Somehow I’d managed to never pay
attention to water it was just off the radar. I got this boat and all of a sudden it’s
like every river, every blue line on the map becomes a trail. I had some friends with packrafts that
were using them to sort of extend hiking trips and that really appealed to me.
What’s so unique about these boats is that they roll up into a volume about
this large so maybe the size of a small sleeping bag. So it’s a real small weight
penalty that gives you access to a ton of terrain that you wouldn’t have access
to. I spent the summer working at a farm out in Palmer and then used that, like
basically an entire paycheck to buy my first packraft. The history is actually really
interesting because it is this Alaskan born sport and it’s fully global now. I
think most people that were getting into packrafting, especially 10 years ago, 15
years ago we’re doing it just to extend hiking trips. They’re like, I’m a hiker
but I want to cross this river. I want to float this river to continue my hike. For
me absolutely it was getting in under Roman’s guidance. I knew who Roman Dial was. Like most people in Anchorage that were doing outdoor sports, Roman was already working with the kayak community. He knew that there was this huge white
water potential. I think he really was the pioneer, nationally pushing the packrafts into the white water. He was pushing it, pushing hard and I was really
lucky to get in on that effort from him and that was the transition
into seeking whitewater and that new kind of chapter in packrafting for
me. What I love most is still the access. As
much as I like the rapids and the white water, being able to go deep into the
Brooks Range of the Alaska Range or the Wrangell’s… I love that. Just kind of collecting Alaska’s amazing
landscape. Most of my motivation is to see as much
of the state as possible. (I think we might just start here!) So I just I went through that
progression like most of my peers that were getting in to packrafting and
then I lost a friend. A friend drowned in the Wrangell’s in 2014 and that was a huge eye-opener just about all of the assumptions that we’d been making and
how lucky we had been on a bunch of these trips. So that is what motivated me
to get into the swift water rescue training. We spend two or three days on
these courses and talking about the boats and the equipment. And just swimming, honestly, is one of the
biggest things. Get in a river and swim through some rapids. Are people willing to do this? It’ll help maybe to watch it once. I’m
hopefully gonna make this look super easy and comfortable.
Even if it’s not. Oh this is so much fun! I had no idea!
Especially up here, it’s cold there’s glacial silt in the water, it’s really
intimidating until you do it and then most people come out of that and they’re
like that was actually kind of fun… like a little freaky but kind of fun. (Come to
shore). I’m here with you I got you. I’m here with you, you got this.
I’m here with you, you got this. I’m here with you, you got this. Yeah! Good job! It’s Alaska born it’s really cool.
It fits Alaska so well. It’s kind of a misfit sport. It’s like people that maybe
don’t fit into these other categories. They’re not cool enough to kayak or whatever and they’re already good hikers and it’s just like, ‘oh I think I could do
that; I think I can float. That sounds awesome.’ And it gets you into all these
places in the Anchorage area or statewide that you might not have seen
otherwise and I think that’s really valuable. See as much of the state as
possible while it’s still wild.