Greg Cairns, Alpacas of Montana's Videographer, recently took a canyoneering trip with some of his favorite alpaca wool products. This is Greg's story and written by him:
Canyoneering with Alpaca Products
We loaded our backpacks and trekking poles into Tim’s old Tacoma. Our plan was to backpack through some of Utah’s most remote and rarely visited canyons for 5 days. There was 15 degree temps and snow in the forecast. 15 miles of our 35 mile route was completely off trail. But, as an old backpacking and canyoneering guide, I believe my partner and I were capable of making it back to the trailhead.
We dropped into the vast maze of canyons a few hours before the snow started. I had some apprehension not because of the weather, but because of the possibility of wading through some sections of the canyon. Wading is fine. Cold is fine. Cold wading is never fine. It’s tolerable at best and with temps in the teens, it could be dangerous. Thankfully, we had the skills, experience, and gear we needed to accomplish the route.
Beyond the typical backpacking gear, we carried a 150ft CST rope and a bunch of alpaca wool products. We did in fact end up wading in very cold water, which is where the alpaca socks became necessary. We used alpaca wool hiking socks that are hypoallergenic and moisture wicking. I slept in my alpaca base layer quarter-zip. It is super soft, warm, and has a tall collar that keeps my neck warm in the sleeping bag.
We both slept in our warmest alpaca socks the first night during the snowstorm. The next day we pushed on down the canyon under overcast skies. The canyon was a twisting maze of waterfalls, cliffs, and side canyons. To choose the best route around waterfalls and slot canyons, we followed lone cow, coyote, and mountain lion tracks. By nightfall we had only made it six miles from our previous camp. At this rate, we would get back to the car 3 days after our food ran out.
We woke to a cold but beautifully blue sky. This day would be the most difficult. The day with wading, lead climbing, and possibly rappelling. All in unknown quantities. Would it be wading to our ankles or chest? We would soon find out. In the afternoon, we reached a long series of canyon puzzles as I like to call them.
First, a wade, which thankfully was only up to our ankles. Our alpaca wool hiking socks kept our feet warm despite the icy water. Once out of the creek, we took our boots off and rang out our socks. They honestly didn’t smell bad which is unusual for me when hiking. Then there was a cowboy ladder, which is a fancy name for a very old dead tree that is leaned against a cliff. I was the lucky lead climber to ascend the tree and set up a rope for my partner. Many more hand lines, lead climbs, and scrambles followed before we reached camp.
We found a ledge above the canyon to set camp. In the morning we laid our alpaca socks and alpaca base layers on the rock to warm in the morning sun. At this point, we had seen no humans or even their footprints for 3 days. It was a wonderful feeling to be so far from the usual and so alone in such a beautiful place. That afternoon, after another 9 miles of walking up another canyon, we reached an established trail. The following 2 days were challenging but wonderful. We had survived and thrived.
The Alpaca of Montana products we used on this trip were:
- Men’s Alpaca Base Layer Quarter Zip
- 4 pairs of Mid Crew Alpaca Socks
- 2 pairs of Alpaca Adventure Socks