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Melted snow = desert time!

July 2nd, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, brings you a quick post from Durango, CO.’s Jim Philpott. When we last checked in with Jim he was STILL skiing into May. He has finally put the boards away and is on to more “season appropriate” activities – hello desert!

So the snow is all gone down here in Southwest Colorado which means trips to the desert. My fiancée Erin and I just got back from an amazing little weekend backpack trip out in Utah.  We left Durango late Friday night and drove out to Cedar Mesa which is out past Blanding towards Lake Powell.  Saturday morning we checked in at the Kane Gulch Ranger station to get our permit and headed out to hike the Fish and Owl Creek loop.  The loop is about 17-18 miles and can be done in two days but should be done in three, due to the amount of great side hikes and scrambles along the trail.  We ended up doing the whole thing in two which wasn’t bad at all.

We chose to walk down Fish Creek and up Owl Creek but the hike can be done either way.  There was a good amount of water in both Fish and Owl Creek so we decided to pump water rather than haul a bunch.  All in all an amazing walk with a ton of Indian ruins and with a little research beforehand we were able to check out a number of different sites.

TRAIL NOTES: Fish Creek Canyon and Owl Creek Canyon offer excellent hiking through highly scenic canyons rich in Anasazi ruins. Although many of the ruins are in better condition than even those in nearby Grand Gulch, quite a few of them lie inaccessible in high alcoves, the steps to them long gone. Still, there’s plenty to see up close and personal. The first ruin stands not far from the trailhead, and several ruins can be seen up the south fork of Owl Creek. You should see several more ruins along the six or so miles of the main canyon before its meeting with Fish Creek, and you’ll pass huge and picturesque Nevills Arch. At the confluence with Fish Creek, turn north–but if you have time, you’ll find more ruins lower in Fish Creek Canyon and up its tributary McCloyd Canyon. This loop goes up Fish Creek about eight miles, through a lovely canyon with far less ruins than the section of Owl Creek you just hiked, and out of Fish Creek via a steep trail up the south wall. Then you’ll cross the mesa for about 1.5 miles back to the starting point. No trail exists, so carry an accurate map and compass. Fish Creek Canyon and its south fork extends much further north if you have the time and inclination to explore.

*trail info courtesy of Utah.com

Jim is currently testing the Argon 70 and Variant 37.

For more information about Jim click here.

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From a snowcave in the Kootenays…

March 17th, 2009

I am laying here in a subzero cocoon deep in the Kootenay mountains, thinking and watching the snowflakes pile up outside. Along with a few other Nelson Search and Rescue members we embarked on a ski and survival weekend. Although we did not cover as much ground as we would have liked as a result of the heavy snow and lack of visibility, we managed to get some good turns in.

My Kode 38 stood by me strong and comfortable and allowed me thread the needle through some tight treed lines. People who recognize a well-designed pack ask me all the time about it and I always manage to show them some of the great fit and function features of the pack. The slender back panel sits close and comfortable allowing me a full range of motion in the arms for the more technical lines. Furthermore the closed cell foam material ensures that my back stays dry and snow free all day. Laying in a snow trench alone is a soul packed experience and allows one to really reflect on not only the days past events but larger puzzles of life. A strange dichotomy is taking place, on one hand I am in complete solitude and remoteness, on the contrary I have my i-pod touch with me that allows me not only to listen to some good tunes but also sit here and draft up a post from a less than traditional office!

This trip we walked a good distance into a river drainage and made a basecamp. From here we skied laps through the trees all afternoon. Happily I was able to strap my touring pack the Kode 38 onto my Argon 70 with the one of a kind compression system for the walk in. Both of the packs carry so well, that even though I was breaking trail through thigh deep snow they moved with my body and didn’t hinder my travel at all. Some of the other S&R team members had large amounts of snow build up on their packs as the fabric sucked it up like a sponge. The high tenacity nylon shed snow and kept my load light and gear dry all weekend long. With the light fading and snow coming down at more than 5cm. per hour we decided it was time to call it a day.

After a wonderful re-hydrated beef stroganoff dinner we enjoyed a bonfire and wound down our day with a few sips of heart warming single malt. As the coals faded and the fire dished deeper and deeper into the snowpack we called it a night! It is always a weird feeling climbing into a snow shelter at night, luckily inside my pack I had a sleep system fit for a king and managed to log 10.5 uninterrupted hours of great sleep. My snow trench kept me warm and luckily my arsenal of packs allowed me to seal myself in and doubled as a set of French doors. I was surprised to see myself snowed in as I awoke and learned one key lesson about snow shelters…DO NOT leave your boots outside the entrance!

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