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Inca Trail

September 13th, 2014

The Inca Trail in Peru is perhaps the world’s most famous trek. This four-day camping trip follows a 500-year old stone path that ends at Machu Picchu, an ancient city reclaimed from the jungle. I hiked the Inca Trail with my Dad, my sister Kate and her girlfriend Kim. We started and finished the trip in Cusco.

Cusco, Peru.

A mushroom cloud of smoke from hundreds of barbecues rises from Inti Raymi celebrations in Cusco. Inti Raymi is the biggest festival of the season. This party is taking place at Sacsayhuaman (pronounced “Sexy Woman”), a location famous for 100-ton stones fitted together so tight that a toothpick can not be fitted in.

Cusco, Peru

While city center Cusco is tidy and historic for tourists, the surrounding streets are real Peru. This woman is selling chopped up snakes in a soda bottle. Other bottles contain the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus juice and various  potions for what ails you.

 

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru.

The Inca Trail is lined with ruins. Here’s Kate exploring the Phuyupatamarka ruins.  The fascinating thing about all these Inca ruins is that nobody really knows what happened. There was no written language before the Spanish arrived. And all of the written accounts have a Spanish Conquistador twist. This results in each Inca history buff having their own theory of what happened. Historical spiels by tour guide’s often start with “I believe….”

Inca Trail, Machu Picchu Cusco, Peru.

Dad eleven hours into the second day. What is a comparable trek in the US? Rim-to-rim on the Grand Canyon? The Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier?

Dead Woman Pass on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Porters resting at the high point of the trip at Dead Woman Pass at 13,829 feet. Porters carry 20 kilos of group gear plus their personal gear. We carried our sleeping bag, pad and hiking stuff in 35-liter Mutant 38s.

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#OspreyAt40: Our 40th Anniversary Celebration Continues!

April 2nd, 2014

OspreyAt40_Montage

When we launched our #OspreyAt40 photo contest earlier this year, we knew we’d see some amazing photos of your many adventures, travels and treks — but we were blown away by the number of phenomenal photos submitted by so many loyal Osprey fans. Thank you for sharing your memories with us — we’re honored to have been part of your hikes, backpacking trips, MTB rides, snow days, city walks, summits, sojourns and every other adventure you’ve had with an Osprey Pack on your back.

We’re going to continue to celebrate our 40th Anniversary throughout the year — so please stay tuned for other fun contests and prizes. In May, we’ll be premiering the full-length documentary “Osprey Packs: 40 Years in the Making.” In the meantime, below are the final winners selected by our internal judges for Round 4 of #OspreyAt40. (Or visit our gallery of all of the 40 winning #OspreyAt40 photos here.)

Thank you again for sharing your photos with us and for celebrating our 40th Anniversary!

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Rockin’ Red Rock Rendezvous: What’s in store for you!

March 28th, 2014

Spring is in the air and that can only mean one thing: Red Rock Rendezvous is here!
Whether you are on road tripping through the Southwest for spring break or taking a break from the lights of Las Vegas for the weekend, there is something for everyone to participate in.

Who’s going to be there, you might ask? Well certainly, top outdoor brands, climbers, athletes, and anyone and everyone who has an interest in climbing, biking and trail running. This will be Osprey’s 4th consecutive year attending Red Rock and there are plenty of reasons why we keep coming back for more. Osprey’s booth will be packing some heat this year with incredible demos, prizes and smokin’ deals, not to mention clinics put on by some of the best athletes in the industry! Let me fill you in on the rest:20130404_mg_rrr-14-M

  • 20% off packs in celebration of Red Rock Rendezvous- This is the best deal you will get on our selection as we bring a variety of our hydration, climbing, and running packs discounted at 20% off just this weekend, so get one while the gettin’ is good!
  • Not sure what pack you want? No problem! We’ve got your back and will have our demo fleet of bike, climbing, and running packs available all weekend! Stop by the booth and talk with our team of expert pack fitters and outdoor enthusiasts who can help you make the best selection for your needs. You can even purchase the pack at our booth and take it out to the trails or crag that very day!
  • Clinics with the experts- Yeah, the good times don’t stop rolling, and you can improve your skills (or learns some new ones) because clinics from some of the best athletes in the world will be offered this weekend. Whether you want to learn how to climb multi-pitch routes, mountain bike diverse terrain, or want to get certified in wilderness medicine, Red Rock Rendezvous is your one-stop shop (in the form of an incredibly fun event) where all of those opportunities are available…and then some! Check out a full list of clinics here.
  • We’re thrilled that our very own Krista Park, pro mountain biker racer, will be leading a variety of clinics for all skill sets. Here is Krista’s perspective on coaching clinics:reflect2.phpdd

 

“My goal is to make myself available to anyone, at any level, to share tips, skills, encouragement, resources, or anything that will allow racers, riders, or potential riders to fall in love with the sport of cycling as I have.”

  • On the climbing front we will have Majka Burhard, long-time Osprey Packs athlete, film-maker, and climbing enthusiast reflect2.phpwho has attended Red Rocks for the past few years. Majka’s enthusiasm is contagious, which makes her a damn good climbing coach and fun to be around.

 

 

 

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50 Shades of Osprey

March 2nd, 2014

50ShadesCollage3

Osprey Athlete Payge McMahon is an adventure athlete, ‘rockin’ yogi’ and journalist who travels the world inspiring others to get outdoors, try new things and start checking off that bucket list.

In 2007, at the age of 33, my life changed forever. I bought my first Osprey Pack, an orange Stratos 24.  I loved it. It took me to places I never imagined. Read more…

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Didn’t Know Where We Were Going, Knew We Wouldn’t Be Back Anytime Soon

February 27th, 2014

Osprey Packs Ambassador and guest blogger Cari Ann Siemens is an architect by trade, currently working outside of the box. Although she still does freelance design work, the majority of her time is spent as a Producer/Editor for Jordan Siemens Photography. She and her husband are currently traveling the western US in their Cricket Trailer. They hike, bike, backpack, climb, surf, ski our way from one destination to the next. As Cari puts it, “At this point in our lives, our main objective is exploration.”

 

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After leaving the comfort of our home and steady jobs in Portland, Oregon, we hit the road, seeking new adventures that didn’t require raincoats and waterproof everything. We didn’t know exactly where we were going. We just knew that we wouldn’t be back anytime soon. Read more…

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Okanagan Stashes

February 20th, 2014

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As we all know, a thin snow pack and low base was the new norm on the Coast, even into January. It sure felt like ‘Juneary’ on the Coast. Read more…

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Long Start to the Journey: Help Osprey Ambassador Chris Gallaway share his Appalachian Trail story

January 24th, 2014
Chris Gallaway- before and after shots.

Chris Gallaway- Before the AT and after the AT.

 

Osprey Ambassador Chris Gallaway is seeking support through Kickstarter to make his a film, “The Long Start to the Journey” a reality. January 31st is the campaign deadline to support this compelling documentary about the Appalachian Trail and if the campaign does not meet its goal no funding will be collected and given to the movie.

In support of Chris’s Kickstarter campaign, we’re giving away an Exos 48 Superlight Backpack to the next donor to pledge $220. The Exos 48, our newest ultra-light technical backpack, is a masterful combination of ounce-shaving, durable materials and a feather-weight internal frame to keep you fast and comfortable on your next journey. Your pack will have a “The Long Start to the Journey” patch sewn on to commemorate your part in making this film possible. Note: We’ll need to get your unique sizing before fulfilling this reward and you must be a resident of the US to be eligible.

To support The Long Start to the Journey and learn more about the campaign, visit www.maketheATmovie.com.

To follow Chris’s journey on the trail last year, visit www.theATmovie.com.

 

Long Start To The Journey

 

A question I have often heard since completing my 7-month thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail is how the experience changed me. That’s a difficult one for me to answer, and it’s probably better addressed by people who know me well and have observed me from the outside. The images above were taken at the beginning and end of my hike (the third, cold morning in February on Blood Mountain Georgia and the last day in September as I walked down from Katahdin). While I know that these two self-portraits encompass a host of experiences and some of the most significant changes of my life, it’s difficult for me to articulate what’s different between them. Read more…

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Vacation in Spain

December 6th, 2013

Cathy Flanagan walking to the Alhambra Palace  in Granada, Spain.

Cathy controlled herself. She didn’t bring climbing gear to Spain. Still recovering from a whopper climbing injury in June, she knew bringing gear to Spain would be too tempting, and a backward step in PT. Although Spain is stacked with five-star sport crags, it is also a great place to be a tourist.

Being tourists was a new activity for us, rather than climbing or skiing. Cathy read 10 books. I worked on my next book. We drank gallons of coffee and wine. We hiked and ran. And we visited some old buildings.

After traveling from Chamonix, France to Barcelona, we drove to Grenada for a week of exploring the area. We stayed in a cave house dug into a mountain in the village of Monachil above Grenada. Above is Cathy walking through historic Albayzin toward the Alhambra Palace.

Cathy Flanagan on Pico del Veleta (3.396m), Sierra Nevada Mountains, Spain.

A short drive above our cave house were the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the highest mountains on mainland Spain. We hiked up Veleta (3,396m), which is the fourth highest in Spain. The highest mountain in all of Spain is Teide in the Canary Islands at  3,718 meters.

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Joe bouldering on Monsul Beach in Cabo de Gata, where a portion of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed. We spent a second week in Cabo de Gata National Park. This was the only non-crowded location we found along the Spanish Mediterranean Sea. There must be other quiet areas, but they’re hard to find.

Cathy Flanagan in Cabo de Gata, Mediterranean Sea, Spain.

We hiked to a remote beach at Cabo de Gata where many Spanish with lengthy dreads lived in the trees and swam in the turquoise water.

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Cathy and I at the artist Salvador Dali’s house in Cadaques, north of Barcelona, near the French border. We spent a third week in this classically beautiful Spanish coastal villa. We were about 20 years younger than most of the retired French vacationers who walked the Cadaques beach hand-in-hand. Straight out of a Viagra advert.

Condor Airline in Frankfurt, Germany.After a four-hour delay in Frankfurt, they found a screwdriver and fixed our Condor jet bound for Seattle.

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Osprey Ambassador Alison Gannett – EPA and Green Sports Alliance

November 27th, 2013
Alison at gala with the Statue of Liberty

Alison at gala with the Statue of Liberty

I got a surprise call the other day from the EPA/The White House asking me to speak at the Green Sports Alliance gala in NYC. My dream topic? Women, Sports and the Environment. Seeing as this opportunity was basically just that, I could only think that they must have created this symposium just for me! Osprey stepped up and helped me attend the prestigious event, where I was able to represent Osprey, myself, and also my Save Our Snow Foundation.

Transported from rural Colorado and our Holy Terror Farm, I suddenly felt underdressed mingling with NBA, NHL and NFL stars and team owners. I had thought that my all-black ensemble would fit in for “NY Casual” but apparently New York City casual involves five-inch heels, black sequined dresses, tuxedos and diamonds. At least I had my bright pink KEEN sneakers and Osprey pack, so that I looked a bit intentionally like a pro athlete?

EPA/Green Sports Alliance Gala in NYC

EPA/Green Sports Alliance Gala in NYC

I made some small talk – “and what do you do?” and got some not-so-typical answers – “I run Nike,” “I own the Philadelphia Eagles” or “I play for the Edmunton Oilers” were some typical answers. I quickly realized how high-powered the corporate executives were at this event, and became intensely excited about speaking to 500 of these impressive women the next day.

Finally I ran into a familiar face – Kimmy Fasani – Pro Snowboarder and rider for Protect our Winters (POW), and Klean Kanteen’s marketing director and POW’s executive director turn out to be my dinner seat mates.

Pro Snowboarder Kimmy Fasani with POW

Pro Snowboarder Kimmy Fasani with POW

The next day brought one of the biggest keynotes of my life – such big names, such huge corporate successes, and WOW, so many green success stories that one would think sustainability was cool and mainstream. I was super impressed by the work of the National Hockey League, not so impressed by the National Football League and blown away by Philly Eagles owner Christina Weiss Lurie who received the Environmental Leadership award for their zero-wast, 100 percent renewable-powered football stadium/team. I was honored to kick off the talk for “Women, Sports and The Environment” with my steep skiing crazy videos transitioning into how to green your business while saving money. Special thanks to Osprey for helping me get to this special speaking event! The crowd was equally inspirational and there to learn from other success stories. Maybe next year we go to The White House and present the President with our latest greatest recycled material pack? Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Vote with your dollars and support companies that make products with iron-clad guarantees! The greenest pack is one that you don’t have to buy again!

Alison testing the new Carve Pack by Israel Valenzuela

Alison testing the new Carve Pack by Israel Valenzuela

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The Grandest Time

November 26th, 2013
The Colorado River carving through the Grand canyon as seen from the South Kaibab trail.

The Colorado River carving through the Grand canyon as seen from the South Kaibab trail.

“Life comes from water,” my friend Erich explained at the kitchen table over a beer. “Everywhere you look is something” he quipped, describing the lushness that fills the banks and surrounding terraces along the Colorado river as it carves through the Grand Canyon. Although Erich had made a month-long voyage through the canyon by boat before, this conversation was just 22 hours after our visit there. A journey that made an immutable impression on me as I traversed on foot from one side of the canyon to the other and then back — doing something known as a Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim.

To know something, I must dive in, get my hands dirty and commit. This was my first adult trip to the Grand Canyon so I set my bar high. Always an eager ear to listen to my river-loving friends’ tales of the months of their lives spent exploring this place, one of the seven wonders of the world, I came away with a sense that the canyon was quite large and almost guaranteed to free you from the technological and municipal tangles of daily life. It has walls that are five-to-six-thousand feet high, hidden trails that can only be reached by water and tales of explorations in rugged environments as variable as winter and summer in the same day. My friends always echoed that planning is critical to success, keeping it in check is critical to success and luck… well, that would be a part too. I had that this weekend, that was the most critical piece to my success venturing into this stunning terra firma — not for a month, but for a very long day.

At 5:06 AM in sub freezing temps on November 19th, 2013, the three of us, Erich, Heather and I, dropped over the South rim of the Grand Canyon via the South Kaibab trail. A feathery wave of warmer air softly invited us to descend into the chasm, guided by a full moon and anticipation of our long day. The trail was wide and well worn, with each foot strike powdery bursts of red dust erupted and sent a misty cloud into the follower’s headlamp beam. Massive jagged shapes — like those drawn in Dr. Seuss’s books — slowly rose above us as Gotham-esque outlines. In an hour we were warmed up and dropping 4700′ of vertical to the Colorado river minute by minute. Then suddenly it happened…”Ben” Erich exhaled from behind me “I fell.”

I knew how he felt, the day before I had stepped off a snow-covered front porch in Telluride, Co and ate it so hard. I fell directly onto my butt and took a diagonal impact across my entire lower back and sacrum to the point of some immediate swelling, bruising and an occasional pinch since then. Content to carry on and visit the canyon anyway, I iced it in the drivers seat, took some ibuprofen and figured that a six-and- a-half-hour car ride was plenty of time to determine how it would play out.

Erich Owen running through the canyonlands

Erich Owen running through the canyonlands

Unlike my klutzy self, Erich made it to the trail before going down. He caught a foot step in a powdery pocket of dust, hyperextended his right knee and sent his body hurtling forward. Starting from 8 mph and ending at 0 with a white flash and nausea, a crumpled red dust covered being barely set atop a rock is a tough place to be 5.2 miles into a 42.4 mile day. I walked 150′ back up to Erich and helped him assess the situation. His gear lay strewn about the stark landscape like a gypsy yard sale at a Phish show. The impact had been “big” and he sat on a rock, reeling from mild shock.

“Man, what do you think?” I said. “I think I blew my knee and I’m seeing white” he said. Ughhh, I thought, THAT sensation, when you have cratered full-on superman style into a pain cave, disorientation and a sense of despair so low, so ominously coursing through every inch of your body that retching is all that sounds good. Erich was going to need a few minutes to recover, then we would see where he was at. He is a strong dude with a solid chassis.

In a little time, Erich shuffled to his feet and walked 100′ downhill and it was clear that he could move, but rather than take that as a sign to continue, he wisely chose to use his energy to get himself out of the canyon less injured. He was finished. We both knew Heather, tactfully descending somewhere above us, would be a solid back up as she was doing a burly 14 mile day with 9400′ in vertical change, turning around at the bottom of the canyon and heading back up. I cleaned his shades, put his visor back on him and said good bye with his confidence I could still complete the day alone.

Off I went into the dark maw until dawn. I crossed the Colorado river and arrived at my first water break at Phantom Ranch some seven miles, 4700′ of descent and two hours into the day — a slow setup to a long sustained effort. Forty extra minutes of darkness and low temperatures were absorbed in the scenario above and it was important to cruise with a little urgency in the cool morning up a 6200′, 14.2-mile climb to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I had time thanks to the early start and I wasn’t bothered at all about being off schedule, just aware that the sun would be up soon. I took off from Phantom Ranch after hastily replacing the half liter of fluids I had consumed and had a nice time running a little harder on the North Kaibab trail’s lower reaches and seeing the life Erich had spoken about, the life that comes from water in the depths of such a stark and craggy stack of monoliths.

As I strode through a broad section of opening valley, a hole burst in my hydration reservoir, right at the bottom of the pack and like that, at mile 13 — I had potentially blown this attempt. I had fumbled around in my pack in the dark and placed a sharp object too close to the durable plastic. When I filled the bladder to capacity at Phantom Ranch it put too much pressure on it. My jacket, gloves and two McDonald’s cheeseburgers were soaked in an orange solution of gatorade and fresh water. I was super pissed, this was my fault and now jeopardized successfully completing the traverse to one rim, making running back to the other nearly impossible.  All I had left were two gels, three blocks, one granola bar and 29 miles to stretch it out.

 

It goes on and on for days, huge craggy spines and monolithic structures a scale unlike any I'd ever seen!

It goes on and on for days, huge craggy spines and monolithic structures a scale unlike any I’d ever seen!

I have not had an episode like this in a while, where a total meltdown could be so imminent, with nearly no solid food and no water or way to carry water. I was in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, six miles from people in one direction and going to have to pull off 22 more miles with what I had with only two chances for mere sips of water in between. This was a moment for contemplation as a bright wave of sunlight slowly pushed silhouttes of the enveloping 5000′ canyon walls down into the valley and soaked into my bare shoulders for the first time.  I made my decision and went for it; I like to finish things, and figured that if had to hike out to conserve energy — I would, I could — even if it meant going into darkness.

This was my sixth “ultra marathon” distance run. I went into it expecting to just cruise it, albeit with a partner, food and water.  I had strategically wanted to run hard from miles 21.2 to 35.4 for training, but other than that, I had no real goals other than finishing before dark and having a nice day on the trail with some friends. This was not a race, it was a day out. I had never set foot on a trail in the Grand Canyon so it felt like I should allow time for photos as well, you know, like a tourist. But now this, a chance for an epic draw on my deepest reserves instead became part of the experience. I hadn’t explored that kind of distance totally alone before and this was my last run before a mandatory prolonged break for a few weeks in between seasons.

The trail leading toward the North rim of the Grand Canyon

The trail leading toward the North rim of the Grand Canyon

Without belaboring the point or disrespecting the canyon, I will say the eight miles and 6200′ of uphill in the sun were hard with no water! As I neared the top and mile 21.2, I felt the pangs of desperation uncoiling from within and sequestering my brain to intervene and stop this messy attempt if I saw anyone at the parking lot. When I arrived, there in the frost-covered shade of a stone-planted National Park sign were three spigots of water I had planned on seeing. I strolled up, tried all three and not a trickle flowed. “Shit, no water, oh man, it’s over,” I thought! I sat down, it was cold, my clothing was soaked in my pack and I sort of zoned out and was trembling from the still, cool air in the shade. Moments later, a trio of climbers I passed on the way up appeared and I asked them if they had any disposable water bottles. They gave me a fresh 24 oz. water bottle that I opened and chugged.  Damn I was lucky. Flat out, that gesture took this from being the longest day ever to the longest day on empty.

I crammed the awkwurd bottle in my pack and had revitalized my hydration to a manageable point that could be recovered. Cramping in my side due to dehydration and the fall off the porch from the day before inspired me to jog down the trail a little easier until it abated and soon the trail was flowing singletrack and a river ran nearby. I was never afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it and even got to push the 14 mile section I wanted to, not a ton, but enough to feel like I really “ran” the rim to rim to rim.

By mile 35 I had been through everything, I had lost my partner, my water, my solid food– but I gained the confidence I needed to carry forward and I took a chance that paid off because of luck. As I sat at Phantom Ranch the second time passing through, seven miles and 4700′ below the South Rim in post lunchtime sun, I wiped my salt covered face off with a wet handkerchief. Autumn’s golden foliage flowed from side to side and I sat undisturbed at a drinking water spigot outside the ranch’s canteen for nearly a half hour. Wow, I thought, it’s nice to sit down for a moment and reflect at the actual lowpoint of this trip. I had almost totally crossed this huge feature on foot with the bare minimum and couldn’t really complain about anything. It was all working out, just with some readjusted expectations. I was fast enough to get it done and slow enough to see it for an experience and not just an achievement, it was real and not just a blur.

Boaters portaging at Bright Angel landing below the suspension bridge at the base of the South Kaibab trail.

Boaters portaging at Bright Angel landing below the suspension bridge at the base of the South Kaibab trail.

With this in mind, I departed down trail to the Colorado River and stopped to observe portaging boats as they made their way to and through the beach at Bright Angel campground in the midst of their own three-week journeys through this magnificent feature — the same journey my river-loving friends were always bating me with. I thought about how still and tranquil it must have felt for them at times and how glad I was at the time to know my compressed journey was almost done and it was long before sunset. I was ready to head back to the world to friends and family.

Ascending out of the valley and up the South Kaibab’s 4700′ trail winding through dreamscape and postcard views, I soaked up the last of my water, an 80 calorie espresso flavored gel and just plodded along on empty. In perfect light above wild steppes and crumbling mountainsides carved out of a vastness so immense, I could understand now that which can only be understood after 42.4 miles and 22,000′ of elevation change in a place. My expectations were totally vanquished, I couldn’t help but revel in the sheer magnificence of this iconic National Park and at the same time still obsessively eyeball every 10th of a mile on my GPS watch until the end — about 54 in a row on the grueling return uphill. There is no way to come here and say it should be called, “pretty big canyon” or “yeah that’s a nice canyon.” This thing is the definition of Grand to the core. The running part, totally secondary.

The final four-tenths of a mile at the top were steep but Heather and Erich were there cheering as I approached the end of my first journey through the Grand Canyon. With sunken eyes and waning energy I was thankful for hearing their voices, the jug of water they handed me… and sitting down. Life comes from water, sharing a few sips and scanning the horizon for the last rays of the sun dappling the many features of the sterile and parched upper canyon, life indeed was coming back.

Some of the steps in the final miles of the Rim to Rim to Rim crossing.

Some of the steps in the final miles of the Rim to Rim to Rim crossing.

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