486 Elk Summit jct.
At the junction was evidence of a freshly cut tree; the work of the MCC trail crew. For days we'd talked of getting to this point. I could've cried when Lisa hugged the Tr486 sign after struggling through 56 miles of deadfall in the trail. I'll never look at a tree across the trail the same again. We moved along at 3 or 4 miles an hour, through the awe inspiring cedar grove, that continued for miles. A couple miles later we came to where the trail crew was working, thanking them again and again. They said it was nothing and seemed surprised to see backpackers. I returned the handle to a crosscut saw that I picked up in the trail a mile back. We set our sights on a camp near Elbow Bend hoping to get there early enough for a bath, and some sunnin.
I even had time for another pathetic attempt at fishing, knee deep in the cool mountain water, when I was overcome by a timeless question. I thought of the afternoon in the warm sun and our two day descent from mountain ridges. I looked at the water at my feet and wondered at our common journey. Had we traveled together from that cold afternoon high on Frog Peak? Finally, Lisa asked me what I was doing, snapping me out of the trance. Looking into the shining water I asked her what she thought about the same questions.

happy to see the 486

trail crew!!!


Day 8:

We left Elbow Bend bent on making it to Moose Creek Ranger Station. The 16 miles came so easy that we were there by mid afternoon. A few miles from the ranger station we met a retired Forest Service engineer and his wife that had flown in to do some airplane camping.
At Moose Creek Ranger Station we looked around at all the historic sites, and Lisa said hello to the horses and mules. We found a note to Anna, welcoming her home. We found out later that Anna was the Wilderness Ranger on her way in from Elk Summit Trailhead 25 miles away. The care taker, Val and her kids were at the beach for some swimming. Just as we headed down the airstrip to leave the ranger station behind we saw Val coming up from the river. We met her at the office and she let Lisa use the satellite phone to call her mom in Spokane to confirm the new pickup location. She also gave us a weather report saying it was going to be a hot hike out along the Selway. With Frog Peak still in recent memory, hot sounded fine to us.
Again, we were almost to leave then Anna showed up so we dropped packs again to talk to her. We told her about our route and were surprised to hear that Colt Killed Creek had been cleared the previous year. There's no way the Forest Service could ever keep up with all the blowdowns. I was really glad to see a wilderness ranger out on the land. Anna was super friendly spending lots of time talking to us, when she surely just wanted to take off her boots and have some dinner after a 25 mile day. Thanks Anna, your a wonderful example of a wilderness ranger!
Moose Creek was a bit of a low point for me because it is where the original route died for good. It was only a quick two days to get out to Race Creek along the river, from here. I still wanted for my original route to work especially the country that would put us near the Selway Crags. The route would've had us going Northwest from Moose Creek, across many more miles, likely strewn with fallen timber. As much as I wanted for it to work the thought was unbearable, and we didn't have the time left. Walking across the bridge at the mouth of Moose Creek we turned left, instead of right, and that was it. 

approaching Moose Ck R.S.

...the miles

Historic Moose Ck Ranger Station

Herman the Forest Service mule

Moose Creek airstrip

the turning point

first view of The Selway

camp 8: on the Selway

Day 9:

We woke up early and got going just in case it was super hot like the Moose Creek Ranger said. The trail was like a freeway and the miles came easy. I stopped often to look at, and photo the rapids. Even though it was super low water I wondered at how people float this creek in an oar rig. It ended up being pretty hot, but not terrible. We found the camp that Anna recommended and set things up. Neither of us slept good the night before on the rocks along the river so we took an afternoon nap. I did some fishing continuing my bad luck spree. (notice, no pics of fish!) I put our sleeping pads into the boulders along the river to make a place to sit. We cooked 2 dinners then groaned because we ate too much. Sitting in the rocks, we watched the Wild Selway River flowing west, into and through the golden light of our final day. We talked about how nice it would feel to sit in the truck, and of the cold northwest beer that Lisa's mom would have.
Camp 9 is the only camp where I forgot to take pics.

Day 10:

We got going early again moving strong and lithe, not like the sluggish way we started at Big Creek. The day got hot, super hot actually! The Selway River trail along the north bank gets the south facing sun all day making everything pretty dry and dusty. We were surprised to see no rattlesnakes, as we were warned. Despite the dry exposed country there were lots of streams coming in providing water whenever we wanted it, continuing the trend of the entire trip.

The Selway - wild and wonderful

glad I'm not boating!

Day 10: The Selway Bitterroot - Crossed

camp 10: with the parents

Hank working on ice

thanks mommy!

As we approached the wilderness boundary I told myself not to let the moment be soured with the failure of the original plan. I checked the GPS, and pushed it up past the blister that had formed on my wrist and almost walked right past the sign without seeing it. Although it was just a sign, bolted to a cedar tree, it indicated that we had indeed walked across the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. A bit later we stopped and stared at a wooden kiosk next to some cars, the endeavor completed. I looked at the GPS that had just clicked off the 112th mile. Lisa and I had a long hug, and thanked each other. I sarcastically suggested next time we find a nice trail to walk on, maybe one of the trails in a magazine, with nice signs, and some people too??? She responded; "no... let's not!"
Lisa grabbed a trail register card out of the kiosk and we sat in the dirt next to a boulder to wait for Kay and Hank to pick us up. There was a big camper with a generator running and what sounded like a TV going inside. The gentleman asked us from where we came. I told him Victor, Montana, but I think he thought we drove as he went back inside. Lisa doodled a cartoon on our trail register card of a fat bear leaning against a tree, eating doritos, and drinking a beer....the only thing on my mind.


Dedicated to my best friend Lisa, always at your strongest when it matters the most. I've written about most of it, what remains shall be ours to cherish.

Thanks to Kay and Hank for picking us up at the end. Thanks for all the treats at camp 10, like beer, doritos, red wine, nice food, and coffee. Most of all, thanks for the ride back to our car at Big Creek! We love camping with you guys.

Thanks to Lindsey for loaning us the SPOT device and following.

Thanks to Jim and Dave for following us on the SPOT device. If we had disappeared there is nobody that I'd trust more highly than you guys to come looking for us.

Thanks to Daniel Browder for relaying word over the mountains from deep in Big Sand Creek. Also thanks for meeting us for beers, on short notice, and reminiscing, in Hamilton at Bitterroot Brewery.

Thanks to Montana Conservation Corps and trail crews unseen. Never again will I look at a tree in trail the same. Thank you!

Thanks to Brad Bence, Anna, and Val for letting us use the satellite phone at Moose Creek and for your service, dedication, and passion for public lands. As I'm sure your aware you have a priceless treasure in the expanse of The Selway Bitterroot.


We carried a rechargeable steri-pen ultra-violet light water purifier. Using the steri-pen many times a day I never had to carry more than two quarts of water at a time.

Samsung S5 for photos and for taking notes. S5 was soaked all day on the second day and was fine.

Recharging device:
lithium-polymer recharging battery pack

REI 3 person quarter dome T3 Plus, now extinct.

Boots: Asolo
pack: Osprey 85
rain gear: patagonia
pants: prana
sleeping: big agnes/thermarest

boots: La Sportiva
rain gear : Arc Teryx
Pack: Mystery Ranch Terraplane plus wet rib
Pants: Prana - awesome burly pants
shirts: patagonia long under wear
sleeping: big agnes/thermarest

food (mix/match):
dried pears, plums, peaches, at home
dried kale, mushrooms, broccoli, peppers at home
mixed nuts
dried chicken and turkey from amazon
dried eggs and bacon from amazon
cheese in 8 oz packages - one per three days
starbuck coffee singles
cocoa powder
limeade dry gatorade mix
jolly ranchers
clif bars

From Winco bulk:
cheese powder
powder milk
pea soup mix
vegi chili mix
curried lentils
wasabi peas
instant potatoes

MSR pocket rocket/stainless


  1. Brilliant. Once I got past my feelings of jealousy after reading this, I could only smile for you guys. Many nuggets in this piece - but perhaps my favorite: "...suspicious that today was going to suck..." Thanks for the read, Mick!

  2. Yo MIck!!! Awesome adventure! When are you and Lisa coming to Alaska?? We still need a good wilderness adventure up here! How about a river soon??

    Miss you Mick!


  3. Currently it looks like Drupal is the top blogging platform out there right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you're using on your blog? www.gmail.com login

    1. Not sure if I'm following your question, but I use blogger - powered by google.

  4. Perfectly inspiring journey, thanks for the photo!

  5. Hi Mick,

    Really amazing trip!

    I tried to comment a few times but the comment never seems to go through...

    I am planning to do a similar trip at the end of August this year. Would you mind if I send you a private message to kindly ask about some information and help with planning?


    1. Lukas, Sorry I missed your comment, until now. I have to moderate comments because of all the spam BS, and don't do so often enough. Anyway, I hope you did your trip in August and would love to hear of it.