For a long time, my “packraft” was more or less a tool with which to get away from people and to knock back a couple beers in the middle of a lake instead of the middle of a crowd of other hikers. Along the way somewhere I discovered that moving water was way more fun than lakes. Instead of finding this out the hard way like I usually do, I decided to get some education and try out a more badass packraft at the same time.
In January four friends and I set out on a weeklong, 83 mile journey by packraft down the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande. Just downstream of Big Bend National Park, this section of Wild & Scenic river is one of the most remote waterways in the lower 48, running through deep canyons that form the Mexico - Texas border.
I’ve always been drawn to anything with a sense of journey. I guess that’s why I make documentaries. When it comes to outdoor sports I’m the same way - I’ll take a long alpine climb to a summit any day over a bunch of hard sport routes, or a long multi-day paddle down a river ahead of running the same stretch over and over.
Aniakchak National Monument may be best known for its status as the country’s least visited national park site, seeing only 134 visitors in 2014. It’s not only remote, accessible by a long journey of flying, boating, and/or backpacking, it’s also a rugged, difficult environment, with foggy, rainy weather and a high concentration of bears and wolves.
This summer a packrafting adventure in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness Area proved more exciting than planned when the Bear Creek wildfire escalated from 40 to 4000 acres over the course of only four hours. The Wild Confluence film-team was 6 miles from the fire that had flame lengths exceeding 200 feet when they received news that their exit point was on fire.