TEN QUESTIONS WITH YELLOW DOG’S KRISTEN TRIPP
This week we’re chatting with Yellow Dog’s Logistics Director for our Cuba and South America programs. Kristen has a diverse international background and is a “logistics addict” with a get ‘er done attitude.
You were born overseas. Do you feel that has something to do with your love of travel?
Being born in Nepal and the associated experiences and travel have everything to do with who I am and my deep love of travel – it is in my blood. By the time I was ten, I had been around the world as many times – traveling between our winter home in Kathmandu, Nepal and our summer digs in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. I grew up with travel as second nature and in fact took my first step on a 747. This was back when the same 747 had a smoking class — maybe that dates me. I grew up learning multiple languages, communicating across language barriers in in-between countries, and experiencing the mountains and jungles of Nepal shortly after the country opened for tourism. My father is a mountaineer and ran Mountain Travel Nepal when tourism was developing and growing in Nepal. My person-to-person experiences from digging potatoes in the Khumbu, to riding elephants looking for rhino and tiger in the southern National Parks of Nepal are what truly planted the seeds of my love for travel. That combined with natural landscapes and close encounters with animals certainly impressed in me a strong love of travel.
How’d you connect with Yellow Dog?
I met Jim on a plane to Uganda about eight years ago. He was on his way to explore the Nile and fishing for monstrous Nile perch as a potential Yellow Dog destination. His joviality and good natured spirit made an impression on me. From my many years in Bozeman, I knew Mary Pat Harris who worked in Yellow Dog’s office for many years. She was part of my hiring process before she moved on to help her husband Jim, a dear friend, in their local Bozeman distillery.
Logistics are your thing; what’s an average day in the life of Kristen?
I have a four year old and a husband. Any parent would tell you that logistics step it up a notch when you have kids. I like details, I like challenges and I enjoy helping people with their trip details. It’s a good fit for me. Hard to go wrong when we’re talking about vacations, fishing and travel!
You’ve had the opportunity to travel the world. What’s your favorite location so far?
Part of my heart lives in Patagonia. In 2000 I completed the first guided raft descent of the Rio Baker in Chile which splits the northern and southern Patagonian ice caps with Patagonia Adventure Expeditions who I was working for that season. I lived a six hour drive on a single-lane dirt road, the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) from the nearest airport, good restaurant and grocery store. We ventured into town once a month to resupply and I quickly adapted to Chilean farm life including a propensity to carry a sharp knife in the back of my pants, gaucho style, and a love of wool as the only material to keep you warm for days in the often inclement weather of Patagonia. I learned how to kayak which led me to spend additional time in the Futaleufu River watershed working with a nonprofit, FutaFriends, to protect the river from a potential dam. The more time I spent in Patagonia, the more I fell in love with it. I have a deep affection for ‘el Sur’ and always look forward to heading back down south.
It’s inevitable — we all end up eating some weird local food on the road. What tops the list?
Nache (nya-che) with the accent above the n. Coagulated sheep’s blood caught from the aorta of a dying sheep, sprinkled with parsley and served on a saltine. Chilean. Said to give you lots of energy, which is legitimate. Disgusting.
Cuy (kwee). Grilled guinea pig. Tastes like chicken.
Alligator, python, cobra, sea anemone…
You have a passion for the outdoors in general. What do you think fly fishing could learn from the overall outdoor industry?
That there is tremendous value in financial investment in protecting areas for sports like fishing. We need to learn more and be more proactive and engaged about supporting organizations that work to protect and/or restore health to natural ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems maintain healthy fish populations. Decommission useless dams and restore what used to be the amazing fisheries in the Americas. The fish that we see today, by size and numbers, are so weak compared to the pre-dam era. We need to be more engaged in the process of supporting full restoration of watersheds and fisheries and remind ourselves that the changes made today will likely be realized by younger generations, but are that much more important to work on now.
What’s been your favorite species caught on a fly rod?
I’m an opportuni-vore when it comes to eating and fishing — I’ll eat almost anything and I love to catch whatever happens to be on my line. One clarification – I release what I catch.
You can only bring five items on a trip. What makes the cut?
• A good novel to read. Nothing makes a finer companion than a novel, especially one appropriate for your destination. Plus, it makes a great trade piece or gift when you’re done and you don’t have to carry it home!
• A journal with a travel watercolor set. This is two birds with one stone. A documenting device and a fun activity to share with kids you may meet along the way.
• A good camera that’s not too big with a strong telephoto lens (it’s amazing what you can capture from afar that is candid and pure through the eyes of a lens).
• A solid day bag that locks with a small luggage combo lock. Getting ripped off sucks, but it happens. Preventing your day bag from getting pilfered through is easy with a small lock. Make sure your bag is comfy too.
• Good shoes. You never know what will happen — you may have to walk for miles with all your stuff or very little, in the rain or on a baking hot day. The right pair of shoes can make those steps more of an adventure and less of a bad day.
If you’re talking with someone who has never traveled before, what piece of advice would you give?
Be open. If you’re in a place where they don’t speak the same language, reach out — you might be surprised at the human interaction that you can have and what can be shared without sharing a common language. Being human is universal. I am reminded of this the world over.
You’re working closely with our Cuba program — can you share more about that?
Cuba is changing quickly and the urge to get there before big changes happen is strong. That being said, I don’t think tourism will slow there, only grow as new areas are developed and open up with appropriate services. It’s exciting for Cuba as a country and people to be on the edge of a new reality. There will certainly be the before travel restrictions are lifted and the post travel restriction realities with both the positive and the negative.
We book more trips to Cuba than any other organization in the fly-fishing industry and have been doing so since the 1990’s. We have a great relationship with a partner who dominates the fishing areas and manages them carefully. The fishing will continue to be excellent, even as tourism numbers increase. There may be more demand, but there are only so many rod spots available per day in each of Cuba’s different fisheries.
Our Cuba program aims to develop a good balance of not only fishing specific solutions, but additional cultural and educational tours that can round out a really nice trip to Cuba to get the best of everything.