Event Category: Sports
A mainstay on our list of itineraries for almost two decades, this journey takes us from land to sea, mountain to va lley, state to state, adventure to adventure. We begin our remarkable journey in Salt Lake City, Utah and head to the mountains of Montana’s Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for a six day hike in Big Sky Country. The Pioneer Mountains link more than the plains and the mountains; they also unite earth and sky. The drama is unforgettable. More than 160 high mountain lakes, over a thousand miles of fishable streams, mile upon mile of amazingly wild, remote, undiscovered trails — life up here is paradise. By the time we leave, we are able to navigate off trail by map and compass, efficiently pressure-breathe at altitude and locate the perfect campsite.
We travel further into the Big Sky of Montana and camp, stopping to visit our friends, the Hutterites, for a once in a lifetime experience. Over the years, we have learned to appreciate their simple lifestyle. These hardy, disciplined people have strong ideas about how to live. Their way of life is such that they still, to this day, have no police force. For over 30 years, the Steins have been welcomed into their homes, and since 1991 they have extended the same hospitality to RLT groups.
We leave the Hutterites laden with homegrown vegetables from their garden and travel through the great northwest to Olympic National Park. Dwarfed by some of the tallest redwoods in the world, we explore a fern-lined gully filled with blue waters and vibrant moss. We spend five exhilarating days on the Olympic Coast — four of which we spend hiking the coast, pausing to scan the horizon for migrating whales. During low tide we explore the mysterious life in the tidal pools, and at high tide we watch otters and seals snack on what lies below. From here, we catch our first view of Mt. Rainier, a mystical giant in the distance reigning over Puget Sound.
We leave Olympic for Mt. Erie, where we spend two days rock climbing. Scaling the granite walls of the highest point on Fidalgo Island, we have a commanding view of the San Juan Islands and the sparkling waters below. The glacier-smoothed igneous rock is the perfect place to test ourselves while learning climbing styles, techniques, knots and belay options.
After tackling Mt. Erie, we venture onto Mt. Rainier. There, we harness up with world-class climber Lou Whittaker and his crew from Rainier Mountaineering for a four-day ice and snow mountaineering course. The earth’s largest volcanic peak, Mt. Rainier is one of the toughest and most spectacular climbs in North America. Its 24 billion cubic feet of ice are fissured with crevasses 30 feet across and 1,000-feet deep; undaunted, we make our bid for the 14,411-foot peak. Consider the view from the summit — looking down through the clouds, we can see the world curve.
From Mt. Rainier, we head back to Idaho to face the Salmon River. Cutting a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon, the Salmon River flows in a pattern of alternating calm pools, dramatic plunges and roaring rapids. For four days, we race down the narrow, fast-dropping river in our rafts and inflatable kayaks, surrounded by clear water, pine forests and rocky canyon walls.
After the rush of running the “river of no return,” we leave the Salmon to head home. We have explored mountains and glaciers, ocean and rain forest, river and rocks, and experienced the natural beauty of four states. That’s no small feat. To celebrate our accomplishments, we throw a banquet and muse over a summer that will forever be etched in our memories.