Sunday, Yukon and I spent the morning cleaning, prepping, and rigging our Aire Super Puma raft for our upcoming 13-day, 150-mile French Broad River trip.
We wanted to share a bit about the gear we’re taking and share a quick video of the raft rigging process!
First – the raft rigging video!
In all, the purpose of rigging the raft was to be sure our coolers, kitchen box, water container, and assorted bags and boxes would fit safely and comfortably in the raft. With a little configuring, including ditching Yukon’s super comfy fishing chair, it all fits! Whew!
Our gear list includes:
- Two Icon 50 Storm grey coolers (happy to be partnering with Icon Coolers for this trip; they spent a lot of time with us explaining how to best prep the coolers for maximum use*)
- One FrontierPlay aluminum waterproof kitchen box (from Amazon.com)
- One patio umbrella (from Target…we’ll see how it holds up)
- One Reliance Jumbo-Tainer Water Container – 7 gal. (from REI)
- Two large waterproof personal bags from Jack’s Plastic Welding, Inc.
- Assorted waterproof Pelican boxes for the first aid kit, camera gear, etc.
- Personal water containers from HyroFlask, MSR, and good old Camelbak
The day’s work consisted of giving the raft a thorough cleaning and inspecting it for any wear and tear (none found!). Next, we reconfigured the metal oar frame and removed some pieces we didn’t need (mostly related to fishing). Next, all bolts were tightened and straps were fitted around the frame. We added three oars – one spare strapped to the side and two with leashes into the oar mounts for Yukon to move us down the river. We’ll also have a couple T-grip oars to use in case we get somewhere narrow where the long oars won’t work well (could happen on Section IX of the French Broad – lots o’ rocks there!).
Next, we played with where to place the coolers and the kitchen box. This is a much smaller raft than we used on the Grand Canyon trip, so space is limited! In the end, Bean sits in the front on one cooler, Yukon sits in the middle on the kitchen box, and the other cooler gets wedged in the back. We were delighted with how well the big pieces fit!
A quick trip to Lowe’s gave us the materials needed to safely mount the umbrella for use during super sunny days. Our water container fits perfectly in place, and we have plenty of room (and straps) for our assorted extra bags, boxes, etc.
After all that rigging, it’s starting to feel really real, folks!
Trip Details: We’ll to cover the 150 miles in 13 days. We leave from Headwaters Outfitters in Rosman, NC, and will average +/- 10 miles per day, with a zero layover day in Hot Springs to enjoy the town and their hot springs tubs. We’ll have three dam (damn) portages to deal with; one we’ll unrig for and carry, the second and third, we’ll be hiring someone to meet us above the second dam, load us up, and drop us below the third dam. Beyond the trespassing issue on the railroad tracks, the second and third dams have steeply treacherous portage routes that aren’t worth the two or three river miles we’ll be missing. At the end of the trip, the fine folks from Pura Vida Adventures will come pick us up in Tennessee.
After the Trip: Bean will be writing an exclusive first-look article for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine (August issue, I think). We’ll be at the Upper French Broad Festival in Rosman on Satursday, June 18th, with Pura Vida Adventures, speaking at REI on Tuesday, June 28th, from 7 pm – 8 pm, and are in talks for other events in the fall. Want us to speak to your group? Reach out via: yukonandbean (at) gmail.com.
If you have any questions about this French Broad trip, let us know. We’re very excited!
Full Disclosure – we approached ICON Coolers because they are NC made/USA manufactured. That’s important to us. We received a discount on one of the two coolers we’re using. Thanks, ICON Coolers, we’re thrilled to be using a NC-based cooler that actually stays cold!