Game for adventure: The Cairns-Locke girls cozy up in the Yukon. Photo: Peter Mather
When I opened the latest Patagonia catalog and saw this picture by nature photographer Peter Mather, I was instantly filled with envy and awe. Lying on a dirty concrete floor in a frigid cabin in the middle of winter in the Yukon, reading by candlelight, these three children seemed to embody all the qualities of true rippers. They looked so fresh-faced and content, so intrepid and game! I tore out the photo and taped it to the wall above my desk, for inspiration.
Then, because I had to know more, I tracked down Peter, a high school math teacher in Whitehorse, who moonlights for publications like Canadian Geographic, Canadian Wildlife, and Patagonia, and goes on frequent adventures with his wife and three stepdaughters: Kennedy, 13; Ava, 11; and Maya, 9. Peter gave me the back story on this picture and so much more: a blueprint for raising hardcore adventurous kids in all latitudes and every season. No whining allowed!
This week Raising Rippers is launching a new feature. It’s called Picture of the Week and every week—or as often as we’re inspired—we’ll post a particularly riveting or rad photo about adventuring with kids and give you the backstory behind the shot. What were they thinking? How'd they pull it off?* Got your own picture of the week? Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, March 2012. Photo: Erika Benson
Benson took this picture while road tripping last spring across the Southwest with her husband and two daughters (ages 14 months and three) and describes the trip this way: It took us 10 days to go from New Mexico to Los Angeles, which if you look on Mapquest, should only take 14 hours. We had no plan. The first night we camped in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was 34 degrees and we’d packed for spring. The baby was up all night freezing. Finally I put her in the car to be warmer. From there we went to Lake Havasu City, where it was 96 degrees and we swam in the lake, which was like a slick of oil from all the boats. The only reason we went there was because London Bridge is there. The real one. It’s kind of cool that they took it apart stone by stone and then rebuilt it—but it’s still a gross American city. Then we went to Joshua Tree National Park. Somebody told us to camp at Jumbo Rocks Campground. It’s beautiful! There are lots of rocks for the kids to climb on. The baby woke up at 5 a.m., and I walked with her to try to keep her quiet. It was gorgeous then, with the sun rising all around.
This picture was taken at 10 in the morning. We were trying to break down camp and I couldn’t do it with her in the baby carrier. She would be a hazard. Earlier in the morning, hiking with her to get her to sleep, I’d seen these park signs: Be careful where you put your hands because of snakes. So there we were putting her in the Pack 'n' Play between big rocks. But it was shady! The campground wasn’t crowded when we got there and we drove around for a while looking for the perfect site. This one was tucked behind bushes and really private. We had to make lots of little trips from the car, so that’s why we needed to put her down. She slept for an hour and a half. She was tucked away so we couldn’t all the way see her, but we kept checking.
While Nemo’s Hunker won't stand up against the toughest conditions, after you’ve been out hiking or skiing all day, it can be rejuvenating to duck out of the wind or weather. Nemo’s Hunker let’s you sidestep the elements quickly and
easily so that you can rest, warm up, escape the sun, or just regroup.
The Hunker is a 7.5-ounce shelter that uses a trekking pole (BYO) or tarp pole (sold separately) to give
you a 49-inch-high shelter that's big enough for two. With 24 square
feet of inside space, it’s just the ticket when the lean-to is far, the trail
took some turns you weren’t anticipating, or when you’re in camp and you wish you had an extra vestibule.
many cultures, your life depends on your knife.
A knife is the tool you use to prepare food, hunt and dress animals, work skins, cut firewood, clear brush and vegetation. In southern cultures that knife is a often a machete. In northern Europe, the indigenous Sami people, who live in northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, use a smaller machete-strong and versatile knife. Helle modeled its Lappland after the Sami blade.
A semi-nomadic Sami reindeer herder uses his knife like an axe for the heavy work of maintaining
his homestead, feeding his family, and making his clothing. The Lappland is suited to all of the above—it's a work of art that's designed to be used. It's the ultimate camp knife, whether you're working or whittling.
The made-in-Norway Lappland is not as large as a machete, but it is a hefty tool outfitted with a thin, 8.5-inch non-laminated steel blade made for
slicing. The birch handle with cast brass fittings brings the knife to 13.25 inches. It comes
in a traditional Scandinavian-style etched leather sheath, where the knife sits
deep and secure.
October solitude on the Rio Chama. Photo: Katie Arnold
Last weekend we went camping on the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico. This wilderness canyon is one of our favorite places in the Southwest, and we figured it would be one of the last warmish weekends of the year. Time to sneak in one final night under the stars before winter.
It was snowing in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains the morning we left, so we debated bringing our 1961 Airstream trailer. We have a tumultuous love/hate relationship with the Airstream. I love it once we get to where we’re going, but Steve hates towing it. Something’s always falling off or breaking, and it’s an absolute bear to get up the driveway. Steve jokingly named it the Broken Capillary after he burst a blood vessel in one eye trying to back it up the gravel hill. In the year and a half since we got it, we've taken it on (mis)adventures in Marfa, Crested Butte, and Colorado, and at some point during every trip Steve threatens to put it on Craigslist.
This time, though, because we were only going for a night, it seemed far simpler to leave the Airstream at home and bring the next best thing: the new Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 tent.
Not your typical family tent. Photo: Courtesy Big Agnes