2009, the Year in Review

GENERAL YEAR NEWS: As always, the “news” of packrafts this year has been a real smorgasborg, from fly fishing in Singapore to Eskimo roll experiments in Alaska. A few highlights: there’s been packraft polo in Anchorage, a packrafting article in the NY Times, several Backpacking Light packrafting courses, and more WRT training from Solgear. This last year, boats trucked around - among other places - in Madagascar, Chiapas, Patagonia, the Amazon (again!), and the Himalaya. EarthTrain in Panama is using Dorys for trans-isthmus travel; Hig & I had the pleasure of testing some “suit” ideas during a very rainy AK peninsula research trip. Roman paddled up a storm, around the world. Skurka covered serious ground by foot and packraft in Alaska, and is planning even more this year: a circumambulation of Alaska, with a lightened Alpaca. Another gent I spoke to his hoping to circumnavigate the island of Svalbard, up around 79-80 degrees north. Hig & Erin, most notably, have been pioneering Packrafting with Baby. Moe Witchard shot an award-winning photograph of Amy McCarthy running class III water with dog Wister (Moe, any interest in posting a link for the forums to see :question: ). Several outfits, from Tom Turiano in WY & AK to Sunny Emotion in Japan, did packraft guiding. Jane Goodall took a nap in a Dory.

To all our Fisherman: sorry, we haven’t had a chance to figure out a kickboat. Hmmm. this “low pressure tube” thing makes it tricky. If we can get to it and figure something out, rest assured we’ll be asking for feedback on prototypes.

Development is… it’s own separate posting :smiley: I’m working on that one right now.

COMPANY SCUTTLEBUT: This year, Sheri (our president / inventor, for the new folks) bought herself some land & a cabin, and we’ve assembled an associated workshop. If at all possible, we’re even MORE surrounded by cattle, and have an even better view of Mesa Verde. It’s good news for development too: Sheri’s a bit of an “odd hours inventor”, so having the facility right across the road bodes well for invention. We’ve assembled a good crew, & small. Due to reshuffling, the humans now generally win in the dog:person ration contest at the shop. Clearly, this travesty must be addressed.

SAD NEWS: We also lost a member of community this summer, Jaymes H. Schoenberg, who was new to packrafting. Crossing the Sagavanirktok River at flood stage with an improvised PFD, Jaymes overturned and drowned.

  • [Moment of silence]

Packrafting itself has been around a long, long time, but the technology is giving us the confidence to venture into more and more technically unforgiving situations. Let’s keep the safety and technique conversations (and I really do urge “conversation”) going, both within packrafting and with the water sports community at large. Very few watersports embrace such a wide demographic of users and spectrum of situations, from lake fishing to frigid C-V creeks to bikerafting the Hubbard Gap. I talked to one of our boaters this year in his 70s; another who’s about 1 (well, he didn’t talk, he grabbed my 'fro, as I recall). I know there are boaters on this forum with permanent physical disabilities, and others who are. well, physical machines.

Respect to you all, good paddling, thanks for being such a great community.

Please feel free to post your own news for 2009 in review.

cheers to you alpacka!
i first heard tales of packrafting adventures while sitting in a hot tub, shortly after participaiting in the 2003 idatabike.
it’s took untill 2009 to for those stories to come full circle and wow me into getting one of my own.
a good friend told me that i had to see eric parsons lost cost video. well he was right , it blew me away and i just had to have one of those rafts!
in a strange coincidence (which i’ve been calling the new normal) i found out that alpacka had recently moved to mancos colorado, just a couple of mile from my home!
i called up sheri and waddled my but on over there and bought a boat from her in person.
i’ve now officially deemed 2010, the year to the yak!
thanks alpacka