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Words Ian Provo / Photos by Sean Kerrick Sullivan, Ian Provo, & Neil Provo

A few summers ago, my brother and I set out to recreate our first grand adventure. It had been 10 years since our first DIY, self-supported, extended trip through the wilderness, and we were eager to see how we had progressed in that time. In 2008, we set off up the trail with overloaded packs in excess of a hundred pounds worth of food, rafts, camping and fishing gear. In the true spirit of adventure, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we launched ourselves into Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness.

That first big trip was our inspiration for the following decade. Whenever times were tough, we thought back on the agony of hiking for days with hundred-pound loads. We looked for adventures in other parts of the world. From Alaska to the Amazon, from the Russian far east to our home in the Rocky Mountains- we were obsessed. Over the years, we realized how our gear could help us achieve more, and by going lighter we could go further. The 2008 trip became a benchmark for what we could endure and how far we could go. So we kept going.

Fast forward to 2018, and we were packing up for a 10-year anniversary trip through “The Bob” in northwestern Montana - a network of wilderness complexes comprised of a million and a half acres. Countless rivers and streams, rugged mountains, and a fully intact eco-system make up the “Crown of the Continent”. The itinerary included 30 miles by foot, and 60 miles or so by packraft, traversing from south to north. Unquestionably, The Bob encompasses some of the most pristine and remote country in the lower 48.

This time around our packs weighed significantly less, and with twice as much food we could extend our stay. Using ultralight packs and shelters, and Alpacka pack rafts, we were able to travel in comfort and style for eleven days. As we casually made our way through the vast wilderness, we couldn’t help but think back to the pain and suffering we endured on the same trails, 10 years earlier. Along with a decade of knowledge and new skills acquired, it was clear to us now that having the right gear can make a world of difference.