Adam Bradley's view of the Yukon River. Photo: Adam Bradley
If you follow notable (read: crazy) solo expeditions, you
likely recognize the name Adam Bradley—or Krudmeister, as his friends call
him. In 2009, Bradley set a record for the fastest unsupported through-hike of
the Pacific Crest Trail: 65 days, nine hours, 58 minutes, and 47 seconds. But recently, besting records on established trails is less appealing to him than
blazing his own.
Last summer, Bradley undertook a 4,738-mile
biking-hiking-canoeing expedition from Reno, Nevada, (where he lives and works
at Patagonia as a customer sales representative) to the mouth of the Yukon River, where it
meets the Bering Sea. "After last summer, I would prefer to spend my time in
vast tracts of wilderness and I don’t need a trail laid out in front of
me," he says.
While the expedition was focused on reconnecting with his
Alaskan roots—Bradley was born and raised in Anchorage, where his family
homesteaded in the 1950s—it put the changes taking place in the landscapes
and cultures of the far north into stark relief. Adventure Ethics spoke with Bradley and got the full story.
How did the BLC (or Biggest Little City,
a.k.a. Reno) to Bering Sea trip come together? I did a few bike tours here in Nevada and
started thinking about doing a multisport thing, where I would use the bike to
get into a trailhead or a river. Then I started researching a route to Skagway,
Alaska. My dad and some friends of his did a trip in the 1970s that was
documented by National Geographic. It's called the Yukon Passage trip. National
Geographic heard about it after they did it and actually asked them to reenact
it, to film. What they did is they hiked the Chilkoot Pass, much like the
miners did, and then literally made a log raft with a cabin on it that they
floated to Bering Sea. Part way down they got iced in, so they broke the boat
down and made a cabin, until the river completely froze up and then they
dog-sledded out the rest of the way. So I saw that as a kid and it definitely
made a huge impact on me in terms of me becoming a river guide. So then when I
started planning this trip I thought, Well, I have to hike this trail.
So you rode from Reno to Skagway, hiked the Chilkoot
Pass, and eventually met up with a canoe and shotgun that you had shipped into
Canada. But that's when things got complicated. I did run into a hassle with customs officials at
Frasier. I had purchased a shotgun and learned how to use it [before the trip]
and did all the paperwork and everything, registered it. But when I got there,
Canada had moving goal posts for me, so they kept changing what they were going
to allow me to do and not allow me to do, so I ran into a lot of delay there.
When I got to Lake Bennett, which is where the canoe was supposed to come up the
White Pass on the Yukon Railroad, my gear didn't arrive because the customs
officials were hassling the train, saying I was smuggling guns, which is funny,
in retrospect, because I had declared it. If I had been smuggling I probably
wouldn't have opened my mouth and attempted to do it the legal way.
Fat bike slednecking: A sport is born. Photo: Ian Anderson
This photo popped up on my Facebook feed last week. It was taken by Ian Anderson, an outdoor industry public relations professional, accomplished outdoor athlete, and father of two kids (ages two and five). Ian lives in Carbondale, Colorado, with his wife, Sari Anderson, a professional endurance athlete who has won national championship titles in mountain biking and ski mountaineering and a world title in adventure racing. This may explain why their offspring are early adopters at almost every adventure sport known to man, including the one you see here: fat bike slednecking.
"I love to go sledding just about as much as my kids do, so there was really no question about what we were going to do when we woke up to over six inches of snow in Carbondale last Saturday," Ian says. "I got a Surly Pugsley fat bike last winter, and it’s really sure-footed on snowy, icy roads, so I figured we could ride to our local sledding hill—just over a mile away. I hooked up our Chariot Cheetah 2 bike trailer and threw two plastic sleds in the back. Then I remembered that one of the kids had gotten this ridiculous X Games 'snow bike' sled for Christmas a couple years ago and we had never tried it. So I got it down from the attic and tied it to the back of the Chariot."
When astronaut Donald Pettit heads into space with his 10 cameras, his goal is to collect data about the earth and the stars. Often, his images end up as art. Anyone with a computer can download the photos he takes from the cupola—the glass turret astronauts can look out of to see earth—of the International Space Station and put them into a timelapse video for all to see on Vimeo. At Outside, we've taken several of his photos and put them into blogs and galleries. (Here's a gallery of star trails.)
In Outside's November issue, Megan Michelson shares her haunting story about surviving a fatal avalanche in the backcountry of Stevens Pass in Washington's Cascades. It's a thoughtful, in-depth look at a mistake that cost several skiers their lives. In the past couple of decades, avalanche fatalities have increased. Take these stats from Michelson's story:
Last year, 4.2 percent of the nation’s 10.2 million skiers ventured
into the backcountry. But with increased use comes increased risk. The
average annual number of avalanche fatalities in the U.S. has been
slowly notched up since the 1990s, from 15 to the current 29 per year.
Last winter saw 34 people, including snowmobilers, die in avalanches,
thanks to an especially unstable snowpack across the West. Thirty-seven
people died in 2007.
The above video—though long at 20 minutes—does a great job of showing the snow conditions that led to avalanches in Utah last winter. It's a season-long, ride along with the Utah Avalanche Center as their experts study the snow and issue warnings to skiers. At one point, one of the narrators compares conditions after a heavy snowfall on a weak bottom layer to stacking a Cadillac on champagne glasses. The snowpack is fragile and ready to explode down the mountain with the slightest extra push or weight.
If you agree with that statement, you'll want to sign up with liquid.com. It's a new worldwide network of bike owners and would-be bike renters that seeks to connect the two groups with an ease never before attained. Through Liquid, bike owners rent their bikes to travelers, cyclists, and even bike-less locals that are just looking to get in a bit of exercise or exploration time in over 400 cities in 80 countries.
The initiative launched
in New York City and San Francisco last April, and in September it started a national beta program.