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Inside Passage Information


Oct 27, 2020
In the next few years I'm planning on paddling up the Inside Passage from Southern BC to Alaska. I was thinking of using a thread as a sort of collective dumping ground for information that would be useful, not just to me, but for others planning a similar trip.

There are a few main things that I would like to find information on. Hopefully as I tap the WCP hivemind for juicy knowledge I can share relevant links and such in this post.

Navigation: I like charts and compasses but also see the value in a GPS. What are your preferences?
Particularly when it comes to navigating in Alaskan waters, what are good resources for purchasing charts?

In a past thread on the topic Alex shared some charts from Fine Edge publishing. Link Here
I'll probably pick those up for the planning stage if not for actually navigating.

Site Availability: In BC it's relatively straightforward to find out the suitability of a site, not just in a physical sense, but also in a land ownership sense. iMap BC is not especially user friendly but can be used to determine land ownership.
Is there a similar resource for locating suitable sites in Alaska or is it a case that anywhere is fine if you're respectful?

Logistics: It is quite likely that I will need to ship resupply boxes to various locations. This seems relatively straightforward although there are a few items not suitable (fuel, etc). Am I overlooking something major?
Also, for crossing into Alaska I understand it can be done remotely via phone, but would like to hear from those with firsthand experience.

Gear: For those who are gear fanatics (most of us?) what are some favourites, particularly the odd or obscure. I'm always keen to hear what works for people and what doesn't.

Must-see spots: I understand that some spots are best kept secret, but if there are any cool spots that I should made a point to visit I'd love to hear them. Not just campsites but also cultural sites, interesting natural formations, etc.
If anyone has a good recommendation on pictograph locations I'd be particularly interested in that. I especially recognize the sensitive nature of those.

I'm making my way through old posts discussing similar and will add bits I glean from them to this post as well.
I will let people with personal knowledge about Southeast Alaska weigh in on most of those details. But honestly, when I am paddling AK, I only use United States Geologic Survey (USGS) topographic maps (note that these are scanned raster maps of the original paper charts) for navigation on the water. They indicate known rocks and reefs effectively as well as nearshore bathymetric contours, and the detailed terrestrial information is incredibly useful when trying to determine water sources and likely landing sites. They are sadly a bit dated and the extraneous junk like township gridlines can be distracting, but for navigational purposes they are the only thing that I use. And they are basically a free map layer in lots of GPS apps like GaiaGPS and CalTopo, plus it’s quite easy to find online interfaces for them where you could print off waterproof ‘paper’ maps, which I always carry.

Here is a quick comparison of a nautical chart to the USGS raster maps from GaiaGPS on my iPhone. First the nautical chart. It’s lower resolution and lacks a lot of place names. The symbols are quite large, and so in somewhat indistinct locations.


This is the USGS topo raster equivalent. Pinnacles and rocks are shown as small asterisks and inaccessible rocky coastline is shown as the “barbed wire.” It also highlights a few strange artifacts, like different colors where two scanned paper maps meet.

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Depending upon who will keep the home fires burning, I'd carry something that will tell people where I am, via text messages and/or tracking/route on a map. There are lots of choices on the market: The Sport, Zoleo, Garmin InReach, etc. This is not so much for you as it is for those back home who might worry. BUT - battery management will be an issue. There are solar chargers but they depend on sunshine. And sunshine isn't guaranteed on that trek. I understand it can be ... wet.
Navigation: I like charts and compasses but also see the value in a GPS. What are your preferences?
Particularly when it comes to navigating in Alaskan waters, what are good resources for purchasing charts?

I'm a paper chart kind of guy - the proverbial 'belt and suspenders', as someone said in one of these threads....but for a trip like this, that's a lot of paper to potentially pack around. I picked up a used Garmin 78S and bought the BlueChart G3 chip. It contains every chart in the US and the west coast of Canada (or so they claim; I haven't personally verified this).

The GPS is an older unit and the display feels agonizingly small - though to be fair, the newer units are only marginally larger. However, having every chart on the coast at your fingertips is pretty cool. The 78S takes AA batteries, too (the reason I chose it); most newer units use lith-ion rechargeable.

I typically don't even break it out on a trip unless I want to know my speed, or get an exact location, or need to travel in the fog. I consider it more of a backup plan/safety feature, to be honest.
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Is there a similar resource for locating suitable sites in Alaska or is it a case that anywhere is fine if you're respectful?

What you want is the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Spatial Database Management System. It's a scalable, color-coded GIS of Alaska showing land ownership by agency.

As you'll see on the map, something like 90 percent of southeast Alaska is part of the Tongass National Forest. Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere in the Tongass. The Forest Service also offers remote cabins, which you can reserve through recreation.gov. They're not my thing, but many people adore the cabin experience.

The next-largest land category is native allotments. Alaska has a unique and convoluted history regarding indigenous land claims, and land that would be Indian reservations in most other states is, in Alaska, native corporation allotment land. Allotments should be regarded as private property and avoided, unless you can obtain permission to land—a complicated or impossible process, dependent on which native corporation or even native individual owns which parcel.

There are a few parcels of Alaska state-owned land, particularly around Prince of Wales Island and in Lynn Canal at the northern terminus of the Inside Passage. Dispersed camping is allowed on Alaska state-owned lands, so long as you are at least half a mile from any developed facilities (such as formal campgrounds or visitor centers or what have you). There are a handful of exceptions, such as the Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area, that have special restrictions, but it will be very obvious when you are in one of these specially managed areas, and they are small enough that you can easily work around them, even at a kayaking pace.

Scattered here and there are a handful of national wildlife refuges. These are small, rocky, offshore islands where seabirds nest. Landing is prohibited. In the vastness of southeast Alaska, it is unlikely you would stumble across one of these islands by accident, and they wouldn't look very inviting to land on even if you did. Unless you're a seabird nut like me who actively seeks out these places, you likely won't even be aware of these islands.

If you head as far north as Glacier Bay (highly recommended!), you'll have to deal with the National Park Service and its fussy rules and mandatory orientation. Small parcels within Glacier Bay are periodically closed to visitors due to wildlife concerns, but the great majority of the park offers dispersed camping, same as the Tongass National Forest or state-owned lands. Like the rest of Alaska public lands, but unlike national parks in BC or the Lower 48, entrance and camping in Glacier Bay are free. You do have to follow the rules, the most onerous of which is the requirement to use only hard-sided food containers. Most parts of the park are treeless, and the place is crawling with bears, so you would want to use hard-sided containers anyway. The Park Service rents containers for free, but it's on you to figure out how to pack them into your kayak!

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Thanks for the info so far! Reassuring to hear that the logistics of where to camp and where not to camp in Alaska aren't too dissimilar to BC and in fact look even more straight forward.

Cougarmeat, I have an inreach that I plan to use to message my wife during the trip. I'm definitely pondering how best to keep it and other electronics like camera charges. On short trips I use an external battery, but I anticipate something to recharge will be needed. Solar seems the easiest but also not super practical for that area. I lived in Prince Rupert for 17 years, so know of how grey it can be.

I'm also not the type to spend extended periods in camp unless kept there by weather or illness. If the skies are clear I may well prefer to be paddling. Perhaps there's a panel that could be mounted on the kayak... something to consider.
CPS, Consider The Spot. Now they have a plan similar (probably because of) InReach were you play a small yearly fee and then just for the months you'll be using it (Flex Plan) though if a long trip, it might be just as economical to activate for the whole year.

The spot won't give you two way communications (they have a model that does but there are better solutions (Zoleo, etc.) for that. It will show your track on a map and send back current Lat/long info.

The benefit is it uses AAA batteries - easy to find, easy to store. Once you get to your camp at the end of the day, you can send an "I'm okay - this is where I am" message and a Lat/long link will be automatically included putting your location on a GoogleEarth type display. Then you can turn it off until the next day. Whether Tracking - On is worth the additional batter drain, that's up to you. But you will want the unit on while on the water because if you do need to summon someone, you only want to push one button, not fiddle with turning it on and waiting until it locks on sufficient satellites before ti will send a message.

Watch for sales/promos - sometimes the unit itself is 50% off with a years subscription.
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AAA batteries are handy, I suppose, but my inReach is USB charged, and the power bank I already have is able to charge fully over 10 times. So any advantages are pretty much moot in my position. I already own it so not in a hurry to swap out. I've also heard more bad incidents involving the SPOT devices than inReach, which is part of why I bought what I did.

I really only use it to send a message saying "Off the water for the day" with a GPS pin. That usually uses 1-2% battery. So in theory I could send enough messages for over a year by recharging it with what I already have.

Being able to call an SOS is sort of a secondary feature of the device for me. The main appeal would be for emergencies where I require an evacuation but am not actively dying. Then appropriate resources can be coordinated over a slightly longer time.

For the "oh f@#&!" moments where evacuation/rescue is critical I'll probably pick up a PLB. No two way communication, but if I'm deploying it then it's safe to assume the fans already been hit.
A 3-panel solar charger is one of the best purchases I ever made for long trips. As long as there is the occasional sunny day, all my USB devices stay charged.

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If anyone has a good recommendation on pictograph locations I'd be particularly interested in that.

For the Ketchikan/Misty Fjords area, read: "Shoreline Pictographs of Extreme Southeast Alaska," by Martin V. Stanford.

For a general reference throughout the Inside Passage, read: "The Rock Art of the Northwest Coast," by Doris M. Lundy.

For more general reference, with photos, see the now-defunct website, "A Gallery of Northwest Petroglyphs: Shamanic Art of the Pacific Northwest," by Daniel Leen.

I'm not sure where your Inside Passage trip will start, but if it starts in Washington, read: "An Archeological Survey of Petroglyph and Pictograph Sites in Washington," by Richard H. McClure.

As always, read the out-of-print book, "Indian Petroglyphs of the Pacific Northwest," by Beth and Ray Hill, widely available in libraries throughout the US and Canada.

There's also someone on Facebook who documents Pacific Northwest rock art sites, but I can't remember the name right now. Poke around and you'll find it.

Outstanding resources, Alex! I've got some reading to do. You're a great source of information!
I agree that nts maps can be better for the type of information needed for kayaking. Such as creeks, water sources, landmark navigation and old roads that could be used for camping etc. Another source of information can be old books or early editions that list sites that are no longer publicly listed for political or other reasons.
Thanks for starting this thread CPS! There’s some great info in here so far.
This is going to be a huge post, so as a quick summary, it will be about the following:
~a large solar charging setup
~misc. gear (hammocks, chart storage, lap bags)
~some info that people into filmmaking/field audio recording might find handy
~GPS tracks
~some of the psychological/personal growth aspects of a large trip like this
~a unique method for packing food without needing single use plastics.

Note: I haven’t done the Inside Passage myself, but I’ve been collecting lots of information when I’m stuck being on call with work and daydreaming about escaping on a long-term adventure again!

>Info Source #1: Paddling North<
I recently reached out to Leonie Mahlke and Rebecca Grim who paddled the Inside Passage several years ago with some questions about their experience and their gear setup that they’ve very graciously agreed to let me share here (I’ve put their answers in red and turquoise). If you’ve ever searched for videos on kayaking the Inside Passage on Youtube, you’ve probably come across the preview for their documentary Paddling North, where they used their adventure as an opportunity to not just explore the coast, but to connect with various locals working to protect it. (Side note: they are on the lookout for a decent filmmaker to finish editing their documentary).
They have a blog at https://paddlingnorth.ca/, and the Instagram handle for their trip is @paddlingnorth (their Highlight reels at the top have lots of info on their prep/lessons learned/gear).
For most people, I imagine that bringing a few USB battery banks would be enough to keep gadgets powered for a few weeks between towns and marinas where you can then charge them up again on grid/generator power. My Standard Horizon HX890 radio is the only device I take with me that does not charge via USB, but there are USB to 12 volt car ‘cigarette’ converters that could be used. For people with more battery power needs, the below section might be helpful.

>Solar Charging Setup<



Rebecca and Leonie took a very interesting solar charging setup in order to power their batteries for their phones, GoPro batteries, a Garmin inReach and headlamps. For myself, I need a system that can charge the above while I’m away from grid power for 10+ days, plus my DSC VHF radio, and rechargeable AA batteries for my GPS. In addition to those, I am dabbling in filmmaking as a hobby, and so I also need a charging solution for my mirrorless camera batteries, external audio recorder + miscellaneous microphones, Mavic 2 Pro drone, Atomos external video recorder, and an external camera card backup system (Gnarbox).

My Question to Leonie and Rebecca: In some photos, it looks like you had both of the 30 watt solar panels wired to one another, but were they stacked on top of your boat, or did you just bring one panel in the end? Is there anything you'd change with your solar setup? Was your setup able to adequately charge your devices with the cloudy weather, or did you have to ration power and top up the batteries whenever you were near shore power at marinas?
Bex: We had the option of charging one or two panels at a time. Most days we had the solar panels stacked on top of each other, slowly charging the bank during the day, it seemed to slowly charge fine even on rainy days. Yes, we brought two panels, which seemed like too much for us. As we only set up the second panel occasionally on sunny land days and we never ran out of juice. We also stopped at towns every 7 days or so, and had extra smaller battery banks for our phone, InReach and such.

They go over their solar charging setup in detail in their Instagram Highlights, so I’ve written up a list in case anyone else is interested in copying or adapting it (prices are to give a super rough idea of cost in Canadian dollars, and are based on a quick google search). Their system was built by Bearfoot Renewables on Salt Spring Island, but I cannot find a contact link for them.

A note: If you’re not an electrician and you choose to build your own solar power system, I’d highly recommend having an electrician review your system and check that your connections have been made safely, are covered safely, and are secured properly – it takes surprisingly little current to permanently stop a human heart if something goes wrong. It might also be prudent to ensure that the battery you choose does not vent gas while charging. A setup like this isn’t going to be up to code, since Pelican cases aren’t exactly CSA rated electrical equipment, the cables aren’t mechanically protected, and there’s no way to bond and ground it all, etc., but care should be taken to do everything as safely as possible in any case.
Disclaimer out of the way, here are the parts that Bearfoot Renewables used:

(2x) Go Power! Solar Flex 30 watt (flexible solar panels) (discontinued model, but roughly $200 each)

(1x) Morningstar SunSaver SS-10L-12V 3rd Generation (a 12 volt/10 amp charge controller to take power from solar panels and safely charge a battery) ($120)

(1x) Discover D1272 12V 7.2Ah F1 (12 volt battery – batteries like this are typically used for uninterruptible power supply systems in commercial/industrial applications like emergency lighting) ($30)

(1x) Pelican 1200 waterproof case (for holding the charge controller/battery/USB battery banks) [my note: Canadian Tire regularly sells their knockoff Pelican brand called ‘Maximum’ for very steep discounts – their version of a Pelican 1400 case, Canadian Tire #058-1543-6, regularly goes on sale for $70]

(1x) strain relief cable gland (connector for putting the cables into the pelican case).


Some of my thoughts: The single strain relief for two cables is one area where I would deviate slightly from the setup that was built for them. I would use two separate strain relief connectors, as most are typically designed to seal around only one cable at a time, and I haven’t loved the reliability of the variant that allow you to put two wires through one rubber sealing plug in the same connector.

//EDIT ADDED 2023 March 4th @ 10:30// As helpfully pointed out by cougarmeat in the reply to this post, it is important to confirm that the battery type that you are using is compatible with your charge controller, and that you read all of the documentation to ensure that you are setting the charge controller up correctly for the type of battery (AGM, sealed lead acid, etc.) attached to it. You'll want to be reading all of the documentation anyway to ensure that you are tightening everything to the correct torque settings and so on.//

For anyone looking to build their own, it would also likely be a good idea to gently brush the exposed conductors (a green dish washing scrubby or a bit of melamine sponge should do the trick) and then apply a *thin* layer of electrical non-oxidizing compound suitable for the metals being used on those exposed conductors to help guard against corrosion. Several brands do sell a no-ox that covers both copper and aluminum.
(//EDIT added 2023 March 4 @ 10:30: your friendly neighbourhood electrician will have some of this no-ox, if you want to save $10 from having to buy your own//)
It may also help to toss a few silica gel desiccant packs inside the Pelican case for humidity control
(//EDIT added 2023 March 4 @ 10:30: making sure to secure them so that they cannot accidentally flop across electrical terminals and cause a short circuit//).
Also, if using crimp-on connectors (such as ‘Stakons’) to attach wires to battery posts and the like, it is best to use the tools that are designed for that task, as opposed to just mashing the connector onto the wire with pliers (loose electrical connections = bad times).

For electrical parts, such as crimp on wire connectors and strain reliefs, websites for large scale suppliers like EECOL, Wesco, Westburne may help you find what you need in terms of part numbers. Brands such as Thomas & Betts/ABB and Hammond Manufacturing make good quality electrical connectors, but they are usually sold in bulk and suppliers like EECOL can be quite expensive. If building your own setup, it may be worthwhile to visit a local electrical contractor that does industrial or commercial work and ask if they’d be willing to sell you a few parts.

For my own setup, I’ll start with a non-metallic cable connector (one made of Nylon, because electricity accidentally coming in contact with non-bonded metal parts = bad times) with a ½ NPT thread size, then I’d measure the outer diameter of the cable with insulation to determine the connector throat diameter needed. Some manufacturers give an IP rating, which may be more helpful and easy to decipher than a NEMA rating (ask an electrician for a photo of Table 65 from the Canadian Electrical Code if you’re bored and want to know what NEMA rating is adequate for what type of enclosure). If your strain relief doesn’t have a sealing ring (gasket ring) included on the face of the connector that will be pressed against the outer face of your Pelican case, make sure you put a sealing ring like an ABB 5262 or similar (preferably one that doesn’t have metal in it) between them.
ABB model 5262 sealing ring.jpg

Strain reliefs work best when the cable is entering the connector straight-on as well, so try to keep the wire from entering it at an angle. If that’s not possible, there are 90 degree strain relief connectors available as well. When I build my setup, I am also going to apply marine grade silicone around the rim of the connector where it goes through the side wall of the case if I can ensure that it won’t degrade the integrity of the connector.

Personally, I’m going to use something like a Hammond Manufacturing #1427CG7, #1427CG9 or similar as a strain relief. Since Go Power has discontinued the 30 watt panels that Rebecca and Leonie used, I’m going to try the 55 watt GP-FLEX-55 as it is narrow enough that I won’t be too worried about it catching wind, or sticking so far out that I can’t roll my kayak.

The one version of this solar panel model also comes with a charge controller that has a USB output built in.
For my knock-off brand Pelican case, I’m thinking I might use plastic backpack buckles to attach it to my deck bungies. That way, if I’ve come out of my boat and need to self rescue, I can easily unbuckle the case with cold/gloved hands, and toss the case over the opposite side of the boat to get it out of my way. I’m going to test out my setup on my whitewater raft before I put it on my kayak and take it on the ocean. I’ll make a new thread at a later date with more details on that if it works, and will edit this post with a link to that thread at that point.

>Miscellaneous Gear Questions and Answers<
Bex and Leo have quite a few blog posts and Instagram highlights covering their gear in detail. Here are a few of my questions and their answers regarding their setup.

I use a 2 person Hilleberg Staika tent on my kayak trips that is excellent at standing up to terrible weather, but requires a large amount of flat ground as well as time to set up and take down. Hammocks seem to have come a long way in the last decade, and I’ve read a few trip reports where people are successfully using them to camp in areas that don’t have ideal ground conditions for tents.

My question to Bex and Leo: Is there anything you'd change with the Hennessy Hammock setups you took? Do you remember how long your straps were? I imagine the trees got pretty big and far apart in some spots!
Leo: Finding trees was never really a problem, only on Southey Island (near Nanaimo) and in Glacier Bay (hardly any suitable trees at all!). We didn’t extend the lines that came with the Hennessy Hammocks. The longer the lines, the more likely it is to touch the ground with your bottoms. You will get a feel for the right length/distance apart pretty quickly.
Bex: Like Leo said, we never had an issue, sometimes we had to take a few extra minutes to find the perfect trees with a good view, but that is when we were being picky!
Chart logistics:
My question: Do you remember what brand/model your waterproof chart tube was for the stack of charts you carried in between resupply points? Did it actually stay waterproof? It'd be nice to keep a tube on the deck, instead of having to fold them up into drybags and have them taking up room in a bulkhead that could be used for precious chocolate!
Leo: we didn't use a chart tube to store our charts in the boats. Instead we had two waterproof chart cases by Sealline. One was stored in the boat with the majority of charts (e.g. on top of the other dry bags), the other one was used on deck for navigation.
Bex: We also mailed the charts for the sections ahead to our resupply locations, so we were only every carrying 12 or so charts at a time.
Lap Bag:
For myself, my camera system takes a minute to assemble the microphone, etc. for shooting video, and so it’s cumbersome to get to quickly in a Pelican case. Rebecca had a post where she laid out her lap bag setup that she started using after the Inside Passage trip, which may be of interest to people like me who want quick access to a camera when humpbacks suddenly start splashing about nearby (as they seem to enjoy doing).
Bex - lap bag after IP trip.jpg

My question: Rebecca: Is your Sealline Widemouth duffel lap bag the 25L or the 40L version? It looks like it would be super useful for quick access items as well as possibly being big enough for carrying my camera (since I can't fit mine in a Pelican case), but no website has a good photo of how large each version is when rolled up 3 times!
Bex: I have the 40L duffle lap bag, but I didn’t use this on the paddling trip. We used smaller dry bags. I personally feel it's too big for kayaking, and recently only use it for canoeing. If you have a spacious kayak and want to have your camera accessible, then I can see it being useful.

Filmmaking/Field Audio Recording:

380 gram hydrophone.JPG

For other people into filmmaking and recording field audio, this might be of interest.
My question: Leonie: Did you have any issues with your hydrophone setup? Did you manage to get any good audio of the marine life (was it worth taking)? I've found a cheap stereo hydrophone ("The Sound Shark Stereo Hydrophone" on Etsy), and I'd love to be able to hear/record the humpbacks vocalizing when they're nearby!

Leo: Hey Glen, no, we didn’t have any issues with our hydrophone set-up. In retrospect I could have bought a cheaper one, I think. Humpback Whales are not always vocal, it really depends on what they are doing at that very time. We did collect some good audio of them, but only on a few occasions.
Bex: This is Leo’s area of expertise, but I would add that we didn’t take too much time setting up the hydrophone, and something we could have spent more focus on if we had more of a flexible time schedule.

GPS Route:

My question: Would you happen to have the GPS files for your route still? When I log into Garmin Connect, it'll only allow me to export my own tracks, not the ones linked from your website on your https://share.garmin.com/RebeccaGrim page... It's always nice to have beta on where other people were able to camp, in case whatever stops I have planned need to get cut short due to weather!

Bex: Unfortunately, I can’t seem to export the tracks, I merged two accounts and I can’t view those tracks on my personal account anymore. However, if you click on each of the tracks, you can view the GPS coordinates, sorry I can’t be more helpful with this.

>Misc. Questions on the inner journey + full length film of their trip?<
My question: Now that it's been a few years, are there any other things you'd do differently? Is there anything you'd leave behind, or anything you'd bring if you were to do the trip again (other than what you mentioned in your Insta Highlight: a Lifeproof phone case, more Gopro batteries and more cookies/treats)?

Leo: I would bring different camera/microphone equipment and would try to film less and chill more. We were kind of in a time rush towards the end, which made it harder to enjoy things. Bring more time than you think you'll need. Chatting with locals and spending some time in places can be super enriching!
Bex: I agree, I wish we had more time! There are so many places we didn’t get to fully experience because we wanted to complete the whole trip in a season. I am still itching to go back and spend more time and explore more of the coastline. I would also want to make more of an effort talking to people in the communities, and spend more time there. I felt like we had so many errands on our “rest days” that we didn’t get to fully enjoy exploring more of the land and connecting with others.

My question: Did you learn anything about yourselves by doing this trip/did your viewpoints on anything change after (for example: should chocolate be given as much importance as other food groups such as vegetables and grains)?
Leo: the IP trip taught me, that everything I do leaves a footprint in this world and that I want to be even more cautious about my impact. It also taught me a lot about myself and my insecurities. Very important: you are basically always hungry when paddling and the food should be good!
Bex: I learned how lucky we are to be able to experience this coast by kayak, and how grateful I was to have a body to take me to those places. I learned how to fully depend on another human, to trust her, and how important communication is! My viewpoint shifted that everything is not black and white, and there is so much grey. I learned that a lot of people are trying their best to protect to coast and that looks very different to everyone. I try everyday not to judge someone doing something I don’t understand. Also, yes, chocolate is very important!

My question: I totally understand how expensive/time consuming editing video is, but I have to ask if there's any chance of the full length Paddling North documentary coming out? The preview is great, and my friends and I would love to see more!
Leo: Never say never :) If you know a good filmmaker, pls let us know ;)
Bex: Yes, we would also love a longer documentary to come happen! But yes, it's expensive and something that will hopefully come in the future.

>Info Source #2: Passage Adventures<

Single-Use Plastic Free Food Organization:

Two Aussies, Lucy Graham and Mathilde Gordon, did an Inside Passage trip at the same time as Leonie and Rebecca, but from North to South. They also managed to do the whole thing without single use plastics(!)
Blog link here.
Food preparation on a large trip like this is also something that’s clearly important to be solidly prepared for, so I was quite interested in how they managed to pack their dehydrated food without using single-use plastics. On my own trips, I dehydrate my meals and then put them in vacuum sealed bags to preserve them/compress them down, but I always feel guilty at the wastefulness of it. Lucy and Mathilde have a handy guide on how they did it plastic free here.
And they put their film up on Youtube here.
It’s well worth a watch, and they go into a bit of detail on how they packaged their food at 5:00(ish) and 7:00(ish), but basically, they wrapped their meals in parchment paper, and then wrapped that in newspaper (note that some newspaper ink contains BPA – hence why they wrapped it in parchment paper first). The food bundles were then labelled and put into a drybag with some silica gel desiccant packs.
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I'll have to go through your information a second, or third, or forth time. Lots to learn.
It looked like the battery in the Pelican case was SLA (sealed lead acid). If you are tempted to use smaller, lighter LiPO4 batteries, know that they have different charging requirements. So make sure all the parts work together.

For the hammock you'll want the angle from the supports to be around 30 degrees (or sixty depending on which side you measure). The rule of thumb is to use your thumb. Make your thumb and index finger like you are pointing a gun. Hold it, thumb straight up, under the line coming off the tree. If the line touches the top of your thumb and tip of your index finger, that's approximately close. Or, "close enough" if you are tired after a hard day's paddle. Note that they have the foot end of the hammock a little higher (6 - 8 inches) from the head end. It doesn't mean you'll feel the blood rushing to your head. It levels out as you move to a diagonal position and the slight rise keeps you from sliding to the foot end when your body turns into putty - relaxed at night.

You'll soon see that to keep close to the desired hang angle, the further apart the trees, the higher you have to attach the anchor point. Your tarp is usually longer than the hammock so it will determine tree distance.

If you try to use the knot shown in the Hennessy instructions (if you get a Hennessy), you might want to add an extra week to your trip to account for the time spent tying, untying to adjust, tying again ... There are youtube videos that show how to just put a wrap of webbing around the tree with two rings (like rappel rings) attached. The Hennessy line wraps through the ring and is pinched tight. You can back it up with a slippery half hitch for ease of mind. But most "experienced" people just swap out that line for another type of suspension - webbing, daisy chain, etc. Or just tie a loop in the Hennessy line next to the hammock and attach that loop to additional suspension with a carabiner. The idea here is you don't want to be messing around with knots that have been getting tighter and tighter during the night - especially if it is cold and raining in the morning. There are much easier, quicker, simpler ways to work your hammock suspension.

I might have mentioned this in an earlier post, I understand the Alaska route can be wet. The standard tarp that comes with the Hennessy explorer is "minimal". If you get a Hennessy, see if you can substitute for the Hennessy Hex or even the Monsoon or Typhoon. Those last two models come with end doors you can Velcro on. They come in handy when the wind is blowing parallel to your set up. Along that line, it seemed natural to put the broadside of a tarp towards the wind. But these days, if possible, I set up parallel to the wind. The idea is, it presents less surface area to the wind and the suspension trees themselves add some blockage. This parallel orientation assumes the tarp has "doors" (end flaps) or the trees make a massive wind block.

Last - but MOST important - Before you setup between two trees, always look up to see what is in the branches above. You don't want some stink'n dead branch to have a sudden attack of gravity in the middle of the night.
Wild Realms, thanks for the awesome post. I'll be digesting those links over the coming days.
cougarmeat - Thanks for the hammock tips! There's a bunch of info that I haven't seen before. The extremely shallow soil here in the Rockies has been the main barrier to buying one myself, as it's not just flimsy branches that you have to worry about here, but also the tree falling over completely in moderate winds!
Thank you for the reminder as well about choosing the correct battery type for your charger and setting it up correctly! I've edited my post to reflect that very important step.

CPS - All good! Leonie and Rebecca were very kind to share their knowledge, and given how helpful this forum has been to me, I figured I'd share it here!
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They don't give them away (just under $400 USD with tarp support option) but TensaOutdoors has a semi self-supporting stand weighing at 14 lbs. collapsible to 20 inches.

I call it "semi" because one end definitely needs to be anchored but it doesn't need to be concrete solid.

These days I carry Tensa Solo pole (much less expensive - around $130 with all rigging; $80 for just to pole. It takes the place of one tree so my choices to camp are much more flexible. But it has two lines coming off that pole that need solid anchoring. So far, a camp picnic table or heavy driftwood log has been sufficient.

It the photos below, I learned 1) to check those high tide tables and 2) driftwood logs float. Fortunately, I planned enough to move my "anchor" log on the far side of it's big brother. That didn't stop the high tide from harassing it. For a short while - of course in the middle of the pitch black night - the suspension tautness of my hammock would loosen and tighten as the tide gently rocked my anchor.

You might ask, "Why didn't you use that solid tree growing out of the rock in the background. I checked it out and judging from the moisture of the sand, I knew I'd be sleeping above any high tide, but if I had to get up in the middle of the night, I might be stepping in ankle deep water.

My point is, these days there are alternatives to requiring "two good trees, 12 - 15 ft apart (with no tree or bush off to the side between them that would interfere with a tarp)"


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Wow that's a lot of good info to digest. The discussion about electrical hazards piqued my interest. I had always considered 12 v to be low voltage and safe based on personal experience with car batteries and observations or others touching 9v to their tongue. So i did bit of web research, probably not all 100% accurate, and it seems that a 12v shock could be fatal but only in an extreme rare case. Of course good connections and proper insulation are desired to prevent damage to the equipment or from shorts in saltwater anyway.
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