Slickrock Expeditions 2001

"Burt Trips" Through the Years

Fellow Hikers and Paddlers,

Looking back over the more than 450 trips I've run since Slickrock Expeditions started in 1985, it’s clear to me that little steps taken over a long period, when added up, cover surprising distances. Not just in obvious things like total miles hiked or canoed, or number of nights I've slept in the woods (more than 3 years’ worth), but in all kinds of ways.

Calderwood Lake and Slickrock Wilderness, 1986

To give one instance, I’ve taken pictures of Slickrockers since the get-go. Starting out it was 2-4 rolls of 35mm a trip, and I'd select the 20 best prints to mail each person as a memento. Since switching to a digital camera, it’s probably been 200 photos a trip, and I put the best of them in a photoset to email everyone. I figure on average I’ve taken around 100 pictures a trip over the years. If we multiply 100 times 450, that comes out to 45,000 pictures! I'm not sure I've gotten any better at picture-taking in this time, but my right index finger is strong.

Recently while going through boxes of prints I took in the 1980s and '90s, I came across one full of pictures from those years that go in the other direction~i.e., pics people took of me on the trail, often with others. Looking through them, I recalled some of the places and faces. But with most I scratched my head: Who took this? When? Where? There are lots of shots of me stirring a cookpot or teaching map and compass or canoe strokes or telling a story. Or just goofing off. Some are in swamps, some in mountains, some deserts. To judge by the quality or lack thereof, the pictures were made with all kinds of cameras.

I do remember the details about several. One photo taken in 1985 shows an old brown Ford station wagon, with equally old canoes loaded on top. I needed transportation for my newly-fledged business, and Bill Kirwan gave me the car in trade for taking his son, Emmett, on a trip. It was a vehicle worthy of the garage I ran the Expeditions out of that first year. Besides having bent fenders and a knocked-out front grill, the Ford had rust holes in the floorboard. I’d stuff towels in the holes to keep dust from pouring in during the last part of the drive up to Wolf Laurel Trailhead in the Slickrock Wilderness~17 miles of dirt! Even with the holes plugged, we'd arrive coated. When Bill joined Emmett to make a father-son trip in 1986, he got a taste of the dust. The family-sized station wagon did its job~hauled us and all our gear to the trailhead. By the third year I had enough trips lined up to justify buying a van, used but with an intact floor.

Another picture shows a ‘gator's head stuck on a stick in the bow of my canoe during a trip to the Okefenokee in 1993. The ‘gator was the loser in a fight with another, and we found his remains near our campsite on an island called Craven's Hammock. Mounted on the front of my boat, the ‘gator gave a Georgia-swamper's twist to the meaning of the term "figurehead." And it also gave out an odor. (For a better look at the head, click on the photo.)

There are shots of me with folks who have bumps and bruises, including one with a man I helped who’d broken his leg in frigid weather while he was working with a crew on the Bartram Trail. I remember that the immediate challenge was to keep him from becoming hypothermic until we could carry him off the mountain. So I wrapped him in a sleeping bag where he lay on the trail.

There’s also a photo of a public school teacher (below) taken during a “victory supper" that followed a backpacking trip I ran for the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching. The picture was made just as he presented me with a pair of lacy blue panties signed by all the teachers who took part in the hike. This underwear is on display on the wall of my equipment room, along with other trophies.

Finally, I'll mention a pic that shows me emerging from a cave in Panthertown~a cave that many of you know well. It’s that dark, deep recess within the boulder-clogged labyrinth of Fat Man’s Misery that you ran away from~some of you screaming!~ when you heard the growls of a bear suddenly come from out of its depths.

I'll never forget the time I ran a father-and-daughter trip there (the girls were10 years old). Just as the group reached the cave the bear growled, and all the dads ran away in a panic, leaving their daughters to fend for themselves! (I just happened to be somewhere else at that moment.) I could hear the dads yelling back over their shoulders as they high-tailed it through the woods, “Go find Burt, Girls, go find Burt!” Would you believe it, on my most recent trip to Panthertown that same bear growled again from that very same cave, and one girl climbed a tree!

I've converted to digital a selection of these pictures taken by others. Some of the people pictured with me made just one or two trips and I never saw them again. Others have continued to return for many adventures. To see the selection, Click here.


| What We Do | About The Guide |Scheduled Trips |
| Meet Some Vets | Burt Trips Through the Years | Cancellations, Refunds, Etc. |
| HOME |