When most people think of spring break they conjure up images of white sand beaches, suntan lotion and Mai Tai’s.
There there’s Paul Hubner, CEO of Baffin, Canada’s largest brand of polar boots and apparel. In a few short weeks, Paul and his three sons, Mark, 24, Brent, 21, and Ryan, 16, will trek across Baffin Island for two weeks. While these four hardy souls may indeed see white, it will be the white of snow, ice, glaciers, Arctic Fox and Polar Bears.
Average annual temperatures in Baffin come in at 18 degrees F, reaching a high of 48 degrees F in July and a low of -27 degrees F in February. While March is one of the driest months in Baffin, it’s also one of the coldest, not to mention a lack of sunlight suitable for tanning. Trekking across Baffin Island in March, when temperatures can drop well below zero, offers a different challenge than Spring Break at Daytona Beach.
I met Paul Hubner a few weeks ago at the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s a strong, made-for-the outdoors kind of guy, with a goal of making the best gear for extreme conditions. While most of their current gear is designed for the extreme conditions in polar regions, Baffin is committed to making the best gear for all extreme conditions.
My company, Walking The World, operates small group adventures around the world for those 50 years of age and better. While most of us won’t be trekking across the Arctic in wintertime, we can always use high quality cold weather gear. Snowshoeing is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., and there are plenty of times when I’ve been out in Colorado’s mountains in cold weather conditions. The soft shell jacket and base layers, made by Baffin, I tried on at the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in January, 2012, were not only of exceptionally high quality but the design and fit made me want to take the items home with me right then and there. I’m looking forward to my own tests of Baffin’s polar gear.
Can’t seem to keep your feet warm in cold weather months? Try a pair of Baffin footwear. The layering system in their boots does a great job of wicking moisture from one’s feet outward to keep feet dry and warm. Paul Hubner tests Baffin gear in the harshest conditions, probably a wee bit colder than what most of us will encounter in our adventures. So you know their gear will do the job.
Okay, a few interesting facts about Baffin.
1. Most of Baffin Island is above the Arctic Circle.
2. 11,000 people live on Baffin Island – based on 2007 figures.
3. Baffin is the world’s 5th largest island.
4. Highest point on Baffin is 7,044 feet.
5. If you like Base Jumping, spread your wings in Baffin. One side of Baffin’s Mount Thor sports a vertical cliff face of 4,100 feet, one of the largest in the world.
6. Baffin was named after the English explorer William Baffin
Now, you might be thinking that a winter trek across Baffin, with freezing temperatures and low light levels, might not offer much beyond a physical test. Not so. While doing some research on Baffin Island I came across the website of another polar explorer, famous in his own right, George Kourounis, and his photos taken during one expedition in March of 2009. George is, in his own words, an “Explorer/Adventurer and Storm Chaser” and his TV series, ANGRY PLANET, airs worldwide. If you visit his site, you’ll be as amazed as I was at the variety and magnitude of his adventures. And his photos will make you want to head out the door today!
In 2009, during a ten-day polar expedition survival training program on Baffin Island, George captured in photos some of the unmatched raw beauty of the Arctic in winter. George has graciously allowed me to include some of his photos in this story. Interestingly, Paul Huber and his son Ryan, soon to trek across Baffin Island, were also on the same polar expedition survival training program.
While Paul Hubner and his three sons will be trekking across Baffin Island this March, 2012, George will be embarking on an epic journey he calls the “Coast to Coast to Coast Road Trip” across the breadth and width of Canada. The goal: document winter’s worst weather. Sounds like a serious, challenging and rewarding adventure.
A very special thanks to George Kourounis for allowing me to use photos from his Arctic Adventures. All photos in this blog are coutesy of George. George is right now documenting some of the worst winter weather in Canada on his Coast to Coast to Coast Road Trip.
Me? I’ll be doing a lot of walking trips by exploring the top day hikes in all 50 states in the U.S. I can’t say I’ll encounter the same harsh conditions as these accomplished explorers, but I’m looking forward to discovering more magical corners of this great planet right here in the U.S.
Walking The World