November 20th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Patagonian Ski Tales from the Road



This October, Osprey Athlete Kim Havell  found herself seeking adventure in the Patagonia region of South America. On this trip, Kim’s goal was to enjoy life on the road while discovering big ski lines before the winter season ended in the mountains of our hemispheric counter-part. As a gear-hauling company focused on design and function, we thought this would to be the perfect opportunity for Kim to test new women’s-specific Osprey Packs gear to be released in 2016. As Osprey Product Coordinator Rosie Mansfield explains, “(Athlete Testing) enables us to provide insight to the unique fit, function and aesthetics of this new technical women’s ski line from the perspective of a professional athlete.

Here is the first recap of Kim’s journey traveling the Patagonia mountains on the open roads with her friend, Jessica Baker. 


There are endless backcountry ski-route options in the Patagonian Andes of Argentina and Jessica Baker and I were interested in getting off the beaten track with just a road map. Put to task by Osprey Packs to gear test a pending new women’s pack for next season, I moved forward with a long-time goal of road tripping down the Patagonian range.


Plans came together quickly – fellow Ice Axe Expeditions Guide, Jorge Kozujli, has a Renault Master van (see his Facebook page ‘Camper Van Rental Argentina’) that was available for rent and the Andes were seeing record snowfall for their spring season. The combination of lodging, transportation and record snow conditions made the decision easy. Jessica Baker, a fellow EXUM Mountain Guide and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Alpine Guide, was able to jump on board as well.


With logistics in place, we assessed options and objectives on-line from our starting point of Bariloche and ending point of El Chalten. The van gave us the flexibility to stay or shift locations depending on conditions and weather; this would prove invaluable to our experience. Jess and I left the US in early October and arrived in Bariloche as a major storm system moved in for the week. The weather resulted in limited snowfall and overcast skies with warm, humid air.

We checked out the classic spots around Bariloche’s main ski area, Cerro Catedral, and then ventured further west to ski tour in the mountains above its famed lake district. The skies were tempermental with fog and low hanging clouds on our approaches. It took two hours or so to reach snowline and transition to ski gear. We quickly found conditions to be isothermal and dangerous for not only climbing but also for making ski turns. The snow was not freezing at night and the snowpack made for challenging ascents and descents. Nonetheless, we found some decent skiing up higher and explored around some beautiful peaks.Osprey_5_6956

After a few days in Bariloche, we decided to move south. It was hard to leave the gorgeous lakeside camping outside the town and, spoiled, we aimed for great camp spots as we headed to El Chalten – big views, level ground and privacy – and with patience and some luck we found a perfect spot to park our trusty camper van each night. Our route traced down the infamous ‘Ruta 40’. Paralleling the magnificent Andes range we crossed the barren Patagonian steppe on a lonely run-down road with a myriad of obstacles along the way and an abundance of native wild life including Guanaco, Armadillo, Condor, Pink Flamingos, Giant Hares, and more.

As we took shifts navigating the bumpy highway, separate concentrations of high peaks beckoned in the distance. However, with multi-day approaches needed for each spot, we continued on down the road with our sights set on maximizing our days in the mountains surrounding El Chalten and the renowned Fitz Roy Massif. Access to the mountains would prove to be our biggest challenge for the trip…



Keep up with Osprey Athlete Kim Havell:





October 21st 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Osprey Athlete Kim Havell Tests Osprey Gear in the Mountains of Patagonia

Osprey athlete Kim Havell has skied on all 7 continents, with 1st descents on 4, and adventured in over 50 countries. During her travels, she has climbed and skied big peaks in the Himalaya & the Karakorum, the highest mountains across the US, with 1st descents both at home and abroad including in the Arctic and Antarctic. Kim has numerous first female descents in Southwest Colorado, climbed and skied both the Grand Teton and Mt. Moran in a 2 day period, completed multiple ascents and ski descents of 13ers & 14ers, and cut lines on peaks in France, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Alaska, Russia, and Japan.


This October, Kim found herself seeking adventure in the Patagonia region of South America. On this trip, Kim’s goal is to enjoy life on the road while discovering big ski lines before the winter season ends in the mountains of our hemispheric counter-part. As a gear-hauling company focused on design and function, we thought this would to be the perfect opportunity for Kim to test new women’s-specific Osprey Packs gear to be released in 2016. As Osprey Product Coordinator Rosie Mansfield explains, “(Athlete Testing) enables us to provide insight to the unique fit, function and aesthetics of this new technical women’s ski line from the perspective of a professional athlete.”

At Osprey, a key philosophy in designing gear has been “To Inspire & Ease Your Journey.” To stay true to our commitment, it takes feedback at all stages of a pack’s development, from our consumers, professionals athletes like Kim and other Osprey athletes. Kim Havell has been a key player in the design, testing, development, fit and end-use of our women’s-specific pack offerings and will continue to assist us in pushing the envelope so that we can offer innovative, groundbreaking products that provide the best design and function for woman who get outdoors.

We caught up with Kim to ask her a few questions about her upcoming trip to Patagonia.

Stay tuned for more from Kim and her adventures while living on the road in South America.

Ultimate goal for this trip? What about little goals?

KH: Both are the same – ski some fun peaks and great lines and embrace the culture and flexibility of life on the road.

Have you been to South America before?

KH: I’ve been to Bariloche, Buenos Aires, and Mendoza – did a ski expedition on Aconcagua a few years ago.


What makes this trip so special? What are you doing different this time around?

KH: We’re picking up a fellow Ice Axe Expeditions guide’s van and driving and skiing down Ruta 40 from Bariloche to Patagonia. There’s a real freedom to this trip and it is an accessible option for those who love to backcountry ski and explore big mountains.

What do you typically eat on a trip like this?

KH: Well we’re going to meat country so we’ll shop and eat local. And, I’ll have a healthy supply of PROBARS for our ski days in the mountains.


Do you have any special rituals or traditions when you’re on the road for long periods of time?

KH: Check snow and weather every morning and evening. And, I’ll bring some lavender and eucalyptus so the van smells nice.

What are some of the things you’re most looking forward to about this trip? 

KH: Seeing the lake districts and après with local vino.


How do you scout or research trips like this one to Patagonia?

KH: I am always watching weather and conditions in remote or interesting places. When certain opportunities pop up or things align, I make a spontaneous trip happen or plan for something down the road. Usually, I see, hear, or read something that is of interest and a trip grows and cultivates out of that.


In regards to what you pack, how was this trip different and what do you do when preparing for these types of trips?

KH: We are car camping so it is lighter packing than most expeditions but we have a great deal of gear to bring along. My ski companion, Jessica Baker, and I have compiled a comprehensive list of necessary items and we’ll pack off of that.

What do you do when you’re not skiing?

HV: I’m usually in the mountains – hiking, running, climbing, or with horses.


Anything else you’re currently psyched on for this year? 

KH: My boyfriend, a 4th generation Outfitter in WY, and I just adopted 3 mustangs and 3 burros from the BLM wild horse program at the Honor Farm in Riverton, WY. So, I am excited to work with my 2-yr-old horse, Otter, over the coming months and learn how to train and work with him in the field.

Current favorite Osprey pack(s)?

KH: The Osprey Kyte Series, Variant Series & Mutant Series.

Be sure to keep up with Kim as she plans for bigger and better in 2016:





October 7th 2015 - Written by: Joe Stock

Chamonix Envers with Osprey Athlete Joe Stock

Chamonix is the world center for climbing. The Envers Refuge is where climbers and guides go on vacation. It’s a mellow scene, but the rock routes are huge. This year Cathy and I came to Chamonix prepared for the Envers with a double rack, twin ropes and our Osprey Mutant packs. Between weather and work, we squeezed in a day and a half of climbing at the Envers. Lucky us!

Cathy Flanagan rock climbing at the Envers, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.

The Refuge de l’Envers is perched above the Mer de Glace Glacier, on a buttress of rock that splits seas of granite.

Cathy Flanagan rock climbing at the Envers, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.

It’s a three-hour approach to the Envers after taking the Montenvers Railway from Chamonix. From the Montenvers we dropped down ladders, cables and moraine to the withering Mer de Glace Glacier. Each year the glacier drops, exposing more teetering moraine. We hiked a mile up the Mer de Glace, then climbed ladders to the Envers Refuge. Typical of the Alps, route finding was a no-brainer.

Cathy Flanagan rock climbing at the Envers, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.

After the approach, Cathy and I dropped our packs and climbed La Piege. Two hundred meters of 6a+ granite crack climbing just five minutes from the refuge.

Cathy Flanagan rock climbing at the Envers, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.

The next day we climbed Amazonia, a 370-meter 6a+ on the First Point of the Nantillions. Here’s Cathy leading a polished slab on the second pitch. For us the route was 13 pitches of clean granite climbing. It’s not the orange granite like above the Vallee Blanche on the Midi or Capucin, but it’s still really good.


Cathy Flanagan rock climbing at the Envers, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.

Cathy near the summit of Amazonia. It took eight quick rappels to get down. We’ll be back for more!



Osprey Packs Athlete Joe Stock is an internationally Joe_Stock_Osprey_Packs_Athletecertified IFMGA mountain guide based in Anchorage, Alaska. He has been climbing and skiing around the world for 25 years with extensive time in the mountains of Alaska, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the North Cascades of Washington and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Since 1995, Joe has been freelance writing for magazines starting with a feature article in Rock & Ice on climbing the Balfour Face on Mount Tasman in New Zealand. Since then, he’s published numerous articles on adventures and mountain technique in rags such as Climbing, Backcountry, Alaska, Climbing, Trail Runner, Men’s Health and Off Piste.


August 3rd 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Who is Colorado Fourteeneers Initiative?

Project. Restore. Educate.

Osprey is a proud partner of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative – a collaborative of nonprofit organizations and dedicated individuals who are committed to the development and preservation of our beloved Rocky Mountains in our home-state of Colorado. As great lovers of the mountains and all the experiences that they have given us, we can be so captivated by their presence: the high-country wildflowers in bloom, the sights and sounds of creatures who call the mountains their home, or simply the solitude that these beautiful mountains provide. Of course, it’s important to enjoy the these gifts but is just as important to recognize and support those who make them possible and for Osprey Packs, we realize that without Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, the trail access to Colorado’s 54 14,000 foot peaks wouldn’t be possible.

This coming August 14th, Osprey will support Colorado Fourteeners Initiatives as they announce quite possibly the largest partnership in the program’s history. This partnership would take place with one of Osprey’s long standing retailers, REI, who recognizes the importance of Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and other organizations in trail stewardship across the nation.

More details to follow but we would like to introduce you to this Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, what they do and why you should support them on August 14th, 2015.

Colorado Fourteeners Initiative was formed in 1994 as a partnership of nonprofit organizations, concerned individuals, and public agencies to preserve and protect the natural integrity of Colorado’s Fourteeners after a 1993 study noted significant environmental impacts due to rapidly expanding recreational use. Founding organizations included the Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Outward Bound School, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, and the US Forest Service.


Colorado Fourteeners Initiative protects and preserves the natural integrity of Colorado’s 54 14,000–foot peaks—the “Fourteeners”—through active stewardship and public education.

Colorado’s Fourteeners contain rare and fragile native tundra ecosystems that are uniquely adapted to living on these high peaks. These tundra plants, however, are ill-adapted to being trampled by the half-million people who are estimated to climb these peaks every year. In many places resource damage is past the point of natural recovery.

CFI partners with the US Forest Service, passionate volunteer partners and donors nationwide to:

  1. Create a structure for engaging local communities in the protection of Colorado’s highest peaks
  2. Build and maintain sustainable hiking routes on the Fourteeners to accommodate hiking use while minimizing damage to native alpine ecosystems
  3. Stabilize and restore trampled and eroded areas to protect sensitive alpine plant and animal communities
  4. Educate Fourteener hikers about Leave No Trace principles and sustainable recreational practices designed to lessen ecosystem impacts

Through this unique,voluntary partnership, Colorado’s Fourteener ecosystems are protected from harm while continuing to make the peaks accessible to hikers without burdensome restrictions and fees.

Stay connected with Colorado Fourteeneers Initiative, both on the Trail and Social:





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.”

May 1st 2015 - Written by: Joe Stock

Traverse Sans Retour at Les Calanques

Osprey Packs Athlete Joe Stock is an internationally certified IFMGA mountain guide based in Anchorage, Alaska. He has been climbing and skiing around the world for 25 years with extensive time in the mountains of Alaska, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the North Cascades of Washington and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Since 1995, Joe has been freelance writing for magazines starting with a feature article in Rock & Ice on climbing the Balfour Face on Mount Tasman in New Zealand. Since then, he’s published numerous articles on adventures and mountain technique in rags such as Climbing, Backcountry, Alaska, Trail Runner, Men’s Health and Off Piste.

To climbers, “Les Calanques” means sea cliff climbing on the Mediterranean Coast in Provence in south France. Where temperatures are warm, the food fresh and the wine the best in the world. My wife Cathy and I spent two weeks climbing in the Calanques. We rented a VRBO in the town of Cassis, which is 15 minutes from Marseille. Our favorite route of the trip was a linkup of Traverse Ramond and Traverse Sans Retour. This added up to 700 meters of sea cliff climbing with a crux of 6b (5.10+). Ten hours of climbing with an hour of walking on either side.

At 8am, after an hour-long walk, we found the entrance to Traverse Ramond. It was shaped like a doorway. We rappelled from a thread (a sling through a natural rock anchor) in the roof of the doorway down the sea cliff. Traverse Ramond is an easy sea cliff traverse, but the wild location makes for a nice entrance route for the next route, Traverse Sans Retour. 


rock.france.stock-61 (more…)

March 1st 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

Earn Your Turns: 101 Months in a Row


From suncups to blower pow, huge peaks to bunny hills, North Vancouver brothers Mike and Andy Traslin have been consecutively earning their turns every month of the year for the past…wait for it… 101 months. They’re not alone in the endless pursuit of ‘turns all year,’ but they sure are passionate about it.

The quest for earning your backcountry ‘turns all year’ is especially popular with zealous skiers and riders in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and of course here at home in BC. With huge peaks holding snow year round, especially the Cascade Volcanoes, it almost makes you wonder why every skier doesn’t do it.


Like Mike says — if you’re really jonesing for some ski turns in the fall, why wait? Just go do it!

In celebration of Mike & Andy’s 101th month (and hopefully hundreds more to come) here is a quick freeflow of thoughts from Mike, and some image highlights from the last 30 or so months: (more…)

January 12th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

The Moto Diary – A Trip through Columbia by Motorcycle

Osprey Packs Ambassador Matt Hayes is a resident of Boulder, Colorado as far as the postal service knows. Since graduating from the University of Colorado he’s actually lived in 3 different states and 5 countries. Matt learned the intricacies of broadcast production and still photography in college, how to twirl wrenches working in bike shops for a decade, and how to race mountain bikes by getting beaten all the time. His other skills include playing the saxophone, jumping off cliffs into powder fields, rocking a mohawk, and eating nachos with two hands while riding a bike. He is a certified EMT, is currently enjoying a budding “career,” and shortly will commence saving the world. 


While Colorado is an amazing place to live, Autumn can be a bit boring as the bike trails get a blanket of snow but haven’t collected quite enough to start skiing. Consequently, I decided to spend a few months this Fall in South America guiding mountain bike trips and riding through Colombia on a 125cc two-stoke motorcycle.

I left my temporary home in San Gil, Colombia and headed north towards the coast. Honestly, I didn’t really expect my 1996 Yamaha DT to survive the trip. A favorite model of the drug-runners in the mid-90’s, my motorcycle had already had two gaskets leak, the clutch fail, and the throttle seize in the two months I had owned it.

I was a little surprised and completely overjoyed when I pulled into the Costeño Beach hostel outside of Santa Marta. After a few days frolicking on the beach I set off towards Riohacha.Beach Moto

The highway hugged the coast line and every hill crested led to a beautiful beachfront view. It was gorgeous and I eventually had to force myself to stop taking pictures for fear I wouldn’t actually complete any mileage.

I shouldn’t have worried so much – about an hour later the road turned flat, straight, and hot. I cruised to the city of Riohacha, got some lunch, and took a dirt road out of town that led straight into an impassible river. Negotiating a different route out of the city, I saw a sign for The Beaches of Mayapo. I remembered seeing a map of a small road that wound along the beach ending up in Quatro Vias which I wanted to check out so I followed the sign.

The road surface was one of the best I had encountered in Colombia so I figured it was a main road, which was good because I knew I was low on gas. The long sweeping corners with nothing to obstruct the view allowed me to push the little 125 as fast as it would go. I was having a blast until the road suddenly, without warning, turned to a network of spidering dirt trails.

Roadside3This was completely outside my frame of reference. How does a main road disintegrate to unmarked trails within a meter? There was no town, no turn around point, no road signs. All I could do was shrug and go back the way I came.

As the sun set I flirted with the idea of camping for the night but ultimately decided to find a cheap hotel. The road was just as fun on the way back and I was feeling euphoric until the bike sputtered and died as it ran out of gas. Exasperation set in.

I started pushing the bike until I found two security guards chatting by a school. I told them I needed gas and they answered in the most accent-riddled Spanish I have ever heard. I couldn’t even understand the word for “10.” Luckily they understood me fine and eventually we worked out that one of them would walk about 2km with me to a cluster of homes where some guy had some gas.

One of the main features I like on the Osprey Farpoint is the removable daypack. It’s perfectly sized to hold my valuables without being bulky, and it can stow inside the main pack if there’s room which is how I had been traveling. I grabbed the small pack and we started walking down sand footpaths into the dark. I was sure I was going to get gas or get robbed, but I had no idea which one.

After several random turns we arrived at a trailer where a disheveled man showed us to a locked shed. He opened it, and as his flashlight darted around I saw 10 or 15 five-gallon containers all presumably filled with gasoline. He sold us a few gallons which I lugged back.

With new gas the bike fired right up and, after thanking the guards profusely, I backtracked towards Riohacha yet again.

I was exhausted, sick, anxious, and even a bit scared as I followed the deserted road but the stars overhead were mesmerizing. I stopped, turned off the bike, and starred at them for a few minutes. I felt like I was on a big journey but I was only venturing arouRoadside1nd one part of one country on one planet. I felt far from home, but my DT125 topped out around 70kmh and I had only been riding for a few days. The star light had been traveling at a billion kmh for 100’s or 1000’s of years to get to the same spot. Granted – light doesn’t have to deal with running out of gas, getting directions, mechanical failures, or FARC kidnappings, but it still made me feel infinitesimally small and my problems even smaller.

I stopped at the first hotel I found, and with thoughts of all the problems that day juxtaposing the immensity of the universe I climbed into bed excited for the next day’s adventure.

September 13th 2014 - Written by: Joe Stock

Inca Trail

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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