Tagged ‘Travel‘

How to travel like you can’t afford it.

Taylor and I have managed to do a lot of traveling. Enough so that our friends are always asking us how we make it work. Even now, as I wrap up the fourth week of a rural psychiatry rotation in Southern Oregon, we’re planning the final details for flying to Japan next week.

I think travel is pretty awesome. It expands your world. It expands your comfort zone. It brings you in touch with people and cultures that expand your appreciation for the human race. In the interest of persuading you to travel like we do, if only once, I’ve compiled a list of tips, hacks, and philosophies that make it possible to put together amazing travel experiences with less money than you’d expect. It’s not definitive, but it works for us. Over and over again.


This adorable hut on the amazing Bomber traverse would never be here on this page if it weren’t for a half-cocked dream turned into reality by unbridled optimism and half-sane planning.

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Skiing the Bomber Traverse: Part 1

I first learned about the Bomber Traverse while doing something that I often do: reading a guidebook while sitting on the toilet. Some time ago, I heard about The Alaska Factor by Joe Stock, and I’d ordered it on impulse. Then, in January, in the depths of boards-study distress and desperate for something to look forward to, I was looking for an adventure idea. Taylor and I had a meeting. We nixed the plan we’d been talking about to travel to Japan; it was too soon and too much money. For once, I had no other ideas. Until I sat on The John.
Descending into Anchorage over the Chugach.

Descending into Anchorage over the Chugach, building stoke.

The Bomber Traverse is a ski loop outside of Palmer, AK, in the Talkeetna mountains. It begins near the locally famed touring zone of Hatcher Pass and cuts a modest circle of 20-ish miles and 6000’ across two passes. It’s clearly possible to ski in a day (and it has been many times), but three huts situated around the loop make it equally well-suited to going heavy and skiing the surrounding terrain.

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Mt Rainier: Paradise and Van Trump Park

It’s been a busy couple of weeks around Mountain Lessons HQ (ie, my Subaru). With the lax winter precipitation, there hasn’t been a lot to do around Portland besides pretending that it’s Spring. Except, unlike spring, the temperatures are still sufficiently wint’ry to prevent a predicatble corn cycle. This is life

With a long weekend jiggered together, Taylor and I decided to run up to Mt Rainier last weekend. It has been, I’m ashamed to admit, almost a decade since I was last there. What an enormous mountain, what amazing terrain, and what startling proximity to Portland (2.5hrs!?). We didn’t read the forecast and as a consequence, we were pleasantly surprised to discover almost a foot of stable, fresh snow under splitter blue skies.


We started up the main cattle drive to Camp Muir… with every skier in Seattle in tow.


Running into winds up high (blowing clouds visible at left) we decided to scoop the primo run right next to the skin track. Taylor makes tracks in the cloud shadow.

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Prepping for Jet-Setting

As this post goes up I’m packing gear, skis, and gumption to jump on a plane to Utah tomorrow morning. The agenda for the week includes some skiing in the Wasatch, a lot of car time, some Crested Butte corn, and finally, the ‘ol GoreTex Grand Traverse.

It’s funny to look out at this week while taking antibiotics and Sudafed for sinus infection, but I have a good feeling about how things will pan out. In the mean time, I know it’s been a slow news week, so here are some photos from recent outings.

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to guide a day for the Air Force 304th Rescue Squadron. The Air Force says that “These battlefield Airmen are the most highly trained and versatile personnel recovery specialists in the world”. Essentially, they’re parajumping combat paramedics trained to navigate any terrain they come across. They came to us at Mountain Savvy to spend a day out evaluating and traveling through avalanche terrain. Conditions were less than ideal:


The 304th, laughing their way through the rain.

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Notes from the Field #1

Northern Talkeetna Mountains, July 23, 2010.  Copied by hand into my notebook from course documents.

“I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all the times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me and alone; on shore and when
Through scuddling drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name.”
(Tennyson – Ulysees)

“The passage of time can work for me or against me: I must not drop the ball, and I must keep my name, so painstakingly discovered.
Listen! I know that something similar will happen to you someday, for in our wide world there are many goings home. We must hold on to our dreamings, all of us, now that we have earned the right to dream.”
(Morgan Hite – After the Adventure)