I finished my meeting with a reinsurance partner in Keene, New Hampshire and was headed back to my hotel in Manchester. The end of June provided plenty of sunlight for the drive back and I must have passed half a dozen vehicles with kayaks on top. To my left and right I saw lakes and streams just begging to be paddled, but there was no way for me to take my Dagger kayak on a business trip. Much like countless other business and leisure trips, I was left with a longing to be on the water and no kayak available.
Things changed for me in 2016 on a back country trip into the Wrangell St. Elias National Park when one of our guides, Taylor of ennicott Wilderness Guides, pulled a packraft out of his backpack after we had hiked up to Ross Green Lake. Taylor introduced me to my solution.
When we returned from our Alaskan adventure my wife Googled up numerous packraft companies, many in Europe. She found Alpacka Packrafts in Durango, Colorado and bought me and my son one for Christmas.
From that moment on, the water world became so much more accessible.
When I leave for business now I have a suit bag and a duffel bag with a packraft, life jacket, helmet and paddle. I don't always get a chance to use the raft, but I know it is there if time and daylight permit.
In just a little over 18 months I've rafted down rivers in Northern Michigan, the Colorado River in Utah, the boundary waters in Minnesota, my favorite spot Twin Lakes in Colorado, bayous in Louisiana, and countless other spots previously out of reach for my trailer and 16 foot sea kayaks.
When my wife Danae and I head off on weekend adventures, the packrafts now are a regular part of our luggage. Together we enjoy the peace of flat waters and slow moving rivers, as well as the occasional class I or II.
The hotter or colder the weather the less likely we'll see anyone out on the water, making the experience all the more enjoyable for us.
My son is an avid fly fisherman and quickly employed our packrafts for his hobby. The durable material makes you less nervous about a fast returning hook. After I took a few rookies down a swift shallow stream in Michigan I learned quickly the durability of the Aplacka rafts as my guest slammed into countless tree branches and the pack survived unscathed.
We enjoyed the rafts so much we bought a total of seven. Two for easy leisure, four for whitewater and a two person craft for various adventures. We used the larger raft to paddle together in Oklahoma just last weekend. The Wichita Mountains are just a short three hour drive from DFW.
The places to paddle are countless. I encourage you to expand your access with a packraft.
Below is a photo from our first introduction to packrafts at Ross Green Lake in Alaska. If you're interested in a trip to the largest national park in the U.S. contact our incredible guides, Kennicott Wilderness Guides. Betsy and crew will take great care of you.
Just five minutes using a small bag to air up the rafts and you are set to go. Our first time with the rafts in the boundary waters was incredible.