Adventure trips

Made possible by local outdoor store

Story by Kristin Baker | Photography: courtesy of Backwoods Adventures

It appears achieving adventure status in Kansas is possible.

Or at least it's possible to start an adventure in Kansas. With the help of the staff at Backwoods, located in Bradley Fair, Wichitans can prepare for adventures ranging from fly fishing to hiking to even SCUBA diving.

Backwoods Adventures, a national company, arranges domestic and international trips of all kinds for outdoorsmen (and women) looking for a challenge. Local Backwoods guide Joe Koehly is able to plug interested people into Backwoods trips that are prearranged down to the last detail.

Backwoods Wichita sales manager Eric Schmidt said Backwoods has trips available for all levels of fitness. Each trip is classified levels one through four, with one being the least strenuous. "For a level three or four, you need to do a little work ahead of time"Schmidt said.

Fly fishing

Schmidt is an avid fly fisherman, and he teaches fly fishing school in the pond behind the Backwoods store. He often serves as a guide on the fly fishing trips offered by Backwoods.

For more novice fly fishers, Schmidt recommends Backwoods trips to Arkansas or Colorado, although they would be appropriate for more advanced fishermen as well. For the fly fishing trip of a lifetime, however, Schmidt encourages fly fishers to partake in Backwoods Argentina fly fishing trip.

"It is first class," he said. "Every detail is taken care of. You're treated like kings and queens. Argentinians know how to treat people, and tourism is very important to them."

Dr. David Chacko went to Argentina on a Backwoods trip. "It exceeded my expectations by a long shot," he said.

Chacko said he caught the largest trout he has ever caught in Argentina. The local guides taught the group how to fish in the Argentina waters, and when the group was ready to head out on the river, fish were biting. "We caught so many large fish we were tired," Chacko said.

Chacko also was impressed by the accommodations and hospitality he received. Details like eating off of china and hot showers while camping surprised Chacko. "The ranch is beautiful, and I learned a lot about hospitality," Chacko said. "I was just blown away."

Chacko also has been on other Backwoods fishing trips, and he continues to go because he said Backwoods plans details well. "They are very well-organized," he said. "They have excellent guides, and (the trips) are in good locations where there are plenty of fish."


Backwoods arranges backpacking trips for some of the most sought- after terrain in the world, including Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa; Machu Picchu in Peru; and Yellowstone National Park in Montana. Traveling in a Backwoods group gives participants the expertise of experienced guides and a group with which to hike.

Melinda and Ron Hall have been to all three of the aforementioned locations on Backwoods trips, beginning with the most challenging location of Kilimanjaro. Melinda Hall has been a backpacker for a great deal of her life, but her husband Ron signed on to the Kilimanjaro trip after he realized it would allow him to experience an adventure with his wife.

The pair trained for that first trip, which they took in 2006, by putting on packs and walking the country roads near their home. They walked 20 and even 30 miles to make sure they were ready for the climb."You just have to be in good shape," Melinda Hall said. "Because the altitude is so high, you're not going to be able to breathe anyway, but at least your leg muscles will be in good shape. It really helps."

Backwoods offers training schedules for their trips on their website at

The Kilimanjaro adventure includes both the mountain climb and a safari in Africa. "It is so cool," Melinda Hall said. "Everyone should do it."

Melinda Hall said Backwoods trips are cost-effective, and like Chacko, she also appreciates the experience of the guides and the planning of the trip details. "If anyone thinks it's too expensive and they can better spend their money somewhere else, they can't," she said.

Melinda Hall said she and her husband will never forget the trips they have taken. "We will never, ever be sorry we took those once-in-a- lifetime opportunities." she said. "It's indescribable what it"s like to be over there."

Upcoming Backwoods Adventures

Yellowstone Backpacking | Aug. 13-19 | $1,499
Trekking in Nepal | Oct. 8-29 | $6,750
Argentina Fly Fishing | Jan. 21-29 | $6,750
Kilimanjaro Ascent and Safari
women's only | Feb. 18-March 3 | $6,750
Arkansas Fly Fishing | March 15-18 | $699
Arkansas Fly Fishing | March 22-25 | $699
*Price includes AirFAre.

To find out more about a trip:
Contact Eric Schmidt at 316.267.0350
Visit the store in Bradley Fair

Canoe trips offer family fun

For a trip a little closer to home, veteran canoe guide Lloyd Funk offers safe, family-friendly adventures only about an hour from Wichita.

Located in Greenwood County near Eureka, Fall River Canoes offers trips down the Kaw River ranging from about four-and-a-half to six miles. "It's got a lot of great scenery, a lot of trees," Funk said. "It's a pretty enjoyable little trip. They can pack a little lunch with them and stop along the way."

Trips are an affordable $15 a person, and Fall River can accommodate groups as large as 26 people. Canoe trips run from April to October Funk said his canoe trip is calm and offers a small amount of exercise but is not strenuous. "I have a lot of family-oriented groups," he said.

Funk started his business 31 years ago in 1980 and still enjoys taking people down the river. "It's just the outdoors that interests me," he said. "People enjoy this and have come back numerous times, and I guess I get a satisfaction out of all that."

To book your trip with Fall River Canoes contact Funk at 620.583.6481.

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