As a professional skier I should be the kind of person who wants endless winter, yet I’m the person who can never get enough summer. Last night the temperatures dipped and we felt the first breaths of winter. Our gardens were safe, but I felt for sure that it might have frozen in Crested Butte, 3,000 feet above our farm in Paonia, Colorado. Between putting up food for the winter and work, I can only hope for several good months of riding here in the lowlands, dropping me fit as a fiddle into an epic powder skiing season.
The original Colorado home for Osprey is the town of Dolores, Colorado located about 11 miles north of our headquarters in Cortez. It’s a quiet town of about 900 people with what nightlife there is, centered on the local brewpub. As a result, most Dolores residents are connected to the “day” life which primarily involves outdoor activities. I’ve lived here for 13 years and feel blessed that I can mountain bike or ski out my door depending on season, walk my dog next to the river or journey less than an hour for epic and wild desert or mountain adventures. Last summer my neighbors, Dave and Kelly Finlay informed me they were journeying a bit further for their summer adventure—a thru-hike of the Muir Trail. Dave and Kelly are serious backpackers, having hiked the Colorado Trail 4 years prior, so they spent some time with me lining out their Osprey packs to maximize fit and performance for their California adventure.
Upon their return, I enjoyed an incredible slideshow of their journey on the Muir Trail. They also told me that they had hiked most of the trail with a film crew that was making a movie about the trail. As it happened, just about everyone they ended up hiking with was wearing Osprey packs. This certainly got my attention. Here was a film dominated by our product with no intentional product placement and here was a film about an iconic Sierra trail—the mountain range where Ospreys first started hitting the trail in 1974. Now a year later and following countless hours of editing, the film is nearing its completion and in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign. I recently sat down with Dave and Kelly to chat about their thoughts on the adventure and the film.
“Drafting Dad” was originally posted on Majka Burhardt’s blog.
One day, I will beat my dad at something. I’m 35. He is 70. It hasn’t happened yet. I thought I had his number when I had him out to New Hampshire to go bike riding and canoeing. Our day one bike agenda was 42 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain, and I had a home court advantage. Plus, he was in bike sandals rather than shoes and had a too-long stem on a rental bike with sticky gears. He also wanted to carry a pack, in which I would, at mile eleven, place my jacket.
Let’s back up. I don’t want to beat my father in malevolent way. It’s not even about winning. It’s more about matching him in some way. I’ve had a life of shared activity with my dad and I have yet to see him try. He is like the Polish Yoda. He just does.
“If the price gets up to $3,000, I’ll buy everybody here a beer!” My attempted conversation is drowned out by the sound of 500 people cheering. New Belgium Brewery is auctioning off a signature “Fat Tire” beach cruiser bike. Proceeds from the sale benefit the Des Moines Bike Collective, a Des Moines based nonprofit. The man holding the current bid immediately raises his hand to increase his own bid to $3,000. And the cheers get even louder.
It is funny to me how goal setting can be such an indomitable force. Sometimes I have to strive for something really impossible just to find my motivation, while other times I’ll set my sights too low and be greeted by successful dissatisfaction. I’ve found that balance is harder than executing, especially when the factors are out of your control and dictated by nature. But not this summer… this summer in the mountains has been one of the best, and it just keeps on giving.
In May somewhere along the Annapurna Circuit’s long, winding, dusty road, I began to believe that after a safe and successful slaying of snow on two peaks that I had finally achieved my goals as a Himalayan mountaineer. This shouldn’t be that shocking since I have spent ten years pioneering first ascents and descents in the world’s highest range with narrow-minded focus and more than a handful of narrowly missed catastrophes blending the good times with the bad and no regrets for how we did it. This insight was forced upon me in January, when my friend Jack died in my climbing partner Jon’s arms and then I decided to take a day off from filming heli-skiing in Haines, Alaska and my friend Rob died on a routine run guiding clients. The number of passionate people I have seen meet their demise in the mountains now takes up two handfuls of digits and that is likely too close for comfort, and forces me to ponder my own fate.
Know the poorest of the poor are among your neighbors, in your neighborhoods, in your town, in your city, perhaps in your own family. We must look first to our own streets. — Mother Teresa
The dynamic Kenyans we met demonstrated that the first place to make a difference is in our own neighborhoods—in our own country. For those with greater wherewithal the help can and should extend further. In the big picture, our greatest hope is to educate as many people as possible in the areas where our world is struggling and losing balance: clean water, sanitation, wildlife poaching, climate change, poverty, illiteracy etc.
Pete McBride and Jake Norton teamed up to film the trip. Their talent is exceptional with stunning imagery that captures the path of water from its origins on Mt Kenya, which supplies the country with 70 percent of its water, through the bush to the city where it runs dry in the slums. This film will show even those in the first world that there is a lot at stake as we lose our watersheds.