Monday, July 30, 2012

Ryder-Walker Named “Top Outfitter” by Travel + Leisure Magazine

Ryder-Walker “Stands Out,” according to Travel + Leisure Magazine

T+L created a directory of standout specialists for seven types of getaways, ranging from safaris to biking tours, in their August 2012 issue. We’re proud to announce that Ryder-Walker made T+L’s distinctive list of adventure outfitters for the trekking and walking category.

In addition, T+L only listed seven top-shelf travel companies for trekking and walking (compared to 11 companies for “Local Culture”) and we made the cut. Does this mean that we’re one of the Top Seven best travel companies for hiking? We like to think so, and we'd like you to think so too!

Grab a copy of Travel + Leisure’s August 2012 issue. You’ll find our mention on page 146. See our name in print. Get stoked. Give us try. 

We can’t wait to take you hiking!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Review: An Amazing Birthday Celebration!

Dear Peter,

I simply can't wait for the official feedback form to tell you what an amazing 60th birthday celebration I had on our private Haute Route trek. The weather was perfect, the lodging and meals were delightful, and Kenny truly outdid himself. He has always been a wonderful guide...professional, customer-focused, respectful and intuitive. But after ten years (our first hike with him was on my 50th birthday!), he has become a special friend. 

We were so sorry that Staffan was ill much if the time.  But he was a good sport and Kenny picked up the slack seamlessly. As always, the "Strapping Swede" was a favorite with the ladies.    

Thank you for giving us these years of joy in the mountains we love. You have assembled and developed an unsurpassed team of guides, and have kept your itineraries fresh and exciting for us long-time customers. We also appreciated your kindness in treating our jolly group to celebratory libations.

I've attached a photo from my amazing Haute Route 60th birthday celebration. It was taken in Trient after dinner, a really cool birthday cake, and far too many drinks. Kenny was both head guide and master of ceremonies. I'm sure we wore him out!  

I'd love for you to put the photo on the blog to encourage others to celebrate major milestones on the trail with Ryder-Walker.

I hope you will pass along my gratitude to Kenny and Staffan for a trek that far surpassed my highest hopes.

-Blythe Fortin

Thanks Blythe. It was our pleasure to host your group. A HUGE happy birthday to you! -The RW Staff.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Swiss Photos: Sometimes We Get Lucky

It was a long, rainy, windy walk today, but we made it Meiringen. 

Unfortunately, Ron didn't get any of the views, but he did get something  totally unique. We walked into a traditional farmer's festival just after crossing the Jochpass. It was amazing. The rain gave it a different and unique feel. I told Ron that, normally, if someone was able to see just ONE of the things that was happening at this festival, it was a good day. We got to see all sorts of things! Sometimes we just get lucky. 

Here are some images:


This poor cow had a head-on collision with a florist. 

There is nothing more Swiss than hot, steamy Raclette. 

-Mike Thurk
(on the Via Alpina 1)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Striking It Rich on the Prospect Trail

After working like crazy for months, the Ryder-Walker ladies, managing director Melanie Eggers and RW Jacqueline of-all-trades, Jessica “Jess” Sullivan, jumped on their mountain bikes for a much-needed spin during lunch. Melanie was so excited about the ride that she quickly wrote this piece when she got back. Enjoy it. 

FYI: Ryder-Walker founder Peter Walker designed the Prospect Trail mentioned in this piece. Though he didn’t physically build the trail, his knowledge of the terrain surrounding the Telluride Ski Resort proved indispensible in the trail’s design. 

Mr. Walker, I had no idea.  Not only can you produce some of the best hiking itineraries in Europe (and Telluride, CO), your mountain bike trail building is an unknown forté to most.

Today, after months of working on our clients’ travel schedules with seemingly no end in sight, Jess and I finally jumped on our mountain bikes during lunch and hit the Telluride Ski Resort’s Prospect Trail. Door to door from the Ryder Walker office, this beautiful and near-perfect mountain bike (and hiking) trail took us just over an hour to hammer out. 

Riding mostly our second chain rings, Jess, my Titus (my second boyfriend) and I soaked up the beautiful mountain landscape, cool weather, and unforgettable flora and fauna. Not only are you bound to see a black bear, porcupine, deer and maybe a few elk while riding this masterful trail, the wildflowers jump out at you while spinning along the single track (especially the Arnica because it knows you might need some after this adventure). 

Winding through pine and aspen trees, I barely have to think about what I am doing as the trail does it for me. In fact, I almost always giggle on the perfectly engineered and winding trail, descending for what seems like forever. Crossing over Prospect Creek, flowing wildly to its destination, I see my own destination and realize that I don’t want my ride to end, ever. I love the wild outdoors and promise to cherish and take care of our Mother Earth—end of story. But not yet…The single track leads me around another curve.

It makes sense that a guy that ran the Telluride Ski School for 20 years would know how to build the perfect world-class mountain bike trail on terrain that he’s been skiing for years. It makes even more sense when you consider that Mr. Walker, let’s call him “el Jefe” (the boss) after this ride, spent more than 25 years hiking European trails designed by Romans and ancient livestock herders. It makes sense that he would know exactly how to prospect a mountain biking trail that gives people an extraordinary experience. Thank you for prospecting this goldmine. It makes me feel richer than most people will feel in a lifetime!

Keep walking and ‘ryding'...Melanie

Image: Jessica Sullivan (left). Melanie Eggers (right). 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Via Alpina is a Hidden Gem!

Here's a little update from the Via Alpina Uno:

The Via Alpina is a hidden gem! We met up in the town of Weistannen, tucked far up the valley from the city of Sargans, surrounded by massive peaks and waterfalls everywhere. Rain overnight dusted the peaks with snow and the contrast from the green alps and white summits was astonishing.

We climbed through the morning until we crossed over the Foopass and descended into Elm, a small but artsy little village that sits on the valley floor. We ended the day with a few Appenzeller beers on the patio and watched as the sun set up for a evening alpenglow show. 

Today we left Elm with our sights set on Braunwald. A big day of passes, high alpine meadows, and the threat of rain (but only a threat) kept us busy as we descended into Linthal and hopped a cable car to the carless town of Braunwald. 

The trip so far has been stunning and we only hope our luck with views and weather will hold! 

Mike Thurk, RW Trip Leader and Bon Vivant

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Few Things You Didn't Know About Hydration

Daniel Sundqvist sent this photo yesterday from the Hiker’s Haute Route. Here, one of our lovely young guests pauses for a water break before continuing her hike through Switzerland and the Pennine Alps.

You can almost feel the refreshment and the cool mountain air just by looking at this photo. But don’t let that hose fool you! In the Alps, many of the spigots, hoses, and watering holes find their source in artesian wells deep underground. You won’t taste city-bred floro-chloro laundry runoff coming out of that hose. No way! That hose carries the nectar of the high Alps. It’s pure mountain spring water.

While we’re on the subject of water, let's take a moment to address a topic that is extremely important during a hiking tour, hydration. As trip leaders, we’re constantly telling our guests, “Stay hydrated. Drink water. Drink water. Drink water.” We’ve all heard it. We know it’s important, but how important is it, really?

Here are a few surprising facts. According to the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), when your body is down merely 1.5 liters, your endurance may be reduced 22 percent and your maximum oxygen uptake (a measure of heart and lung efficiency) can be lowered by 10 percent. Down 3 to 4 liters can knock your endurance down to 50% and reduce your oxygen uptake by almost 25%!

Every wonder why your hiking partner, who never trains as much as you do, just dropped you on your favorite climb? Maybe she's not naturally gifted. Maybe you just didn’t drink enough water. Think she's heard that before?

Estimates vary widely, but I’ve heard it stated many times that the an average person at rest on a normal day loses between 2 and 3 liters of water just by sitting around. Put another way, without replenishment, that’s already a 22-50% drop in endurance just by doing nothing! Add strenuous exercise to the mix, and the fluid loss increases by 50% or more.

Think you can just down a two-liter of water and everything will be fine? Think again. It takes about one hour to put one liter of fluid back into circulation. If you're two liters down, you'll need at least two more hours to bring your body back to level. (Not including any additional fluid loss during that time). So drink early, and drink often. Have a tall glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Even when you think you’re drinking enough water, you probably aren’t.

Camelbacks, like the one that you see in this photo, have gone a long way toward helping hikers stay hydrated. I know from personal experience that I tend to drink more when I have that little blue tube dangling in front of my mouth. The camelback is easy to fill, and it’s a pleasure to use. You can even pull the reservoir out, and use it with different packs, making it extremely versatile. There is a drawback to all that water sipping, however.

We don’t see this very often, but you can actually drink TOO much water. The condition is called Hyponatremia, and it results from drinking copious amounts of water without enough salt. We lose a lot of salt (and a host of other trace minerals) when we perspire, and when blood sodium gets too low, we begin to develop symptoms that feel a lot like dehydration and heat exhaustion. We get headaches; weakness; fatigue; lightheadedness and we might even experience nausea. The symptoms vary among individuals, but if you’ve ever experienced hyponatremia, then you probably found yourself wondering why you drank lots of water all day, but you still felt like crap.

For myself, I know that I’m getting sodium or mineral deficient when the water that I drink stops quenching my thirst. That, or I start craving salty snacks like French fries and pretzels.

So what to do?

One easy way to stay hydrated, but also keep on top of your salt supply, is to carry a bottle of electrolyte drinks. There are a ton of electrolyte drink products out there, and the one that I like comes from a company called Trace Minerals Research. They make an Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak that is less sugary and not so artificially colored or flavored as other brands on the market. The drink comes in a little powder packet, and you simply mix it into your water botttle, camelback, gin bottle, whatever. I like to reserve my camelback for pure, clean mountain spring water, so I usually mix the Power Pak in a backup Sigg or Nalgene bottle and carry that in addition to the Camelback. Overkill? Perhaps. The electrolyte mixture leaves a residue that permanently changes the flavor of your bottle. For me, it’s nice to have one bottle devoted to electrolyte drinks. On my road bike, I have one bottle filled with clear water and one filled with electrolytes.

Natural alternatives. There’s been a lot of buzz lately surrounding coconut water. Some people call it “Mother Nature’s Mega-Electrolyte Drink.” I tried it, and I find it extremely sweet. Maybe you’d like it. Give it a whirl and let us know what you think.

One other note: A little bit of salt goes a long way. A handful of salty nuts, mid hike, will do the trick. Don’t plan on downing a bag of potato chips at every water stop, though, or you might end up with serious high blood pressure down the road. Everything in balance, that’s the key.

Wrapping things up, here are our tips:

  1. Drink plenty of water. Lots of it, in fact-especially if it’s hot or during periods of strenuous and/or extended exercise. Getting just a little behind in your water consumption can seriously affect your endurance during the course of the day. (A 22%-50% drop)!
  2. Camel backs make it easy to stay hydrated. Any type of water bladder that slips into your pack with a drinking tube will do the trick. Go for it. Take a sip and keep on sipping!
  3. Replenish your electrolytes. They keep you going strong and feeling great.

We’d love to hear your hydration stories. Got a system that works well for you? Ever dried up on the trail and been eaten by buzzards? Drop us a line.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Guest Photos: The Engadine + 1000 Days

Woody Campbell likes to take photos. He likes to take photos so much, in fact, that he started a photo blog in 2009 and vowed to post one image per day until he runs out of space on his server. In his own words, “I started this project on October 19, 2009 and have posted a picture each day without a miss for 991 days.”

That’s almost 1000 days!

Lucky for us, Woody and his camera joined Ryder-Walker for a private hiking tour through eastern Switzerland, and some of the trip images wound up on his blog.

One of my favorite images is the b&w mountain photo taken above tree line. (See above) Woody shot this photo while hiking between the villages of Guarda and Zuoz. I’m a sucker for high mountain passes, big sky and clouds, so this photo satisfies. That's just me. Woody also posted some great color photos of the Swiss landscape, people and architecture.

Check out Woody’s blog, then find your own favorite photo. The Engadine action begins with blog post June 21, 2012 and continues onward toward July. Don’t want to scroll through posts? You can also view just the Swiss portfolio at

I recommend a visit. There’s a great evening shot of Soglio that didn’t make it into the blog.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Guest Photo: The Historic Village of Soglio | Eastern Swiss Alps

Ryder-Walker's longtime guest and adventure-seeker, Greg Light, snapped this photo in the historic mountain village of Soglio, Switzerland.

Greg writes, "Greetings. Great trek. Great guides. Took this photo a few minutes ago from the hotel after a day of rain, thunder, etc. Rainbow put a great end to a perfect trip."

Perfect trip, indeed. Nestled on a (usually) sunny mountain terrace, Soglio is one of the most atmospheric villages in all of Switzerland. Situated within a stone's throw of the Italian border, it's also the terminus of our Engadine Trek, a week long hike through the eastern Swiss Alps.

Thanks for the photo Greg! You certainly found gold at the end of the rainbow.