Posted December 2, 2019 in Adventure Journals by Jim Markel
This short piece is the sum of three vignettes from Roger Flahive, the first is Africa, the second in Russia and Azerbaijan, and the last in Alaska.
My son Derrik and I enjoyed two full safaris; one to Zambia, and then to Tanzania. Before we began we purchased a set, one red and one yellow, of the large Big Oxx Expedition Series Red Oxx duffels with built-in backpack straps — the only way to move the fully loaded bags without damaging yourself.
My motto is if you need wheels on your luggage, you probably should head to a beach or pool and order a drink with an umbrella.
These bags, plus the rest of our mountain of luggage, served us very well.
Another major expedition was my month-long trip to Russia and Azerbaijan. This began with a mountaineering adventure climbing Mt. Elbrus, one of the Seven Summits, followed by three weeks scouting three tur species and the Caucasian chamois. I took both Red Oxx duffels for these adventures.
One moment burned into my psyche was meeting two deaf mute cab drivers (you can’t make this up) in the middle of the night on the train platform in the Russian city of Rostov on Don.
My Son’s red Red Oxx Big Oxx on Mt McKinley.
One of the two was Lurch size, a monster of a man. He grabbed both duffels and staggered as he carried these 80+ lb bags the first 100 yards of the quarter mile distance down the platform. He was dying. I pantomimed to him to drop the bags. I pulled out the backpack straps, put one on myself and offered him the other. He smiled in relief as he sauntered towards his taxi as I gave him a thumbs up.
And finally this past summer a climb of Mt. McKinley / Denali. Everyone carries 60 of your 130-140 pounds of gear in a duffel lashed down to a sled that you drag behind as you backpack up the 13,000 feet from base camp to the summit. One needs a very light weight, large capacity duffel.
I owned some duffels that were a bit small and ordered others that I thought would work better. I wasn’t impressed by the options. As I stood in my gear room thinking of my son I said screw it, I am taking Derrik’s red Red Oxx bag on the climb.
It is absolutely the wrong duffel, there is no use for the backpack, too heavy, too big. But sometimes other things matter more. One thing for sure, this is the first and likely only time that this duffel will be drug up that hunk of rock and ice. After the trip I sent the bag in for another repair which was done well and gladly by the company. Red Oxx suggested I write a short piece about my use of their gear at that juncture.
In 2011, eight years ago, my friend and son Derrik died in a river accident in Patagonia. As I have traveled and adventured around the planet since, I take his spirit with me. And his duffel.
Love you man. ~ Roger Flahive