As we look back on the 2016 summer season, we were pleased to see so many familiar faces on our backcountry trips this year. While it’s not uncommon for the Wrangells to leave you thirsting for more, this year we had an especially high number of folks on their second, third, or even fourth visits! We think that we run a great program in an amazing place, but it’s great to see that our clients think so too – they found something good and kept on coming back! This winter, we’re going to take some time to spotlight our returning clients.
To kick off this series, there’s no one better to start with than Brian and River!
Brian and River are in the lead for the “highest consecutive number of backpacking trips with SEAG” award. And the prize? Exclusive bragging rights of course! Brian is from Boulder, CO, and River is from Marin, CA, but they meet up in the Wrangells each year for a combination vacation and business trip! They love Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and use the yearly backpacking trip to continue to explore new Alaska territory, push their personal boundaries, and step “outside the box” to inspire creative business thinking in the remote wilderness environment. I agree with you boys – I think the mountains are the best business inspiration there is! To stretch out those weary backpacking muscles, Brian and River make sure to do one or two mountain yoga sessions with their guide Jason on every trip!
So if you’re interested in Brian and River’s adventures in the Wrangells, check out this summary, written by guide Jason, who’s joined them for every trip:
2013: Fan Glacier Basecamp: 4 days of Alaska hiking and exploring in their “Intro to the Wrangell-St. Elias” trip. They were absolutely hooked during this trip and we already planned their return trip before the trip was over!
2014: Allie’s Valley to Bremner Mine: 2 days at Allie’s Valley hiking and exploring, and then 4 days backpacking to the Bremner airstrip. Brian tore his calf only a week or two before the trip so we had to assess his ability to complete the trip while out in the wilderness. He loves our park so much that he would not be deterred, and gritted it out. He is one tough guy to do that in such difficult and intense terrain!
2015: High Pass Odyssey: This trip was done in reverse order in 5 days. Then we relaxed with 2 days of kayaking around the icebergs in Nizina Lake. Our day of hiking into Nizina was a grueling 11 hour day that ended in hiking the last hour in the dark by headlamp – talk about tough! The boys were finding their limits and pushing right past them. In the end, it was all worth it to be greeted by guide Richard at our Nizina endpoint with coolers full of beer, salmon and fresh food!
2016: Journey to Oz+ : We were supposed to go to the north part of the park just southwest of the town of Nabesna to explore new territory. However, we were hit with several days of horrendous weather in the area that prevented us from flying in. So in pure Wrangell style, we quickly improvised and formulated a “plan B”. The boys had never done this route before and in the end they both thought it was the most spectacular scenery of all of our trips to date! As previously scheduled, River was picked up by the pilots partway through the trip to return home after 7 days of backpacking. Brian and I continued up to Packsaddle Island and then back to McCarthy through Donoho Basin for an extended 3 days of backpacking. The terrain was intense and the days were long, but the weather and scenery were spectacular! Returning to town on foot at the end of our 10 day journey was bittersweet. Although we both looked forward to beers and a warm bed, we still longed for the simplicity of living in the remote and rugged Wrangell wilderness. This place really changes you forever! Brian and River are already planning their next epic adventure of kayaking and backpacking at Icy Bay next summer!
We’re excited to plan it with you too! Thanks for all the great memories, and we’re looking forward to more in the future!