Backpacking for a Honeymoon? Alpine Shop Employee Amy Armon Explains

Who goes backpacking for their honeymoon!? What is romantic about hiking 280 miles in three weeks, 30 lb. packs, sleeping on the ground, a lack of showers, freeze-dried meals, bugs, and all other not-so-glamorous aspects of spending days on end in the woods? Honestly, I’m not sure what is so romantic about it; ask me in a month when I get back, but my husband and I are confident it’s how we want to celebrate our marriage. That’s why we are spending the next three weeks backpacking on the Appalachian Trail for our honeymoon.

The idea of backpacking for one’s honeymoon is the antithesis of what a honeymoon is typically all about: pampering yourselves, spending money lavishly, enjoying superfluous comforts of five-star hotels, etc., but it is of no surprise to me that we are choosing a tent and Therm-a-Rests over pillow-topped beds and beaches. After all, the Appalachian Trail is how we met.

I hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, known as “thru-hiking” in 2009. It is 2,178.3 miles long and runs from Georgia to Maine. It took me five and a half months. As I was hiking through Pennsylvania, a stranger, my now-husband, Will, offered “trail magic” to me and my hiking buddies. Trail magic can be described as random acts of kindness by strangers to help hikers on their journey. Examples of common forms of trail magic seen on the AT are: rides to town, a bed to sleep in, a home-cooked meal, or a random cooler in the middle of nowhere filled with soda. Thru-hikers rely on the kindness of strangers throughout their journey. Will had a love of the AT, too, but being a teacher during the school year, he knew that a thru-hike was likely not in the cards for him since it’s takes about six months. So, instead, he read books and blogs about the trail and provided trail magic to thru-hikers on his days off during the summer (he worked at a summer camp in Pennsylvania).

I kept a blog throughout my hike which I updated in towns when I had the chance. Through this, Will was able to follow my progress northbound. When he checked in on my blog in early Fall and saw I had completed the trail, he emailed me a note of congratulations. I wrote him back and a couple visits and a few months later, I moved to St. Louis so we could be together. I found a wonderful place of employment at Alpine Shop, which allows me the opportunity to share my passion for the outdoors with customers, as well as the flexibility to pursue my own outdoor adventures, such as three weeks of time off to go backpacking for my honeymoon! And of course, we have been able to completely outfit ourselves with everything we could possibly need for this adventure from the shop! I will be promoting Alpine Shop everywhere I hike on the trail with my new hot pink Alpine Shop Nalgene, too! Gotta represent!

We organically came up with the dream of hiking the entire trail together, in small pieces (known as section-hiking) over our life-time. When thinking about what we should do for our honeymoon, it just felt right to begin our marriage with our first official section hike of the Appalachian Trail. And, as symbolism would suggest, we are beginning at the southern-terminus, Springer Mt., Georgia, and doing the first 280 miles northbound.

There is something special about backpacking with the one you love. There are no distractions. The only worries are food, water, shelter, and physical well-being. It is life and love in its simplest form. There will be sunsets and sunrises, shooting stars and campfires. But let’s not forget the bugs, bears, blisters, and torrential downpours. You need to rely on each other to help make it through the tough times and you get to share in the beauty and magnificence of nature during the good times. Both types of experiences bring you closer to each other and make your relationship stronger – just like real life.

We can’t wait. Who knows when the next opportunity we will have to spend three weeks alone together in the woods will be? Probably retirement.

Feel free to follow our blog about the trials and triumphs of life as newlyweds on the Appalachian Trail at:

Wigwam and Alpine Shop Pitch in to Help Tornado Victims

Pass the word along. While supplies last, for every two pair of Wigwam socks you purchase, Wigwam will donate a pair to Missouri Tornado Victims.

While Wigwam has supplies to do it, they are offering a special promotion to help out Missouri’s tornado victims. All you have to do is purchase two pair of any Wigwam socks at any Alpine Shop. Wigwam will take care of donating a third pair directly to those in need. This promotion is not being run with any other merchants.

Drop by your local Alpine Shop and help us help them this weekend.


Alpine Shop’s Guide to America’s Amazing National Parks

As outdoor recreation lovers, Alpine Shop employees are naturally drawn to our national parks. As a company, we celebrate their existence, their protection and their continued preservation for our use and our children’s use and our children’s children.

The National Park Service consists of over 375 parks and historic sites covering an amazing range of landscapes, wildlife and history.   Below are just a few of the most interesting facts on this expansive park system.

  • More than 300 million people visited our national park areas in 2010.
  • The first national park, Yellowstone, was created in 1872 through a law signed by President Ulysses S. Grant. The cavalry was the first caretaker.
  • The first nationally-proclaimed protected area of public land in the United States, Yosemite, was created in 1864 by the passage of the Yosemite Grant.
  • The largest living things in the world live in national parks; Sequoia Trees, and the world’s largest carnivore; the Alaska Brown Bear.
  • National park areas have volcanos, glaciers, white sand beaches, and dinosaur fossils.
  • Starting in 1910 with “The Immortal Alamo”, filmmakers have been coming to national parks year after year to capture majestic scenery for their productions.

While all of these parks are worthy of protection some hold a special place in the American experience.  While there will never be a consensus on which parks are the best we have listed below the ones that have become part of our staff’s hearts and souls.

Bull Elk resting in Yellowstone National Park, Montana
Bull Elk resting in Yellowstone National Park, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park

The 2,221,766 acres of this astounding land make up the world’s first national park.  Created in 1872 the park features nearly a thousand miles of trails, over 280 backcountry campsites and 466 miles of roadways.

Within it’s boundaries you will find over 10,000 hot springs, geysers, and other thermal features, dramatic mountain ranges, beautiful rivers, hundreds of waterfalls and some of the best wildlife viewing this side of the Serengeti.

Much of the park sits in an ancient caldera of a super volcano resulting in over 2000 earthquakes in an average year.

Half Dome Yosemite National Park
The iconic face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California.

Yosemite National Park

This crown jewel of the National Park system in California was the first park to be protected by the American Government in 1864 with the passage of the Yosemite Grant.

Yosemite Valley is famous throughout the world for its waterfalls and the dramatic granite cliffs rising up, in some cases, 5000 feet above the valley floor. The iconic face of Half Dome in the southeast corner of the Valley can be seen on everything from the California quarter, the logos of such respected outdoor companies as The North Face and Sierra Designs and on countless tourist photographs throughout the world.

The park extends for 1169 square miles, 94% of which is wilderness.

Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park
The tranquil shores of Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park

This park in NW Montana is dubbed “The Crown of the Continent”.   This mountain park lives up to it nick name featuring stark mountain landscapes, dozens of glaciers, and amazing wildlife.

The park has about 700 miles of trails with each one more beautiful than the last.   It is a hiker’s paradise with many backcountry campsites to choose from.   The Going to the Sun Road is one of the most beautiful drives to be had anywhere.   This 52 mile long roadway was constructed in the 1920’s.  There are many sheer drops sans guardrails to keep you holding tightly to the steering wheel.

The park is one of he last refuges of the great Grizzly Bear.  Other wildlife includes Mountain Goats, Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Lion, Black Bear and deer.

Arches National Park, Utah
The beautiful sandstone sculptures of Arches National Park in Utah.

Arches National Park

While tiny in comparison to Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier National Parks, Arches packs a tremendous amount of things into its borders.  Crammed into it’s 76,000 plus acres are over 2000 sandstone arches.   Many of these outstanding geologic formations are easily accessible by car and short hikes.   A couple of the more impressive arches include Landscape, Double and the states symbol Delicate Arch.  The park is just a couple of miles north of Moab, Utah and features a small campground and picnic areas.

Zion National Park Utah
The beautiful walk up the Virgin River into the Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah.

Zion National Park

Another “can’t miss” Utah park is Zion.   This fantastic park offers canyoneering, waterfalls, great rock climbing, and unusual geologic formations.   One of the most popular activities is a walk up the Virgin River into the Narrows.   On this walk the canyon walls will tower over you rising up to 1500 feet from the canyon floor    A convenient shuttle bus system takes you into and out of the canyon proper.  There are two campgrounds, lots of trails as well as excellent opportunities for cross county travel.

Bryce Canyon National Park
Beautiful pictures abound in this third Utah National Park on our list.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The old story goes that if you cannot take a great photo in Bryce Canyon you may as well throw your camera away.   The park is a series of horseshoe canyons carved out of the top of the Grand Staircase geologic formation.   Trails will lead you though a fairyland conglomeration of brightly colored spires, walls, hoodoo’s, and fins.

Ready to Explore on Your Own

Alpine Shop offers a continuous series of programs on these and other of America’s incredible national parks. If you would like to learn all about these parks from people who know them intimately visit our Great American National Parks Programs by clicking here.

Video from American Rivers/Ozark National Scenic Riverway Press Conference

On Tuesday, May 17, Alpine Shop Kirkwood hosted a press conference organized by American Rivers, Friends of Ozark Riverways and Ozark Fly Fishers. The purpose of this publicity event was to announce that American Rivers – a national organization that protects and restores the nation’s rivers and the clean water that sustains people, wildlife, and nature – had named Missouri’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways one of the 10 Most Endangered Rivers in America.

Below is the press conference in its entirety broken up into four parts. Get informed and visit American Rivers’ Most Endangered List for information on how you can help the cause.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways Named One of Nation’s 10 Most Endangered Rivers

Press Advisory:
National Organization Joined by Local Paddlers and Conservationists to Announce Ozarks Riverways among Nation’s Most Endangered Rivers

Press Conference:
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 – 10 a.m.
Alpine Shop

440 N Kirkwood
Kirkwood, Missouri 63122

Representatives speaking include:

Ms. Kally Higgins,
Spokesperson for the Friends of Ozark Riverways – A coalition representing 21 Missouri conservation, fishing, and outdoor organizations.

Mr. J. Gordon Philpott
Board member of the national organization, American Rivers

Ms. Lisa Hollenbeck
Co-owner of Alpine Shop, representative of outdoor industry and Missouri paddlers and recreation enthusiasts

Missouri’s premier national riverway, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, is being named one of the nation’s ten most threatened riverways in American Rivers annual report released May 17, 2011.

Representatives from many statewide environmental, fishing, paddling, and conservation organizations are joining together to put the National Park Service on notice that the NPS needs to manage the pristine river and parklands with an eye to the future. There are signs that the river so loved by Missourians and millions of visitors each year may be destroyed by pollution, erosion and poor management.

Today’s announcement serves as a wake up call to the National Park Service that Missouri’s largest national park needs to step up its management and address problems in the park that have slowly been eroding the quality of the park.

“We have to do more today to avert the catastrophes of tomorrow,” says Kally Higgins, Friends of Ozarks spokesperson. “ We are seeing visible signs that the health of the Current River is in trouble.  For example, we have seen in recent years signs restricting swimming in certain areas because of too high bacteria and we often see riverbanks damaged by erosion where inappropriate access points have sprung up. We want to work with the National Park Service to make sure that these problems are examined, inventoried, and given full environmental review before it prepares its general management plan.”

Next year, the park service will be releasing its 10-year General Management Plan and the conservation community has identified past decisions, policies, and practices that collectively are causing harm to the park resources.

This is the first time that the Current River and its tributaries have been named a threatened riverway on American River’s Endangered Rivers list, which began in 1985.

Photo Opportunities:

  • The press conference will be held at Alpine Shop with a background of kayak, canoe, and paddling equipment.
  • Many representatives from the 20 + organizations will be present for comment.
  • A map that depicts that excessive number of access points along the 132-mile stretch of river will be available.
  • A 3 minute video that depicts the riverway’s scenic beauty will also be launched on the American Rivers website and the Friends of Ozark Riverways site on the 17th and B- roll available, upon request.
  • Photographs of damage to the river will also be available.

Rindy O’Brien, Coordinator
Friends of Ozark Riverways,
314- 621-0230

Faye Augustyn,
American Rivers,

Kat Logan Smith, Executive Director,
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Lisa Hollenbeck, Co-Owner
Alpine Shop

Alpine Shop’s Demo Days: Try Before You Buy!

Alpine Shop knows you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. (You wouldn’t, would you?) The same applies when you’re shopping for a new kayak, canoe or bike, as well. Alpine Shop’s Demo Days are the perfect way to Try Before You Buy.

A line of Canoes at the 2010 Alpine Shop's Demo Days
Boat after boat after boat, just waiting to be paddled by you.

Let’s take boats to start. Every craft will handle just a little bit differently, and you’d be amazed at how much little adjustments – like moving your seat forward or back – can have major effects on how a new boat paddles. That’s why this weekend’s Demo Days at Creve Coeur Lake are so helpful to you if you’re in the market for a new boat. We’ll have a full selection of nearly every major brand we carry available to paddle at Sailboat Cove on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15. And while we’ll continue to have smaller Paddle Demo Days throughout the summer on an almost bi-weekly basis, we won’t have the sheer number of canoes and kayaks each week like we’ll have this weekend.

If you’re just getting started on your paddling career, you won’t find a better introduction to the sport then the chance to discover what each individual kayak or canoe type can offer you. And while some of the finer points of each craft may not be readily apparent to you, what you will find is an idea of the general type of boat that will work best for you.

If you’re an experienced paddler looking to take a step up, here’s your chance to play around with other people’s boats to your heart’s content. Find out which boat matches you’re desires perfectly.

Save yourself some time and register for Alpine Shop’s Demo Days in advance by clicking here.

Below are a couple of links that you may find useful before coming out and seeing us. Let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help you find your perfect boat.

Canoe & Kayak Magazine’s Buyer’s Guide

Alpine Shop’s Learn to Paddle Guide

Not a paddler, but a pedaler?

This year, we’re pleased to welcome the Specialized Test the Best Demo Team to Alpine Shop’s Demo Days! Creve Coeur Lake Park – besides the lake – also has one of the area’s most popular bike paths, so it’s a perfect fit to try out our newest line of bikes to find out exactly what type of bike works best for you.

Bikes and boats are all included in your $5 registration fee – and you’ll also get a free hot dog, chips and drink as well.

Why Guess? Test! Alpine Shop’s Demo Days May 14-15

Alpine Shop's Demo Days at Creve Coeur Lake

Come on out to the north end of Creve Coeur Lake Park for Alpine Shop‘s annual Demo Days on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15, 2011. Not only is this our largest paddle demo weekend of the year, we’ll also have the demo team from Specialized Bicycles on hand to give you your first shot at riding our newest line of bikes!

There’s no reason to guess at which boat or bike will work best for you. Just come out this weekend and test to your heart’s content. Registration is just $5 AND you’ll receive a free $10 gift card to Alpine Shop at the lake just for signing up. (You’re making $5 on the deal!)

Alpine Shop's Demo Days at Creve Coeur Lake
More boats than you can paddle in a day? Let's find out!

Paddle Demos:

If you’re in the market for a new kayak or canoe, you’ll have a chance to paddle more boats this weekend than you will have at any other point for the rest of this calendar year. While we continually hold demo nights throughout the summer, those events won’t have any where near the same amount of craft at your paddle-tips as you’ll find here.

We expect to have representatives from Current Designs, Dagger, Hobie, Perception, Wenonah and Wilderness Systems. And we’ll also have boats from Jackson, Old Town, Native and LiquidLogic at the lake as well.

There is no better time to try before you buy.

Bike Demos:

Specialized Hotrock Bicycle
Try out our newest line of bikes: Specialized!

As many of you know, Alpine Shop is now one of St. Louis’ newest Specialized Bicycle Dealers. This weekend, Specialized’s demo crew will be at Creve Coeur Lake with us, giving you a chance to pedal your next new bike.

We’ll be featuring hybrid bikes this weekend, so if you’re in line for a bike that you can use for fitness, work commuting or just playing with your kids, these bikes are perfect for you.

Did we mention free hot dogs for all?

On-Line Registration

This year, for the first time, you can save time on-site and register on-line! All you need to do is register below, print and fill out your waiver form and bring it and your ticket to the event and exchange it for your wristband. If you don’t feel like that helps you at all, feel free to register with us at the lake on the day(s) of the event.

Save time and avoid waiting by bringing your own personal flotation device and/or paddle. Cyclists should bring their own helmet.

Alpine Shop’s Demo Days

Saturday & Sunday, May 14 & 15, 2011
Creve Coeur Lake Park – Tremayne Shelter at Sailboat Cove
11 AM – 4 PM on both days
$5 Demo Participation Fee (Includes FREE $10 Store Gift Card) – Register in advance by clicking here!

Alpine Shop’s “Meet Our Mom” Photo Contest

Alpine Shop's Mother's Day Photo Contest 2011

This Mother’s Day, simply take a photo of you and your Mom (or Mom’s – of you and your family) doing anything outdoors. Then just post it on Alpine Shop’s facebook wall and you could win up to a $50 gift card! It’s that simple.

Just post your photo by Monday, May 9 at 5 pm, along with information on who’s who in the photo and what you’re doing and we’ll pick five random winners.  We’ll announce those winners the next morning at 9 am.

So, kids, take your Mom outside this Sunday and snap a couple of shots of everyone together. It may just make this Mother’s Day even more special for her!

For those of you who won’t be able to spend this weekend with your Mother, or if Mom can’t make it outside anymore, or for whatever reason, this weekend just won’t work – we encourage you to get creative! Find some old photos of your family – even if it’s not from this weekend. Or cut-and-paste some old photos together to give yourself the perfect Mother’s Day on the summit of Half Dome in Yosemite Park!

Just have fun with the idea of Mother’s Day this weekend!