National Wildlife Federation Outdoors

”Arctic Dreams” with Thor Tingey co-founder and owner of Alpacka Rafts.

July 23, 2021

Aaron sits down with Thor Tingey co-founder and owner of Alpacka Rafts. Thor has traveled extensively in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in Alaska using his company’s specialized rafts that he developed to do traverses across Alaska. We cover the uniqueness of the refuge and why it should be protected, how he got into these big traverses, his experiences in Alaska including his recent trip through the refuge, and how he and his mother developed Alpacka Rafts. We also talk about camping and outdoor travel with children, a caribou hunt, and fishing for Arctic char.

Show notes:

1:32 – Some background on Thor, the cofounder and owner of Alpacka Rafts in Colorado.

3:09 – What Thor has been doing outside recently, including a trip within the Arctic Refuge with his toddler.

4:25 – What trip lead to start Alpacka Rafts in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

5:40 – Insight into having kids and taking them outside to explore at a young age. You don’t need to stop exploring, just adjust!

8:10 – Thor talks about the Arctic and why it is so special… starting with the light.

10:50 – We all use energy resources, the important distinction is that some places are too special and too wild. These places need to remain undisturbed.

11:40 – The origin story and core idea behind pack rafting and Alpacka Rafts as a company.

13:05 –The life changing trip: The Brooks Range over 39 days and 700 miles utilizing paper maps. Linking landscapes together via pack rafts.

15:12 – The anatomy of the Alpacka Raft. It’s a family affair regarding how they are designed to take on new frontiers. Where they have come to since the first design in 2001.

16:53 – The core of pack rafting is exploring and linking intact landscapes. Alaska is ground zero for intact landscapes which brings us back to the Arctic.

19:00 – Message from our partner podcast, Artemis Sportswoman.

19:42 - Thor takes us there and walks us through a typical day pack rafting in the Arctic. 24 hour light, toddler bedtime, weather systems, migratory animals and wide open views of jagged limestone mountains.

23:00 – What wildlife Thor saw during his last trip to Alaska including musk ox, Dall sheep and golden eagles.

24:24 – What fish Thor saw during this trip including resident grayling, arctic char and what happened when rain made the river rise seven feet.

27:00 – How do you fish for arctic char?

27:40 – Unique wildlife encounters including howling with the wolves.

29:25 – Where are the caribou migrating?

30:30 – Hunting caribou in Alaska in 2018… walking into the refuge and floating the harvest out. The caribou season aligns nicely with the arctic char season!

33:30 – Growing up in Alaska, protecting the Arctic and why Thor thinks the Arctic should not be developed.

34:30 – Understanding oil pipelines, natural resource development and what has paid for Alaska for 40 years.

36:20 – Flying over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and realizing how small it is in comparison. It is likely going to be the last place in Alaska that can be utilized for natural resources… what’s the plan moving forward?

38:34 - The idea that there are some places worth keeping wild. Can we ask ourselves, “is it worth these last few places?”

40:40 - What does Thor think permanent protection would look like? What does protection look like? Take a look at landscapes.

42:27 – Change happens and we need to think about that but we do need to keep industrialized development out.

45:00 – The reality of the wild king salmon status and runs over the past decade. The experience that Thor had as a kid does not exist anymore.

46:55 – We have a lot of oil development in the world. How can we get on the same page that there are simply some places are need to stay wild? 

49:30 – Alpacka Raft’s core values and commitment to engagement in conservation as a company. Core pack rafting pursuits is enact landscapes!

52:41 - It’s exciting that places still exist where you can get away from it all.

54:23 – Closing statements… a soft approach to activism as an individual – contact your local legislator.


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