Returned from Australia yesterday 11 hour flight from Perth to Qatar, 16 hours from Qatar to Miami, 4 hours from Miami to Minneapolis 31 hours in the air in a span of 38 hours. After all those hours I was expecting and looking forward to landing on the moon, and I felt as if I had been living in a can of SPAM.  I did get a nice view of northern Greenland, but I need to get out a piece of string and the globe. How is Greenland on the way to Minnesota from Australia? Lesson learned, when you buy a cheap air ticket, look at the fine print. Anyway I am back. Led a leadership workshop today, the day after I returned sleepless, and jet lagged and 100 degrees colder. The workshop went great. Canoe guides are like forged carbon steel we never lose our edge.

I still have … Continue reading

Seeking Boundary Waters Solitude

121615foggyrocksI wrote this piece a few years ago for the Boundary Waters Journal. With summer BWCA permit application season just a month away, I thought it might make a timely blog post. One of the reasons many of us venture to the Boundary Waters is to seek solitude. But what is solitude?

The conventional wisdom of finding deep solitude in the BWCAW was to put a big portage behind you or go after Labor Day. Both of these strategies are less effective today. Ultralight canoes have made deeper penetration less intimidating and word has gotten out that September is a special time in the Boundary Waters. Now the advice you hear is, “Get TWO big portages behind you or go in October.” The trouble with getting two big … Continue reading

Rio Grande in February 2016

RedCanoeI am writing this blog post from Fremantle, Western Australia. Working on my new book, “The Merlyn Project”. Sometimes it is hard to focus on writing because outside my window? Blue skies, warm sun, and sandy beaches. You know what it reminds me of? The Rio Grande in February. I am leading four expeditions down the Lower Canyons this winter February 8-15,  Feb 18-25,  Feb 28-March 6, March 11-18.  These trips are fully insured and licensed by the National Park Service. Each trip is 8 days and 7 nights traveling every day and passing through spectacular canyons…warm days, starry nights, gentle rapids, hot springs, unusual birds, desert wilderness, safe, easy camping, archaeology, slot canyon side hikes and more. My trip in 2013 was written up in the … Continue reading

Fees Set For 2016 Noatak Expedition

BlogPost110115-4Fees have been set, and plans are being finalized for the 2016 Arctic Expedition down the Noatak River in northwestern Alaska.

This will be my fourth trip down the Noatak, and believe me it is one spectacular river.

I am looking for a crew with the right stuff. Eight people seeking unparalleled adventure in one of the few remaining truly wild and pristine places in the world. And a wilderness where we will encounter grizzly bears, weather and unknown challenges, but none of the creepy terrorist or gangsta threats that are becoming more and more common even at farthest reaches of the globe.

I have completed 22 far north canoe expeditions. Never lost a crew member and never had a bad trip. Mostly my far north trips … Continue reading

Tentative Dates Set for 2016 Noatak River Expedition

Yukon_Alaska_35_lowIt is official. I will be returning to the Noatak River in arctic Alaska to lead one more trip, 400 miles from the headwaters to the Inupiat village of Noatak. Contact me by e-mail if you would like to join the crew on this astonishing journey.

Noatak Expedition 2016 Dates

Full Expedition: 20 days, 19 nights
Saturday, July 16 – Thursday, August 4
(Crew must arrive in Fairbanks by 3pm July 15… Crew should make reservations out of Kotzebue no earlier than 6pm on Thursday, August 4).

BlogPost110115-6Upper Noatak Only Expedition: 9 days, 8 nights
Saturday, July 16 – … Continue reading

Back from the Noatak and Kugururok 2015 Expeditions

mrPVskUtz39k63Q6a0oktu-LEYJHdj8yc1AQWU_Em94-300x225  DSCN2048-300x225Back from a magnificent summer in the wilderness. We had excellent weather and a perfect water level for this year’s Noatak River expedition in arctic Alaska. More importantly, I had another outstanding crew. Despite a thirty year age-span, both genders, and paddlers from across the United States, the crew got along splendidly. Each crew member brought situational leadership skills that contributed mightily to the success of the expedition. The crew included anglers, navigators, campcraft experts, birders, barbers, storytellers, whitewater enthusiasts, cooks, pot scrubbers, and best of all they all shared an open, “never better” mindset.

We were rewarded with views of 23 muskoxen, 13 grizzlies, 2 wolves, … Continue reading

Gearing up for the Arctic

DSCN1848-300x225In Fairbanks making the final preparations for this year’s Noatak expedition. The Alaskan Highway, in fact, most of the journey across the prairie provinces was very smokey. Fairbanks is no exception, but I hope to get northwest of all this smoke up on the Noatak. Did get great views of Lynx, Buffalo, Bear, Caribou and Moose along the highway but anxious to get out there a few hundred miles from the nearest road. Happy Trails  Rob

Sierra Cups

DSC_0345-300x200Not everything new is good and not everything old is bad. Case in point, the venerable Sierra Cup. It is often maligned and even ridiculed when I bring it up during my “Tips  from a Thousand Trips” lecture, and I cannot understand why. Okay, hooking it on your belt is hokey, but beyond that, the Sierra Cup has a lot to recommend it.

It’s crafted either out of stainless steel or more recently titanium and herein lies advantage number one. When compared to a plastic or lexan cup there is a big difference in hygiene. In the bush it is difficult to get a plastic cup clean. In my experience plastic cups often retain a greasy film that I find repulsive. Steel? Squeaky clean, even when washed without soap. … Continue reading

Good times at Expo 2015

Had a good weekend mostly connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Met up with Jack and Mike, two new recruits on the Noatak crew and they seem solid. We shall see if they get jelly legged when the bear comes! Naw, no bear problems this year and no rain. It was sunny for the Expo so I expect some sun this summer in Alaska. One of the best parts of the weekend was being part of a panel with Bob O’Hara, Cliff Jacobson, Kevin Callan and Peter Marshall (not in picture he was roaming the crowd with a microphone). These are all great canoeists and it was an honor to be up there with them.  Despite Bob’s flag being upside down it was not a harbinger of distress. I think the program went well and I hope the crowd learned a few things and had some fun. I … Continue reading

Spring Expo at Midwest

This weekend is the Midwest Expo in Minneapolis.  It is one of my favorite shows of the year. Usually, it’s raining which means I’m not missing out on good paddling weather. It’s also in my hometown which means lots of friends stop by to say hello. If you are one of my friends and if you’re reading this blog I certainly consider you one of my friends, please stop by and connect with me.

Saturday,  Apr. 25th, 10:30 am,  I will be speaking at U of M – Hanson Hall next to Midwest Mountaineering, Room 102 Tips from a Thousand Trips – Travel Like a Wilderness Guide. I have done this program before. However, there are many updates. Every time I go camping I learn something new. The forest is a great teacher as our my companions on the journey.  I can’t imagine you walking out of this program without … Continue reading