Year: 2014

The ‘Why’ of Ultralight

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I pack to capacity, no matter the occasion or size of
bag.  I fill it even if it may not be
necessary, I always find last minute things to pop into my bag.  Ultralight backpackers would probably either
keel over reading this, shake their heads or see me as the perfect candidate
for an ultralight makeover.  Luckily, I
am self-aware of my ‘packing problem’ and jumped at the opportunity to go to a
talk in the area.  After all, who could really resist attending
an event called: “Beer + Gear | Spotlight on Ultralight Backpacking”, especially when the proceeds go to the Pacific Crest Trail Association?  What I soon found out is that the ultralight
philosophy can be applied to not just backpacking, but really any variety of
packing. 

Hosted at the Cedar House Hotel in Truckee, CA, we were
greeted, pointed to the beer (and tasty apps) portion of the event and mingled
with fellow participants and the speaker himself – Glen Van Peski.  Glen is a native Californian who enjoys
tromping around the trails in the western states, and sometimes finds himself
on the east coast too.  He started sewing
his own ultralight backpacks and gear, which in turn was the beginning of his
pack and gear company, 
Gossamer Gear
Quipped by one writer as the ‘guru of ultralight’, we found out why this
was after we grabbed our drinks, a cookie and took a seat.

What did we learn during that time in the conference room
with movie, talk and Q & A period? 
The why, how and precautions of going ultralight.  For this post, let’s focus on the why.

Lite, light, feather-weight, ultralight…the list goes on to
describe adjectives many companies use to market their products.  Why is lighter necessarily better?  To use the lyrics from the musical duo Daft
Punk: ‘…better, faster, stronger’.

Carrying less weight is easier on your body, plain and
simple.  We were told a story of 80+ year
old grandparents that had embraced ultralight backpacking.  They were in the woods for a week-long trip
and only left the trail not from sore knees, backs or blisters, but because
they had to attend a grandchild’s wedding. 
Shed pounds from your pack and you can add years to your backpacking
days.

Less weight allows you to go farther: your muscles and
joints aren’t having to compensate for the extra pounds you’re carrying.  Therefore, you can go farther into the
backcountry, log more miles on your hike and get more out of your weekend,
week, or month trip.

Lastly, going light helps in an emergency situation.  If you or someone in your group gets injured
and you have lighter, less gear, you increase your ability to travel faster
and/or help carry someone else’s gear. 

Next up: how you can go lighter.  You may be asking yourself if it costs an arm
and a leg.  As with most gear, you could
spend a good portion of winning lottery tickets getting the greatest and
lightest gear.  On the other side of the
spectrum, you may already have what you need to go lighter in your camping
quiver.  

Insight into Travel Insurance

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Insurance isn’t fun. 
We get that; especially because we love having fun.  So why on earth are we writing about travel
insurance in the hopes that you may find it interesting?  Well, we are often asked the very personal
question of whether or not to purchase travel insurance.  What do you recommend?  Who do you recommend?  Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight answer.  Even if you come to the decision of
purchasing travel insurance, you then need to choose the level of
coverage.  The only sure thing that we do
know is that those who have used it to recoup thousands of vacation dollars due
to unexpected circumstances, have been more than happy for their decision.

The other day we found an article from Frommer’s that helps
to delve a bit into the question of whether  to roll the dice without insurance or hedge
your bet.  It’s a short one that looks
into when you may want to get insurance, points out a few resources that may
give you a false sense of security (homeowners insurance, credit card company coverage,
etc.) and how the industry is changing to include more in your policy.

Nope, insurance for most people would most
likely not be classified under ‘glamorous’, but it is something that we
globetrotters have to think about every now and then. 

Click here for the article: Frommer’s Primer on Travel Insurance

Update on HidroAysen

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Update on HidroAysen –

  

We were only 3 short weeks into 2014 when Chilean
environmentalists received some of what will likely be the best news of the year
and river lovers around the world and all of us here at BBX let out a deep sigh
of relief.  

HidroAysen, the controversial hydroelectric project
that proposes to construct five mega dams in Chilean Patagonia, has been put on
hold yet again… and this time it may be permanent.  Now Endesa Chile (who owns
51% of HidroAysen) claims that legal challenges and uncertainty
surrounding the dams’ transmission lines are why the project has been moved from
short to medium term priority in Endesa’s most recent investment holders
report.

The hydroelectric project has faced heavy opposition
from the start as it would threaten two of the far South’s most wild and scenic
rivers, the Baker and the Pascua, and forever alter the surrounding wild lands
and local communities. Also, many claim the project to be too high risk.  So, it
is no surprise that many Chileans are opposed.  

The project appears to be steadily losing support
over the years.  In 2012, Colbún (Chile’s third largest private electric company
that owns 49% of HidroAysen) halted work on their side of the dam citing lack of
funding and public and political support of the project and now Endesa is
putting the project on an indefinite hold.

Which is great! But it’s not a done deal. The hope
now is that renewable energy sources will become more available and better
developed over the next few years while there is a government in office that
opposes of the project so that  when HidroAysen rears it’s ugly head again, it
will been viewed as irrelevant and passé.

So today, we celebrate this milestone and embrace
Endesa’s announcement to put HidroAysen on the shelf.  Let’s cross our fingers
that wind from the south and/or solar from the north can find its way into
Chile’s power equation for the future and that the wild beauty and cultural
heritage of Chilean Patagonia will be preserved.

The Proud, The Few, of the Futaleufu

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For this past ‘Talent/No Talent Show’ at
the Bio Bio Expeditions camp on the Futaleufu River, the talented Mr. Rich Roberts graced us
with his documentation of his week via an ode to this special place
on the globe.  Paddle hard, smile and ENJOY!

The Proud, The Few, of the Futaleufu

By Rich RobertsFu Waters

Somewhere really faraway

Past Paraguay and Uruguay

We traveled for a venture stay

Way down the length of Argentine

And a mere cab ride into Chile.

We gather with folks we barely
knew

To do those things that only the
Few (Fu)

Who have the guts, the courage
and the right guides can do

All in search of that perfect line…on
The Futaleufu.

We raided the shelves back home at
the REI

And had 6 hours of VET class everyday
– no lie

We gathered logs for the brew
house and then

We drank 40 more beers so the
walls won’t be thinDining Hall Fu Style

I raise my glass to BIO BIO for
putting this curse on us

To head back home now and bust
our ass to do what we must

Come back and rejoin The Proud
and the Few (FU)

Who have run that perfect line on
The Futaleufu.

We fished and rode horseback and
ate just like Kings

We hot tubbed and late partied
and took chances on swings

As strangers we gathered, we
depart now as friends

All bonded together by that means
to an end

That inner quest for the
challenge – The raw fear

The great fight – The hunger, The
need, to do what we do

In search of that perfect line…on
The Futaleufu.