VISIT OSPREYPACKS.COM

Last Place Becomes the Best Place, and It Never Felt So Awesome…

October 31st, 2013
Alison Gannett trotting - Copyright @Dawn Kish Photography

Alison Gannett trotting – Copyright @Dawn Kish Photography

While I may be a champion freeskier and competitive ultra-mountain biker, I suck at running. I’m not sure if it brings back bad memories of being tortured by sports as a fat teenager in high school, or that I’m just not genetically bred for it, but I will certainly never be good at it. Yet now that my knees are recovered from eight knee surgeries and my brain is healing from tumor removal, I suddenly am drawn to this silly sport. Having never been good at meditating, it feels like an opportunity to clear my brain without all the rush and concentration of the speed of skiing or biking. My Akbash livestock guardian dogs also provide intense motivation, as they love to stop working on the farm and do what dogs do — explore, sniff and trot.

IMG_1272

And that is exactly what I would rather call my form of running: “trotting” because it’s not about speed. I just plod along, sometimes for hours at a time. I love the sense of adventure I get out of it — exploring a new area or trail, watching the leaves turn, the snow fall and generally just enjoying the little simple things in life.

View while running on Jumbo Mountain Trails

View while running on Jumbo Mountain Trails

In fact, I’ve almost never enjoyed the little things in life more than right now. After brain surgery this summer, I was just hoping to live and breath. Then I was re-learning how to walk and talk. Then I got to experience the joy of being outside for the first time, feeling the sun on my skin, breathing non-hospital icky sick air. And so, on the 29th of September, I wanted to make a statement about my return and appreciation of this wonderful life I have. For the second time in my life, and first time in too many years, I entered a 10k, with my doggies of course! That day, I woke up and my scar was sore, but I pried myself out of bed and went for it.

Loving exploring with my Osprey Pack and KEEN shoes

Loving exploring with my Osprey Pack and KEEN shoes

The run was steep and challenging, which reduced the dogs to walking even before I felt the need. My goal was not placing, but just doing. I wanted to soak in the view, enjoy my happy working dogs, smile and have fun. If only we could all teach kids this at a young age, especially in this age of over-competitiveness! One third of the way into the run, I realized I did not see any markers and was lost — a couple extra bonus miles later, I was back on track and climbing the steep Jumbo Mountain trail, leaving third place far behind and now solidly in last place.

But I was LOVING IT. This run/walk represented my return to life.

View of Lamborn from my Holy Terror Farm in Paonia

View of Lamborn from my Holy Terror Farm in Paonia

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Ditch Your Car, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities, photos, Southwest Colorado, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“The Perfect Mountain Biking Pack”

October 30th, 2013

ospreyescapist20

Yes, winter is near. But while the leaves are still on (some) of the trees, and the air has yet to turn as frigid as it most assuredly will, let’s talk mountain biking. If you’ve got a final fall ride in store, or if you’re determined to weather the winter, you’ll want to know what the best gear to take is. According to Active Junky, there are 5 Pieces of Gear for Fall Bike Rides that are must-haves. Naturally, we’re excited to see that the Osprey Escapist 20 is one of them. Here’s what AJ has to say about it:

The perfect mountain biking pack almost defies description: you want something that’s svelte and low-profile so you don’t feel off-balance while swinging through singletrack. But you need something that can carry your tools, food, layers, and oddball sundries. No pack has achieved that Platonic ideal quite yet, but Osprey’s Escapist 20 comes damn close.  The panel-loading backpack boasts a breathable ventilated harness, with a mesh hip belt, a hydration sleeve, twin water bottle mesh pockets, and a discrete, stowable rain cover. Inside the front panel, you find a cache of storage options that cater to bike tools, while the main compartment offers cavernous storage for the bigger items like a jacket or vest. As with most cycle-specific Osprey packs, the Escapist has also been outfitted with a LiftLock helmet attachment (which slips through the helmet’s vents to be easily carried) and a strap for clipping on a flashing light—features that make this pack ideal for commuting as well as mountain biking. A zipped top pouch keeps must-haves like your phone or sunglasses within easy reach, and the variety of compressible straps lets you synch things down to dial in a light, nimble feel while in the saddle. And—of course—the bag works well while enjoying outdoor activities other than mountain biking…

 

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, Bike, Osprey Life, The Cycling Buzz , , , , ,

Climbing a Granite Big Wall, Discovering New Species for Science, and Starting a New Conservation Area. Aka, Going Camping.

October 24th, 2013

Tents_CIn seven days I will fly across the Atlantic, over the Sahara, toward Mozambique, and to the Lost Mountain. It has taken three years to get here—i.e. to be about to go there.

Right now I am supposed to tell you I am ready and that I know what I am doing. I’m neither.

Projects that matter take self-trickery to make happen. I never asked myself if it was really possible or a good idea to splice together climbing and science and conservation and Malawi and Mozambique and 14 individuals all trying to achieve a collective goal. I just set about doing it. Now it is happening. Which means now is when the panic of the reality sets in. Put another way, we’ve already climbed the high dive ladder, stood on the edge, and jumped off.  Now—when there is no way to go backwards—is therefore the first time when I am finally allowing myself to look at the giant body of water which I’m heading for at full speed. It’s just the way I like to do it.

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 9.59.44 AMI’ve spent the majority of my life in and out of major expeditions. I was that kid who had her dolls and stuffed animals organized for imaginary camp with peanut rations and toilet paper sleeping bags. It stands to reason that I am now the adult who has the following decisions to make:

  • What percentage of the poisonous snakes which we will be around have fangs that are over ½ an inch long and thus make a case for the thicker high-top leather hiking boots versus low-tops?
  • Will deet from 2004 still work, and work well enough against malaria-carrying mosquitos? Chance it or change it?
  • Will 33 porters be obscene or accurate? And what size T-shirts do these porters wear/should we bring for gifts?
  • Is EtOH alcohol available for our scientists’ specimen vials in Blantyre, Malawi, or should they tuck it in their luggage here in the U.S. and act none the wiser?
  • If the rainy season starts early will it make any difference if I bring one rain jacket or two?

My nine-year-old niece Miranda called me yesterday evening to talk about camping. She was just back from a family trip in Northern Minnesota

“How was it?” I asked her.

“Camping is cool,” she said. I laughed and agreed.

We talked about her favorite part (waterfalls) the scariest thing (the sound the rain made on the tent) and yuckiest thing (sleeping next to her brother). Once we covered the highlights I asked her if she would do it again. “Well, yeah” she said. I think she would have said “Duh, yeah” had her mother not been listening.

“You know, Miranda,” I said, “I sort of camp for a living.”

She giggled. Usually she tells me I am silly for pretty much everything I say. This time she said “You’re lucky, Auntie Majka.”

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 10.09.38 AMAfter Miranda and I hung up I went upstairs and looked at the pile of climbing gear with pieces for every possible situation known and unknown, stacks of maps and research and logistics papers, rain coats and rain pants, bug nets, gaiters, sat phones, energy bars and more. This is the highest high dive off of which I’ve ever jumped. But at a certain level, it’s also camping—something I have been doing my whole life. And if camping is cool to Miranda, it’s also cool to me. After all, the thing I’m also most worried about is too much rain on the outside of the tent.

By Majka Burhardt, Lost Mountain Project director and Osprey Athlete

#LostMountain begins October 27th; Follow along at thelostmountainfilm.com

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, adventure, causes, Conservation, Events, Osprey Athletes, travel , , , , , ,

Mountain Biking the Tour de Mont Blanc

October 23rd, 2013

 

The start (and end) of the Tour de Mont Blanc: Chamonix.

The start (and end) of the Tour de Mont Blanc: Chamonix.

I don’t like to admit to hastily-made plans or half-baked ideas, but this attempt of the Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) was verging on that. I had done some previous research into the route, even including some first-hand accounts from friends who had done the trip before. It had been a jam-packed summer, and with a single day of rest between departing on the TMB and 18 days straight of bike guiding for Big Mountain Bike Adventures in the Swiss Alps, I hadn’t afforded myself much time to prepare mentally or physically for the task ahead. All I had was the commitment from a friend, Trevor Mitzel, to join me for the adventure, and a couple maps, which I hadn’t actually opened and looked at yet. I was winging it a bit, I know, but I was confident in our abilities to make it up as we went.

We arrived into Chamonix in the evening, the clouds boiling around Mont Blanc high above town. It was dismal looking weather, but a forecast promised nothing but blue skies and warm temperatures for the following week. Getting our gear and bikes dialed, we decided on our route, and even reserved a couple places to stay along the way. Things were starting to come together. All that was left was to saddle up and head out on the 160km loop that promised over 8000m of ascent along the way.

Day 1 – Chamonix to Les Chapieux

The weather man was right, and the morning sun highlights the upper reaches of Mont Blanc as we pack our bags and scurry around the village picking up essential trail food items (sausages, cheese, chocolate and bread). Spirits are high as we connect to gravel paths that take us down the valley, and towards Les Houches. Our lack of planning is made apparent when we arrive at the bottom of the lift station to find the lift running and open for bikes. We gladly use this bump up to ridgetop, happy with our unexpected elevation assist. Our smugness is quickly and efficiently wiped away for the rest of the day though, starting with a crucial juncture missed, sending us deep into the valley and resulting in an extra hour’s climb back up the road. Once the proper route is established we get a few kilometres respite before beginning a 1600 metre climb up the Col de Bonhomme, the ascent mostly consisting of steep dirt road or rocky hike-a-bike.

It's not all riding!

It’s not all riding!

The sun does little to warm us on the Col, and we are presented with another soul-crushing surprise, more climbing to the Col de Croix de Bonhomme, which is a seemingly endless series of ridges away. Finally achieving this last col, and feeling the effects of a large day on the bikes, we wobble our way down the descent to the Auberge de la Nova, a secluded refuge tucked in a remote valley far below. Dinner is hearty and delicious, and we retire early, slightly wary of the next day, and a little unsure of what we have gotten ourselves into.

Day 2 – Les Chapieux to Courmayeur

It’s amazing what a night’s rest will do. We awake stoked to tackle the day ahead, albeit stiff and sore. The climb up to the Col des Seigne (2,516m) is an arduous one, but mostly all climbable on the bike, which makes it enjoyable, in a masochistic kind of way. The views help too, with the sun rising on the broad valley where we had spent the night, and the Mt Blanc massif coming into sight as we crest the col. We had begun a tally to weigh the pros and cons of attempting this route on a bike, and where the hikers probably had won on Day 1, we were definitely winning today. The col marks the border between France and Italy, and the descent into Italy is welcomed. Italians seem to take less pride in their waterbar construction (years of riding in the Alps has made me a de-facto waterbar expert) and we have to negotiate numerous logs placed in awkward positions on the trail. Not enough to ruin the experience, but the flow of the trail is altered slightly. Descending into the valley is spectacular though, with big alpine walls on both sides, and glaciers yawning up above. As quickly as the TMB gives though, it takes away, and we steel ourselves for another climb, this one extending a mere 400m above the main valley. It is a deceiving 400m, as our legs feel like it is at least double. The reward is there though, with a ripping fast trail that descends to the top of the Courmayeur ski resort, and finally into the picturesque town below the ski runs.

Beauty views along the trail.

Beauty views along the trail.

My Kona Process and Osprey Manta 36 on the France/Italy border.

My Kona Process and Osprey Manta 36 on the Col de Seigne, the France/Italy border.

Day 3 – Courmayeur to La Fouly

The bikers definitely lose to the hikers on the climb out of Courmayeur. It is a rocky, steep affair all the way to the Rifugio Bertone, pushing/carrying our bikes the whole way. Once at the Refugio, a split in the trail requires a decision. One, a beautiful looking traverse around the corner, and on the map it looks like a fine, lower level option. The other route continues with the hike-a-bike, but promises some ridge-top singletrack and a peak to climb with the bikes. Being gluttons for punishment, we forgo the smooth-looking traverse and shoulder the bikes for more climbing. The climb pays off with unbelievable views and great trail once we get higher, but the ratio of riding to hiking is skewed the wrong way, and we regret our decision. We make our way off the ridge eventually and downclimb to the Col Sapin, and from there ride a fun trail that takes us back to the main route, the smooth, buffed trail we stupidly avoided. Oh well, next time. We soldier on up the stunningly beautiful and easily accessed (judging by the number of cars out for a Sunday drive) Val Ferret. Another giant climb is hiked up (we are really losing to the hikers today) and we look down into Switzerland from the Grand Col du Ferret (2537m). This is when we start winning again, with a sinuous descent that drops over 1000m down to the sleepy town of La Fouly. We check into a somewhat questionable auberge, but are treated to an amazing steak dinner, washed down with beer and wine.

Climbing high above Courmayeur with Mt Blanc in the background.

Climbing high above Courmayeur with Mt Blanc in the background.

Day 4 – La Fouly to Trient

With the skies still a perfect azure blue, the morning is a relaxing mix of singletrack and exploratory roads through quiet Swiss villages. We really start to feel like we’re on a bit of a bike holiday, rather than a sufferfest. The inevitable climbing begins eventually though, and we work our way out of the valley towards Champex Lac. Lunch is spent at a café by the lake, and we easily turn it into a two-hour stop, enjoying ourselves and soaking up the perfect September weather. The food sits a little heavy an hour later though, as we approach the base of the Bovine, a 700m wall of a climb. Appropriately named too, as all the cows had just been escorted out of the alpine for the winter, and the trail was left ravaged by cow shit and swarms of flies. We escape the Swiss agricultural tour eventually, and rip a long fast descent all the way into Trient.

Epic descent into La Fouly.

Epic descent into La Fouly.

Day 5 – Trient to Chamonix

While we probably could have squeezed more riding into Day 4 and pushed on to Chamonix, we did not feel the need to, given the amazing weather. Where else would we rather be? Day 5 is a bonus, and we mean to treat it as such, maybe go do a little exploring. With that in mind we stray from the normal TMB route, and even from the recommended variation route, and head out on a little ride. The little ride ends up turning into a gnarly hike-a-bike complete with bolted chains for safety, getting completely lost in the woods, and eventually finding some very rarely traveled-on singletrack. Despite our momentary lapse in route-finding, we have a great morning of riding, connecting long-forgotten trail that eventually takes us down to le Buet, at the north end of the Chamonix Valley. We now embark on the only planned part of our TMB adventure, a booze cruise hitting key pubs all the way into the town of Chamonix, where we continue to celebrate an amazing mountain bike trip.

A leisurely lunch in Champex Lac.

A leisurely lunch in Champex Lac.

The final climb to Chamonix, and our booze cruise.

The final climb to Chamonix, and our booze cruise.

 Story and photos by Osprey Athlete Joe Schwartz

 

 

 

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

adventure, Bike, Bike Europe, International, Osprey Athletes, Travel , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Osprey Verve Hydration Pack Takes Singletracks Editors’ Choice Award

October 17th, 2013

Osprey

Singletracks spent some quality time checking out quality gear this year, and at Interbike in particular. Its editors came away with some great knowledge of the best cycling gear the year of 2013 has had to offer. Here’s how they put it:

The 2013 model year is quickly winding down, and all the companies at Interbike 2013 were displaying the latest and greatest products about to hit showroom floors for 2014. A couple of weeks ago we announced the Top MTB Gear of 2013, as rated by you, our members, in the mountain bike gear database.

Now it’s our turn: we’ve called on our blog team members to choose the best mountain bike gear of the year.

We’d definitely recommend reading the entire post, as it’s chock full of great gear. But we’ll hone in on one specific pick that’s naturally near and dear to us here at Osprey HQ. The Best Women’s Gear was none other than the Osprey Verve. And here’s what Singletracks says about it:

In one week in Park City we took on two different rides of 4+ hours, and having a pack that would hold 3 liters of water, several snacks, a rain jacket, and more, was crucial. The Osprey Verve was up to the task. The padded mesh shoulder straps kept the pack comfortable during even the longest ride, and being able to adjust those straps meant that during rocky downhills the pack stayed firmly in place.

-mtbikerchick

Thanks for the love, Singletracks!

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, Bike, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Product, Retail Promotions, Southwest Colorado, The Cycling Buzz , , , , , , , , , ,

Telluride Blues and Blues 2013: Rain or Shine or Snow

October 16th, 2013

45519_10201551525784387_1751252596_n-Copy-300x300

So there I was perusing Facebook as my day was winding down, and that’s when I stumbled upon Osprey’s Blues and Brews Giveaway. I’ve always wanted to attend Blues and Brews, so entering the giveaway was really a no-brainer; the incredible tent by Colorado Yurt along with the two Osprey packs only sweetened the deal and added to an already incredible prize pack!

I spent several minutes (okay, maybe a bit longer) daydreaming about the possibility of winning the contest, picturing myself in Telluride Town Park listening to legends like The Black Crowes and Otis Taylor while sipping on (or maybe chugging) tasty glasses of Colorado microbrews. I thought about what colors my new Osprey packs would be – I thought about how wild it would be to even win two new Osprey packs, and I thought about how serene and luxurious it would feel to “glamp” in a tent referred to as “a dwelling for the soul.” Then reality hit me and my fleeting thoughts reminded me that I’ve never won anything, and I likely wouldn’t start now. It was a nice dream though!

It was only once I completely forgot about even entering the contest that I received a message from Osprey saying: “Congratulations! You won the Blues and Brews Giveaway!” Well, holy guacamole, Batman – the odds were definitely in my favor this time. I quickly began making arrangements to pack up and head to Telluride for what would turn out to be an unforgettable weekend thanks to Telluride Blues and Brews, Osprey Packs and Colorado Yurt.

While I was still riding high on a wave of, “is this really happening?” the mail man assured me it was when he delivered a great big box of new Osprey packs right to my door! My plus one and I packed up our new Porter 46s with all of our overnight glamping essentials and our new Talon 22s with our daily festival supplies and headed out the door for our trip to Telluride!

The tent by Colorado Yurt Company was pitched in a prime camping location in the far corner of the campground behind Telluride Town Park. We could even see the stage from our patio (and yes, you read that right – there was a patio)! In true glamping nature Colorado Yurt Company ensured we had all of the essentials – and then some. It was luxurious to camp in a tent so big you could walk around in it; the tent included a full-size bed with two comforters, a leather chair, a power strip, a heater, a rug and more.

This year was Telluride Blues and Brews’ 20th anniversary, and they did not disappoint. The music kept people dancing even when Town Park turned into a mud pit and the rain had no end in sight. The grand tasting was incredible; we were able to sample a couple dozen different microbrews in the course of three hours, and let me be the first to tell you they were all unique and delicious. Old man winter even made a debut during the grand tasting as the snow capped peaks surrounding Telluride came out of the fog – it really was the icing on the cake.

This unforgettable weekend came with a little bit of everything: we ran into some old friends, made some new friends, danced in the rain, got sunburnt, enjoyed killer views complete with rainbows and snow, drank just the right amount of beer and enjoyed the local scene.

Thanks to Osprey Packs, Telluride Blues and Brews and Colorado Yurt Company for a truly unforgettable experience!

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

photos, Retail Promotions, Southwest Colorado, travel , , ,

What’s in Your Pack? Timmy O’Neill’s Mutant 38

October 15th, 2013

So, you’ve got the perfect pack for your next adventure in hand. But this very fact has you wondering what the crucial items you need to carry might be. Fret no more! Our Osprey athlete  ”What’s in Your Pack?“ video series will give you the expert advice you need to be sure you’re dialed for that next adventure. In this month’s video, pro climber and executive director of Paradox Sports, Timmy O’Neill, shows off what’s in his Mutant 38.

Check out the first installment of this exciting series – and never be afraid to ask What’s in Your Pack?! We’ll have a new video each month to help you see what our Osprey athletes are packing.

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Advocacy, causes, Events, Non-profits, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Product, video, What's in Your Pack? , , , , ,

Moab Outerbike – KEEN Rippin Skills Camps with Osprey Packs and Western Spirit

October 9th, 2013

IMG_2481

As I swopped and ledge-dropped in Moab at Bar M, I realized that Mountain Biking without a brain tumor is much more fun! At the last minute, I was able to represent Osprey Packs at the famous Moab Outerbike festival! Western Spirit and I teamed up just before the official opening of the event to teach some Rippin Camps for both men and women. I crammed all my ramps, teeter-totters, switchback cones, bridges, log piles, Specialized demos, Green Trivia prizes and farm food into my 200,000 mile Subaru at the 23rd hour, arriving at midnight just in time to get ready for the camps.

IMG_2468

As seen in the video above, we started in the park in downtown Moab. Joining me for coaching were the impressive Western Spirit guides Emily Heikennen, Terrin Frey and Chris Abell. We let the group split themselves up by radness, and rotated through my baby step/fear conquering skill building stations. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a total beginner learn to conquer one log then up to 20! Or watching an advanced rider learn to power pedal onto the rear wheel off a ramp or boulder. Folks came from all over the world for Outerbike and these camps! And almost every person demoed one of the most amazing Osprey Hydration Packs.

IMG_2466

Want more action photos? I posted all the still images from the camp on my KEEN Rippin Camps Facebook Page. Want to demo an Osprey Pack for free and join one of my Rippin Steep Skiing or Mountain Bike Camps? Visit AlisonGannett.com for more info.

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Bike, Bike Europe, Bikes Around the World, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Outdoor Activities, photos, Travel, Uncategorized, video , , , , , , , , , , ,

Osprey Takes on Boulder’s Backyard Collective

October 8th, 2013

Gareth–Shannon–MychalLast Thursday evening, a group of Osprey volunteers hopped into our silver Dodge mini van, loaded down with gear and clothing for what was to be a wet, snowy weekend just outside Boulder, CO, and departed for an event called The Backyard Collective.

The BYC is an effort of The Conservation Alliance, which brings together member company employees (in this case, Osprey, La Sportiva, etc.) and local grantees for a day of environmental action. Projects include trail work, invasive species removal and other opportunities for us to get out of the office and get our hands dirty doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyards.

At this event in particular, there were a few new volunteers (myself included), and we were all anxious to arrive, layer up, get our boots muddy and do our part to help the Boulder community that’s very much in need.

During the more than seven-hour drive from our Cortez headquarters, I thought quite a bit about what trail work really means — and what it would mean for me at this event. The first image that came up was of myself swinging a pickaxe on some dry single track with a weathered pair of leather gloves, sun shining on the hillside with an epic view of early high-altitude snowfall, and a deep blue sky filled with puffy clouds that seem close enough to run across. Then, I imagined, I’d break for a morning Clif bar and refill my green tin cup with a few more ounces of hot John Wayne-style coffee. Oh, I imagined, it’d sure be glorious and rewarding. That’s the definition of trail work right?

We awoke Friday to a rain-snow mix and temps in the low 30s. We sorted our way through a light morning commute toward Broomfield, made a quick stop for coffee and finally arrived at the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve at Rock Creek Farm. After an initial meet-and-greet and a disbursement of tools, we received our group assignment and grabbed the wheelbarrows to head down the path.

Working hard

The expected turnout of 20 people was a sure underestimation of our group’s commitment to help The Conservation Alliance. I took a quick count of about 50 people dressed in Gore-Tex rain shells, with hats pulled over their ears and smiles on their faces as they huddled around the free hot chocolate.

The trails here at the farm have been closed for some time, and after our work, nearly 125,000 people will regain access to them. We worked seamlessly with great instruction — and nearly four hours later, noticed that we had created one thousand feet of new path for the locals to enjoy. Six hundred more feet was our initial task. We crushed it. My hands were sore, my back a little tight, but I didn’t quite feel exhausted or fulfilled like I had originally anticipated the week before. Hmm…

Mychal thinking hard

For myself, I think there were a few greater questions and lessons that I took away from the morning. I certainly contemplated my self-interests in the volunteer day. Why did I really sign up to help? To feel good? To get out of work for a day? It’s cliché to say ‘to help those in need’, but maybe it was just as simple as that?

The reality of the work and location was nothing like the perfect Colorado day I had imagined when I signed up and stepped away from my desk. It frankly reminded me of the days growing up in Michigan and having to help a relative with chores around their acreage. It was flat, grey and damp. Turns out, it didn’t matter.

Fueling for work

As the weekend continued in the hustle of downtown Denver, I looked around watching other’s interactions in the city, and it seemed as though our efforts began to sink in on another level. We all love nature for different reasons. Whether we’re taking a personal break from our jobs, on a vacation we’ve filled the money jar with for a few months or simply heading out of town with a group of friends to have great stories to share on Monday morning: it’s all the same.

I realized it doesn’t matter where the trail leads or what the view is. It’s a trail, which means it’s an opportunity to be outside: and it’s that simple. It’s a way to improve someone’s day whether it is used on a lunch break walk or the start of a multi-week adventure of not regularly washing your hair. Whatever the function, we took time out of our lives, our weekends, our days, to help something and someone else. Each of us is capable of, if we so choose, taking advantage of these small opportunities to positively impact the places that we love. And more importantly, help places that other people love.

Tim Calkins / Senior Graphic Designer Osprey Packs

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

Advocacy, Conservation, Events, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Outdoor Activities , , , , , , , , , , ,

Riding in zee Alps, Italian Style

October 4th, 2013
Climbing up the tunnel next to the Mauvoisin Dam

Climbing up the tunnel next to the Mauvoisin Dam

Having recently wrapped up three weeks of guiding Big Mountain Bike Adventures trips in Switzerland, my mind is alight with multiple moments of adventure, almost too many to distill singular experiences from. It’s probably easier to just summarize an entire trip as a whole. And while  I was tempted to do this, there was, indeed, one particular day that stood out amongst all the others.

The stark contrast of this day is not so much about the riding itself. The ride did feature some spectacular singletrack, but the uniqueness of the day was more about how it allowed us to travel with our bikes. Travel in the sense of moving through terrain; achieving numerous objectives over the course of a day while focused on a final destination, one very different from the beginning of the adventure.

The day started cold and clear in Lourtier, our sleepy little homebase tucked into the postcard-perfect Val de Bagnes, Switzerland. I had made the executive decision to postpone this particular outing a couple of days due to a low freezing level and poor weather, and looking out the window at a splitter blue sky, I felt very self congratulatory and guide-like. Taking advantage of this perfect weather window, our group powered back a Swiss breakfast (mostly bread, cheese and meat) and headed out.

The climb begins as quintessentially as a Swiss climb should: in a tunnel. The tunnel bores up through the mountainside next to the Mauvoisin Dam, at 250 meters tall, it is the highest arched dam in Europe. The tunnel is faintly lit, with water seeping through the ceiling. We climb up the narrow dirt track, sporadically sniping sights of the dam and lake below us through small ports in the rock. Finally, the tunnel ends, and we emerge, blinking, into blinding sunlight on the other side, a fantastic view of mountains and water and glaciers and rivers spilling out in front of us. Inspired by the sight we bend into a grinding road climb that eventually gives way to an even more oppressive hike-a-bike that finally relents to a merely painful climb, all of this getting us closer to the Fenetre du Durand, a 2800m col that marks the border between Switzerland and Italy.

Into the merely painful part of the climb. Epic views though!

Into the merely painful part of the climb. Epic views though!

As we climb, the air becomes sharper, distilled by the last few days of freezing temperatures. The crisp air seems to bring out our surroundings in flawless relief. Snow-capped peaks tower above the distinct singletrack that stretches out in front of our tires, and as we crest the col, Italy beckons below, a different landscape perhaps only in perspective, but beckoning us onwards in perfect detail.

Approaching the col, with Mt Gele looming behind.

Approaching the col, with Mt Gele looming behind.

The ride down is a glorious amalgamation of flowy trail, technical rock features, and everything in between. While down is the general direction, we traverse through the valley for a long distance on a perfectly graded “bisse,” or ancient waterway designed to re-direct water from the glaciers to mid-mountain fields and towns. As we descend the air becomes warmer, as one would imagine it would, descending into Italy. It all seems so perfect.

Smooth Italian singletrack.

Smooth Italian singletrack.

The final descent is long and winding, on a rarely visited trail that recently revealed itself thanks to some keen map reading and some valuable local knowledge. We revel in the secrecy of the spot, shredding down the rolling singletrack. At one point the trail points down through a perfectly-spaced group of larch trees, the forest floor nothing but knee-high vibrant green grasses, the trail cutting a straight line through. The afternoon sun dapples the grass, as a light wind creates a wild kaleidoscope of light in front of our tires. Minds blown, we rocket through the trees and exit out on the road far below, coasting down to the Italian town of Aosta for eagerly awaited beers.

After spending the day bundled up in the high mountains, it is an abrupt change to find ourselves in the old town of Aosta. The sun is warm, and as we relax and drink beers we witness a perfect slice of Italian life unfold around us. The striking differences between our morning’s departure and where we are now help to gel the unique experiences of the day together, and we celebrate two-wheeled travel, Italian style.

Story and photos by Joe Schwartz, Osprey Athlete

Bookmark
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Propeller
  • Reddit

adventure, Bike Europe, Bikes Around the World, Osprey Athletes, travel , , , , , , , , , , ,

Watch Opsrey on YouTubeCheck out Osprey Photos on FlickrLike Osprey on FacebookFollow Osprey on TwitterOsprey on Instagram

OSPREY BlogMEDIA Spot
Osprey Packs   115 Progress Circle Cortez CO 81321 USA  telephone +1 970-564-5900
Toll-Free: Customer Service +1 866-284-7830   Warranty/Returns +1 866-314-3130
VISIT OSPREYPACKS.COM

© 2014 Osprey Packs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.