|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – February 1998
He rocked the world of climbing, challenged the accepted wisdom in sea kayaking, and now Ray Jardine turned his renegade way of thinking to backpacking.
The AT hike validated Jardine's new techniques, and a "cruise" of the PCT in the summer of 1994Jenny and Ray's final long-distance hikeconfirmed it once again. Jardine was deluged with mail as The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook became more widely read. As he settled in as president of the trail group he founded, the American Long Distance Hiker's Association (ALDHA), he tried to answer all the letters. He was pleased to see that as more and more hikers tried his ideas, the response to the book was shifting from outright ridicule to deep gratitude.
"I was hiking the AT the same year as you," begins a typical letter, this one from Mark Welch, dated August 1996. "I had no idea who you were, but I was loaded down with about 60 pounds and you both had on what looked like daypacks. I thought to myself, 'Holy Cow, what a couple of yahoos!' After you passed me I started reading your entries and was awestruck at your daily mileage. After reading your book it just amuses the heck out of me that I was pretty much the idiot."
Four years have passed since Ray Jardine last strapped on a pack for a long-distance hike. Given his history, it was predictable that he would drift away from long-distance hiking. With the noise and clamor of the hiking community sounding a lot like the sound and fury in Yosemite after his "friends" appeared, his already waning interest in hiking was further diminished. Jardine soon distanced himself from the discussion generated by his book and from groups like ALDHA that he'd fostered.
Today he lives with Jenny, his partner in adventure, in a quiet, sparsely populated corner of the Northwest. His modest house and cavernous workshop stand on a few acres of lodgepole pine, not far from the mountains and forests he loves. It's an abode that fits his frugal and unpretentious style. Jardine, who's more comfortable outdoors than in, often sleeps in a tent in the backyard. He seems content at home, absolutely focused on the details of his next wilderness adventure, which will take him and Jenny through some of the most remote and unforgiving land in the world. But he won't be going there on foot. Shortly after leaving behind the backpacking world, Jardine turned the considerable wattage of his full attention to a new outdoor enthusiasm: Arctic kayaking.
This fall he and Jenny returned from their third year in the Arctic, having paddled from Washington State, through Alaska, to the Mackenzie Delta. With 6,000 miles under their spray skirts so far, they're halfway through a treacherous retracing of the Northwest Passage. Each day in the Arctic, Ray and Jenny would don survival suits and paddle through what is literally ice water. Their only company might be beluga whales or grizzlies on shore. It's a deadly environment with no margin for error. Roll your boat trying to get through the surf to camp and, if you can't start a fire quickly, you die of hypothermia.