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

Feeling Chile
Magallanes, Los Lagos & Aysen, Chile

Chile is a land of many adventures from mountain biking to wine tours, from skiing to white water rafting, from hot springs to mountaineering. I joined a group of seasoned adventurers to explore the three southern most regions of Chile: Los Lagos, Aysen & Magallanes. Each of them host varying stages of tourism development, adrenaline rush, cultural interactions to cater to the interest of any traveler or explorer.

One of the most interesting lessons I learned about was where the name Patagonia came from. Magellen created the term for the indigenous inhabitants of the southern reaches of South America because they were larger in stature that his crew, indeed, than Europeans at the time. How does Patagonia, or rather Patagon as Magellan documented it, relate to large people? Well, like many such words the etymology is fuzzy, but one story refers to Magellan and his crew first seeing the footprints of these people (believed to have been the Tehuelches people). This may be a stretch, but Pata is phonetically close to “pede” from the Latin for foot (as in “pedestrian” or “pedal”) and “-gon” makes me think of giant or another word that refers to something large with a “-gon” ending, dragon. Anyway, Click through to the full story for more photos and the videos I produced from the adventure.

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Canyon of Lodore
Gates of Lodore, Green River, Colorado, United States

It’s been too long since I’ve run a river in a nice oar raft. I met up with this crew in the classic way of joining the trip via an invite from a friend here in Boulder. Then the friend in Boulder couldn’t make it. Undaunted, I stuck with the trip and ended up running a boat for one of the families. This crew came from Utah, Arizona and Colorado and they were a great bunch as most rafters are. Rafting is essentially car camping on the river. Granted there are a few more logistical and gear hurdles to overcome but for the most part the route finding is pretty easy.

The Green River is where John Westly Powell started his journey which resulted in the first running of the Grand Canyon in 1869. He ran this very stretch of water and had his first major disaster when the campfire got out of control due to the crazy winds that are known to blow along rivers. One of his boats caught fire along with the provisions stored in it. We made it through alright and had a blast doing it.

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Rafting the Roaring Fork
Upper Roaring Fork River, Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, United States

All that snow had to go somewhere, and one of those somewheres is the Roaring Fork River. Talbot and Michael of Blazing Adventures took our merry crew on a great ride. Normally scheduled for 2 hours, we were done in an hour and a half because the river was so full and the water moving so fast. Although the river was swollen and brown with all the surrounding hillsides running off with the snowmelt from a record snow year, our guides had already run the river a number of times, without clients, to be sure the course was safe. At fist, I contemplated accepting the wetsuit they provide, but I’m glad I did. As one of our guides mentioned, “the water in the river today was snow yesterday” and there was plenty of splashing, especially since I ended up in the front of the boat. But I did manage to sit on the same side as our guide, which meant a slightly dryer ride than what Bob got on the opposite side, as you’ll see in the video. Click the title above, or the “full story” link below to see the video. Enjoy.

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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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Final Touches: Kongakut River
Fairbanks, Alaska, United States

Car TetrisThe trip is on. I departed PDX at 9.30pm in the dark and chased the sun down by flying north and arrived in Anchorage around midnight where, though it was overcast, it was still dusk out.

Nathaniel Wilder with Sune and Lindsay Tamm picked me up and we stayed up until 2.30am catching up on all the corners of the world we had been to since seeing each other last, fully aware that we had the next 18 days to do this on the river and that we should get some much needed sleep.

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New Gear & Prep for Alaska
United States

While I’ve spent some time on rivers, including a great 18-day trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I have yet to experience an Arctic River like the Kongakut. I leave for that trip on 19 June and we’ll be on the river for 15 days or so. Follow the adventure LIVE (starting […]

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Rafting the Grand
Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States

How ironic that the pinnacle of whitewater rafting experiences is found over a mile deep into the earth.

As the Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon, numerous side canyons and rock falls have deposited piles and piles of rocks and boulders to create some of the most notorious whitewater in the northern hemisphere. Because the constraining canyon walls rise thousands of feet above the river, it has no way to go around these impedances. It has no option but to go over these obstacles in a churning, violent, frothy flow. And once we’re in the canyon, we have no option but to navigate our way through these unyielding currents in our little rafts. As one of the earliest river runners of the Colorado in 1869 described it, the water snagged a boat and “whirled it around quick enough to take the kinks out of a ram’s horn.”

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River Geology
Deschutes River, Trout Creek, Oregon, United States

My Uncle Eddie has been rafting for many, many years. I remember when I was young, doing 15 miles down the Santiam River (san-tee-AM), a tributary of the Willamette River in Western Oregon with him and a bunch of our family. Well, since then, I’ve started joining him on more trips and have been helping him guide trips.

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