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How-To

May 28, 2019

The Wonders of a Weekend Warrior

Part-Time Writer, Part-Time Server, Part-Time Substitute Teacher... Full-Time Weekend Warrior

WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

For the past several years, I have been a full-time nomad. No steady home, no rent checks, no cozy bed to come back to after a long day on the river. My “home address” is legally listed as my parents’ house in Missoula, Montana, but out of the past three years combined, I don’t think I have spent more than 60 days there. My real home is a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. I travel from river to river, parking where I please, and sleeping where I please. An old, beat-up topper covers the bed of the truck. One of the biggest learning experiences I have had from my life as a nomad – do not buy items off Craigslist at night, when you cannot fully inspect them.

Truck life. Photo: Seth Ashworth

“Nah, this topper is solid. No cracks!” is what I was told by the man selling it to me. Turns out,  I will believe anything I am told if it comes at a cheap price. Multiple days spent working with fiberglass and caulking glue have ensured that I have a dry place to sleep every night. Well… dry enough, at least. The topper, combined with a savvy carpentry project by myself, my dad, and my uncle, has provided me with a home for the past three years, which, not including the price of the truck itself, cost a whopping $150.

A recent illness acquired while traveling abroad has left me with some fairly intense food intolerances, which, as it turns out, are much easier to manage with access to a real kitchen. Reluctantly, I moved my minimal belongings into a real house and settled into a life as a weekend warrior. Hesitant to leave my nomadic lifestyle behind, I have vowed to work as much as possible during this strange and uncomfortable “house phase”, thus saving enough money to ensure many more nomadic days in my future, once I am healthy enough to get back on the road. Working as a part-time writer, a part-time substitute teacher, and a part-time server at an Italian restaurant, my “weekend warrior” routine evolved more into a “monthly warrior” routine. An unfortunate side-effect of working three jobs at once, I am finding myself paddling less than I would like. But the motivation of getting back to my full-time adventure lifestyle in the future is what is keeping me going.

A couple weeks ago, I unexpectedly found myself with a full THREE days off of each of my jobs in a row! Not wanting to waste a second of it, I hastily threw a random assortment of warm clothes, kayaking gear, sleeping bags, and food necessities into my truck and took off on a mission.

Bouncing up and down, back and forth, all I can think about is keeping all four tires on the ground and not bottoming out. I am in a high clearance Toyota Tacoma, but the road is so bad, I am still occasionally hearing the nails-on-chalkboard sound of rocks against the truck’s undercarriage.

I am heading to Peace Wave, on the Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho. Situated on a sandy beach, deep in the canyon without cell service or contact with the outside world, the wave is a freestyle kayaker’s dream getaway.

I eventually reach my destination, pull into a sandy lot next to the river, and start setting up camp. Pulling my kayak out of the back of my truck, I am careful not to whack it against any of the other numerous items I have stashed away back there. I am only planning on being away from home for three days, but for some reason I have brought nearly every item I own.

Anxiously peering out at the river, I spot the wave that I came to surf. A beautiful, glassy, green wave, with the perfect amount of foam. This wave isn’t nearly as big and scary as the usual river waves I surf. In fact, in comparison, it is actually quite small. But I didn’t come here for a thrill. I came here alone. For the experience. I came here for some solo soul surfing in one of the most beautiful canyons in the western United States.


As I am sorting through my gear, getting ready for my first paddling session, I check my camera only to find the batteries are all dead. Typical Brooke… I bring everything I own, but don’t manage to check if the things I brought will actually work out there! I had promised myself that I would film my sessions, so I could at least pretend to be training and taking it seriously. 

I decide to put off paddling for one more hour while my camera battery charges. I dig my Jackery Portable Power Station out of the back of my truck, hoping it still has some charge leftover from the last trip I took with it. I plug in my camera, and right away the USB connection light starts blinking and I know it is getting some juice. 

Everyone needs to charge their phone, even while camping! Photo: Brooke Hess.

I spend the next hour pacing around camp, eating snacks, and anxiously checking my camera’s battery. A short 40 minutes after plugging it in, the battery reads 80%. Enough to go kayaking for two hours, and then some!


I quickly throw my gear on, set the camera on a rock, press record, and hop in my boat. I spend the next two hours throwing trick after trick, trying not to let the cold, October water dampen my spirits. Eventually, exhausted and hungry, I crawl out of my boat and walk up the rocks to check the camera. Still recording… perfect!

It’s just past 6:00pm, which in October in Idaho, means it is starting to get dark. I quickly get out of my kayaking gear, into some warm fleece, and start cooking tonight’s meal of turkey noodle soup. While cooking, I decide to plug my laptop into the Jackery Power Station to charge that up as well. If it is going to be getting dark this early, I might as well get some writing done in the evenings!

Screenshot from Brooke’s camera during her training session on Peace Wave.


Sitting on the tailgate of my truck, I eat my soup in silence as the stars begin to shine. I haven’t seen another person since I arrived at the river four hours ago, and probably won’t for the next three days.

After dinner, I decide to settle into work.  I am working on an article about River Access Fees. It is fitting that I am writing this article while camped next to a river with an access fee for multi-day rafting trips.

Several hours of transcribing interviews, picking out good quotes, and writing later, my eyes are so heavy I can feel my head slowly nodding towards my laptop screen. I stash my laptop and the Jackery Power Station, crawl into bed, and dream of surfing Peace Wave until morning, when I wake up and do it all over again.

Brooke working in her truck on a cold day in December. Photo: Sierra McMurry

Cover Photo by Sierra McMurry

 

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

Whilst you’re here, given you believe in our mission, we would love to introduce you to The Outdoor Voyage – our booking platform and online marketplace which only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.

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How-To

Jun 24, 2019

Dealing With Dietary Restrictions In The Backcountry.

Gluten intolerance, vegan, Halal, nut allergy, dairy-free, Kosher… whatever your dietary restrictions may be, you don’t have to let it hinder your ability to get out and enjoy the backcountry!

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WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

We spoke with expedition whitewater kayaker, Ben Stookesbury, about his experience of maintaining a vegan diet on long kayaking expeditions. As a guy that needs to hike to remote rivers, nutrition, to maintain endurance is key. As Ben’s puts it “I began going after rivers that had not yet been explored, and quickly realized the endurance component of carrying a heavy kayak – sometimes days into a wild river or around unrunnable stretches of river – was the key to the mission”.

Read Next: Adventuring On A Plant-Based Diet With Ben Stookesbury

We took Ben’s advice and put together some tips for dealing with your dietary restrictions in the backcountry.

Photo: Brooke Hess

Preparation is Key

It’s easy to head to REI and buy the pre-made freeze-dried backpacker meals. They are easy to prepare, lightweight, and a quick cleanup. The cons? They are expensive, kinda gross, and most likely don’t comply with your food intolerances or restrictions! So, instead of doing that, just prepare your own meals!

Plan your meals ahead of time, so you know exactly what ingredients to shop for before you go on your trip. Crack a bunch of eggs into a nalgene for scrambled egg dinners. Portion out oatmeal, nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate chips into a ziplock for breakfasts. Make your own granola bars, jerkey, and bread for sandwiches. Know exactly what food you will eat for each meal while you are in the backcountry, and prep it accordingly.

For Stookesbury, planning and preparing his meals before a long trip “takes some focus and forethought… but it feels quite empowering to be so much more cognizant of what I am putting in my body, and obviously there is simply no longer the need to eat much of anything that has all those nasty preservatives.”

Go With Good People

Unfortunately, some people are not as accommodating of food restrictions of others. I can’t say why, but some people think of food restrictions as “picky eating” and “high maintenance”, rather than a serious medical need or a spiritual belief. The fact that you may get seriously sick from eating gluten, or go into anaphylactic shock from your food being near peanut butter might not quite register on their radar. It doesn’t mean they are a bad people, but it might mean you avoid going on long backcountry trips with them in the future.

Alternatively, there are many people out there who are WONDERFUL to plan trips with. They will go out of their way to make sure you have the food you need, and will often sacrifice their own meal plan in order to include you in the group cooking. These people are the best, and you should keep them in your contacts for future backcountry trips. Sharing food and coordinating meals with the group will save both time and weight while carrying food into the backcountry, so going with good people who don’t mind accommodating your dietary needs is key!

Photo: Brooke Hess

Make Time For Three Full Meals A Day

No NOLS-style meal plans here. Stookesbury says one of the most important parts of expeditioning is “planning the time to eat three tasty meals a day.”

Give yourself enough time in the morning to cook up a hot breakfast. Plan a one hour stop mid-day to prepare a sandwich or wrap for lunch. Give yourself enough time in the evening at camp to cook a meal of veggies, protein, and carbs. Without the ease of the freeze-dried backpacker meals, you will have to put more time into your meal prep. But don’t worry, you’ll be happy you did when you are eating a freshly-prepared meal of roasted veggies and quinoa!

SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS!

Find a bar that works for you. And if you can’t – make your own!

I have spent the past year searching for the best gluten free and dairy free bars. I want the maximum amount of calories and protein, in the smallest possible package. As soon as I found one I liked, I ordered it in bulk on Amazon. I now have a stash of 50+ energy bars in my truck ready to be packed into a drybag, backpack, or ski jacket as soon as the need arises.

If you can’t find one that works with your diet, or can’t find one that you like – make your own! Any combination of dried fruits, nuts, oats, honey, and dark chocolate can make a damn good energy bar. You can find recipes online for homemade bars, then substitute various ingredients to make it work with your diet.

Stookesbury prefers the trail mix method to energy bars. “Nuts, dried fruit, and vegan chocolate is my personal substitute for an energy bar, and I call it a homemade energy bag! Keeping that ‘Power Bag’ of nuts, dried fruit, and some quality chocolate is a good way to keep your energy up and make snacking easy.”

Other popular snacking favorites include jerky, chocolate-covered almonds, cheese sticks (if you can eat dairy), and nut butters.

Photo: Brooke Hess

Be Prepared To Carry More Weight If Needed

I recently met a woman who has developed a severe allergy to all red meat, due to a bite from a Lone Star Tick. If she eats beef, pork, lamb, or any other red meat, she goes into anaphylactic shock. Even if her food is cooked in the same cast iron pan that has recently been in contact with red meat, she could go into anaphylactic shock. For these reasons, whenever she embarks on a backcountry expedition, she brings all her own cookware (and an EpiPen, just in case). She has learned to be adamant about her dietary needs on trips, and often prepares her food separate from the group. She is well aware that her food restrictions might force her to carry more weight than other members in her group, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing her pursuit of overnight expeditions!

Photo: Brooke Hess

Examples of Day-Long Meal Plans for Various Diets:

Stookesbury’s Favorite Backcountry Vegan Meal Plan

Breakfast -150g oats, chia, flax, pumpkin seeds, hemphearts, raisins and walnuts (add a little salt).

Snack – Powerbag (nuts, dried fruit, vegan chocolate)

Lunch – Hummus, veg (arugula, beet, carrot, avo) sandwich

Dinner – 150g Rice, lentils, broccoli, onion, garlic, with or without nuts, salt, and olive oil.

 

TOJ’s Favorite Backcountry Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Meal Plan

Breakfast – Pre-cut kale scrambled with eggs, avocado, and vegan “cheese”

Snack – Bobo’s gluten free oat bars, apple, and dairy-free dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Lunch – Gluten free tortillas with peanut butter and jelly

Dinner – Roasted root veggies (sweet potato, beets, carrots, potato), kale, and quinoa, topped with avocado and vegan “cheese” if preferred.

Photo: Brooke Hess

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

The Outdoor Voyage booking platform and online marketplace only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.

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