Revision of blogs and change of photo repository.

I am in the process of revising my blogs as I have decided to change from using Flickr as the repository for my photos to Smugmug. Flickr is no longer a Yahoo product and it is now owned by Smugmug. I could have stayed with Flickr, but I feel that the Smugmug product is a better one with its catalog and presentation offerings. It seems that there is no effort to improve the Flickr offering so I’ve made the decision to move across. It is irritating that companies often rest on their laurels feeding off the fat rather than reinvest to improve and it is no wonder younger upstarts shake the industry.

It takes hours to write blogs, and I now have quite a volume of postings so changing to Smugmug for the photo repository was no easy decision. It may be the wrong one – I do not know.  Perhaps I should have used the Google Drive as the source, but then the argument is that I have no flexibility to move out of Google should the need arise. I did toy with the idea of using WordPress and my own self hosted resource as instead of Google Blogger, but there are features in Blogger that I prefer over WordPress. I cannot win !

To give an idea on the amount of time involved to do a blog we have the following considerations:

  • Post photos to SmugMug.
    If the photos are ready to go and you upload say 200 photos perhaps an hour. Scanning photos and sorting them out will blow out a day or many more.
  • Sort photos into an album for public viewing.
    For 200 photos, there may be 20 that are useful for public viewing. I don’t edit the photos other than the odd crop or rotation. Culling and creating an album allow another hour or two.
  • Write the blog
    The update and revision process will still involve these steps with the difference that the photos and perhaps some reformatting might occur instead of a fresh writing exercise.

When I first wrote a blog it took me hours to write and research all the details. I am now in a process of refining a common look and feel which has been applied. To date the template I am happy with has been applied to the blogs years 1990 to 2008 representing 32 blog entries.  I still have another 11 years to go with 187 posts.  Using this template has improved the speed of blog creation, given a common look and feel and I think improved the readability and appeal.

My “Adventure” blog template is as follows

  • Brief paragraph of what I have done
  • Photograph illustrating highlight of the trip
  • Content which is typically a small paragraph then photo.
  • Details of accommodation, itinerary, references
  • Underline
  • Blog references to Smugmug albums, previous and next blog entry and table of contents (held in WordPress).
  • Underline
  • Smugmug slide show with all photos I have chosen to display relevant to the blog.

Looking at my blog Arm River Track to Cynthia Bay, Tasmania trek. It was written based on some hand written notes I made during the walk (a great idea by the way). It is close to the template format described. The revision process took around 3 hours (maybe more, I didn’t set the stop watch) , mostly because of the photo upload and sorting process. I also corrected some errors etc.  I often miss words, paragraphs and construct sentences in a confusing way so it is a good time to do a bit of editing. 187 posts wow, I did not know that until just now. Even if I could get the update process to 1 hour per post I am looking at 8 x 24 hour days to finish. Hmm: I might keep Flickr for another year  or two !

Why do I bother ? Well, it is fun, better than sitting in front of the ‘idiot box’ watching some stupid advert riddled shoot and kill everyone or now you should laugh show. It also:

  • Adds value to all those photos I take, where instead they languish in a cupboard or on a hard drive. I have uploaded over 30000 pictures and there are still more. Do I look at them ? – not really.
  • Provides a nice memoir as I seemingly accelerate towards the ‘senior’ age.
  • Inspires me for the next adventure.
  • Inspires others for their adventure.

Review: PacKraft whitewater

PacKraft are an Australian organisation, in the past I purchased their ‘Classic Spraydeck’ model and given that I was going on a wildwater trip and intend to pursue that aspect of packrafting I decided to buy the white water self-bailing model on the previous positive experience.  This is the first time I’ve had a white water packraft and I’ve learnt a lot in a short period and present this review for others to learn from.

See also:

This product had major flaws in its fixtures, to me it shows that was inadequate in development and field testing. I really hope that the manufacturers of this product improve their product as they can in my mind create a good one. First off is safety with good fixtures and second is a novel difference outside of directly copying competitors: improve what they do with consideration of the sport’s nuances. The competitive price I like, but there is more to it and nothing is saved if the results are catastrophic.

The PacKraft name product range is rebadged from  Audac or Frontier packraft products (same company) in China. There are a number of companies around the world who do the same. I supported the Australian company for their local support (and glad I did). By the time you pay for delivery and so forth the difference is marginal. Geoff at PacKraft was also very good with his customer relations: I am very grateful that Geoff fully refunded my purchase when I came back.

I was happy with ‘Classic Spraydeck’ model and bought the whitewater model based on my experience with this model. The main issue I found was the spray deck; it is an impediment in most use cases. The attachment of it is rather flimsy and cumbersome and will tear the zipper if you fall out. The seat position is wrong when unweighted on the front. The Standard or Feather would be better options: admit it you will get wet, so wear the appropriate attire.  The raft is very capable even in white water, I had no issues in doing the intermediate packrafting course on the Mersey river in Tasmania (once I discarded the spray deck) and it carried my bicycle OK.  Pictured is me on first trial not bothering to do any disassembly. For bike rafting you need to make sure your raft is long enough to avoid paddle strike or get a folding bike.


I bought the Whitewater Self-Bailer as I needed to go in higher grade waters, with less than a month to spare I had little time to test it at home and there wasn’t much white water around anyway. The issues I had on my holiday tarnished what was a great holiday and could have put me in danger. The failures started to occur on a very remote high volume river – the Tatshensheni river which is in the Yukon flowing from Canada to Alaska. Fortunately I was prudent enough to carry repair gear and have professional support with me.


    1. Leaking main inflation valve.
    2. Failure of attachment points for holding dry bags.
    3. Failure / design of mouth inflation on internal cushions.
    4. Failure of foot cushion.
    5. Leaking of cargo deck, Leaking of dry bags

1. Leaking main inflation valve.

The type of valve used is a boston valve. I have them on my kiteboarding kites. There is a significant difference in quality, when I look at my kite one it has a rubber gasket on the cap, whereas the packraft relied on initial sealing. The kite doesn’t lose air with cap off, whereas the packraft does. The packraft leaked air after a two weeks of use, there was a spare and that leaked too. The leaking was so bad on my last day in Idaho on the ‘canyon run’ that I had to get out every 10 minutes to reinflate: not a good place to be in, and my vessel was a times like a rag doll on big water rapids.


To fix this, simply buy a high quality boston valve. Even better is to use the Leafield valve as Kokopelli do or perhaps a kite valve such as the one supplied ny

2. Failure of attachment points for holding dry bags.

The problem was that the web loop attachments were the same as those used on the other areas of the raft. They were inverted and passed through a slot in the raft tubes. Having a raised section they could not get a truly mated surface and hence the bond was weak.  Luckily they didn’t simply pop off with the cold environment, but the softening boat was a real issue in the very fast flowing water. Solution: no slot, glue the anchors inside the pontoon.

Picture: anchor is lifting and leaking air.


Picture: anchor finally failed as raised surface cannot be bonded properly. Second one failed a day later.


Picture: In field repair preparations, the ladies on my trip had an emery board.


3. Failure / design of mouth inflation on internal cushions.

The mouth inflation tubes use a twist-lock valve. The trouble with them is that the come loose with temperature variation and can pop off. The design of the main seat pad was such that the valve was sitting between the cushion and the raft pontoon.  With the up and down motion as experienced in white water it would come loose. I had a second cushion to increase my height for better paddling, this also loosened with most likely temperature transients. A better solution I have seen was again on the Kokopelli using Leafield valves, I would also recommend a Leafield pressure relief valve especially in Australia with our hot weather.


Pictured is the increased height achieved by using two cushions.


It was most inconvenient again on the Tatshenshini river as there were not many places to get out due to the very high volume of water. Luckily I had the second cushion, but sitting in icy cold water and at a lower paddling position when it happened was no joy. When I finally diagnosed the issue I used Tenacious tape to seal it up and a string to hold the valve away.  The shortness of the tube made it difficult for me to access with my mouth when forcing my head inside, and with wet cold fingers it was difficult to close off quickly. A long tube as provided with the foot cushion could have alleviated the access problem (see yellow/green extension in picture below).


4. Failure of foot cushion.

In the above picture the metal clip is distant from the floor attachment loop. When I received the packraft this failed and tore a hole in the cushion. As a makeshift arrangement I tied the anchor to the side instead. The circular shape of the cushion will cause a high turning moment when you fall out, a better anchorage system is needed. The makeshift solution was a flop (due mainly to lack of time to think of a better one)  – I almost lost it in Idaho.

Picture: foot cushion failure due to excessive point loading.


A few competitors use a full floor seat cushion, this is changes the seat profile a bit, but provides less failure points and a stiffer vessel. You also get dryer feet (this was no issue for me as I had insulated booties).

5. Leaking of cargo deck, Leaking of dry bags

The cargo deck is described as ‘splash proof’. It is completely unsuited for a white water packraft. Water is always coming over the deck or you will roll over. Whether I rolled or not the cargo deck drank water. The seams  were simply sewn rather than heat sealed.


The dry bags were far from dry. I thought I was doing things wrong, so when I got home I did a bath test. Less than 30 seconds of immersion, air drained and separately with air my sheets got wet.


The problem is that there is no soft seal edge to roll against which is what is seen in the likes of NRS bags or even a smooth soft flat edge on the roll strip.

Storm strip closure


  • Price is very competitive.
  • The colour range.
  • Packraft pontoon and floor  materials are good.
  • The shape and balance worked well giving the craft good directional steering.
  • (when it doesn’t deflate) Performance-wise I found it was as good as most craft used on the meet-ups   I had in Canada (Mt Robson, BC) and the USA (Payette River, Idaho).
  • Thigh braces work well and are easy to adjust and exit quickly.

Final thoughts

If I had the time and not suffered these issues where I suffered them I would remedy all of them with the solutions proposed in the evaluation commentary. Against an Alpacka Gnarwal there is a considerable saving and it could be worthwhile, but I wondered further on the other aspects eg what is the long term integrity of the seams ?  There other vessels such as a Kokopelli  Nirvana Self-Bailing or Robfin , and more becoming available that are not as pricey but will stand the quality test (though that is conjecture as I’d need to validate with other owners).

When I did further research this craft is not much different to the older Alpacka packrafts and suffers some to same issues they had. You have to do a bit of searching to find issues, naturally advertising companies aren’t going to like Google showing forums that put their product in disrepute ( – seems to be the case on many different products I’ve had issues with !).  Here are a couple: ‘Testing Alpacka Raft’s new Self Bailer (2016)’ and  ‘Packraft component failures’ , I’ll leave it to you to research others.

Packing List

I did not succeed in lightening my pack and harness (see my blog entry losing weight). In consideration of risk and tool / materials procurement, there simply is not enough time. So, I assembled a packing list and weighed everything and went through a severe culling exercise. It is amazing the difference in weight between shirts, socks and so on.

Some items I would like to change eventually:

  • tpu cargo bag 247g, tpu dry bag  290g
    Consider that a Zpacks airplane case made of Dyneema composite weighs 95g, it will make a great replacement saving 340g.  The dry bag is inside the pontoons so they should not be immersed. I feel there would be adequate protection even if immersed anyway.
  • packraft inflation bag 263g
    This could also be made of Dyneema composite. saving a further 170g. It would be nice to use it for something else as well eg. deck cargo bag.
  • dry suit – Helly Hansen 4000
    There are quite a few dry suits on the market that are lighter in the region of 2kg. (though no one quantifies this due to material use and size variation.) I do not want to compromise safety, but there is at least a kg I can shave eg. the neck collar and pockets are not needed for pack rafting.
  • Garmin Inreach
    This weighs 256g whereas the mini weighs 100g.  Less features, but that is a good thing in my books.
  • The white water raft with its accessories is heavy, also the pfd weighs 650g that could be shaved with an inflatable one – I could save here but it needs to be done with care in consideration of safety.
  • So: given time and money I can save 2.6kg on gear, along with a kg on the pack arrangement we have 3.6kg bringing the total weight down to 18.5kg.

Anyway – here is the list for base weight there will be more as I review it. When hiking, touring there will be about 700g per day for food and a kg for water (where I am near water)

Gear list

Losing Weight

In my earlier posting “A Solution for by Back Pack” I chose an Eagle wheeled duffle and a NRS paragon harness for my hauling. This solution allows be to carry all my gear inside a weather proof bag, cart on transport without catching straps and so on.

An issue of weight:

  • Duffle 2kg
  • Harness 1.35kg

I don’t plan on doing a lot of hiking with it, but who knows. It could be a km or it could be 18. Weight is a very high consideration at present I have 22kg without food and water. My Golite pack weighs 1.7 kg with near the same capacity, I have to shave a kg or more.

I was excited when I looked inside the duffle, it had a zipper covering the wheel frame. I saw some screws. Yes I thought, unscrew those and take out the base (I reckon there is 500g in that part alone). Duly I removed 4 screws from one side, but then got to the other – rivets ! You have to be kidding. I am so ##%$ annoyed by designers of equipment. No-one seems to do the right thing and make things that fixable. So, I could drill them out; but then I  am faced with procuring more screws to replace them – you can bet your bottom dollar you can get everything but what you want.


Next: the harness. This is heavier than my Golite Odyssey pack (no longer on the market) , why ? It is a rugged unit and will carry a good load, but there is a lot of unnecessary weight. Take the back pad for instance, it is solid when it could be a mesh design, I will look into putting some holes into it.

I want holes like my blue sternum pad modification below. (note also the large square grey retaining pad, it weighs almost 200g.)


Time is an issue. I have to get a good cutter; a hole punch perhaps. If I lighten the material I need to work on sealing threads. It is frustrating as for the duffle that nothing is maintainable. Had I have been able to remove the straps, I could of put lighter ones on. remove the back pad I could of easily made holes and so on.

Looking at the photo, the Golite looks bigger, but it it is narrower, I will give it another go before tampering with my new gear. Notice that the Golite has narrower web straps than the harness in the above picture .. if only they were’n’t sewn in.


Practise makes perfect.

Meet Beryl – she’s green ! ( I am allowed to give my boat a name, it’s a tradition of mariners I believe.)


I have had a sore shoulder, sprained my thumb badly and suffered a bad cough. OK there are remnants of ailment, but it is time to stop the excuses. It is nice sunny day it is about time to test out my new self bailing PackRaft.  I headed out to Warrandyte to do some practice. I’ve booked a 4 day meet-up at Mount Robson, an 11 day trip on the Tatshenshini river in Canada and plan to do other trips, so the gear has to be right.

Testing criteria:

  1. packing everything in to the raft both on the cargo deck and inside the hull.
  2. my dry suit, undergarments, shoes.
  3. paddling a distance
  4. seat height
  5. bikerafting – yes/no ?
  6. walking with the loaded pack


Lots of gear to load.

The gear loaded inside the raft very well. The TiZip was airtight and allowed me to get a lot of gear inside the pontoons. The deck cargo bag had loads of capacity easily holding by spare shoes, water bottle, bag of food and a few other bits and bobs. The only improvement I can think of is a loop to assist in unzipping – the TiZip is quite firm and it was hard for me with my damaged thumb as well.  The diy crowd have thought about it, see this site to get a clearer picture of what I mean. Hopefully a simple improvement like this can make its way commercially.


Deck Cargo bag, raised seating.

I raised the seat height using my polyethylene foam sleeping mat to about 250mm upon suggestion from Mark Oates (he is an inspirational teacher: some great Youtube videos, Vimeo and Exposure presentations are made by him on packrafting).  This kept me from continually sitting in a puddle of water (one of the not so good aspects of a self-bailer especially in wintry waters). The stability was still good especially with a loaded hull. I cannot be so certain with an lighter load on white water and the higher centre of gravity – we’ll see in Canada ! I think with a inflatable seat atop the floor pad I can fine tune the height to what I am comfortable with. The deck cargo bag is fantastic. (and note the bed roll used to increase seat height)


Dry suit and undergarments.

The dry suit was warm even when immersed in the freezing river water. It is a tad heavy at 4kg, the brand is top notch a Helly Hansen, but I need to compromise a durability for weight I think. I would love to have a lighter one, but it is hard to justify the purchase of a new one . Unless I can get a good sale / exchange or prove my continual usage another one won’t happen.
I have some Sharkskin paddling pogies, they function well.  Also a Sharkskin vest and trousers. Though I have the polar micro fleece undergarments( Macpac and Kathmandu) I’ll take them for additional insurance. I’m also taking merino undergarments in case it gets super cold. (my comment on the pants/top is that it would be good to have a bib and brace or connector between the two as the pants tend to slip down – more an issue when I’m kiteboarding near the general public.)

Dressed for battle !  Note I’m using some old trail running shoes for river shoes is useful, they drain well  are light and have excellent grip. I think they will work instead of neoprene water boots. I’ll scout answers on the forums before finalising that decision.



The raft paddling went well despite the shortened stroke with the bike on it. I’ve yet to test it in serious water, there hasn’t been sufficient water levels to do it and my injuries would have curbed any opportunity. Maybe a wild day on the bay will suffice. I do feel super comfortable with the thigh braces and can lock in hard and at the same time exit quickly.

Walking test.

I ran out of time to test the walking, but I did that a few days ago walking 8km with a load of 22kg. I found the load quite heavy and will need to lighten it somehow, especially since there is no food and water in that content. I padded the sternum area further on my harness using exercise polyethylene foam matting to provide pressure relief. (see my earlier blog entry for back pack set up.)



  • Note to check destination and map. l  plugged into my navigation system Warburton when it dawned on me that I got it wrong. So re-route I ended up at Yarra Junction instead of my intended destination. The Yarra river is but a creek round Warburton and it was also quite narrow at Yarra Junction . There was a mild current, but nothing of danger especially with the number of trees in the water.
  • Rivers have mud and plenty of it. I did not bring anything to clean the gunk off  – remember to take a sponge and bucket or something to clean up ! (actually I have a Silnylon water bag but it is in my luggage !
  • OI000004  

  • My paddle strikes the handlebar of my bicycle.
    I had to shorten my stroke a lot to paddle. After checking this website  “The bulk of a bike strapped to the bow limits your ability to reach forward with the paddle, so it makes sense to use a slightly longer boat than normal to maintain an efficient paddle stroke.”   Bikerafting is perhaps not a goer for Canada as there is little time for refinement. I could experiment by moving the back brace rearward and forgoing the foot brace (or adding another cushion).
               I toyed with the idea of using a folding bike, unfortunately the ones I would need are pricey and over 2000USD and I don’t know how they’d go with 22kg or more of gear. I just missed out on a Airnimal Chameleon Folding Bike on Gumtree for $500AUD, it would have been the ideal experiment. I am quite taken with the Helix bike design too, and hope they manage to manufacture it (another opportunity missed – it was on KickStarter at $1200 for a titanium bike in 2015,now it’s 2019 price over 2200USD).  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more opportunities !
  • Picture below – on the water laden with 40kg of gear – see how the handlebar is within paddle striking range:


  • Bicycle mechanical issue –  I didn’t put a spacer in the disc brakes. The brake handle was squeezed perhaps whilst tying the bike on. I did not have any tools other than a pedal spanner so that put paid to any tests loading the gear onto the bike as I could not separate the pads.
  • I had issue with the foot anchor rest tearing its anchor and deflating. A replacement was sent to me, this time I did not anchor it as I felt the same failure will occur (there is only one loop to hold in place and no give in the holding strap so it won’t take the load of a braced leg). It’s a silly design, I’ll need to work on securing it in a better manner as a loss of it or another failure is a real nuisance in white water.
    The foot anchor pad tore from its single connection point and semicircular shape.  The semicircle makes it fit inside the bow but easy to rotate on the anchorage. If the pad deflates or the floor flexes,  the inelastic strap will also put a high load on the connection point when you brace your foot against it. A much better idea is to use elastic connection straps and two on the sides. Its inflation hose is quite long – the jury is out on it being beneficial.


A fine day for a paddle

I have booked in for a 11 day (9 days paddling) adventure on the Tatshenshi river in Canada with Tatshenshi  Expediting . I tried to join in with an amateur group, but the fellow organising it soon filled his vacancies. The price of his trip was less than half the commercial ones that I could find: I would have been very happy with that ! At $4250 CAD for the trip I’m doing, I had to chew it over for some time, but in the end I realise that rafting in a UNESCO heritage glacial wild river is a very special opportunity that few get to go on. Going with a commercial outfit provides some assurance in terms of safety – spend the money , this trip is no longer low budget !

The company is permitting me to take my packraft – my paddling fitness needs to ramped up. 

So on Saturday I brushed the cobwebs off the sea kayak and took it out for an a journey for four hours. What a stunning day, glad I did. I put the kayak up for sale due to its lack of use: if I don’t sell it I don’t mind. Usually when I sell my toys I regret it later. Working on the fitness is much better in this outdoor gym I reckon.


And what a stunning sunset too.


Money matters

I must have the most expensive give you nothing credit card on the planet (Mastercard Diamond CBA) it costs me $249 per year to have and it gives me points I never use, insurance I never seem to be able to use and charges 3% on foreign transactions. Why haven’t I changed it?  Well, it is a pain in the proverbial to set bank accounts and cards up these days and I just haven’t got around to it.

On the weekend I made a momentous move and gripped my teeth spending Sunday setting up some better money handling facilities. What did I get ?

  • HSBC global account
    This is a debit account that allows you to store money in several currencies. Handy to play the currency game especially these days with the southern plunge that the Aussie dollar is taking.
  • HSBC Visa platinum credit card
    no annual fees if you spend more than $6000 and two free business lounge passes.
  • BankWest Zero Mastercard
    no annual  fees, no foreign transaction fees – I save 3% on my current card on that one !


1) I have just come back from my trip to Canada (August 2019). HSBC stopped transactions on many occasions especially when moving from Canada to USA and back. It was driving me nuts, despite me informing them of my travel intentions. Luckily I still had my CBA mastercard. The Visa Debit (global account) is useless for hiring cars, to protect yourself here have a low limit credit card and cancel it if things go awry – that is you are victim and not the offender. 

2) BankWest were slow on approving my credit card so I cannot report on how well I went on its use. (20 days versus 3 for HSBC).

3) Hold on to that mobile phone. Banks these days make confirmations via the mobile phone. Change the SIM for a local provider they treat it as a suspicious move. I have a dual SIM phone but failed to place the Australian SIM in the second slot so no confirmations were received. I did not have a SIM extracting pin, nor was I in the city to get one so I could not remedy the issue other than by long expensive discussion over the phone.

I would have liked to use a Forex account to save further but it has limited use and risky as you need to transfer to the vendor’s bank account. (trust relationship, at least credit cards can be disputed).

I did my research using and .


There is an old adage – if you want to get something done, ask a busy person.

A lot of people seem to think I have a lot of free time given the adventures I do and write about. I probably have a lot less time than most. Running a business is a major consumer of time, daily family commitments eats time. The way I look at is that one needs to budget one’s time and make the most of it.

In any one year there is 52 weekends, around a dozen public holidays and 20 days of leave if you are an Australian worker. That makes for 136 days of recreation time. I get no where near that. There is things like household chores – shopping, cleaning, maintenance and rest required: but these can be reduced by outsourcing or changing the action dates/time to a non-weekend.

One of the important things to do is to avoid getting caught up in work and mundane chores, sure they are a necessity but as the saying goes work-life-balance. I hear on the news how x person is finding it tough to meet mortgage commitments and working a quadrillion hours – why ? Ok those reasons can be many, I was in the lowest income bracket for many years, it is hard. whilst in my 20s, the thing I learnt early after having a terrible crash driving home from the steelworks after a double shift was that it is not worth it !  The best thing that happened to me was the closure of the steelworks, move out of the area, a different job and focus away from earning enough money to buy a house. No more long hours of commuting and slave to work. I lived.  (still saved but avoided the slaved..)

The long hours lesson was not learned that early though. I made another error when starting my first business – I think many of us do – spending an inordinate amount of time in it rather than on it, a new family to boot. That business nearly, well it failed as poor credit management and the recession in the 1990s crippled it – those hours meant damage to health and loss of life opportunity at a peak special time in one’s life.

So the sage advice – plan and implement life, make it an adventure for what is available. Time is there to live as well as work and the balance on the former. The trouble is society likes it the other way round at 5 days a week and 8 hours during daylight hours and most of us won’t get life until it is time to retire: something the Government is pushing hard to extend the date of.

There you go – 136 days, and there is a couple of hours before and after work (if you don’t commute).

A boat on an open ocean without a rudder.

The upcoming trip to Canada is probably one of my difficult trips to plan. It started with a simple goal to do some packrafting at the Canadian rendezvous at Mt Robson in October last year as a result of a coinciding announcement and a sale by Canadian airlines. Someone on the Facebook forum speculated that the water would be too high due to snow melts and so I had to make a quick decision before the sales ended.

I changed the dates from June to March 2019 in with the view to do a skiing holiday. It was set. The problem was that I got busy as I always do trying to meet customer demands before my big family holiday in Tanzania in January.  We got back from our holiday in February, my wife collected the flu and I wasn’t too well either. March wasn’t going to happen

Little did I know, I could have put the change on hold as a credit for another and saved $200.  I found this out as I was about to cancel the trip – losing my money. There was another announcement in Feb sometime saying that the rendezvous was on. Hang it – I’ll do that: I should have stuck to the original trip it would have saved a thousand bucks. One of the problems was that I did this whole thing as a spur of the moment decision and really did not have the time required, which is what is required when a self organised trip such as this entails.

I am still extremely busy, there are numerous issues at work (I am a one man band) and feel like a boat in an open ocean without a rudder. However, the steering is gradually being restored.

Some of the ideas I have had and abandoned as it was too difficult to get enough interested people to join me (so frustrating) include:

  • Packraft the Spatsizi river in British Columbia. The book Northern British Columbia Canoe trips by Laurel Archer discusses many trips, this one is a good one as you ride a bike to the Spatsizi, packraft with it down the river joining the Stikine to complete a nice loop. Ben Brochu has a video in Vimeo and many other trips in Youtube. His blurb :
    Three friends set off on a 400km bikepacking and packraft expedition through the heart of the sacred headwaters in northwestern British Columbia, birthplace of three critical salmon rivers, and home to the Tahltan people. In the wake of the devastating Mount Polley Mine disaster, the team’s goal is to understand what is at stake as a wave of new mines are developed across this remote corner of the province. Their journey offers an exciting and sobering window into this wild landscape as they pedal through vast boreal forest, paddle frigid whitewater, battle monster trout, outrun a grizzly, learn about the Tahltan’s fight to protect their homeland and glimpse inside a massive open pit mine.
  • Packraft the Tatshenshini river in the Yukon
    This would be sensational by the look of it. A wild river running through the glaciated valleys of Canada’s north and Alaska. I left it a bit late for this one as you have to go in a ballot with parks Canada. I was offered one opening early July but there is still the logistics and getting enough interested parties together.
  • Packraft the Bonnet Plume / Peel river area or other rivers in the Yukon. This area is right up my alley and may be less prone to logs than in BC. These guys: and have superb inspirational blogs.

I then tinkered with some bike-rafting options

  • Trans Canada and Great trail from Mount Robson to Cranbrook, flying to Vancouver.
    I realise that my bike fitness is not up to scratch on this one. Work, Tanzania and illness has really dented my fitness levels. There are some seriously hilly areas to deal with, let alone being alone with those wild animals Canada is famous for. I also realise that it is difficult logistically to pack the bike for the flight back to Vancouver. Some great details on the mountain biking (I’ll have to come back with a posse of friends !) here.
  • Bike to Banff then travel down the Bow river to Calgary
    This is still an option.
  • Head to Calgary then fly to Idaho for another packrafting meet at Hot Springs Campground for the 2019 packraft roundup, but with a twist: bike-rafting the snake river and riding to Hot Springs. Here is a map of what I was thinking. Another area of major interest is the Salmon river.

As a matter of note packrafting meetups are quite an upcoming thing. I’m finding more as I wander the web. Here are some sites of interest: 2019 Packrafting Meet-ups and Destinations,  and Note to self:October 5 – 7: Australian Packrafting Meetup, held around the Canberra and Murrumbidgee River region.

So many ideas !

What have I settled on so far prior to the Mount Robson rendezvous:

  1. Two days to land and get my act together in Vancouver. Jetlag is a thing coming from Australia.
  2. Fly up to Whitehorse to meet up with some travelling friends and then do the Chilkoot trail.  Many moons ago I visited Skagway with my wife for a honeymoon trip cruising the Inside Passage. We caught the heritage train to the finish point of this trail and the history regaled kind of stuck in the memory banks. Great to have the opportunity to step in the the trail of the Klondike gold rush pioneers.
  3. Head to Edmonton taking the time to see the bison on the Elk Island national park apparently up there with number of animals of the likes of the Serengeti in Tanzania. I’d be thrilled to see a even a small margin. Wikipedia writes a good article on the area.

The later part of the trip – and there is still 20 days to go is up in the air.  I’m starting to think that the bike is too much of a burden, car hire might have to happen.   I’m also wending towards doing a commercial trip on the Tatshenshini river: I found a company that does it based in Whitehorse and there is a trip running from the 3rd of July, straight after the rendezvous – it is going to cost, but how often will I get this opportunity ?

We will see how things pan out !

A solution for my back pack.

On my last blog entry I discussed an issue I had with back packs and packrafting.

The packs I have are for bush walking. The requirements for packrafting  are quite different. With all the gear there is a lot of bulk and very few packs on the market can take the volume and deal with the wet gear this issue also exists when I go kiteboarding).  I am not happy with any of the larger packs , nor strapping on extra items. Ideally everything should go in a single pack.

Staring at my bushwalking packs I thought “why isn’t there an ability to simply buy the harness and I use a dry bag or something ?”. I was tempted to cut up my old Berghaus pack but couldn’t as it has sentimental value: not until I have done some research.


It turns out that other people have had this issue and there other options.  After investigating a few the solution I settled on was the NRS Paragon Pack . It was quite expensive for what it is at near $180 AUD having to buy it from the U.S.A – what with the decline of the Aussie dollar and the cartel of US delivery options – ridiculous for what it is but cheaper for me rather than mucking around making my own or spending forever finding alternatives.

Taking delivery today I am glad it fitted my duffle bag and seems to fit well ergonomically. I may need to add some padding for the waist back, that will be determined after a couple of practice hikes.

The duffle bag by the way is the largest one can get that fits most international bag dimensions, it weighs 2.3 kg and has wheels – I may look at removing wheels to make lighter, we’ll see – they might be useful !  See Eagle Creek Migrate Wheeled Duffel 110L (I bought this as it fits my split kiteboard)




For reference some of the other options I looked at include: