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Amy Bushatz 0:01
When it comes to heading outside and – okay, fine when it comes to doing literally anything before 2 p.m., I prefer to have a cup of coffee in my hand. If you’ve listened to the Humans Outside Podcast at all, you already know about how much I love the coffee. And it’s not just because it’s liquid sunshine. It’s also because of the warmth, comfort and community it brings. Coffee to me is the perfect pairing with an outdoor adventure. A morning around the campfire, or a prep for my favorite the long run, or – okay, literally anything. But what’s the best way to pair coffee with the outdoors? How do we make coffee when camping or backpacking? Today’s guest, Tim Gravel, is going to help us answer some of those questions and more and talk about his own outdoor story. He’s the co-owner of Kaladi Brothers Coffee, one of the largest coffee roasting companies in Alaska, with 17 cafes and a mobile coffee truck that magically appears at basically every community event I attend. Tim, welcome to the Humans Outside Podcast.
Tim Gravel 1:33
Oh, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
So we start these episodes just imagining ourselves in our guest’s favorite outdoor space hanging out and chatting. I prefer to imagine myself with a cup of coffee in this imaginary world. But where are we with you today?
Well, it always starts with the coffee. And it doesn’t matter, like you said, it doesn’t matter if it’s outdoors, indoors, going for a long run or bike, I have to have the coffee first. But up in the Clearwater Mountains off of the Denali highway is a very, very special place to get out to. And particularly in the fall because you get all the colors. And it’s cold in the morning. And so when you get out there’s frost and there’s nothing better. It’s just the best to have that warm cup of coffee, you know, and looking out over as the sun comes up and it starts to get light enough to start to see things. It’s just a really special place.
Yeah. Oh man, so beautiful. And I can absolutely imagine myself there. There’s just something about that cool, crisp air and crawling out of your tent.
And just that moment, and then just sitting there and watching all that unfold is just one of the most peaceful meditative, you know, rejuvenating, inspiring, all the words, it just grounds you and it puts you in the moment and and you’re not thinking about other things. And you’re just listening, and you’re hearing what’s going on. And yeah, and and we’ve had certain situations where we’ve been able to hear a bull moose calling cows, and it’s just, you don’t get that that often. To be up there and pretty much nobody around and with mountains on both sides. You just hear that going on? It’s special.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I can’t wait to talk to you about my favorite subject, as we’ve already mentioned, the coffee. But first, we want to hear about you and your outdoor story. So tell us – how do you like to get outside? What’s your favorite thing?
I think my favorite thing is hiking, whether it’s hiking back to go fish some creek, or if it’s hiking to go hunting. It’s just getting out and walking for a while. And just being in and taking in the smells. And I just love being out in the early fall, early well anytime in the fall and just be present back there.
So just putting some miles on the you know, it’s hard, sometimes it’s challenging, but it’s always satisfying.
I think there’s something like about the challenge that is linked to how satisfying it is because you could sit outside and smell all those things right? And have that moment, but the fact that you’re not just moving but challenging yourself and the way you move is just such a strong part of that.
And there’s a lot of stuff out there, you’re paying attention. Yeah, I don’t know, I just feel like when in your day to day life, you just go through it so fast and things happen, that you’re just, not all your senses aren’t kicking in. But after a few hours of being out there, you really start to hear things, you really start to just notice things that you may not just be in town walking around.
Yeah, absolutely. I recently had hip surgery and so my definitions of what’s challenging outside has shifted. You know, for me, a few months ago, I would have said, you know, going for a really long run, that’s a big challenge or running up a mountain. That’s a challenge. And now my challenge is, you know, navigating a one mile walk in the woods with my crutches. Right? Like, it’s, you know, so but that’s really driven home for me, this idea that a challenge is personal. It’s not about what someone else does. It’s about what you’re doing. Right? In that moment. So it’s just it’s been such a good reminder of that.
So what compels you to get outside? What and how do you inspire yourself to keep on doing it when the weather’s bad? Or in that fabulous Alaska darkness?
I think it’s a peace of mind. It’s a place away, and it doesn’t matter if it’s winter, we do a lot of hiking out to a cabin my wife owns and we hike out there and it’s been in her family for 50 years. And it’s hard and it’s challenging, and it’s been some of the hardest hikes I’ve ever been on due to the snow conditions, but all your daily stresses just melt away, maybe through the pain of getting there. It’s a release, and it always happens. I never have an experience where I go out and wish that I hadn’t.
I want to describe walking through these challenging snow conditions because if you don’t live where there’s snow and honestly before I lived here, I had absolutely no idea what that meant. So what do you mean by that? What is a challenging snow condition to walk through?
This was epic. So we went back to her cabin and we actually had a snow machine with a trailer. We towed a bunch of gear in for preparations for the winter. But it was a new snow and it was about two and a half to three feet deep and it didn’t really have a good base to it. So you sunk pretty far. And we had snowshoes but there’s a point where you have to stop and you have to hike into the woods and break in a trail when the snow with your snowshoes on and the snow still going over your knees. It’s soft snow, it’s really hard. So we it was nighttime, and we punched a trail into the cabin, about a half mile long. I went back out and the snow machine was stuck at the time. And I went back out and realized — oh, we had left most of our gear in the trailer. And we hiked in and we punched in a little trailer trail but not enough for a snow machine to get through. And I decided well, I’m going to take this trailer off the snow machine and I’m going to tow it in by myself. Right? Well you know, there’s a little like 18 inch wide trail of where we hiked in with snowshoes. But the trailer itself was probably about 36 inches wide. So it would like to hang up on the high point where we didn’t walk and the right trailer would be up high. And then it would dig it on the other side and it would end up filling up with snow. So not only as I went in farther, I was more tired, but the trailer was getting heavier and heavier as I went. So anyway, and my wife had stayed back at the cabin just to put the wood stove on and try to heat it up. It was cold and it was probably 10 degrees outside too. So I’m pulling this thing in the dark. And it’s one step at a time and it was painful. But once I got in and it was warmed up and it was over. I’ll never forget it.
It’s one of those moments where you regret every decision that led to this point. But afterwards, you regret none of those decisions. And you’re so glad you did it and you’re glad you’re there. And it’s just like mind over matter to get to that moment. And if you spend enough time doing things like this in life and outside, you know that that moment will probably, like you might question — is this moment going to be over? I do not regret this. But you know, it’s likely to be at the end that you think — Okay, this was a pretty good, okay, choice. And you just got to hold on to that.
A good friend of mine would always say — you could do anything for a day. So just you keep repeating that in your head. I could do anything for a day. I could do anything for a day – just to get through that.
Yeah, exactly. I told myself — you can do anything for a mile. Okay, so maybe there’s another mile after that, you know, technicality. And then that, you know, you can do anything for a day. Especially when I’m faced with flying across country with my kids, I think — this does not have to happen again tomorrow, just get through today. It’s such a strong mindset to carry and takes practice.
So like many Alaskans, you’re not actually originally from here, but also like many Alaskans, you came here, and then you just couldn’t peel yourself away. What do you think it is about the outdoor landscape here in Alaska that does that, or did that to you?
It’s so vast, and I think that I have a specific moment. I remember, I came up, I just graduated high school. It was actually my second time up. But I came up as a trip with my parents. And I was hiking up Arctic Valley. And I got to the top right where the top of the, the ski resort, the offloading is. And I could see back to that valley. And I just thought — God, this is so beautiful. And it just stuck with me. And so I knew at that point, I wanted to come back in and finish college and, you know, up here in Alaska, just to live up here. And, but it’s just, it’s so beautiful, and it doesn’t take much to get out and experience it. And it’s so close to home. It just draws you in. I love it.
Yeah, you described the fall earlier. And I don’t know that I remember this smell from other places that I’ve lived that have fall. I’m originally from the beach in California. So no fall there. Right. Um, but we lived in Tennessee, right before we moved here. So we experienced changing seasons there. And there’s the smell that is in the Alaska fall. It sort of smells like highbush cranberries. If anyone’s ever smelled that, it’s like decomposing leaves, my husband jokes. It’s the smell of death, but it’s like this sour, sweet smell. That only happens in the fall. And when you first smell it, you’re like, oh, my goodness, what is that? And then it’s kind of intoxicating. Do you know what I’m describing?
Absolutely. That’s exactly it. It’s that fermenting, or that dying of plant leaves, but it is that highbush cranberry smell. And yeah, it overtakes you, you know, you get in there, and it’s just like — Oh, I love this. Yeah. And I grew up in California, too. And yeah, we didn’t have fall.
No, none of that there. You know, it’s funny because, um, people, and I would agree with them, describe the smell of highbush cranberries as stinky socks. And yet, like, can’t get enough of that. Which is for the record, not true if it’s like actual stinky socks. So just in case anyone thinks I’m a weirdo, so. Okay, so you got into coffee by first helping a friend in the Kaladi Brothers Warehouse.
So I want to talk to you about coffee outside here in a minute. But first I want to talk about the why, especially as it pertains rather to friends and heading outside. Kaladi is the tagline, a catalyst for community. So why does that principle make sense for the coffee business and what is it about coffee itself that causes that to make sense?
Well, I think that you know, coffee historically has always been something shared amongst people and in coffee houses, people gathering and talking and, you know, just having community and sharing ideas. And so that’s been the purpose for many years for coffee houses, but for us about it’s been about 30 years ago, we just decided that we needed something more than just to make coffee. And our cause had to be greater than just produce coffee. And what we noticed was in our coffee houses, where at the time we only kept two stores, and we noticed, you had a lot of teachers and you had, you know, professional people coming in, you also had a lot of labor people and a lot of other, we always joke Isaacs Honey Wagon would show up every morning, and he’d come out and he’d come in and get a coffee and he’d be talking to you know, someone in their suit going to work. So it was kind of like this cool group of people coming in and having coffee. So we got together this group of people and just talked about what is it and just to be a catalyst for community and came up with an idea just to try to create community, to have people share ideas, and just come together. And, you know, look at each other and say, like — yeah, we’re different, but we’re the same and we share the same thoughts.
Especially in this day and age, it’s like, you know, the thing I like about this is it’s not unlike the spending time outside like, we can all agree that spending time outside is awesome. And there’s so much to disagree on or there’s so much that we’ve found to disagree on, it’s almost like we’re hunting for it. But when you get outside, you know, we can all agree mountains, awesome, you know, leaves are fantastic. And, and have that community there and and then the way that you know, having a it’s almost like a ceremonial like I’m blanking on the word I want to use but just sort of this practice of you know, gathering around something that you enjoy in a place that you know, it’s that third place concept right. Um, and then that’s another thing that we can we can agree on and sort of build a community around.
Yeah, it’s been great and we’ve revisited – is this still important, is still something that we as a company now you know, 300 people, is this still something we really are behind? You know, is this how we feel and overwhelmingly, everyone still wants that catalyst for community in this place.
And I mentioned your coffee truck earlier, what I did not mention was that it gives me the coffee for free which, let me just say how much I appreciate that.
That truck you know, we had a we had a van where we used to throw a cart in the back and then we had a trailer that we would pull behind that was kind of already set up inside that we just had to open it up and turn the generator on and then we went to this truck and the truck’s been great. It’s a 1966 Chevy and it’s pretty cool. We take that around to events and whatever we can, schools and whatever.
For those non Alaskans listening um, things happen here when it’s cold outside you know, and a hot cup of whatever is really welcome and even in the summer you know, so it’s a it’s definitely been awesome to see you guys out there and awesome to just set to huge benefit for me and my friends and thank you, we love it. Don’t stop. Great.
So now the part we’ve all been waiting for where we get practical about coffee outside, which I understand you to be an expert on.
So before anything else, tell us how do you drink your coffee outside? What’s your favorite way to brew and consume?
Absolutely my favorite is a aeropress. It’s my jet boil, and to heat up my water and it’s an aeropress and an aeropress is basically a plastic cylinder that you can put a filter in the bottom. You fill up coffee to a certain point you fill up water to another point. You let it steep for just a short period of time. And then you actually press, kind of like a French press, you press your water through your coffee. It’s fairly quick, it can’t break. For the most part, you got to really try to break it if you broke it. And it’s just packable, you just throw it in wherever you’re going, you can go, it’s, it’s easy, and it actually produces pretty darn good coffee.
We have a lot of listeners who are working on being outdoorsy, maybe don’t feel like they’re complete pros yet. And let’s be honest, we’re all learning. What’s the easiest way you recommend for doing the coffee thing when you’re, let’s start with a traditional campground car camping. And maybe this is like a new realm to you.
Sure. I think the melitta pour over. So that’s just like the little cone filter. Okay. And if you could, you could bring your coffee ground, if you want. Of course, you know, in the whole coffee world, you don’t really want to grind your coffee too far before you brew it. But you know, when you’re camping, you’re camping and it’s still gonna taste great. Because when you wake up in the morning, that’s the thing you want, it’s gonna be awesome. So if you pre grind it, it makes it a lot easier. Otherwise, you have to bring like a hand grinder, unless you have power somewhere. But a melitta drip filter cone is just a cone, you have a filter in it, you put your coffee in it, and then you just pour your hot water over the top, and it pours right into your cup. Super simple. works really well. The only downside is it’s one cup at a time.
That is my downside to that. Yeah, I’m not gonna lie to you.
I played with things before. I went on a motorcycle ride up to Prudhoe Bay and, and I had four guys and of course, everyone looks at me like — Oh, well, there’s a coffee guy, he’s gonna make coffee in the morning or whenever we stopped along the road for a coffee break, but you know. I’ve used my aeropress, I would press it, I would add water to it to dilute it a little bit amongst us. Because the aeropress can create kind of a concentrated espresso type coffee. So you can split it up and make it more of an Americano out of it. I played around with pouring it in slowly and just letting it drip through for about a cup and then press the rest of it through, fill it back up to the top and press it just to get more volume out of it. But yeah, for the one cup at a time. It’s kind of a bummer, you know?
Yeah. So I, um, first I want to say, note for everybody, you drove up to Prudhoe Bay. For those who’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ll remember I talked about our adventure up the Dalton Highway towards Deadhorse in summer 2020 and going up above the Arctic Circle, that’s the same road. And it’s rather long, and not particularly easy to drive on. And I too found and I don’t usually like to pull over and make coffee on the back of my car in the middle of the day. But I too found that to be entirely necessary.
We had a time. You know, it was like, we’d get up and have our coffee. And then at 11 o’clock, we were pulling off again to get another coffee.
There’s a lot of white knuckling that happens on that road, I can’t even imagine it doing it on a motorcycle. So for everyone listening, imagine a road where the non paved parts are the ones you hope for. Because the paved parts are good in concept, actually are just these like unpredictable potholes, or what’s called an icy which is where the road comes into its own natural speed bump over and over and over again for an unlimited amount of time. And you don’t know that it’s about to happen, so you hit it because there’s no sign. So you hit it and then you kind of fly over and you say a prayer for your tires. And you like wipe the sweat from your brow when you’ve made it. And then as if this is not enough, you glance into your rearview mirror shocked to find that while you’ve been focused on the potholes, there’s a semi literally running you off the road because this is the haul road and the semis do not have any problem with potholes, by the way, and they are coming down the hill whether you are or not, and you’re thinking — there has to be a place to pull off so I can let this thing go by because I can’t handle this, but there is not and so –
Sadly, yes, this definitely had to happen.
You know, we only made it to Coldfoot, we didn’t go the whole way. Because after a day of, you know, a day on that I was like — okay, so enough of that, thanks. You know. And the thing to do, of course, when you get to Prudhoe Bay is to, if you’re there’s a tourist is to, you know, hire the tour company so that you can go in the Arctic Ocean because there’s no public rather access to that without the tour company, because it goes through the oilfield. Anyway, that’s not running in 2020. And so we were like, you know what, like, gonna go up there and tap the sign? No, thanks. Let’s enjoy our day here in the Coldfoot area, and then enjoy the drive back. You know, so that’s cool. That’s a road. There’s a road, that’s for sure. Completely, I completely hear you.
And then the other thing you said I want to touch back on is that, back to the coffee, is the aeropress. Because my complaint about the aeropress is that it is very, very dark compared to what I usually drink. I’m a person who drinks an incredible amount of very weak coffee. I’m like, my coffee habit would be shocking and you know, not looked upon with pride by you. So because I just like, I have a very nice coffee machine and a Breville coffee machine that I can set the darkness level on and I have that sucker at one. Yeah. And then I drink a lot of it. But the aeropress is just too dark for me. So I never even thought about making it and then, like cutting it with hot water. I mean, that makes so much sense. Cool.
But there are other other methods like, you know, you mentioned earlier like a Via or some of these decent freeze drieds that are out there now if you’re, if you’re getting out. That’s so convenient. You know, if you’re packing, you don’t want to, you know, aeropress isn’t that heavy, but it does take up some space. And if you’re packing a backpack, which I did this year with my wife who went hiking up in the Peters Hills, and it just takes up space.
Yeah. Oh, so what do you use when you go backpacking?
I do bring the aeropress, devotion. It is. I just want to figure out how to be better and better and dial it in more and more, but I don’t know. I like it.
It sounds like you’re the right guy to have the job you have. Good, good news. It’s all on brand. I like it.
When you’re out there though, I’m not a coffee snob. I’m like — You know what? I need my coffee. I need something warm in my hand. I need it. Yeah, definitely not getting picky.
Absolutely. So we already sort of touched on this but I’m making a lot of coffee. Other than the drip tip, do you ever French press? Do you ever do the mobile French press? You know amp up your volume?
Yeah, you know, haven’t really camping because I’m always afraid of the glass portion of the French press. And I know they have some that aren’t glass now but you know, years ago before aeropress was around, we would bring French press at least car camping. But I was always afraid of breaking it and then not having anything.
Okay, you just mentioned instant coffee. So I want to talk about that because there’s several different kinds and especially for the people who are listening to this and may not have experimented with this before, I want to make sure we differentiate between instant coffee and something like Via and then I want to talk about what in the realm of that continuum is the best, tastiest best cup of coffee option? So what’s the difference between instant coffee and Via?
Well, I think I think Starbucks definitely took it up a notch awhile ago by creating Via and it’s freeze dried coffee. It has more of a coffee flavor to it than maybe your Folgers. Yeah, it’s better. Hands down. There’s been some real good efforts to try to take you know decent coffee and freeze dry and then be able to reproduce it by adding water. And if people have played around with it now it’s, I think it rolled out I mean, I guess around 10 years ago, Via came out and that’s a Starbucks product but yeah. But other people have played with it and we actually sent some coffee off a while ago to have freeze dried to try it out. It came back pretty good. But we didn’t pursue it at the time. So yeah. But it does make for camping or for any kind of packing backcountry. It’s convenient since all you have to do is add water to it.
Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a company here in the Valley area of the Anchorage area. Genesis who’s now making, you know, coffee not unlike Via, but it’s in like a tea bag. Have you tried anything like that?
Yeah, we’ve played around with some, packaging our own and yeah, and trying to, you know, just to treat it like a tea bag. It does work. From what I remember when we were doing it, trying to get that dark cup of coffee was a little hard, but it does work for sure.
It tastes like coffee.
Yeah. Yeah. But you’re on the number one.
Hey, now, I know I am a number one setting kind of girl. What can I say? What can I say? But I’m very proud of myself, I have to say because I used to be a vanilla soy latte every morning. And I’ve you know, matured, let’s put that way, over time to drinking, just, you know, an undisclosed number of pots of black coffee.
So, it’s so funny how I hear that over and over. And I started off when I was, you know, 30 years ago, a skinny latte was my favorite thing. Yeah, and now it’s, uh, oh, gosh, for the past probably 20 years, it’s been a sludge cup.
Who are we? Our former selves would be so dismayed.
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about that this on the podcast before but I used to, you know, like many, many people my age, work in coffee shops, just sort of as a side gig and I absolutely loved it. Because I loved talking to the people who would come in and get coffee and the customers in the know, my fellow coffee people. I did work for Starbucks for a little while. And I’ve worked for several independent coffee stores across the country, because that’s what being a military spouse does to you. But I just absolutely loved it. And of course, when you work for specifically Starbucks, you walk out of there with fancy drink things in your, in your repertoire and, and in your liking. And so for a long time, there was a black and white mocha every day, which is not so good for the waistline. Shockingly when I stopped doing that I lost some weight. What a surprise. So okay, so speaking of though a lot of people you know, no shame if you don’t like black coffee, it is an acquired taste. You know, just putting that out there. If you don’t, if that’s you and because you and I have been talking a lot about just making yourself a, well for you a cup of sludge or for me quite water down one at the campsite, what’s the best way to do coffee outside for a more customized drink? If the sludge or that cut isn’t your style?
You could heat up and steam milk. You probably have to do that from a car camping scenario – you’d probably want to anyway because you’d have to bring something to actually steam the milk with. And I know they have it out there where you can heat up water, create steam, and then you have a little knob you can turn on your your steam out in the backcountry. That’s getting fancy. I guess you could bring your syrup and you could add it and you can have your little vanilla latte out there in the campground but it’s a lot.
And now that I’m thinking about it, I think there are some flavored versions of the Via or products like that. That you can, you know, you can do like a flavored coffee. I’m not sure how much of that is coffee and how much of that is, you know, like a powdered sugar milk thing going on, or how good it tastes because I’ve never tried it. I can’t imagine that it replicates the pumpkin spice latte very well, though.
I don’t think so. That would be challenging.
Maybe the best advice for if you’re car camping, is to spot the nearest coffee stand on your way to the campsite. But you know, in all seriousness, a lot of not state park campgrounds, obviously, but actually maybe in many parts of the country. But a lot of these developed campgrounds actually have a coffee shop in their little store. I think Denali National Park has one in their campground store. So you may not be up a creek entirely if this is your thing. But you know, to like in all seriousness, when you’re thinking about trying to get outside and make this part of your life, these are important considerations. And I don’t want anybody to think that we’re making fun of them, because I’m really not like – you better believe that I am, before I do anything else when I’m packing to go, I’m asking — Okay, do we have the Jetboil to make the hot water to make the coffee?
Absolutely. And I have forgotten parts of those and it’s been like — Oh, no. Oh, no.
Yeah. In fact, it’s funny you mention that because, you know, God bless Facebook memories. Up popped a camping trip that we did right when we first started being camping people back in 2014. My kids were really little. And I was never a camping you know, type of girl growing up. So this was all new to me. And then of course, my husband is Army and when you camp in the Army, it’s not that fun. So we are just sort of learning to do it as a family. And the connector for the camp stove that goes between the fuel and the stove is left at home. Yes. This is a very important part of the heating of things. And so he made dinner over the campfire, which did not go well. And the next day of course, there’s no hot water. And my Facebook post was something to the effect of — I’m still alive, but things are not looking good. But I’m still here, you know? And that’s just that’s how it is.
Okay, so tell us what don’t you like to drink.
I would say, well, personally, anything sweet. I just can’t do sweetness with coffee. Percolators – I’m not a big fan of them. I’m not. It goes against a lot of things that in the coffee world we talk about. But, you know, when you’re out there, though, and you’re waking up in the morning and you’re just trying to get going and maybe you’re up late around the campfire. I mean coffee’s coffee, but I would say I would try other methods besides percolating.
Describe for us, what is a percolator?
It’s typically an aluminum pot and inside you have the tube that comes up. And when the hot water starts, when it starts to boil, the water will come up the tube, and it perks out the top well underneath that, at the very top of this pot. You also have your coffee, it’s sitting in a little tin basket, and so the hot water comes up – it perks – the water goes through the coffee, drips down to the bottom and it just cycles – keeps going around and around and around. It’s really hot. And you tend to cook your coffee rather than brew your coffee. So it’s a little hot for brewing. And it just gives it a flavor that’s is particular to percolating. You have to let it percolate for a while to extract the coffee out. Otherwise it will come out like tea. So you have to cook it to make it work.
And I found it to also produce in a very nice sludge. Yeah.
Wasn’t my fave. I don’t want to chew on my coffee, you know, like, I just would like to drink it. So there you go.
The thing about being outdoors and with coffee, it’s just better. I think even just going outdoors and sometimes I’ll get up in the morning at home in the suburbs, mostly but make my coffee and just go outside. And I don’t know what it is. It just makes it better.
Yeah, and I agree, my new favorite like morning coffee habit, outdoor habit is when, when I cannot be around the campfire, I bought myself a hot tub this pandemic, and let me just tell you how great a cup of coffee while sitting in your hot tub is. It’s pretty great.
That’s pretty nice.
It’s like it’s pretty close to the best. And I am really looking forward to seeing how great it is in the wintertime. Because I suspect it’s going to continue to be great.
I think so. I’m pretty, pretty stoked about that. October the winter is pretty nice.
Oh yeah, this is fully Alaska. Now I have a hot tub. I’ve checked all the boxes. So there you go.
All right now, I mean, I think as everyone can hear, I could talk about coffee for the rest of our lives, right? Uh, but that’s not what we have time for. So the podcast must end eventually. Therefore, we are now at the part where we talk about just some leftovers. These are things I like to know from the guests, you know, you being no exception. So my first thing I like to know about is what is your favorite outdoor gear? Not necessarily your most essential because we’ll talk about that in a second. But just like something that you love.
They are the Chacos. You can tighten them up and you can walk, you can just go in the water. If you want to wade in the water. You can go climb over rocks or whatever. So you could take them to Hawaii or you could take them to camping somewhere in Alaska. You know they work anyplace.
I have a friend. Actually, she’s been on the podcast before. Her name’s Kate Arnold for anyone who wants to go back and check out her episode. She forgot her boots and climbed a mountain in Denali National Park in Chacos, snowfields included. Impressive or ridiculous, you decide. There you go. But uh, that you know, she lived to tell about it and her feet are no worse for wear. So we’re gonna go with the impressive anyway.
What’s your most essential gear?
I have a Mountain Hardwear packable raincoat. It gets small. It can keep you warm if you’re cold. Keeps it somewhat dry if it’s raining hard, but all around it works.
Mountain Hardwear. Their stuff just really fits me well. Which the importance of that is not to be underestimated. And so I have multiple jackets and even a pair of like pants that are like sleeping bags from them. “The pants” we call them and they’re great. They just make some stuff that, I don’t know if they fit everybody great, but they fit me great. So I hear that.
Okay. Finally, if you close your eyes and just your best outdoor moment ever, think about that. Where are you? What are you doing?
Okay, as I mentioned earlier, it’s up this creek called Windy Creek in the Clearwater mountains off of the Denali highway and there’s no motor vehicles permitted. So you have to hike in or ride your bicycle and, and I went with my son, our first kind of camping hunting experience together. He was a little nervous about doing it. And we went in the first night we set up camp, and we’re about almost 10 miles away from the truck. We have our bicycles, and we set our tent up. He went to sleep and I sat there and with my spotting scope spotted five grizzly bears around our tent around our camp.
So I was a little nervous about that. But you know, did all the precautions and went to bed. So anyway, the next day, he, at the time, wasn’t very outdoorsy. But we went back. We found a caribou up on a hill, and he went to go try to stop this caribou. And I sat down at the road, where our bikes were on and watched. And while I watched, I saw him go up this mountainside, and he was in a ravine and he went up, and I could see the caribou still sitting there. And then my son started to creep across this mountain, it’s probably about 1000 feet above me and I could just with my binoculars, like watch this thing going on. And he was creeping towards this caribou, and the caribou was eating on the side of the mountain. And as he got closer, I could see my son Jay sticking his head up and looking to see if he could see this caribou, but the curvature of the mountain he couldn’t see the caribou. So he would crawl closer and he’d stick his head up and he would crawl closer and stick his setup. And all of a sudden, this caribou started walking towards him. And I was like — Wow, what’s, what’s going on here? Well, while this is going on, walking towards me on this road that we were riding in on was this porcupine. And so I’m watching my son up on this hill and this porcupine’s walking right towards me. And finally, the porcupine gets to my leg, and it puts its two front paws up on my leg as to like, figure out what I was. And then it dawned on him like — Oh, this isn’t really a good thing to be doing. And he of course, puffed out and turned away from me. And then he kind of ran off into the bushes. And so I’m still watching my son and the caribou is walking towards him, and he’s walking towards the caribou. And about the same time, the caribou sticks his hand up to look like he heard something. And my son sticks his head up, and they meet eye to eye. And it was hands down the best moment, just watching it all unfold. And of course, the caribou ran off. And that was the end of that. Just a great experience.
And no one was harmed by a porcupine.
To see a little face looking at me was really something.
Yeah, very unique, very Alaskan experience. Tim, thanks so much for joining us on the Humans Outside Podcasts today.
Oh, you bet.