November 16th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

#MusicMondays: Leftover Salmon


This week’s #MusicMondays celebration recognizes a Colorado favorite and a group that is near and dear to our hearts — Leftover Salmon! For those of you who haven’t yet heard of Leftover Salmon, this group has been on the scene for 25 years!

Looking  back  on  the legacy of  rootsy,  string-based  music,  the impact  of Leftover Salmon is impossible to deny. Formed in Boulder at the end of 1989, the Colorado slamgrass pioneers took their form of aggressive bluegrass to rock and roll bars at a time when it wasn’t so common, helping Salmon become a pillar of the jam band scene and unwitting architects of the  jamgrass  genre.  Today,  Leftover  Salmon  consists of Vince  Herman  (vocals,  acoustic  guitar, washboard); Drew Emmitt (vocals, acoustic and electric mandolin, electric guitar, fiddle); Andy Thorn (vocals, acoustic and electric banjo); Greg Garrison (vocals, acoustic and electric bass); Alwyn Robinson (drums).

This November they’re celebrating by giving back to their fans with something that will pull at your heartstrings – a new release of their latest album, “High-Country” as well as a limited edition 20 oz. Bomber, The Silver Salmon IPL by Breckenridge Brewery!

“It’s the perfect beer for hanging out at a show and celebrating life, music, and Colorado!  There’s no fishy aftertaste, we promise!” according to Greg Garrison, bass player for Leftover Salmon. Not only do you get to enjoy this tasty beverage after a long day outside,  when you purchase a Silver Salmon IPL, you will receive a the free album download and celebrate 25 years of Leftover Salmon and Breckenridge Brewery! The album, “25,” will feature twenty five never-before-released live recordings, and will also be available on iTunes and all digital outlets beginning November 27th!

For More Information on this exclusive release and tour dates visit their website


We interviewed Banjoist Andy Thorn and Drummer Alwyn Robinson to get to know a little bit more about these musicians, the band and how they get outdoors:

Q: If you could give any advice to yourself at 10 years old, what would you say?

AR: “I would tell my 10 year old self to keep enjoying the countless hours that were spent watching “Power Rangers” and to never stop running around the house pretending to be a ninja! Sure is a great way to frighten your parents when they come home late at night.”

AT: Get a banjo and learn to play it, it will change you’re life.”

Q: What’s on your current playlist?

AR: My current playlist (albums) for this week:

Erykah Badu – “Mama’s Gun”
Gary Clark Jr. – “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim”
Clifford Brown – “Study In Brown”
Paul Simon – “Graceland”
Ella Fitzgerald – “Ella and Louis”
Bob Marley – “Catch a Fire”
Aretha Franklin – “Amazing Grace”
Ray Charles – “Yes Indeed!”
A Tribe Called Quest – “Low End Theory”
Incubus – “Morning View”
Steely Dan – “Aja”

AT: The new Jon Stickley Trio is amazing! Also really into Hayes Carll at the moment and Hard Working Americans.

Q: What’s your spirit animal and why?

AR: “The owl – Intuitive, the presence of an owl announces change, wisdom… I feel like I’m trying to impress a young lady right now…”

AT: “I would say a bear. They’re all over our new neighborhood in Boulder, CO. and I try to think like a bear to keep them out of our house and trash.”

Q: If there was one musician from the past that you could have dinner with, who would it be? What would you ask them?

AR: “I would love to sit down with Tony Williams (started drumming for Miles Davis at the age of 17). Some of the questions that I’d ask: ‘What sort of pressure did you feel performing with Miles Davis at such a young age? What was the intensity like of the social environment that you were engaged in during that era and how big of a role did that play on your emotional approach to music?'”

AT: “John Hartford. I think I saw him play once but was very young. I’m obsessed with his songs and banjo playing and would love to pick his brain.”

Q: When you aren’t on tour, what is something you like to do in your free time?

AR:I love walking around and exploring new coffee shops in NYC/whatever city I may be visiting. The different atmospheres at the numerous coffee shops in that city are great and there’s always a good opportunity to meet some great people. What better way to start your day with a kind gesture than by purchasing someone’s coffee! It’s inexpensive, and it is an easy way to spread a positive vibe along with good conversation.”

AT: “I love to cook. If I’m home I like to cook every meal I eat out enough on the road and its healthier and more fun!”

Q: Are you a cat or dog person?

AR: “100% dog person. I own a Boxer, and there’s just something about being able to go outdoors with your dog and hanging out that suits me better.”

AT: “Haha, neither.

Q: What do you like to do in the outdoors? 

AR: “I enjoy kayaking, being in the mountains, biking as much as possible, and going on nice hikes. Always a nice way to enjoy the day whether I’m on tour or off of tour and is a great way to clear the head and press the ‘refresh’ button.”


Andy Thorn fly-fishing with his Raptor 14

AT: “Everything! I love to camp and mountain bike in the summer, especially if I can route from festival to festival in CO. in between. But winter is probably my favorite, skiing in CO. is so easy and awesome. You can’t beat ‘ski tour’ where you’re picking at night and skiing all day, meeting all the great people and just having a blast.”

Q: What place inspires you? Why does it inspire you?

AR: “Traveling to any place inspires me, whether it be somewhere that I’ve been numerous times or to a place foreign to me. It’s a great opportunity for me to reconnect with a familiar culture or the option of experiencing something new presents itself, which is always an adventurous, humbling time for me. I used to believe that you had to travel to foreign territories to discover inspiration, but sometimes revisiting a familiar place can bring just as much inspiration.”

AT: “The whole western slope of CO. I love camping near Crested Butte in the summer when the wildflowers are blooming or the fall aspens. That is my best time to get out the banjo or guitar and work on new songs with all the inspiration around.”

Q: What one item do you always have in your pack?

AR: “I always carry my little ‘thought’ book. That notebook allows me to express myself, create, and is essential for my reflecting. I try to go back and read the things jotted down to figure out where I was at that point of time and how I’ve processed that information into my current state of mind.”

AT: “My water purifier. I like to stay very hydrated and you can almost always find some kind of water to pump and drink.”

Q: Which Osprey pack are you using right now? What is your favorite feature about your pack?

AR: “I’m currently using the Osprey Flapjack Pack as well as the Shuttle 36″/130L everywhere that I travel. I’m in love with the backpack for the various compartments within the back followed with a simple, sleek design. It allows me to pack numerous items, such as my Macbook, books, magazines, sticks, and leaves plenty of room for extra accessory items; the comfort of the backpack is very nice, especially if you’re exploring and carrying weight for long periods of time. The Shuttle 36 is perfect for traveling due to the wheels, allowing an easy haul whenever you’re moving from place to place. I also tour quite a bit and carry many things with me and this bag allows a great amount of space/compartments to make this possible.”

AT: “I absolutely love the Shuttle 36″. I can fit my pedal boards and all my other stuff, and sometimes my soft banjo case sticking out to roll long distance. It sure has made travel easy and smooth. We also use the hydration packs all the time when biking. I never used to use one before I had an Osprey and I’ve had much more energy by staying more hydrated with my Raptor 14.”


Alywn discovering the Red Woods with his Flap Jack.


Enter to win an Osprey FlapJack (or Jill) and a signed copy of the newest Leftover Salmon Album, “High Country”

Leftover Salmon Giveaway

October 28th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Autumn in Yosemite: A Squash Soup Recipe from Osprey Athlete Beth Rodden

Last spring I became a mom for the first time.

It’s been a huge life change, one that I couldn’t have imagined, but so worth it in every regard. I knew I would have to adapt my climbing career while Theo was young and I was recovering from birth. But one thing that I didn’t anticipate was altering another passion of mine, cooking. Over the years, I’ve become incredibly excited about cooking and using good, quality food. With Theo, I quickly realized that involved recipes would have to take a backseat for a while. This is one of my favorite recipes that I have been cooking recently with the yummy local winter squash. I love that I can prepare it in different stages, allowing me to play with Theo in between. It also it great frozen and a perfect food for an active toddler. I hope you enjoy! – Beth Rodden


Beth Rodden’s Autumn Squash Soup


  • 2 winter squashes (Buttercup is my favorite, but I have also used Butternut and Kabocha)
  • 1 32 oz jar of chicken broth (or veggie broth)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  2. Cut the squash in half, and de-seed them.
  3. Generously brush the flesh with olive oil and roast cut side down in a roasting pan.
  4. Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes depending on size of squash.
  5. Remove when the squash is tender when speared with a fork. Let cool then scoop out the flesh onto a plate.Soup
  6. Sauté chopped onion in a pan on the stove until the pieces are transluscent. Add the chopped garlic and spices and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the squash and broth.
  7. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 – 20 minutes to let the flavors permeate.
  8. Use and immersion blender or scoop into a normal blender, and blend until smooth.
  9. Top with parsley if you have the time and energy

:)  Enjoy!


Osprey Athlete Beth Rodden

Beth fell in love with the mountains and wanted nothing more than to travel the world exploring climbing areas. Over the next decade she became one of the most accomplished female climbers in43_432_lg the world. Beth has free climbed three routes on El Capitan, more than any other woman. She has also established some of the hardest traditional climbs and sport climbs in the world by a woman.

Over the past few years Beth has become very involved with clinics and working with young climbers across the country. Climbing has been her passion since childhood and she loves sharing that with young climbers today; working to  develop their skills and enthusiasm into good stewards for the sport. Beth has also developed a strong passion for local food systems. She is very engaged in bringing awareness that food sourced and grown locally is beneficial for the environment as well as people’s health. She is fortunate enough to split her time between Yosemite and the Bay Area, where she can pursue both her love of the mountains and climbing, and her love of good, quality food. When she’s not climbing she can be found cooking with food from the local farmers market, and spending time with her four legged companion, Max and her son, Theo.

Beth’s Favorite Pack:


FlapJill Series

September 11th 2015 - Written by: Osprey Packs

#OspreyInspire: Congratulations to the Winners of our Video Contest!


Banff Mountain Film Festival began more than 35 years ago in 1976 in the small Rocky Mountain town of Banff, Alberta. A tight-knit group of climbers and outdoor folk looked for an annual event to entertain them during the shoulder season between climbing and skiing. As the story goes, several late night meetings and a few beers later The Banff Festival of Mountaineering Films was born. What began as a one-day festival of climbing films, has now blossomed into a nine-day event in Banff and a year-round film tour which encompasses about 840 screenings on all continents.”

Travel. Mountains. Adventure. What inspires you?

This summer we asked Osprey  fans to share their inspirations, passions and adventures in a short film (1 minute or less) for the chance to win the trip of a lifetime to attend the 2015 Banff Mountain Film Festival with a friend, along with packs from of our award-winning Ozone Convertible series: light-weight, durable and highly functional travel gear, ideal adventures to Alberta for the film festival and beyond.

We received some incredible films over the course of the month-long giveaway — and we’re pleased to share the fantastic videos submitted by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of #OspreyInspire!

The complete Grand Prize package included:
• 2 VIP passes to the Banff‬ Mountain FilmFestival‬
• Four nights hotel accommodation in Banff
• Round trip airfare for two to Calgary, Alberta
• Osprey’s all-new 2015 ultralight Ozone Convertible wheeled luggage

Osprey Ozone Convertible

A travel bag you can wheel through the airport and throw on your back when the road gets less traveled: the Osprey Ozone Convertible is the perfect travel companion.

Congratulations to the winners of #OspreyInspire — and thanks to everyone who shared their films!


Grand Prize Winner — Jeremy Boggs:


Second Place Winner — Luke Adams


Third Place Winner — Andrew Bydlon





August 12th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

The Lost Mountain: Sourcing the Brain Power of Future Leaders in Conservation

Osprey  - 2 (1)Written by Majka Burhardt – Director of The Lost Mountain and Osprey Athlete

This morning I woke up to a baboon howling outside my safari tent in the middle of Mozambique. As the sun rises over Gorongosa National Park, I set my intentions for the day for me, my five-person team from Additive Adventure, and 35 emerging leaders in the field of disruptive conservation. Disruptive? You bet. It’s disruptive because it’s a new model for building community-driven conservation in some of the world’s most remote and biologically diverse places in the world. Mount Namuli, the site of my now four- year initiative in northern Mozambique called the Lost Mountain, inspired this all.

I believe one of the most fundamental challenges facing our world today is summed up by this one question: can there be powerful collaboration between communities and ecosystems that allow them to both thrive? And to answer this question, we brought the young minds and future leaders of tomorrow into the conversation here at The 2015 Lost Mountain Next Gen Symposium.Osprey  - 3 (1)

Which is what I was explaining recently to Geraldo, my Mozambican counterpart for our ongoing conservation and rural development work on Mount Namuli. “I want their brains,” I said.  Geraldo coughed. We’ve been chatting on Skype for three years and I know by now that his well-timed cough means I need to explain myself better.  “I am not trying to take their brains. I promise. I want to use them…How would you say that in Portuguese?”  It’s the first time we’ve run this Symposium, and it’s been a wild ride.  To me, you can be the best scientist or researcher in the world but without a solid foundation of personal vision, strong leadership skills and a deep respect for the natural environment, all that science and research means nothing. So we’ve taken a multi-disciplinary approach to engaging the next generation.

Since we began just a few days ago, the participants have been thrown into the deep end of leadership training, best practices in conservation and wilderness management, and more. Combining a 5-day intensive in the Open Standards approach to Conservation Management with the first-ever delivery of the Leave No Trace platform in Africa (outside of NOLS trainings in Kenya) and transformative leadership training.  These classroom activities have been punctuated with visits to Gorongosa National Park for a safari, a lab tour of the E.O. Wilson Center for Biodiversity, and for a visit to the Vinho community. Our ultimate goal is that students will draw from all of these disciples and experiences for the final days of planning and creating a plan for Mount Namuli which will then be vetted with Namuli community members and implemented in August.

Put another way, we’re open-sourcing Namuli. And I can’t wait to see what comes of it. Consider what Gerson Timbissa, a Masters candidate in Rural Engineering at Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, wrote when we asked him why he wanted to take part in the Next Gen Symposium: “Humans have produced profound changes in our habitat – much more than any animal species. These changes have often been in one direction that veers away from the natural capacity for regeneration of ecosystems. We have acted in our own interests in short term and have not considered the long term implications…today my spirit is captivated by an even greater enthusiasm for those questions – questions that make me invest time in looking for new perspectives. To me, exploring and conserving nature is like moving a chess piece: the victory depends on the way of thinking.”Gerson is one of 21 African university students who have full scholarships to the Symposium. Meet them and the rest of this crew here.

And that’s enough from me. It’s time to give the next generation the floor.

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Learn more about The 2015 Lost Mountain Next Gen Symposium here: http://www.thelostmountain.org/next-gen-2015-symposium/

Follow the journey:

Facebook: facebook.com/lostmountainorg

Twitter: @majkaburhardt and #LostMountain

Instagram: @majkaburhardt and #LostMountain

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July 12th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Week Eight: Home


We’re back. We pulled into Peterborough, Ontario late one night last week, ending the journey by reversing into the same parking place in which we had loaded up the van one and a half months ago. There was an overwhelming rush of emotion – a strange concoction that never quite revealed what it was, but felt like a bittersweet mixture of relief, accomplishment, emptiness and slight anti-climax. We think they all stemmed from the fact that we never thought we’d actually do it. There were too many variables, too many ways in which something could go wrong. In the end, it all went fine. The things that went wrong had solutions better than the original plan

We last left you on our way to the Grand Canyon. We made it there as planned and cooked ourselves a simple meal whilst watching the shifting light of the sunset slowly leave the canyon floor and then its walls. We returned to Page, Arizona that night but not before seeing the moonrise opposite the setting sun above the eastern side of the canyon. Beautiful symmetry.

GC moonrise

As the sun set in the west, the moon rose in the east. Photo by Sam


GC sunset

The setting sun burns up the walls of the Grand Canyon. Photo by Sam

            The next morning we drove into Colorado, to Mesa Verde National Park. Robbie, our archaeologist had suggested this stop and we are thankful to him for it. Mesa Verde was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites. The park is home to some of the world’s best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites. It was almost as fun to explore the area and listen to the ranger-led talks, as it was to just watch Robbie walk around smiling. Absolutely in his element and so happy about it, his good mood was entirely infectious. We spent two days at Mesa Verde, a stay that unexpectedly became one of our favorites of the entire trip.

Mesa Verde National Park | Image provided by: http://www.listofwonders.com/mesa-verde-national-park


Robbie, a happy archaeologist. Photo by Sam

 We left Mesa Verde to begin a journey that was ultimately the last homeward leg of the journey. Almost. First, we had one last stop to make – we had been talking about white water rafting for the longest time and our last chance to do that was before we left Colorado. We got out on the Lower Animas River after a period of extended rainfall. The water level had fallen enough for tours to restart just earlier that day. The rapids were insanely fast compared to how we’d imagined they might be and the water still rose to frightening heights at times. We made it though, thanks to the help of an awesome guide, who despite leading us through the most turbulent sections of water, managed to keep us all safely aboard. It was crazy good fun, a great last activity to do together before we got back into prairie country.



A break in the rainclouds, Colorado. Photo by Sam


We zoomed across Nebraska and Iowa to reach Chicago the next evening. It was here that we would be saying goodbye to Dian. She was flying back to Europe ahead of us to take up a great opportunity to work at a Dutch festival that had suddenly presented itself.



Having a quick (long) splash in Lake Michigan the day before Dian’s flight home. Photo by Sam


Saying goodbye hurt. It signaled the end of the road trip and the six weeks of fellowship that the five of us had shared. The journey back to Peterborough that followed was not the same, it was something different – it served no purpose other than getting us home.


Final tally

The final tally. In a straight line around the equator that’s almost halfway around the world.


We’ve all gone out separate ways now. Robbie home to Scotland for summer, Lara to Indonesia for a research project, Sam to Indiana to visit friends and Ciaran to Washington D.C. to meet up with friends for another month’s worth of North American travels. After so much time together you begin to expect one another’s company forever. Now that we’re all apart it’s comforting to think that the journey we shared and unforgettable experiences that came with it will bind us together strongly enough that ten, twenty or fifty years down the line when we’re all grey and old, we can do it all again.

Of course, we plan the next trip to be much sooner than that – hopefully you can all join us when that time comes. Thanks for reading, and thank you to Osprey for the fantastic gear!


July 2nd 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Norway Skibuskineering



Known as the birthplace of skiing, Norway has probably been the subject of most backcountry skiers’ dreams. It has always been on my radar after watching the Norwegians dominate the Olympic Cross Country Ski events over the years, not to mention the stories of endless daylight and sweet terrain.



There’s only one problem Norway creates for  skiers…it just happens to be one of the most expensive places in the world to visit. Be warned my fellow skiers: Norway is the 5th richest country in world, as is visible in the sculpture-laden streets of all the towns we visited. Here are some examples of what things cost in Norway as opposed to Canada:

  • Laguna Burger, no fries: $30 CAD. California patio with beach views not included.
  • Corona beer: $25
  • Gasoline, per/litre: $2.25
  • Last minute car rental: $199 per day

Having a lifetime of practice in ski bohemia, I knew we could stretch a budget. But Norway’s prices and our lack of preparation before this trip made for quite an uphill battle. Luckily we don’t mind ‘earning’ our turns, and our Norwegian Ski-Bus-Skineering mission began.


We started in Oslo, but the classic fjord skiing was waaaaay up in the Lyngen Alps in the North. Following a quick Facebook check, I noticed that our friend Adam U. was in Norway and he diverted us to the much closer Jotunheimen zone and we hopped on the first bus out. This was all good in concept, but after we fell asleep the bus kept on driving right past our desired mountain pass in the night. Good thing camping is allowed anywhere in Norway, so we camped on the grass in Årdalstangen, a quaint little town that reminded me of  Terrace, BC.


In Ski-Bus-Skineering if you don’t plan efficiently you can lose use huge amounts of time, forcing you to spend down time at bus stations (which tend harbour some sketchy characters). Eventually, we did reach snow.


Once on snow and skinning uphill it felt good to be in our natural environment. The variable weather felt like a familiar mellow BC coastal ski tour. Of course in any new area it’s always good to respect the weather — I was feeling confident we’d get up to the peak when BOOM — whiteout, and the classic “stay-or-go” debate began. Fortunately it did clear after 5 minutes and we tagged Turboka peak.


The weather tease proved to be a good warning sign for later in the trip — the next day was a full storm-raining through the tent, indicating that it was time to move on.
Since we were in Scandinavia with funky weather, the trip wouldn’t be complete without a detour to Sweden, then a short stop to the bustling bike city of Copenhagen, Denmark — the #1 bike friendly country in the world! We stretched out the legs and took those rental bikes for a rip.
Riding bikes in Copenhagen was such a cool experience and a definite highlight of the trip. Everyone rides bikes in Denmark, whether they’re a 4 year-old or 80 your-old…or the whole family. North America could really learn a thing or two, especially people who live in cities. The amazing benefits of bikes — they’re cheap, a healthy alternative to driving, good for the environment and you always feel better after your ride your bike.
With more Ski-Bus-Skineering calling, we jumped back to Oslo and then to the other side of the Jotunheimen park, home of Galdhøpiggen, the highest peak in Norway.

24 hours to left to burn meant GO: Oslo to Lom by bus, hitchhiking with a German plumber to Spiterstulen, set up camp. At 7:30pm, climb…then turn around 500 feet from the summit thanks to another whiteout.


Bag some birthday turns off Norway’s ‘almost’ high mark, hitchhike ride from Norwegian carpenter, 40 minutes later bus to Lom, and 20 minutes later bus to Oslo. A dialed skibuskineering connection. #journeyisthereward.
Our first trip to Norway was a rewarding tease and we’ll have to come back. The Northern meccas of the Lyngen Alps and Svalbard are there waiting for us, as long as we stick enough Kroners in our pockets. Until then, local missions to BC’s Waddington Range sound right up our alley: Cheap, big terrain, and guaranteed adventure. Onto the next adventure…
Story: Andy Traslin
Follow Andy’s adventures:
Follow Mike Traslin, Andy’s brother and fellow Osprey Athlete:
About Osprey Athlete Andy Traslin

“I like to push myself to the maximum in the mountains to see what I can do physically to my abilities. My parents got me into skiing and the mountains at a young age. I progressed to ski racing, to front country, then I started finding powder stashes I had to keep going further and further to see what was around the next corner.

In addition to having worked eight years as a ski patroller, I have been racing in the pro/elite category for several seasons as a mountain biker. Racing enables me to go further and faster in the mountains in pursuit of steep skiing and speed traverses.  Other activities I like: free ride mountain biking, road riding, bouldering, rock climbing, mountaineering, ice hockey, tennis, trailrunning . I like to go see live bands in small venues. I’ve been following the Vancouver Canucks for many years in their quest for the Stanley Cup.”

June 25th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Road Trip Week Seven: Canyons

As a wise man once said, you can’t always get what you want. Our intention had been to take the car through Death Valley at night on our way back east but we ran into some unaccounted-for difficulties and at around 2am, on the advice of one the few locals still awake and driving around, we turned back for the main highway. Without air conditioning and only a half tank of gas until the next attended gas station (our European cards weren’t accepted at the self-serve stations) he strongly recommended that we drove around rather than through. “It’s called Death Valley for a reason folks!”


Sunrise on the road — The view that greeted us at around 5am on the morning of our night drive. Photo by Sam.


The next day we made it a priority to find a garage to charge the AC system a little. This done, and now, for the first time in weeks feeling deliciously cool and *not* sticky, we drove on towards Zion National Park, arriving in the evening. Our track record for early starts over the trip has been pretty terrible but we made it out before 6am the next morning. We were walking up Angel’s Landing – a tall, narrow rock formation and one of Zion’s more popular attractions. After a long slog up the trail’s switchbacks we made it onto the ridge. Sunlight was just starting to spill into the valley and the temperature began steadily rising. The final part of the walk takes you along some fairly steep rock sections that are chained to help people along. There were a few points with some pretty intense exposure (think: two foot-wide ridge with roughly 1000 foot drops on both sides). The summit widens out and gave gorgeous panoramic views up and down the valley. The red cliffs dominate the view but also visible is the subtle green of trees filling the valley floor but also speckling up the cliffs.


Sam at Angels Landing, taking a quick break on switchback #231 with his Osprey Talon. Photo by Ciaran.

We would have loved to spend more time in Zion but at this point in the trip we’ve started, sadly, to become aware of a certain degree of time limitation. We’ve laid out a plan for how we’re spending out last days and that required driving on further west. We stopped in Page, AZ, where we stayed at what turned out to be one of our favourite campgrounds. The nights were so warm there that we pitched our tents without the rain covers and could watch the stars through the mesh ceiling as we lay and fell asleep. Before that though, we drove to the famous Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River for that evening’s breath-taking sunset. We think that the frequency with which a person is able to sit and just watch a sunset or sunrise is a viable method for measuring quality of life. By this measure, our quality of life has been at its absolute peak these past few weeks.


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Quality of life: 10/10. Photo by Sam.

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The swirling sandstone of Lower Antelope Canyon. Photo by Sam.

The next morning we went to Lower Antelope Canyon, a beautiful example of a slot canyon. (more…)

June 18th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Road Trip Week Six: East

Highway 1 runs along the very western edge of the North American continent. We were driving north to south, with the Pacific a constant companion to the west. After only seeing it for the first time when we reached Tofino, it had already started to feel like an old friend. We last left you as we were entering the Big Sur region. That’s where we’ll pick up.

That morning we had said goodbye to two friends who we had studied on exchange with us at Trent University. Their time in North America was coming to an end and it was difficult to see them go. Their departure marked us as the last exchange students from Trent travelling around the United States.


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McWay Falls: One of countless beautiful stops travelling through Big Sur

We took the driving easy. Big Sur was great at accommodating that. There are limitless opportunities for forays down the steep cliffs to explore the shoreline or equally up the steep slopes away from the ocean to try and find views inland. We passed the famous McWay Falls near to which we came across two unfortunate travellers who had been unlucky enough to lock their keys inside their hire car. We gave them a ride to the nearest town. Steve and Beverley – if you’re reading this, we still all intend to take you up on the offer of a place to stay if we ever visit Boston.


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We didn’t even know how to begin trying to photograph this giant. The General Sherman Tree.

Leaving the Big Sur region we reached another milestone in the journey. We turned east. We lost sight of the Pacific and wouldn’t see it again for the rest of the trip. Although east was a homewards direction it didn’t feel like we were nearing the end of things. Our next destination was Sequoia National Forest.

From the offset we’ve had a tendency to arrive late regardless of when we set off in the morning. Sequoia was no different and we drove the last portion of the steep uphill switchbacks in darkness after watching yet another killer sunset.

The next morning we woke up early to have some time with General Sherman alone. General Sherman is the world’s largest tree by volume. A giant sequoia, its massive bulk sets it apart from a grove already full of giants. You cannot see its top from the base, you cannot hear the voice of someone talking loudly at the opposite side of its trunk, and you cannot fail to be amazed by just how absolutely enormous it is.


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Daily routine: Packing. Unpacking. We’re getting pretty good at it now.

We walked for the rest of the day, from Moro Rock along a trail that lead to the beginning of the High Sierra Trail and from there back through the sequoia groves to somewhere absolutely not where we started, or where we’d left our car. A slight misjudgment on our part. The sun had set and our car was parked about four hours walk away. Feeling a little tired (and perhaps a little lazy) we decided to head back to camp, eat the food we had left and take a free park shuttle bus up in the morning. At camp we ran into a Scottish/Slovenia couple. They advised us that leaving our car out there all night was leaving it at serious risk of bear break in. They very kindly drove us up to where it was parked and we were able to retrieve it that night.

Good deeds come around very quickly on the road, it seems. (more…)

June 10th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Road Trip Week Five: Yosemite

Canada had become a safe and familiar place for us over the year we had been studying at Trent. We were about to leave all of that behind and cross the US border into Washington. After some initial confusion from not realizing that speed limits were now in miles per hour rather than kilometers – so people weren’t actually travelling almost twice the allowed speed all the time – we found that much of what we saw felt like it could fit into a Canadian landscape.

We didn’t have a route south planned out – for a couple days we just drove as far as we could towards Yosemite, our first US destination. Unfortunately that meant driving straight past a lot of places that we could have spent weeks exploring but we had the second date of the trip to keep as a week later we had arranged to meet friends in San Francisco.

Inspiration Point

Ciaran has a go from Ansel Adams’ famous position. Photo by Lara

We arrived in Yosemite Valley in darkness late at night and pitched our tents at the North Pines campground. We woke up as the sun entered the valley the next morning. Yosemite was a place that we had all seen pictures of before, we knew the names of the domes, some of the famous climbs, and we felt like we had a slight grasp of what Yosemite was. Actually we had no idea. That first morning, was spent in a state of incredulous awe, staring up at the enormous granite rockfaces that surrounded us in the valley on almost every side. Far more eloquent writers than us have written about the valley and it’s tempting to quote Muir or Adams but instead we would urge people: just go. We had all read the words and seen the pictures but neither went any way towards really preparing us for what we saw that morning.

Vernal light

A peaceful photograph that belies the sheer force of the waterfall. Photo by Lara


June 3rd 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Road Trip Week Four: Pacific

Exploring a rocky part of the Tofino coastline near our campsite

Exploring a rocky part of the Tofino coastline near our campsite

Slight delay in getting this blog uploaded as we’ve been away from an internet connection for the past while. We last left you with us about to set off north along the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Another incredible road to add to the lengthening list of incredible roads we’ve driven. We spent a night in Jasper, spoiled ourselves on a big diner breakfast the next morning and set off west.

A day later, on the steep road down into Whistler we had our first car trouble. Sam’s inexperience with driving (before setting off on the trip he’d only driven once since passing his driving test, on flat rural roads in Iceland) was largely to blame for the four smoking, seized brakes that greeted us at the bottom of the mountain descent – we didn’t know that the T&C’s ‘L’ gear was meant to be used when descending steep slopes and so drove the 3-ton fully loaded minivan down the mountain solely on the breaks. Oops. We started joking about the fact that we at least made it to the other side of the country but to be honest, we all thought it would be the end of our beautiful trip. The car was towed to the nearest garage in Whistler – a place on the edge of town called Barney’s. There, we sullenly unpacked our gear to spend the night in a nearby campsite contemplating our options. Happily in the end, the mechanics simply needed to flush out our boiled brake fluid and top it off again. We were on the road towards Vancouver Island again the next morning, having found the name of our car, Barney.

Campsite - Resize

Our home in Tofino and our Atmos Anti-Gravity™ pack

That evening we had our very first view of the Pacific Ocean. As we drove north along the road to Tofino we had glimpses of it through the trees but it took until we arrived at our campground to get a proper view. Every night of the journey so far we’ve been following the setting sun west. At Tofino we ran barefoot down a sandy beach towards the ocean. In front of us the sun approached the horizon and we felt a quiet contentment knowing that we’d reached a huge milestone in our journey. We had driven across Canada, as far west as we could possibly go.

Pacific sunset - resize

Our view on the evening we arrived in Tofino, Vancouver Island

We slept that night within earshot of the waves rolling onto shore and woke the next morning to the same sound. After months of cold Canadian winter, Tofino became our little paradise. Sun, sea sand – it was perfect. We could stay there forever – all these feelings, just from our first morning in the campsite.



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