Ambre’s Picks

Ambre Tiggs of Ginkgo Adventures recommends her favorite gear to anyone interested in camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing, and paddling.  Ambre’s Picks include basic gear that is essential for most outdoor adventures.


Ambre’s Top Picks:

Camelbak Mule

Eagle’s Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

Jetboil Group Cooking System

McNett Aquamira Water Purification Tablets

MSR Whisperlite International Stove

Outdoor Research Coastal Sombrero

Outdoor Research Ultralight Ditty Sacks

Petzl e-lamp Headlamp



Ambre founded Ginkgo Adventures, an outdoor adventure company based in St Louis in 2006. In addition to running Ginkgo Adventures she is also an adjunct instructor at Meramec, Wildwood, and St. Charles Community Colleges teaching Backpacking/Hiking and Camping/Paddling.  Ambre is a Wilderness EMT and American Red Cross instructor in CPR, Standard First Aid, and Wilderness First Aid.  She backpacks, rock climbs, canoes, kayaks (whitewater, sea, and flat water), mountain bikes and snowboards.

Ambre Tiggs

Ginkgo Adventures



Final Weekend for Wilderness Systems Kayak Rebates

For our customers in the market for a new Wilderness Systems kayak, like maybe the Tsunami kayak we use in our instructional courses, or the fishing-centered Tarpon, this last weekend of July is your final chance to take advantage of up to $100 in rebates.

If you’d like to take advantage of the deal, come in to Alpine Shop‘s Kirkwood or Columbia locations and pick out the Wilderness Systems kayak you like. We’ll print out the rebate form for you (or you can print the copy below) and make sure you have it filled out correctly. Then, just mail in the form with the correct proof of purchase by August 30, 2011 to claim your cash!

Dads: Get Your Kids Outdoors & You Could Win Gift Cards

Dads – Get your kids outside this Father’s Day and you could win a part of a $500 jackpot in Alpine Shop gift cards. The challenge is simple: we’re inviting all Dads to bring their families outside to play. Take a picture of you with them outside. Post it on our facebook page by midnight, Sunday, June 19, 2011. We’ll select random winners from all of our Dad photos on Monday, June 20.

Studies continue to show the need for Dads (and Moms) to bring their little ones outside, to get them back in touch with mother nature. Books have been written about it. States across our nation are actively trying to figure out ways to get kids off the couch and back outside, including Missouri. So Dads, while we encourage you to take a hike in a nearby park, to get out in canoe or kayak, or even to ride your bike; really, we just hope you’ll breathe some non-air-conditioned air for at least a little while to celebrate your Father’s Day. If you need some ideas for a Dad’s Day adventure, we’re happy to provide you a few of our favorite family-friendly escapes at the bottom of this article.

As we did for our Mother’s Day contest, we will accept photos from the past for those Dads who can not be with your family – or vice versa.

And for those of you looking for some last minute Father’s Day gifts, Alpine Shop has a huge selection of presents perfect for any outdoor-loving Dad.

As promised, here are some great kid-friendly adventures in and within 2 hours of St. Louis. Get to it, Dad!

Hiking and Exploring Adventures:

  • Rockwoods Reservation, Eureka, Mo. – Trails for hikers of all ages and skill levels as well as wildlife exhibits. Plenty of picnic grounds and fields for group meals.
  • Powder Valley Nature Center, Kirkwood, Mo. – Easy to get to, incredible nature center, easy trails. Great local asset.
  • Amidon Conservation Area near Fredericktown, Mo. – The Castor River Shut-ins here is one of Missouri’s best play spots for kids both young and old. (Shhhh! It’s a secret!)
  • Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park near Lesterville, Mo. (and the Ozark Trail that runs through it) – One of Missouri’s most popular state parks. If you come on a weekend during the summer, prepare for crowds at Mother Nature’s waterpark.
  • Pickle Springs Natural Area near Farmington, Mo. – Short length, incredible rock formations, fun for everybody!

Camping Adventures:

  • Meramec State Park, Sullivan, Mo. – The absolute gem for camping and outdoor adventures for families. Trails, beaches on the river, and over 75 caves and numerous springs.
  • Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg, Mo. – Camping, cave tours, canoeing. Great place for a long weekend.

Paddling Adventures:

  • Simpson Lake County Park, Valley Park, Mo. – A local, hidden gem just off Highway 141. Bring a bird guidebook, a canoe and fishing poles.
  • Meramec River- Consider put-ins near Steelville, Leasburg or Sullivan for best water quality and natural beauty. Besides the Missouri and the Mississippi, probably the most recognized river in the area – and the easiest to access.
  • Huzzah Creek, Leasburg, Mo.- (Hoo-za) More advanced young paddlers can take off on their own sit-on-top kayaks (rented through numerous outfitters) on this gorgeous clearwater  gem which drains into the Meramec near Leasburg, Mo..


  • Grant’s Trail in South County, St. Louis – Flat, easy, and even at its most crowded  is still enjoyable.
  • Katy Trail, beginning in St. Charles, Mo. – One-day trips to week-long adventures on 235 miles of bike trail between St. Charles and Clinton, Mo.
  • Lost Valley Trail in the Weldon Springs Conservation Area in St. Charles – Fabulous for  both hiking and biking with clear creeks and miles of wooded, flat trails.
  • Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo. – Local, with a myriad of opportunities for other activities.

Happy Father’s Day to all of our adventure-loving Dads!

Press Coverage from the American Rivers Press Conference

Alpine Shop hosted the May 17 press conference to announce American Rivers had named the Ozark National Scenic Riverways one of the 10 Most Endangered Rivers in America.

Below are two of the reports that the event generated. More are sure to come.

While most Missourians equate the park  – and the Current and Jack Fork’s Rivers that it contains – with floating, there are many other activities in and around the park for everyone to enjoy. Find out more about the sights and activities of the park in this blog post here.

Webster Kirkwood Times Coverage of the American Rivers Press Conference at Alpine Shop
You can find this artcicle by Don Corrigan at

This article from Don Corrigan of the Webster Kirkwood Times was published on Friday, June 3, 2011.

KMOX's coverage of the American Rivers 5/17/11 Press Conference at Alpine Shop
You can find this article at

This article was published by KMOX radio and on May 17, 2011.


5 Best Non-Paddling Destinations in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Round Spring in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Over a million people a year visit the Current and Jack’s Fork Rivers – otherwise known as the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, part of the National Park system – to partake of the amazing natural beauty of the area. The vast majority of those visitors float the streams in canoes, kayaks and rafts. However, paddling is far from the only attraction this park offers to outdoor types. It also offers caves and springs, trails for hiking and horseback riding, camping and even some cycling. In fact, it is quite possible to have a week-long trip in this beautiful national park and never take to the water.

Below are Alpine Shop‘s five best non-paddling destinations to round out your visit to the ONSR.

Round Spring in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Named for not only the circular shape of the spring opening, but also for the almost curved appearance of the water, Round Spring is a must-see on any trip to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

1. Round Spring & Cave

Located on the upper section of the Current River, Round Spring is a delightful place to visit. The surrounding terrain and mineral content of the water makes the flat surface appear to be curved and the spring opening is almost perfectly circular, thus the name Round Spring. Round Spring adds an average of 33 million gallons of water to the Current River each day. The beautiful spring branch flows under a short tunnel while making its way to the river. This area was one of Missouri’s first State Parks (1932) prior to its inclusion into the national park in 1964. (Note: people are not allowed to swim or wade in Round Spring.)

Nearby is the extremely beautiful Round Spring Cave. The National Park Service offers guided tours by lantern from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There is a small charge for the tour ($5 for adults and $2 for kids) and participation is limited to the first 15 people to buy tickets. These tours are offered daily at 10 am and 2 pm. Tickets go on sale 30 minutes before each tour. While there are over 300 known caves in the park, Round Spring Cave is the only one open to public tours.

Rocky Falls - Ozark National Scenic Riverways
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Ozarks, Rocky Falls is the perfect destination for a summer afternoon.

2. Rocky Falls

This 40 foot wide cascade is one of the best waterfalls in the Ozarks. Some water flows year-round, but in the spring and after heavy rains will give you the best view of this amazing geologic formation. The falls are located about 22 miles east of Eminence, Mo. off Hwy H. The area includes pit latrines and a small picnic area. The plunge pool below the falls offers a great place for a swim during the hotter months.

Blue Spring - Ozark National Scenic Riverway
Over 300 feet deep, Blue Spring more than lives up to its name.

3. Blue Spring

Blue Spring, called “Spring of the Summer Sky” by native Americans, is over 300 feet deep. This amazing depth gives the spring its brilliant sky-blue coloration. The area is reached by a gravel road off Hwy 106 east of Eminence, MO and features a picnic area and restrooms. This spring is best visited before the afternoon sun casts its shadow on the spring pool.

Big Spring - Ozark National Scenic Riverways
One of the most popular areas in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Big Spring pumps an amazing 246 million gallons of water each day into the Current River.

4. Big Spring

Big Spring is the one of the largest single outlet springs in the world pumping out over 246 million gallons of water on an average day. This amazing site offers picnic grounds, cabins, a dining lodge, and campground. The beautiful spring branch flows about a half mile to the Current River. Big Spring is located just outside of Van Buren, MO.

Klepzig Mill & shut-ins - Ozark National Scenic Riverways
A little-known glimpse into the past, Klepzig Mill will bring you back to 1928, the year the mill was built.

5. Klepzig Mill and Shut-ins

Located downstream from Rocky Falls, Klepzig Mill and Shut-Ins is one of the hidden gems of this National Park. You can find this seldom-visited place by following a somewhat rough gravel road (County Road #522) that heads to the left where the pavement ends on Highway NN. The old mill sits along the creek with a fascinating shut-in below. There are no facilities here, just a couple of pull outs for cars. The shut-ins provide a great place for a picnic.

Alpine Shop offers several float trips on the beautiful Current River each year. Click this link for details on the next planned outing.

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!

3 Worst-Case Outdoor Scenarios Solved!

There’s nothing more embarrassing during a St. Louis summer than finding you can’t paddle a kayak in a straight line. Well, there’s that and getting smoked by your eight-year-old while bike riding. Or maybe having to cut short your three-day camping trip due to an unfortunate tent-pitching accident that leaves you with a bad puncture wound.

Alpine Shop is here to help. “Be prepared,” we always say. (Okay, the Boy Scouts always say that, but we’re hoping they don’t have a patent on it.) Let’s handle the kayak scenario first:

Kayak Paddling:
Similar to the less known “I’m from Missouri, paddling a canoe is ingrained in my genes so I never have to take a lesson” Syndrome, many Missourians mistakenly believe that paddling a kayak is akin to falling in the water – you know, it’s easy, not something you need to learn. Well, if you want to look like an idiot, feel free to flail around in the water. However, kayaking (like canoeing) is a skill best learned from a competent teacher – not by attempting to make yourself seasick. Solution: Take Alpine Shop’s Summer Kayaking Program. Our Intro to Kayaking: Dry Land Basics and our on-the-water Basic Kayaking class can get you straightened out in no time.

Next, protect your pride from little Timmy. You can’t let an eight-year-old do that to you. Never fear, you just need to get back in the saddle again. Solution: We have cycling programs running all summer long. Whether it be maintenance clinics to make sure your bike is in shape, weekly Tuesday night rides out of our Kirkwood store’s parking lot or even the now-famous Short Track Dirt Crit Series of mountain bike races every July. You and your bike will be BFF’s in no time. Visit Alpine Shops Calendar for more tips and trips.

Get Prepared for Camping:
Finally, let’s handle that unfortunate tent-pitching incident. To start with, you need to get some first aid training so that wound doesn’t get infected. We’ll cover that in our Wilderness First Aid certification program. It would also help to learn how to pitch the tent. Solution: Buy a tent from Alpine Shop and we’ll go over the process step by step so you know how to do it like a pro.

Join us next time for more worst-case scenarios and solutions with Alpine Shop!