Wednesday, October 29, 2014

THE RIVER: The Secret to Outfitter Success - Meet Parker & Becky with America’s Rafting Company: Gourmet Food. 5 Star Campsite Locations. Rock Star Crew. And the Most Gorgeous Toilet Views in the World. #HellHikeAndRaft

Becky & Parker. Rock-Star Co-Owners of America's Rafting Company.

“And then I looked out the window and saw it was snowing…” [in Idaho, during the winter, in freezing temperatures] “...and I thought, HEY: let’s take the raft out for a winter overnight down the Snake…”

That’s Parker I’m paraphrasing.

The head guy and guide and co-owner of America’s Rafting Company. He's sharing the story of how he and another rafting pro buddy, Marshall, decided on a whim to brave the giant surge of The Snake River in the middle of Winter -- and the hilarious and wild adventure that ensued. 

He’s a dare-devil, an enthusiast, a grab the life by the balls and run, sprint, and take it to it's limits.  With his beaming smile and storytelling magic, anyone nearby Parker can't help but get swept up by his magnetism and quest for adventure in life and I feel lucky to just be around the guy. I’m like a wide-eyed kid around a sports hero. Happy to be a part of his irresistible glow.

He is one part of the magic that is America’s Rafting Company and what makes it so successful. The other vital part is Becky.

The kick-ass, rock-star, oar wielding, down to earth, genuine, Becky, who Parker was lucky enough to marry a few years ago. The soul of the company, she gracefully coordinates, both indoors and out, these guided trips so they seamlessly happen without a glitch. And she can also command a massive gear boat and a stellar camp kitchen, too boot.

Our group tackling The Snake River with America's Rafting Company. Photo by: Val in Real Life 2014

And with such charismatic leadership, Parker and Becky have naturally gathered top guides and good energy around their whole outfitter system.

Dinner the first night on the river. Fresh kale, crisp beans, juicy chicken, homemade biscuits.

Take the food for example. Each and every meal is a fresh feast of thoughtful, sophisticated fare. Dinners, specifically, have an air of festivity with a gourmet flair. Fresh kale salads. Deeply marinated steaks with mashed potatoes and fresh, grilled veggies. And a Dutch oven dessert every single night as a grand finale.

View of our camp on the first night on the Snake River. Spectacular.

And the campsites. 5-billion star campsite locations for our gathering of tents and meals, tucked into a bend in the river. We are blessed with real, deep sleep because of gorgeous, bright yellow sleeping pads that are provided for bedtime -- a total luxury instead of feeling every single rock beneath me all night long. And the sweet rush of the water soothing us gives me sweet dreams and a true recharge for the next epic day on tap.

Sunrise over our third night on the river. The most beautiful sh*&ter in the world.

And the toilets. Yes, the sh&%ers, the johns, the where-you-do-your-business-in-nature. Don’t laugh! Competing for the “best location of the privy” is a source of pride for these Wild West Outfitters. And America’s Rafting Company didn’t disappoint. The spectacular views from each portable toilet has us snapping photos like National Geographic photographers, wanting to catch the essence (though not the scent) of the odd pairing of toilet and scenic beauty.

I think I win today with the shot above: "Sunrise over the Sh*&ter" from our last night on the river…

And, most importantly, back to the heart of the experience: the crew. To work with Becky and Parker is no-doubt a guide’s dream. And their high standards sift out only the best people to guide for their trips. 


Only the coolest crew need apply: Becky & Scout heading out on our third day on the river. 

And that’s what we get. Rick and his, bam-bam!, gunshow and humble humor. Marshall’s passion for the land and hilarious commentary. John and his horses packing the gear. And Scout, the coolest dog on earth, who runs both with the skunks on land and the boats on water, like an old pro.

A few days with this crew, and I feel like I can tackle any massive rapid or mountain with a talented, experienced, safe and reliable outfitter who has my back. 

And having worked with outfitters both professionally and for personal leisure, I see that this company has what it takes to do the job with the full combination of creating an epic experience for their clients by pushing the limits so at times you feel the adrenaline rush - if that's what you're looking for - and doing it in a way that makes us feel taken care of and exhilarated at the same time.

I am blown away.

-Outdoorsy Mama


Disclaimer: America's Rafting Company is a sponsor of Hell Hike And Raft. However, you guys know me well enough by now to know my opinions are my own. Cheers!

For More Stories about the Trip:
Day 3 - Aching feet and giant, fresh bear scat

Day 2 - Reaching the Summit of the World - pure joy
Day 1 - Meeting the He Devil... Hiking into the 7 Devils
America's Rafting Company - New Meadows, Idaho



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day Three: TRAIL STORY: Grab Your Machete for the 6,000' Drop Hike from Heaven to Hell... Hibbs Cow Camp to Granite Creek. #HellHikeAndRaft

When you're hiking 6,000 feet down a trail that's no longer a trail, you want this guy in front. Meet our guide Rick. The machete master
for hacking through poison ivy and fending off bears with one swipe.

The story: I look down at my right, big toe. The nail is the color of a perfectly ripe, purple plum. Sort of pretty in a gross way. And my kids keep asking me: WHAT HAPPENED? Shocked at the brutal discoloration of my digit.

Ahh. I tell them.  Remember Day Three of Hell Hike And Raft?

You’re not an athlete. You’re not an adventurer. You’re not a push yourself to the extreme explorer of the unknown – until you have a wound, a badge of kick-ass honor, a gash, a limp, a massive bruised toe from excessive pounding and grinding into your hiking boot from miles and miles of a Black Diamond sloped downhill trail with an extra heavy pack on your back to show off your gnarly-ness.

THAT was Day Three of Hell Hike and Raft.

Hiking over 6,000 feet down, down, down from the heights of Dry Diggins epic vistas with me nearly diving off the edge of the world…. to the bottom of the Earth to touch the waters of the great Snake River, carving its way through the land and eating up boats and kayaks and paddles along its way. This is our trail.

Bear scat the size of small children.

Mounds and mounds of bear scat the size of small children.

Machete required for the lush, man-eating poison ivy. (See Rick above.)

Pole vaulting skills necessary to maneuver downed trees.

Val forging another fallen tree.

And seven extra pounds on my back this day is a backpacker’s challenge and nightmare. Seven extra pounds is like adding the kitchen sink to your backpack. And possibly your neighbor’s kitchen sink, too. And my Teton pack and body are up for it, but my toe ultimately pays the price, pedicures be damned.

And in a giant hoot! to my fellow crew, the saving grace this day, aside from the stunning topography, is the incredible amount of laughter that burbles up, even as we pound the last few miles through stream after stream, our packs seemingly doubling in weight. 

Marching towards the Snake.

Moments of me literally gasping for air in giddiness as Tara and I cope with a giant, white, unknown scat on the trail and as Jes, Shannon and I teeter on precarious goat paths, make this a march of awesome rather than a march of wrecked soldiers. Camaraderie to mask the pain... What toe? Humor to break the ache... What feet?

THIS is one of my favorite days on the trail.

Because when it gets hard, your teammates, your crew, are there to help get you through with a handful of gorp and a few dirty jokes. And THAT’S what it’s all about.

Tara and me giddly meeting the Snake at the end of our huge day.
At the end of the day, when we arrive at our Granite Creek campground and finally get to touch the Snake River and meet up with our outfitter hosts Becky & Parker, I am complete. I’ve touched the top of the world, the bottom of the Earth, and deep inside me is full and really, really ready for my sleeping bag and my cold PBR. Oh yes.

Come back for more next time, good people, as we meet the fearless Becky & Parker from America’s Rafting Company and their adventure dog Scout. And as the crew takes on the raft eating Snake…


-Outdoorsy Mama

For more of the story:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall in Apsen, Colorado, USA. Mountain Porn. Stunning Pictures

Mountain Porn. Fall in Aspen, Colorado, USA. Photo credit: AH

Today's Mountain Porn comes from Aspen, Colorado, USA. Fall colors and the Maroon Bells from Castle Creek Valley. 

Thanks to photographer AH for sharing. Just a little something to drool over. More #HellHikeAndRaft coming!