drunk the very Water that carried me,
slept on the Floor of the World and beneath its Ceiling
and then at Dawn moved on.
I'm devoting this page to all kinds of adventure. This includes my greatest passion, backpacking, as well as travel and biking, gear and advice.
I backpack for a few reasons: firstly, it gets me to places of unparalleled beauty that I could otherwise never be. Secondly, there are few things in life that I love as much as relaxing in a wilderness camp—over a well earned meal, around a crackling campfire, or in my thin-walled but entirely adequate shelter. Finally, there is a special satisfaction in carrying everything I need into a potentially harsh environment and yet being, quite simply, safe.
Backpacking is the seed of every adventure I've undertaken. It's the most basic skill-set and it's opened my future to all manner of hiking, climbing, bike touring, and adventure travel.
These albums are (mostly) a collection of my multi-day backpacking trips (5+ days) with a few shorter backpacking, biking, and kayaking trips thrown in. On the photographs page I have photos from many more shorter trips along with day hikes, climbs, and other little adventures.
Despite the fact that Ben and I share a passion for the outdoors we've never been on a trip together. He wanted to scout out Blackstone Bay to find more campsites for his 7 day trip later in the summer, and he invited me to come along.
We kayaked 52 miles, saw 9 glaciers, and camped two nights. It was quick but an entirely novel experience for me. I'd never seen glaciers calve in person and never gone sea kayaking. It's different to be sure but just like biking it's a nice change from hiking and nice to have large carrying capacity. I'd love to go kayaking again someday.
I finally made it to the mountains in Europe! The Alps are spectacular, carved out of granite, soaring above the tame valleys below. I hitchhiked 60 miles from the airport in Bergamo, Italy into the mountains. It took an afternoon and four rides but I made it, bought my groceries, and headed out. I'd only taken a daypack (so I didn't have to check luggage); I traveled light and quickly and saw a lot of country in four short days.
I spent three nights in Parco dell'Adamello between Milan and the Swiss boarder. I hiked from a 1500 ft valley over 10,000 ft passes, with the peaks rising still higher. I'll admit, I was thoroughly disappointed in the level of development in the alpine zone. Even so I definitely want to return to the Alps (though I'd prefer to not sleep in two airports to get there!).
Kyle joined me back in Wyoming for our fourth backpacking trip together, this time in the Absaroka Range. The Absarokas run 150 miles north-to-south through Montana and Wyoming with only two roads trisecting what is otherwise a vast, undeveloped wilderness. Our trip looped through a small area of the range in the eastern Teton WIlderness. This is one of the wildest places in the lower 48 with high bear populations, wolves, moose, and elk among others. Ecologically, it's not much different from Yellowstone.
This was a 5 night trip and we went four days without seeing another soul. The plateaus were expansive and the wildflowers like nothing I've ever seen. We followed the continental divide for several days and often looked over into the Washakie Wilderness.
Spring may not be the best time to bike tour in the Rocky mountain region. Also the high desert isn't the easiest or most relaxing place to adjust to touring. There was already enough challenge with the pain in my legs from cranking all day and the pain in my seat from sitting on a leather saddle for 5+ hours. Add to that 30 mph headwinds, wet snow, and a forecast for up to 2 feet on the pass I'm supposed to cross - well, at some point it's just too much.
I'm not saying I regret going; it was a valuable experience. But it wasn't all that fun either.
Kyle and I farmed together during the fall of 2009 and were looking for a little adventure to complete our year. Of course, November limited our options, since we wanted to go someplace relatively warm. Because of low cost, proximity, and shear novelty, we chose the Boston Mountains in Arkansas's Ozarks. It was too late in the season for prime backpacking - the trees were already bare and deer season was in full swing - but it was good to be back in deciduous forests after a summer in the Rockies.
It was also great to be in the backcountry with Kyle again. He's been my most consistent backpacking mate and likes backpacking for the same reasons as I do. Wherever we go it's always a great trip.
Trip Report | Photo Album
This has been my most ambitious trip yet. In January of 2008 I bought a plane ticket to Dublin, Ireland for August 7. My intention was to spend five weeks travelling in Scotland before starting graduate school in philosophy at KU Leuven in Belgium. Well I didn't make it to school, but I had the ticket (and had convinced a friend, Ian, to buy one too) so I made a trip of it. It was my first international adventure and gave me the travel bug.
Ian and I spent 5 weeks traveling through Scotland. After that I headed down to England for another 5 weeks by myself. This is the trip abroad that I keep trying to repeat. It was that amazing.
This was also during my ultra-light phase. I had everything I needed for the week in my sub-30 pound pack, including our stove and shelter. I've slowly added luxuries to my packs since then, but it was an essential learning experience (especially the part about getting cold at night and needed to light a fire to warm up).
This was probably my most "non-wilderness" backpacking trip, but I loved it none the less. Any backpacking is better than the city.
I'm such a northern Rockies snob, but I still thought I should give Colorado a chance. I'm not going to say that it's won my heart over from Wyoming and Montana, but I was surprised by it's charms. Even though true wilderness seemed more like an afterthought than the essence of the Collegiate Peaks, we were still able to get into the alpine meadows far away from the crowds.
Matt and I visited my brother and his wife half-way through our trip. The sauna was a rare luxury for me in my backpacking experience. This trip was also memorable for how much off trail (and off map) we hiked. I found out how fun it is to be a little lost.
Kyle and I headed into the Winds for my first Wyoming adventure and an attempt at the state's high point: Gannett Peak. I was still pretty green and my beard was still pretty youthful. We met a man - Insane Rob, we called him - whose wilderness prowess astounded us. Little did I know I would be accomplishing similar feats, in my own more modest form, a few years down the road.
I've returned to the Winds three times since, which testifies to their beauty and vastness. I remember being more afraid of death while nearing the peak of Gannett than I have ever been since. The irony is that once I went on I found out that there was nothing to be afraid of. A lesson I continue to re-learn.
I have since lost the hat I'm wearing in this photo. Sad. It was my favorite. My time on this peak will always stay with me.