Day 2: TRAIL STORY: You Know When You Reach the SUMMIT? That Feeling of Pure Adrenaline & Peace at the Same Time? Meet the Snake River from Thousands of Feet from Above. #HellHikeAndRaft

Summit of the World: Dry Diggins Lookout over the Deepest Canyon in All of North America

You know when you've reached the summit of something. I don't care if it's the summit of your bunk-bed or an ant hill when you were a kid, or the summit of freakin' Everest or the mountain you've been meaning to climb forever or the Empire State Building.

You know that feeling of pure JOY -- that exhilaration that pulses through your exhausted-from-a-huge-day-of-effort body -- and when you look out over the land far, far below, the neurons in every single cell of your being are buzzing with clarity and freedom?

THIS is that moment.

Welcome to the summit of the deepest river gorge in North America, Hell's Canyon with the Snake River roaring below. Deeper than the Grand Canyon. 

In this single moment, I know there is a reason I am out here with twelve new friends, lugging around giant, gorgeous, red packs and sleeping on the ground every night.

THIS is that moment when we all stop. Find our breath. Find our insides while we look outside. Find that space to know, from somewhere primal, why we hike and move in nature. Why we explore. Why we adventure.

Welcome to a deep calm yet bursting with hoot! hoot! fire on Day 2 of our trip. 

Heading down to Cow Camp with the backside of the 7 Devils to our left.

We take some time to soak it all in from thousands of feet from above and then, late in the afternoon, head back down to Cow Camp in the trees for the night. Golden light and clouds continue to gather as we descend. 

Warming up by the campfire after a big day on the trail

As the temperatures drop that night and snow flurries are in the forecast, and I snuggle into my hopefully warm enough sleeping bag..... I, honestly, end up freezing my arse off all night long. Still, I find myself shivering at 2am, 4am and 6am with excitement and giddiness both about the soul-filling day behind and what's coming up next. 

Snow flurries in the forecast at Cow Camp tonight.

I can not wait for the next day as we climb down over 6,000 feet through poison ivy and tree covered trails to the warmth of the Snake River. Machete required. (No joke.) 

Come back for more....

-Outdoorsy Mama

For more of the story:
First day on the trail -- meeting the He Devil after 6 months
A good love & trail story always starts in New York-the invite
Jeff's look at Day 1 & Day 2
Meet the Crew of #HellHikeAndRaft

Disclaimer: Farm To Feet and FishPeoples are sponsors and provided gear and food for testing for #HellHikeAndRaft. All opinions are my own.


DAY 1: TRAIL STORY: Meeting the He Devil. Windy Saddle to Shelf Lake. Hell’s Canyon Wilderness. #HellHikeAndRaft

Selfie with the He Devil. Both of us looking like we're ready to raise some hell.....

Day One, Jes, Val and I wake up in our sparse little hotel room in Tiny Town, Idaho. It's a down jacket morning even though it's only Sept 2nd, and we shuffle over to the coffee shop luckily a quick 100 feet from our front door. 

Now caffinated, we can actually speak and form coherent sentences. Others from the crew shuffle in as well, get their morning shot, and we all head back to our rooms for the final pack of our gear, jammed with precision into our Teton Backpacks.

Eleven of us plus a few guides from America's Rafting Company - much more on their awesomeness later - cram into the company van and drive for over an hour to the remote drop-off at the Windy Saddle Trail Head. Gateway to the 7 Devils and where we'll be spending the next 6 days.

Packs on, group photo, we start our the three day backpacking portion of the trip... Up. And up. And up. And in........

The first steps of the trip from Windy Saddle into the wilderness.

Our first hurdle is Goat's Pass - infamous in the guide books for "don't be an idiot and go up this if you don't know what you're doing." Or something like that. 

Rounding the backside of Goat's Pass

Switchback after switchback on a tiny, "goat-feet-only" trail, we crest the top, bend around the ridge, and BOOM. Thar he blows. 

BOOM! I've been waiting 6 months to meet you, He Devil

We gasp. Click. Eat a protein bar bite or two. And then wind down the steep ridge of the pass and into the lush, green mini-alpine meadow that is fed by Sheep Lake for a breather and a late lunch break. Heaven.

Even though it's late in the day, a group forms to tackle the He Devil on the "non-trail" to the summit. It's essentially hump over one saddle to get to the back side of the He Devil, descend down and around to get up onto the back of his spine, and then ascend his spine to the 9,393ft summit with no real trail. 

Jes, Me & Tara heading to the summit of the He Devil. 

We stash our big backpacks off trail and grab our lightweight day packs, AXP survival kits, some water, gorp and head out along the non-trail to the He Devil. Scrambling and finding our own way amongst the giant boulders and steep scree fields. 

At about 800 ft from the summit, we have a group meeting. It's late in the day and continuing to go UP is just not a safe choice any longer. A tough decision when we're so close, but a smart, wise decision that ultimately has saved many lives and prevented many evacs.

Heading back, we laugh at the snow-fields and know the camp for the night is just a few miles ahead at Shelf Lake. Dinner's been packed in by John the guide and his horses, so we feel lucky knowing we'll have substantial food and a warm campfire ahead. 

Shelf Lake Campsite, Day 1.

Coming into camp, the sun is low and it's time to pitch our tents. The fire is already roaring it's welcome to us and my feet need to find the icy cold water of Shelf Lake as a treatment and a treat after a long day on the trail.

Day One's been a blast. And I fall asleep dreaming of world and trail domination heading into Day Two where we meet The Snake from above. Come back for more.... 

-Outdoorsy Mama

For more on this story:
Meet THE CREW of Hell Hike and Raft
The Surprising "Nomination" to join #HellHikeAndRaft
Jess' Look at the Hike

Disclaimer: Teton Sports, AXP Kits are sponsors of #HellHikeAndRaft and provided product for gear testing. All opinions are my own.


The Crew: #HellHikeAndRaft. Meet This Group of Witty, Enthusiastic, Outdoor Adventurers from around the Country Who Took On the 7 Devils. Trail Family.

Adam, our fearless leader, Day 2.
If there was one way to describe this outdoorsy crew it would be: witty, funny, hysterical, inclined towards hilarity. All with giant backpacks on their backs as we scale the ridge of the He Devil or paddles in their hands as we dig thru a man-eating rapid. 

It was non-stop adventure combined with non-stop jovial razzing, stories, and entertainment.

Maybe someone spiked the fresh, mountain water? Maybe someone spiked the GORP? Who knows. But it worked. We jelled and laughed for eight days straight. And as I quipped on #hikerchat this morn, they're my Trail Family now. And each day was like Thanksgiving Dinner - pure dysfunctional fun.

So let's meet this witty, enthusiastic group who left sane loved-ones at home to hit the extremes in Hell's Canyon already...

Russ and Adam
Russ the WineHiker
Adam the Mastermind Hiking the Trail

Val and Tara
Val in Real Life
Tara the Skiier & GunSlinger

Jeff, Shannon and Jes
Jeff who Beats up Bears & Howells from Missouri
Shannon the Croom
Jes the Chronic Climber Chick

Scott and Paulina
Scott who Hikes Forward
Paulina who makes Little Grunts

Wendy's Newland Family Adventures

and Trevor who Hikes Colorado

This outdoorsy crew of bloggers and social media wizards will make you laugh 'till you cry. It was a hoot and an honor to play with them every single day. No matter how stanky we got. 

And the download at the the end of each day, warming up by the campfire, Sierra Cups in hand and delicious food in our bellies, is when the real fun began. Favorite moment of each day. 

Shelf Lake Camp, Day 1
So cheers! to this crew and come back, there's more........

-Outdoorsy Mama

For more info:


The Story: A Good Love Story Always Starts in New York City. "Congratulations...You've Been Nominated!" for #HellHikeAndRaft Backpacking & WhiteWater Rafting Trip

This story starts in New York City. 

Don't all the best Love Stories start here? 

I'm hung over. From some trendy restaurant, late night, located somewhere cool in The Big Apple. My rarely used, high heeled, black, kick-ass boots and small, black, sassy dress from last night are tossed to the side of the air mattress I'd crashed on at some point last night. 

It's way too early in the morning as my younger sister, who I'm visiting for an indulgent, solo, long weekend in April, far-far away from my home in California and my normal outfit of hiking boots and Gortex, she quietly pads around getting ready for work. She's a pro at this lifestyle, and I raise an eyebrow as a "good morning" silently cursing her and thanking her at the same time. 

Somewhere in this tale, we get coffee. Either a trip together to the West Village Starbucks down the block or she goes out and brings me back my precious skinny latte. Either way, I feel a giant surge of gratefulness for the inventor of Joe... and Starbucks. What a team.

So what the fludge does this have to do with backpacking and the outdoors, you're starting to wonder. Did I tune in to the wrong channel and turn on Sex in the City, Carrie meets coffee? Keep reading....

I flick on my computer as my sis clicks her tiny apartment door behind her. Work, she has to go, I get to stay.

Still perched on the air mattress, thus wobbly both inside and out, my fingers manage to make their way around the keyboard and to my Outdoorsy Mama blog's in-box.  

North Face this. REI that. Hike here and there. 

What's this? 

"Congratulations... you've been nominated!"

Four of the most surprising and exciting words I've ever heard typed into an email. 

And thus begins my adventure with #HellHikeAndRaft, the characters, the crew, the mountains, the river, the gear and the hangover. All starting in a tiny apartment in the West Village surrounded by millions of people in New York City --- and ending in the desolate wilderness, surrounded by only space, in a place called Hell's Canyon.

Come back for the next chapters as we meet the team, the He Devil, and start the expedition via Goat's Pass. 

'Cause it's a Love Story. A love story where I fall for the wilderness, the silence, the air, the trail dogs, the hilarious crew, the river, the cactus in my foot, the beaches where we camp at the edge of one of America's greatest waterways, the most stunning fresh-air toilet views on Earth, and the craggedy mountains called the Devils. 

--Outdoorsy Mama

Hell Hike and Raft 
Where and What the Hell is Hell's Canyon?
More Stories: Hiking Camel's Hump. 
Switchback Training for Hell Hike and Raft 


LIVE! Follow our Adventure LIVE into the Idaho Wilderness: Hells Canyon, The 7 Devils and the Snake River on GPS Spot Tracker... LIVE Sept 2-7.

Huge thx to crew-member Val for packing her SPOT GPS on the expedition - this means you can track our location on the map above as our team backpacks and rafts through the Hells Canyon Wilderness & Snake River in Idaho. 

Sleet, hail, snow? Sunburn, poison oak, wolves? 

We'll let you know.

Starts NOW: September 2-7, 2014. And, hey, don't forget to enter to win a ton of the products we'll be testing. Link below!


-Outdoorsy Mama
"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." -Einstein

For more info:
Val in Real Life
Hell Hike And Raft Epic Social Adventure
ENTER the giant HHAR Giveaway here thx to our sponsors!