In part one of my Alaskan travel narrative, “The Head and the vision,” I explained how being trapped in a tent led to comparing my trip with the anatomy of a cricket. In part two, I circle back to how this trip was planned.
A cricket’s thorax is quite complex. It is made up of three segments, three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings.
The pre-trip planning of an expedition is just as complex. Just as a cricket relies on six appendages to move, our expedition crew consisted of six people, each imperative to progress and success. We all had to communicate and plan for the same outcome. Add a language barrier of four French men to two Americans and we made a complex team indeed.
"What is Chapul Protein?" they asked? I replied "Oh just wait you will be impressed."
The two larger hind legs of the cricket are their jumping legs. These are used to escape predators and make quick movements, both forward and backward. These legs are where the action begins.
As the dreamers of the the expedition, Zach and I formulated the communication process and set things in motion. How much cricket flour would we need for twenty days of glacier pancakes? I was tasked with leading the Athlete crew and guiding all involved parties. Zach was to lead the photographic and cinematic parties when separated by glacial terrain.
The four front legs of Cricket are also essential. Two on each side, they support the abdomen above.
We trekked with four Frenchmen. The two athletes, Leo and Thomas, were hungry as hell for adrenaline and ready to pounce on any terrain feature with their skis. Pierre and Jeremy, new to the vast and diverse mountains of Alaska, were eager to capture every moment and document the story in which would unfold.
Gear preparation was important. All said and done, my gear load for this trip weighed in at 487lbs. The heavy hitting items were the Prival expedition dome tent for providing shelter (145lbs) and the Goal Zero yeti 1250 battery with solar panels for the cameramen Pierre and J.R. to run their Video equipment (105lbs). The remaining equipment was necessary personal gear (see list) and preparatory mountain education tools.
[To really feel if something is right or ready to bring to light I believe you must feel it in your gut. The thoughts are contained in your head but for me the true feeling is deeper inside me. This is where the work begins.]
For this trip to flow smoothly there needed to be clear communication, and that required structure . I agreed to take on the responsibility of playing the guide role. I agreed only under the terms that everyone would take Privals Mountain preparation and refresher course with me as I instructed a CPR First Aid Course, Avalanche Safety Course, and Glacier travel and Crevasse rescue course. These are mandatory skills to review and solidify when working in the mountains. They agreed.
I banged my head against the wall many times trying to gather a kit both manageable for travel while also adequate for the entire the crew. Finally, after weeks of preparation, I was ready. I ended up traveling with six bags, weighing almost 500lbs.
Mark Long, my business partner at Prival, saved the day on the initial airport drop-off and even came back when we had to dismantle the Goal Zero battery in order for it to make the FAA 100lb max weight cargo limit. I think I ate twelve Chapul cricket protein bars on the way to Alaska because I spent all of my money in overweight baggage fees and payday was still a day away.
The forewings of a cricket act as a protective cover for the much larger wings beneath them.
I arrived in Haines, Alaska by jumping two flights: Salt Lake to Seattle, Seattle to Juneau. And then I navigated the final stretch of Haines via Ferry. The other parties flew quite a distance from France to Haines.
Except for Zach. Zach Clanton has endured living in Alaska out of his Honda Element for six years now. Somehow he even secured a gem of a woman along the way. I call him the dirtbag special. He has everything you would think a professional action adventure photographer dirtbag living out of his car would need and shoves it all into every crevice. Even the pretty blond girl Katwall and her elegance. She gets the whole front seat.
What Zach lacks in possessions he has gained in wisdom and mountain intuition. He flows through the mountains blissfully and has even taken his career to the Sky obtaining his private pilot license in hopes of aspiring to be a bush pilot. My guess is he will own a plane before a house.
Now that we have all arrived in Haines I will next continue with how the previously mentioned abdomen and large flight wings put this trip into action. We may even touch on the reproductive process so stay tuned.
Guest Author: Tony Pavlantos @tonypavlantos