Off Yonder – Adventure Travel Stories - Seeing the world for what it is

Swiss Adventure: Canyoning and Hiking and Swinging, Oh My!
Jungfrau Region, Interlaken, Switzerland

Pre-Summit Adventure No. 1 – Four amazing days in and around Interlaken and the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland.

Day 1 – High ropes course with ziplines and other balancing elements high in the trees.

Day 2 – Canyoning where we followed a creek into a canyon and jumped off 35′ waterfalls, rappelled off higher ones and slid on the shallower descents.

Day 3 – An awesome 6 hour hike through the Bernese Oberland (highlands) to Grindelwald.

Day 4 – Canyon Swing: Attached to a rope 300 feet above a roaring river we jumped, we fell, we swung on the rope.

Awesome. Video.

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Slot Canyons
Coyote Gulch, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, United States

Hidden in the southeast corner of Utah down the long Hole-in-the-Rock road lies a series of canyons – tributaries to the Escalante River. Thirteen miles down Coyote Gulch takes you through a series of environmental shifts. Starting on the dry, hot and barren plateau, the trail quickly descends into a dry wash. Trees start to appear providing some nice shade and suddenly the ground is wet and water starts flowing. Sandstone cliffs begin to tower above you, shafts of sunlight stream past the rim and the riparian zone bursts into lush foliage. Tents are optional as camp can be made under the sandstone overhangs carved out by centuries of passing water. But there is little need for concern with regular sunny days and scant rainfall. Though flash floods are possible so keep an eye on the upstream weather. Click “Full Story” for more photos.

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Hiking the Grand
North Rim & Inner Gorge, Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States

It doesn’t matter how you access the Grand Canyon, so long as you actually get down into it. Sure, the views are impressive from the rim looking down into and along the big red gash in the earth, but it’s too big to fathom just from above. By boat or by foot, you’ve got to get into it.

Matt, Agnes and I, planned on a four day backpacking trip descending from the North Rim along the Bill Hall Trail and into Deer Creek Canyon for the first night. Well, technically our first night out was car camping on the North Rim which offered the aforementioned amazing though limited view from above. The morning sun crept down along the walls, displacing the dark pooled in the canyon as we packed up our car camp and got on the rocky trail taking us down.

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NOLS Pro & Deuter Packs Trip
Union Pass, Wind River Range, Wyoming, United States

If you have been on a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) trip of any sort, you know the value it provides participants with technical outdoors skills as well as the “Expedition Behavior” skills to not only get along with the members of your group but to make the trip, or expedition a resounding success. NOLS has been offering their “Pro” (short for Professional) program for a few years but are ready to ramp it up. NOLS Pro will set up a course for any professional team looking to build group dynamics, leadership, risk management and/or outdoor skills anywhere you like.

Our group was lead by two NOLS Pro instructors, Marcio Paes Barreto and Brian Fabel, who took us into the Wind River Range in Wyoming for a few days and they shared the NOLS Pro program with us. Another component included Deuter Packs as NOLS uses Deuter Packs as their robust pack rental fleet. Built to suit the rugged nature of NOLS trips, these packs are out in the field a lot and get many lifetimes of use as compared to how often a privately owned backpack gets out into the field.

Click the title above for more photos.

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Ellingwood Ridge Challenge
La Plata, Collegiate Range, Colorado, United States

I had the pleasure of guiding a trip in the Colorado Rockies with Mark James for the Adventure Unlimited Ranches. We took a group of intrepid adults from A/U’s Adult Base Camp (ABC) program to La Plata where the plan was to traverse Ellingwood Ridge. The five of us (two guides and three adult campers) camped at the base of the western ridge. The next morning we made it up the western ridge to the 14,334-foot summit where a batch of my mom’s home made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were delivered. That was a treat. Once rested at the summit one camper opted to turn back and was accompanied by Mark while the rest of us started our descent along Ellingwood Ridge. This is not a trail and is a technical route. About an hour into the traverse we realized the best idea was to turn back to the summit instead of continuing on along the ridge all the way down as planned.

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Arctic Rafting: Returned
Kongakut River, Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, Alaska, United States

After 15 days on the Kongakut river, we’ve returned to Anchorage via Kaktovik and Fairbanks. We nearly got stranded on Icy Reef on the shore of the Arctic Ocean as a big storm was moving in, but we managed to squeak out and make it home. Below are some photos and a satellite map of the area with the river route and some of our camps marked.

>>More photos<<

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Sierra Adventure: Hwy 395
Sierra Mountains, Mammoth, California, United States

A little adventure up the Owens Valley and into the Sierra Mountains. Mammoth, Devils Postpile & Mono Lake. And some night photography! Click below to see more images.

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Ausangante Trek
Nevado Ausangate, Peru

Our main objective in the two days we were back in Cusco was to get ready for the Ausangate trip. This included getting plenty of rest and getting our gear together. I needed to rent plastic mountaineering boots, crampons, an ice axe and a harness. Martin found Alfredo, a guide with Andean Destinations, who had everything I needed including a set of Asolo boots that were well worn. Nay, beaten – these boots had chunks of foam missing, delaminating Velcro, packed out liners and they stunk to high heaven. But they fit perfectly.

Dave and Martin went shopping to get our rations for the trip sorted out and now that the trip has passed, I can say they made some excellent choices. Though, most of the credit goes to our trip cook, Jose. I noticed he did some shopping along the way on the trek. Picking up fresh veggies and fruits from farm stands along the way and whipping it all up into multi-course gourmet meals each time we sat down to eat.

Instead of departing Cusco early in the morning as planned, we left late the night before for two reasons. First, the solstice celebrations were on the cusp of jamming up the city and second, the rumors of a farmers strike that we started hearing about in Patacancha were getting louder. They have been known to roll massive boulders out into the middle of the road in the wee hours of the morning just to jam things up to make their point. We wanted to avoid this so we made a late night escape out of the city to the small town of Tinki.

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Lares Trek
Urubamba, Lares, Peru

The Lares Trek was a short and sweet start to our adventure in the Peruvian Andes. It was just three days long and with the elevation only between 3,500-4,500m it gave us a nice gentle chance to acclimatize. We started with a three hour drive with a short stop in Calca to hit the market. Our guide, Guido, suggested we get some small toys or trinkets to give to the kids we’ll come across along the way. This was good advise as it provided a chance to give the kids a bit of joy and some nice photo-ops. The trek did start on a peculiar note however… we started at a hot springs. Usually, I would think this to be something to put at the end of a trek, but we didn’t put up much of a fuss.

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Fountain of Youth
Antankallo Falls, Matucana, Peru

Inaugural DiscoveryBound event for the Lima, Peru Chapter. Taking 27 participants two hours out of Lima to Matucana to hike up to Catarata Antankallo (Antankallo Falls). Chapter workers: Giorgio & Brenda Ballotta.The next morning, Sunday, was an early one as we were due to be at the Church at 7.30 to receive the nearly 30 people, mostly kids, joining us for a hike to a beautiful waterfall up in the Andes. This was the inaugural event for the Peruvian DiscoveryBound Chapter started by Giorgio and Brenda. I met with Giorgio in January when I was last in Peru and gave him one of the DB Handbooks. He had been working to energize the Christian Science youth base by teaching Sunday School and providing Sunday School Challenge events beyond the classroom. DiscoveryBound brought the structure he was looking for and the support he needed to take it to the next level.

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