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

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.

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

KONGAKUT RIVER HEADWATERS, AK - Helio pilot Ken puts the seat back into the plane. The seat has to come out to access the cargo space avaliable in the Helio Courier.Like || Tweet || More Photos || Purchase Photo

Walls of ice 8 feet tall surrounded us for a mile long section early on the river. This was, in part, what I came to the Arctic for. To experience the unique nuances of the circumpolar region: ice lined rivers, mountains carpeted in tundra, migrating caribou, foraging bears, wolves on the hunt, and yes, even to see if the mosquitoes were as bad as everyone predicted. The Arctic gets regular play in the news and although I knew I was already in favor of protecting this fragile landscape from any industrial intrusion, I wanted to see and experience it for myself.

The seven of us were on the Kongakut River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – 8.9 million acres established 50 years ago. In 1980 Jimmy Carter and other enthusiasts expanded it to today’s 19-million acres. The controversy between whether or not to allow oil extraction operations here is no secret. The pro drilling argue getting off foreign oil dependencies and an economic gain for the local economy. The con argue a disruption of fragile eco systems and that the surveyed estimate of how much oil could be recovered was but a mere drop in the bucket of US thirst for oil.

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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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Ghost Town Visit
Arkansas River Valley, St. Elmo, Colorado, United States

After a wonderful few days of diving into the Gospel of John, Adventure Unlimited offered a few trips off camp for the boys. One group went to Leadville to check out the mining museum and I took a group to St. Elmo. Just half an hour from camp up a side canyon this little town has mostly been abandoned. Many old buildings still stand, and it does say that folks are welcome to wander down the road, but asked not to poke around in the buildings and someone does actually own them still.

The town didn’t keep the interest of the group much, but a nice hike further into the mountains was perfect after sitting and studying the bible for 3 days. Here’s a few of the shots I got. Click on any of the images to see the rest of the gallery:

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Five Fingers Time Lapse
Adventure Unlimited Ranches, Buena Vista, Colorado, United States

While at Christmas camp, I set up my camera to take 30 second exposures for as long as the battery would last. Then I put another battery in and kept going. You’ll see the frame shift now and then, that’s probably a new battery going in. It’s not the most exciting video you’ve seen, but then again, this is my experimentation laboratory. Welcome to it. I’ll try to get a better one another time. Stay tuned.

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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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Focus UK 2009
Warsash, United Kingdom

Focus UK 2009I’ve just returned from a really great few weeks in England where I was part of a program called Focus. It’s a 10-day camp for Christian Scientists that only happens every four years. I worked as a house parent for the 8 under 18 boys and they were all great.

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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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The Inca City
Urubamba, Machu Picchu, Peru

There are only two ways into Machu Picchu. By train and bus or by foot via the Inca Trail. We went with the former option and were on a 5.15am train from Ollantambo to the portal town of Aquas Calientes. If you’re taking the Inca Trail, there are a few options. Either way, you get off of the train or bus a few kilometers before Aquas Calientes and start walking for either 2 or 4-5 days (depending on the speed of the hiker).

Once we got off the train we dropped our stuff off at our hostel and headed up a peak called Putucusi. This is a 2,500m peak that is across the Urubamba River from Machu Picchu and offers a neat side view of the Inca city. The 500m climb is steep and it includes a number of built in log ladders that go up through the thick lush rainforest foliage covering the nearly vertical slopes. The sun was starting to appear on the opposite slopes from where we were climbing and it stayed nice and cool in the shade of the mountain under the thick canopy early in the morning.

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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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