I stood outside of a motel in New Meadows, Idaho on a clear brisk morning wearing a new knit hat from a new friend wondering what the next six days ahead of me would be like. That morning I left excited, nervous and ready to take on whatever challenges laid ahead. Hell Hike and Raft over the next six days did in deed challenge me, reward me and open up a part of me that needed to once again be opened.
With new friends, new gear and full of expectations of an epic adventure we collectively set of into the wilderness. A year later on the cusp of just returning once again from the Seven Devils and Hells Canyon this time with a new group of epic adventurers, I feel truly grateful.
While each trip for me has it's own merits, stories, bonds formed and specific memories this recent adventure was quite invigorating. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect, knew what was around the next corner but I felt stronger and hiked better then I can remember. Climbs and stretches of the hike that kicked my butt last year had minimal impact on me this year. Your probably thinking well you must have trained harder this year knowing what was upon you? Right? Wrong! I did nothing. Eating, traveling for work and partaking of things that would not be helpful for ascending 1,000 ft on day one were the norm. My unintended strategy was also hampered by a wrist brace to secure at the time what I thought was a sprained wrist. Recently, I just found this injury may be a torn radial meniscus in my left wrist. Yeah Me! I will keep everyone posted on the outcome of my impending MRI and potential surgery. :(
My mantra of Hiking Forward truly came alive inside me during this past trek. I saw things I didn't notice the year before or potentially were too tired or exhausted to look for. The extra energy, strength, endurance whatever it was that let me feel the way I was allowed me to do things I didn't do the year before as well. Experiencing new things definitely enhanced the trip and my spirits along the way. Backpacking no matter how you feel, for me gives a natural high. Seeing nature in its pristine state and seeing things most don't get the privilege too, helps make the next step easier for me. But on top of the beauty within the Seven Devils having the legs to conquer and accomplish this journey in a way I never knew was possible made this adventure truly amazing for me deep in my core.
I know I am not getting any younger (damn birthday just a few days away) and moments and feelings like this will obviously diminish over time. But I feel its important to cherish every adventure no matter how you felt during it. On any trek you need a baseline. Last year was my baseline and I loved every minute of it. But without it, I would not have known just how amazing I felt this year and been able take advantage of all the new experiences.
Word of advice. Do the same adventure again. Not all the time. But go and take your favorite backpacking trip or hiking trip again. See what you can see, go slower, go faster. Camp somewhere different. Experiencing the same thing in a different way and maybe with different people can be quite and epic adventure.
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There are two things we need when on a long hike to keep us going. Water and and our feet. Everything else is really just icing on the cake. Typically, I don't combine products for reviews but I love both of these products and have continued to use them since Hell Hike and Raft.
Much thanks first off to the good people at both Lifestraw and Foot Kinetics, the makers of HikeGoo for being sponsors and contributors to Hell hike and Raft last year.
If your looking for ease of use in the area of water filtration you can't get any easier then the Lifestraw Go. As a team we all used theses bottles each day to grab water quickly from the mountain lakes and streams. Nothing could be simpler then dipping the bottle into the water and going! No we know where they cam up with the name for the bottle. In addition we were provided Lifestraws to utilize and test as well. Not a necessary item due to having the Lifestraw Go, but still a great little resource for all sorts of backcountry or emergency situations. Both models offer the same type of filtration capacity. Each model will filter 264 gallons or 1,000 litres.
Nothing will ruin a hike quicker then hot feet and blisters. Ladies and gents, HikeGoo to the rescue. Another simple product that is easy to use and delivers every time. If you read previously about our last day of hiking on HHAR, you know we all did a 6,000 ft decent in six hours. During three days of epic hiking, not a single blister was found on my feet thanks to HikeGoo.
If you get blisters or get hot spots you owe it to your self to give HikeGoo a try.
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It's finally time to start talking about recreating the Epic Social Adventure that is Hell Hike and Raft. Along with my partner Adam Nutting who has helped to create Epic Social Adventures and the most amazing guides at Americas Rafting Company we are all pleased to announce Hell Hike and Raft 2015.
As a member of the first adventure I can't tell you how excited I am to share the serene back country of the Seven Devils as well as the wild adventure of paddling the Snake River with the new crew in 2015. The next crew who will come together in 2015 will face many of the same challenge that the inaugural crew did in 2014, epic ascents and decents, raging class III and IV rapids yet will create lasting bonds and relationships with their fellow like-minded crew members and guides.
Part of being and Epic Social Adventurer and member of the Hell Hike and Raft crew is taking on the responsibility of testing sponsored gear during the adventure and writing about one's preparation for the trip, the trip it self and the post assessment of the area, gear and overall experience. For those that already have a wide presence this information is immensely valuable to the readership as well as the sponsoring partners. For those that have an emerging presence, this experience could definitely serve as a opportunity to catapult your brand into a larger readership, overall reach and wider brand exposure creating interesting opportunities down the road.
If either of these situations fit your current social outdoor status and you are in need of an epic adventure you owe it to yourself to fill out the ESA Adventurer Application. By filling out the application you are simply starting the process to being considered for Hell Hike and Raft 2015 and future Epic Social Adventures.
Curious what Hell Hike and Raft 2014 looked like? Take a peek below.
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There are a lot of things that I have brought back home from Hell Hike and Raft namely a strong bond with a host of new friends, amazing memories of tackling the amazing mountains and rapids, and the food! Mmmmm the food was unbelievable! I don't want to go too deep in this post about the amazing offerings we were provided by our new friends at Americas Rafting Company because I have a full post in mind soon.
Every meal was its own independent best it could be to us all and without a doubt the Pork Loin we were offered on the evening of our first day on the river answered the mail! The meal was a marriage of continued excellence in backcountry cooking by our guides Parker and Becky and a sponsored product provided by our team member Annie Yearout (aka outdoorsymama).
Annie provided the team and Parker and Becky with hot sauce. Yes, hot sauce. Not just any ole hot sauce but amazing lime hot sauce. Floyd and Fred's Hotlime, a family recipe turned business was used in a few of our meals while on trail and on the river. But none of meals brought the two flavors to life like the pork loin that was had while in camp at Sheep Creek Camp.
Always trying to recreate experiences, moments and flavors to bring about those similar moments and memories this week I will finally crack into my bottle of Hotlime and marinate a rather hefty porkloin to share with my local friends. Being of an Italian heritage, I was raised around food and the premise that food and memories work together. I hope to bring just a small percentage of joy to my fellow hikers as we were provided during this meal while paddling the mighty Snake River in Idaho.
Hotlime gave the porkloin a tangy, citrusy, yet almost intoxicating flavor that made you just want more of the porkloin. I think I had twelves pieces that evening in camp. It was simply amazing. I can't wait to make the marinade that is offered by Hotlime on their website for meat, pork or chicken. I have listed it below for convenience.
HotLime Marinade for Meat (Beef, Pork, & Lamb)
for 8 - 12 servings
For steaks, just brush the marinade on during the cooking process - whether grilling, broiling in the oven, or searing in a cast iron pan on the stovetop. For roasts or tri-tips or legs of lamb, a longer saturation in a bowl will have a greater effect. Cover the meat with the marinade and leave it out at room temperature for three hours or in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. Turn the meat a few times during the marinating process. The longer the meat stays in the marinade the more the flavor will be affected.
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce (or Teriyaki sauce, which is a little sweeter)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon HotLime (use more or less to suit your taste)
1 tablespoon dijon style mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon of mixed dried herbs (include thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage)
Salt and pepper to taste (the soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and HotLime all have salt in them already, so you may not need any extra)
Mix everything but the olive oil until thoroughly blended; then to get the oil to combine adequately, whisk the oil drop by drop until half is blended and add the remainder in a slow stream. Apply to meat. You can keep the remainder in a covered jar for future use for up to a week.
Stay tuned for a full review by me and my fellow local hikers on how well the Hotlime marinated pork loin is received. Personally, I can't wait to make the marinade and get this baby over an open fire.
For information about Hotlime go to www.hotlime.com.
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First, much thanks is necessary to the good people at Fish People Seafood for sponsoring Hell Hike and Raft and providing our team with product to try out during our expedition. Typically when one thinks of pre-packaged backcountry meals a few things come to mind, heavy in sodium, void of taste and huge portions which typically means waste to then carry out. The Hell Hike and Raft crew along with our awesome guides from America's Rafting Company broke into our packets of Fish People Seafood on our second night on trail at Hibb's Cow Camp.
My first recollection about cooking the meals was how easy it was and fast to feed a group of fifteen people. In a matter of less then 15 minutes all of were quiet and happy as we sat around the campfire all independently enjoy and devouring our meals. At the same time we scarfed on our own meals we all were wondering what the delightful aroma was to our left and to our right was. Soon, titanium sporks started to dip into our closest neighbors Fish People Seafood packets to try what was making our crew mate next to us audibly voice their approval with mouthful nods.
Picking a packet of which dinner to have is was not an easy affair. As mentioned earlier, most backcountry meals offer the very basics. If you want flavor you better bring that separately. This is definitely not the case with Fish People Seafood. Wild mushrooms, Chardonnay Sauce, Lemongrass and Curry for just a few examples are not things you find in your average backpacking meals. These meals are anything BUT average.
As a born and raised "New Englandah" I consider myself a connoisseur of New England Clam Chowder and those similar. Given this I tried the Fish People Seafood Creamy Razor Clam and Bacon Chowder. Hands down, I have never had a more complex and interesting chowder. This meal was bar none restaurant quality dining from a pouch, that took less then five minutes to cook and cost half of what other backpacking meals cost on average. One of the best things about this meal in addition to the taste was the amount was just perfect. Typically, you are left with extra bland and undesirable food that you can't even pawn off on your fellow hikers. No so with these meals, we all were able to finish our meals and well all loved them.
The other thing about this experience is...how often do you get fish on trail? Without catching it yourself? Freshness? Without a question, I believe that Fish People Seafood, starts with an excellent product and packages it fresh. Clams and fish if not done correctly won't maintain their taste or consistency without care being paid to it. Am mentioned, you could have blind folded me and told me I was in a seafood restaurant in Seattle, Boston or Portland.
Bravo to Fish People for creating a fresh, sustainable and amazingly tasting alternative to the "average" backcountry meal. I can't to have more fish on my next trip into the backcountry.
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This trip requires three individual components of gear. First a town page for the first and last days. Second, a backpack with all the necessary gear for the hiking portion as well as the tent, sleeping bag and clothing for throughout the trip. And lastly the specific gear and clothing for the rafting portion. So the question at hand is... How the "HELL" do you get all of this on a plane and to Idaho in one piece?
I have had a big Eastern Mountain Sports duffel for almost fifteen years. I went to use it for the trip and found out that it has seen better days. The bag just took too much abuse over the years and I decided it was time for a new bag. I recently purchased the Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) Camp Duffel, XXL. This bag is large enough to adequately hold all three components of my gear and there is room to spare for the gear I will be receiving when I arrive in Idaho.
I will use this bag when going winter car camping to hold my puffier clothing, snow pants, tent and sleeping bag. I love having that one big bag that can hold it all. I know this bag will also handle the rough airline baggage handlers well too.
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I love my ENO Singlenest. I take it with me camping, backpacking in the summer and the dead of winter. There is nothing like relaxing between two trees and swinging back and fourth. I debated on whether to take it or not on Hell Hike and Raft, but knew I would miss it once I got there. I also saw one of my other teammates gear line up photo's with her ENO in it. Once I saw that, I knew I would be uber jealous and miss my hammock. So, in the pack she will go. I am not bringing the rainfly or the netting as I will be sleeping in my tent.
I have visions of sitting in my hammock with my new friends around, the sun setting, a warm fire, amazing food and huge majestic mountains surrounding me. It doesn't get much better then that my friends!
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When my REI dividend came around this Spring, I knew exactly what it was going to go for. Last fall I went on a multi-day trip in a very well broken in pair of Merrell's that I have loved for years. I think I took them on just one to many trips. I was time to retire my comfy yet worn out boots.
My new boots for the foreseeable future are the Oboz Bridger BDry Boots. Comfortable, and the best part... a quick tie capability, which is a huge plus. This is what actually sold me on the boots. No doubt, they are super comfortable, but the ability to get them on and off quickly and effortlessly is what made them sold.
There aren't many boots on the market that you could almost wear everyday. These are that comfortable and are that true of a fit. These will be the boots I wear while hiking and climbing, as mentioned in another review I will be wearing Crocs for camp shoes and Keens for rafting.
Stay tuned for how well the Oboz do in Hell.
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Weight is always a issue for all of us. And we all need a knife when on a hiking trip. In addition scissors, tweezers and a screwdriver always come in handy. One of my latest purchases fits the bill on all of these requirements and more. The Gerber Dime multi-tool also has a exposed beer opener. Always important!
This baby weighs in at just over two ounces and folds wicked small.
I see lots of uses for this device, and it is substantially lighter then some of my other pocket knifes which have significantly less functionality.
Stay tuned after Hell Hike and Raft to hear about how useful this little tool was.
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It's a GoPro! There is nothing left to say. Strap it on to ... something, anything and record your world of adventure.
That is all!
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*Sorry for the GoPro attachment noise in the video.
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