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It was time to escape the desert…

July 31st, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Philip Swiny from Las Vegas. As you can imagine LV has been HOT and Philip had to flee to cooler climes in the northwest…

Las Vegas is a great winter climbing venue but as the summer rolls around, the temperatures rise and it is time to escape to cooler locals. This year my summer exploration is going to take me to a new part of the country, some where I have never explored before, and I have heard has only a short window of dry weather… the pacific northwest.

The trek from Vegas to Seattle is not an overly long one, but it is easy to take it nice and slow because there is so much to see and do along the way. I planned on taking about a week to make the drive. Bob a fellow guide in Vegas was also heading up to the Northwest for a while so we figured why not convoy. This would enable us to climb and explore on the way north. At the last minute, he had to stay in town a couple extra days so I started off alone.

My first stop was the East side of the Sierras. Just a beautiful 5 hour drive northwest of Vegas one arrives at the outdoor play ground of Bishop, CA. Bishop has is all, world class bouldering, overlooked sport climbing, and numerous life times of alpine granite all within minutes of town.

I met up with my friends Dave, Trish and discussed our options for the next day. It was decided that the priorities were a leisurely breakfast, home in time for a dinner, a short approach, a beautiful setting and a classic climb.  The choice was easy, the West Face of Cardinal Pinnacle. Only 20 miles out of town, but numerous degrees cooler due to elevation gain, it is one of the area classics. This 4 pitch crack climb ranges from fingers to off width, with a few exposed face moves thrown in for good measure.

We could not have asked for a more perfect day. Clear skies, good eats, and the only other party on the route were friends of ours from Vegas. We all swapped leads, took our time and just enjoying the day. In no time at all we were sitting at the last belay, enjoying the view of the endless sea of granite spires and towers stretching off to the north.

After what was truly a dinner feast Dave and Trish had to head back to the upcoming work week, I instead set up for a day of bouldering, with plans to meet Bob in new terrain for us both… Donner Summit, CA.

Philip is currently testing the Osprey “Mutant 38″ – read more about the pack here.

For more information check out Philip’s bio page here.

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Karl’s South Anna Adventure

July 27th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Karl Harrelson, our BT’er from Virginia. Karl recently floated and camped near the South Anna River bringing his Osprey Kestrel 48 along for the adventure…

FINALLY! The weather and schedules converged to provide just enough time for a canoe/hiking trip. Rain has fallen for many weekends here in the East, making it difficult to plan anything outdoors. The upshot? The rivers have remained higher than usual, affording a longer canoe/kayak season. Last weekend, my friend Beau and I decided to drop the canoe in the South Anna River in Central Virginia for a canoeing/fishing/camping trip. For mid-July, it wasn’t too bad. Normally, the heat and humidity conspire to make for a high Misery Index. But this summer has been quite nice, even some low humidity days.

We dropped the trusty old Alumacraft into the green-brown South Anna at State Route 54, situated our Osprey packs and fishing gear and shoved off. This river, like many in Virginia, still offers a pristine panorama. Overhanging trees and high banks provide a cool, green tunnel for canoeists and kayakers alike. There is nothing quite so calming, even spiritual, as a paddle into this Garden of Eden. There is very little sign of man and one can imagine that Capt. John Smith made the same sights on his explorations in 1608. The Youghtamund tribe inhabited this area then. They made a captive of John Smith near here. You likely know the rest of the story concerning a certain Native-American princess.

No whitewater, no rapids to speak of, just a quiet, stress-free adventure into the wilderness.  No… it’s not for everyone, and I’d get pretty bored with this slow, quiet river every weekend, but it’s a great way to recharge one’s soul. The scenery is amazing and unspoiled, even though it’s not in a park, nor protected area. We canoed a good ways upriver and then set up camp for the night. You’ve never heard such a loud chorus of frogs, peepers and night things in your life. I thought it would be as quiet as the day, but not so much. Something, maybe a raccoon, poked around our campsite all night. Owls hooted into the wee hours. At one point, nature called, and I went to answer. The landscape was alit with moonlight filtering through the trees. Although I can attempt to describe it, one simply has to see it firsthand. There are no words to relate the natural beauty of such a setting. Mosquitoes caused me to sprint back to the tent and slap the zipper closed. Not a good night for a hike.

Dawn broke slowly in the river valley. The sun seemed to struggle to pierce the canopy above us. I needn’t mention the smell of bacon cooking in the great outdoors. Anyone who has ever smelled it after a long day on a trail, or river, knows my reference. I suppose we build up a stronger appetite on the trail.

Kestrel 48

Kestrel 48

Although the fish weren’t biting, a bald eagle screeching in the trees overhead gave us a bit of nature at its finest. Speaking of birds of prey, the Osprey backpacks were a natural for canoeing.  Unlike my wetpack bag, the backpacks provide exterior pockets for those items that you invariably need on such a trip, bug spray, sunscreen, water, GPS, camera, sunglasses, etc. It was so nice to have those things at my fingertips, rather than have to fish around inside a large bag of gear with no pockets inside. Once ashore it’s much easier to slip on the backpack as opposed to one-handing a heavy bag up the steep, slick river bank. Although I hadn’t considered the advantages of a backpack in a canoe, I won’t be caught without them now.

For more information about Karl check out his bio page here.

If you find yourself in Karl’s hometown (Richmond, VA) be sure to check out his favorite Osprey dealer:

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports
11500 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, VA 23235
Ph: 804-794-2004
www.brms.com

Brand Team posts, Outdoor Activities, Product , ,

“If you can’t take a punch, you should play table tennis”

July 15th, 2009

rugby_deals2If you think Outdoor Retailer (that’s @ORSM if you Tweet!) is all about fancy new product, schmoozing industry heads, and generally talking about a lot of sports but not actually doing them, you’ve got another thing coming this year. An assembled crew of roughian industry players will take to the pitch for a punishing game of…of all games!… RUGBY!

Two members of the team come from our fair company – Kerry McCarthy and Osprey pack designer (and all-around rugby hero) Stephen Barnes. Stephen, we have to mention, is a former U.S. National Team member so heads might roll if you get in the way of him and the goal.

The opponent? The Salt Lake City “Old Boys” who we have no info on at the moment, but we’re sure a full scale scouting report is brewing as we speak. The industry team roster is still being sorted out and from what I hear, there’re still openings.

Send an e-mail to ORRugby@snewsnet.com if you don’t care all that much for your teeth :).

The match details:

Wednesday, July 22, at 7 p.m.

Fort Douglas Field, SLC. Google for directions!

For the full industry participant list, check out this SNEWS article.

…by the way, this post’s title is a quote graciously taken from former French rugby coach Pierre Berbizier on how to survive the game.

Events, Osprey Culture , ,

James – Seattle to Portland

July 13th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with bike racer and brand team member, James Whitesides. Here James describes his recent 200+ mile ride from Seattle to Portland – the pain cave runs deep in this dude! Find out what it feels like before/during/after a ride of this magnitude…

After the 24hr race I had a huge motivation gap that really threatened to extend deep into the fall. So I decided to change the route everything was taking by riding to Portland on the 4th of July.

So Friday night saw me frantically loading the Talon 11 up with some clothes (not enough for a cold Monday), tools and tubes (I never needed them), and lots of supplements. I woke to an early alarm on Saturday and somehow managed to dress, drink a cup of coffee, pump up my tires, and double check my preparations well before my departure alarm went off. Then I started the long haul south. Two weeks before I had mapped out the entire 206.12 mile route on my computer from my house to my sisters with a couple of deviations from the normal “flat” course the STP takes. With a punch of my Garmin’s button I was rolling.

Riding road you know takes a lot of fun out of a ride and the first twenty-five miles were dull. They would have been really dull except that I didn’t have to stop once while I was still riding in familiar territory. Some fluke of light timing and the lack of any cars on the road made it really easy to cruise through the twilight into dawn and then full sun. The north flanks of Mount Rainier were bright in the south by the time I reached mile 40 and the day was already starting to warm up. I cruised through a couple of little towns that I would have had no other reason to be in except that they were on my route and made the little climb out of Puyallup and started to get hungry. I stopped in Yelm and grabbed an amazingly quick breakfast of buckwheat pancakes and bacon (mmm…bacon) that would keep me filled for a long time. The terrain got a little more interesting when entered rolling roads in dry pine forests just as I ticked through 70 miles.

Oddly enough, mile 80 to mile 90 is a little fuzzy. I’m pretty sure I hit the north end of Centralia and rode through town but I’m not sure. I do remember the 100 mile mark on Centralia Alpha Rd. Perfect pavement in the middle of nowhere with a great two and a half mile climb and large trees. This road took me up to the last views I would get of Rainier and led me to the Jackson Highway and straight into the teeth of the dark place that is bonking. Right as the ride was entering some of the best roads I had a pretty serious conversation about where the nearest highway exit was. I could call here, still have the longest ride of my year under my belt (112 miles), and be showered and drinking beer by 2:30 pm. But I decided that I would tap into my Hammer Perpetum and see what happened. Half a bottle and a little stretching and wouldn’t you know it, I was fine. Not fine as in perfectly rested, but I was going to keep on going. I rode gingerly at first but as I crossed I-5 at the 120 mile mark I was back to full speed.

A quick stop for essential travel items (water, pizza pockets, and snickers bars) and broke up the mental monotony with a view of how everyone else was traveling. I was actually feeling O.K. I was going as fast as I had gone at eight in the morning and there were no real signs that my legs couldn’t make it all the way. Unfortunately this was when I had to begin the pep-talk to the rest of the body.

I had to convince my arms and wrists that the three positions I had available were fine, my skin that putting more lotion on wasn’t the answer, and the undercarriage need special convincing that the saddle was just fine. I followed the twists of the Cowlitz river south in increasingly unbearable heat and crossed the Columbia just as I started to really feel how warm it was. However, the bridge into Oregon meant I only had to make it another 48 miles.

My mantra became focused on doing the math of averages. “Let’s see, if I do 15 miles an hour I get there in two and a half, if I do 16 then I get there in two and change…” on and on it went. I had been dreaming about the tailwind down the Columbia all day and I got it just as I crossed the 30 to go mark.
Ten miles later, things began to unravel. First and foremost I couldn’t stay in one position for more than twenty seconds. My brain was on overdrive and I could feel everything in my body. Then my sister called and I knew that it was over: “Hey, do you want me to come pick you up?”….”Uh, yeah”…”Where are you”…”Uh, I’m the only guy riding south in the middle of the afternoon on Hwy. 30, I think you’ll find me” (close approximation). I was done with the ride fifteen miles from Portland.

As I dug through my pack a half an hour later to get dressed I realized that I didn’t feel all that bad. I had managed to ride from Seattle to just short of Portland by myself carrying all my gear! I hadn’t noticed my little pack unless I pulled it up to high on my back and I hadn’t had a single flat or mechanical. I could have done the ride with way less on my back. I’m glad I had all the extra stuff and the space, but next time I think I will try and get it into 11 liters and maybe I’ll pack all the right stuff. I don’t think I can ride that route again, but it has me thinking that I might tackle some other big rides in the near future. Thanks for reading!

Brand Team posts, Outdoor Activities, Product , ,

Sneak peek at the new Osprey Flapjack

July 9th, 2009

Osprey’s new “Flapjack” commuter/laptop backpack (to be released this Fall) has been reviewed by Feed The Habit here and includes some stealthy, late-night shots of the bag.

As Osprey seeks to expand its functional daypacks and lifestyle-specific offerings, FTH author Jason Mitchell wrote, “the new Osprey Flapjack pack is part commuter bag and part backpack, but with all the outdoor flair that Osprey owners love. This pack is a medium-sized bag that’s suitable for day-in/out schlepping of your laptop and various essentials you wish to haul around with you to and from work or school. While it’s not a huge pack and doesn’t have a ton of organization pockets, overall fit is spot-on with some unique Osprey style thrown in for kicks.”

Here are the bag’s specs:

  • Padded laptop sleeve for up to 15.4″ laptop (easily fits my 15″ MacBook Pro)
  • Drawcord top for weather protection
  • Reflective materials for safety
  • Headphone cord keepers
  • Flap cover to stash jackets, etc.
  • Ribbed shoulder straps and back padding
  • Multiple strap colors to accessorize
  • Colors: Pepper, Khaki, Black (tested)
  • Size: 1500 cu. in.
  • MSRP: $89

Visit Osprey Packs for the most up to date information and stay tuned for more information on the new Fall 2009 offerings.

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Melted snow = desert time!

July 2nd, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, brings you a quick post from Durango, CO.’s Jim Philpott. When we last checked in with Jim he was STILL skiing into May. He has finally put the boards away and is on to more “season appropriate” activities – hello desert!

So the snow is all gone down here in Southwest Colorado which means trips to the desert. My fiancée Erin and I just got back from an amazing little weekend backpack trip out in Utah.  We left Durango late Friday night and drove out to Cedar Mesa which is out past Blanding towards Lake Powell.  Saturday morning we checked in at the Kane Gulch Ranger station to get our permit and headed out to hike the Fish and Owl Creek loop.  The loop is about 17-18 miles and can be done in two days but should be done in three, due to the amount of great side hikes and scrambles along the trail.  We ended up doing the whole thing in two which wasn’t bad at all.

We chose to walk down Fish Creek and up Owl Creek but the hike can be done either way.  There was a good amount of water in both Fish and Owl Creek so we decided to pump water rather than haul a bunch.  All in all an amazing walk with a ton of Indian ruins and with a little research beforehand we were able to check out a number of different sites.

TRAIL NOTES: Fish Creek Canyon and Owl Creek Canyon offer excellent hiking through highly scenic canyons rich in Anasazi ruins. Although many of the ruins are in better condition than even those in nearby Grand Gulch, quite a few of them lie inaccessible in high alcoves, the steps to them long gone. Still, there’s plenty to see up close and personal. The first ruin stands not far from the trailhead, and several ruins can be seen up the south fork of Owl Creek. You should see several more ruins along the six or so miles of the main canyon before its meeting with Fish Creek, and you’ll pass huge and picturesque Nevills Arch. At the confluence with Fish Creek, turn north–but if you have time, you’ll find more ruins lower in Fish Creek Canyon and up its tributary McCloyd Canyon. This loop goes up Fish Creek about eight miles, through a lovely canyon with far less ruins than the section of Owl Creek you just hiked, and out of Fish Creek via a steep trail up the south wall. Then you’ll cross the mesa for about 1.5 miles back to the starting point. No trail exists, so carry an accurate map and compass. Fish Creek Canyon and its south fork extends much further north if you have the time and inclination to explore.

*trail info courtesy of Utah.com

Jim is currently testing the Argon 70 and Variant 37.

For more information about Jim click here.

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