Back from Expedition #2 down the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande

BackFromExpedition2-CanoeDid not see the wildlife we viewed on the first voyage, but the full moon lit up canyon walls in an ethereal way, superb. And, we had a lightening storm with thunder echoing through the canyon. And, we made it to the top of El Burro, a 1500 foot vertical ascent of the canyon wall on an old gold mine burro trail. And, we had another great crew that powered their way down the canyon with measured grace. They ate a lot. Finished the expedition with only a half dozen tea bags and a tablespoon of oatmeal left in the tucker barrel. Looking forward to Group #3 with one thought in my mind….ADVENTURE.

In between, Terlingua Texas is always fun…dusty cowboys, wild cowgirls and searing heat.

But I have … Continue reading

That Dog Sammy

Back in Terlingua in front of a fire of Mesquite, I was just looking for an empty chair in the circle. I am beat up from a week on the Rio Grande, dusty, over a layer of grime. A bearded old cowboy is sitting in a rickety tin chair and next to him his sidekick, a half-pint Yorkie mixed-blood dog, curled up in another tin chair. An old strip of bridle leather connects cowboy to Yorkie. Tied around the dog’s neck is is a penlight glowing luminescent green and highlighting the overbite of the Yorkie.

“Do you think you could move your dog so I could have a seat?”

“My dog? You mean Sammy, my blind, mute, dumb old Yorkie? Let me tell you about him. Five times in the jaws of coyotes, a couple of those coyotes I shot through their heads right over the top of him, once … Continue reading

Getting on the River Feb 8

Starting February 8 I will be leading four consecutive expeditions down the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande on the Texas/Mexico border. During my time on the river I will be off the grid and unable to send or receive text messages or phone calls. In between trips, about every eight days or so, I will be back in Terlingua, TX prepping for the next journey and able to check my messages and respond. Please forgive any delays in correspondance. You can track my progress on

Weather looks perfect for the first run, water is a little bit low but canoeable for sure. Looks like I have another great crew including two vets of past trips with me. Excited to get on the river! Happy Trails Rob


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 portages … 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 May/June … 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 have … 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 – Sunday, July … 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, 3 moose, … 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