Blue Ridge Mountain Sports

July 27th 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Karl’s South Anna Adventure

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, checks in with Karl Harrelson, our BT’er from Virginia. Karl recently floated and camped near the South Anna River bringing his Osprey Kestrel 48 along for the adventure…

FINALLY! The weather and schedules converged to provide just enough time for a canoe/hiking trip. Rain has fallen for many weekends here in the East, making it difficult to plan anything outdoors. The upshot? The rivers have remained higher than usual, affording a longer canoe/kayak season. Last weekend, my friend Beau and I decided to drop the canoe in the South Anna River in Central Virginia for a canoeing/fishing/camping trip. For mid-July, it wasn’t too bad. Normally, the heat and humidity conspire to make for a high Misery Index. But this summer has been quite nice, even some low humidity days.

We dropped the trusty old Alumacraft into the green-brown South Anna at State Route 54, situated our Osprey packs and fishing gear and shoved off. This river, like many in Virginia, still offers a pristine panorama. Overhanging trees and high banks provide a cool, green tunnel for canoeists and kayakers alike. There is nothing quite so calming, even spiritual, as a paddle into this Garden of Eden. There is very little sign of man and one can imagine that Capt. John Smith made the same sights on his explorations in 1608. The Youghtamund tribe inhabited this area then. They made a captive of John Smith near here. You likely know the rest of the story concerning a certain Native-American princess.

No whitewater, no rapids to speak of, just a quiet, stress-free adventure into the wilderness.  No… it’s not for everyone, and I’d get pretty bored with this slow, quiet river every weekend, but it’s a great way to recharge one’s soul. The scenery is amazing and unspoiled, even though it’s not in a park, nor protected area. We canoed a good ways upriver and then set up camp for the night. You’ve never heard such a loud chorus of frogs, peepers and night things in your life. I thought it would be as quiet as the day, but not so much. Something, maybe a raccoon, poked around our campsite all night. Owls hooted into the wee hours. At one point, nature called, and I went to answer. The landscape was alit with moonlight filtering through the trees. Although I can attempt to describe it, one simply has to see it firsthand. There are no words to relate the natural beauty of such a setting. Mosquitoes caused me to sprint back to the tent and slap the zipper closed. Not a good night for a hike.

Dawn broke slowly in the river valley. The sun seemed to struggle to pierce the canopy above us. I needn’t mention the smell of bacon cooking in the great outdoors. Anyone who has ever smelled it after a long day on a trail, or river, knows my reference. I suppose we build up a stronger appetite on the trail.

Kestrel 48

Kestrel 48

Although the fish weren’t biting, a bald eagle screeching in the trees overhead gave us a bit of nature at its finest. Speaking of birds of prey, the Osprey backpacks were a natural for canoeing.  Unlike my wetpack bag, the backpacks provide exterior pockets for those items that you invariably need on such a trip, bug spray, sunscreen, water, GPS, camera, sunglasses, etc. It was so nice to have those things at my fingertips, rather than have to fish around inside a large bag of gear with no pockets inside. Once ashore it’s much easier to slip on the backpack as opposed to one-handing a heavy bag up the steep, slick river bank. Although I hadn’t considered the advantages of a backpack in a canoe, I won’t be caught without them now.

For more information about Karl check out his bio page here.

If you find yourself in Karl’s hometown (Richmond, VA) be sure to check out his favorite Osprey dealer:

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports
11500 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, VA 23235
Ph: 804-794-2004

April 21st 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Little-Big Adventure race report

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, checks in with Karl Harrelson, our BT’er from Virginia. Karl attended the Little-Big Adventure triathlon this past Saturday. Here’s his account of some furious paddling, running, and riding through VA…

Saturday morning brought the sun with it. It has been a fluky spring here in Virginia. Some rainy days, some cold days and a few nice, warm ones. Fortunately, this turned out to be a nice, warm one. A determined group of Moms, Dads, sons and daughters turned out for the Little-Big Adventure Race in Pocahontas State Park near Richmond, VA.

Attention RACERS: Karl took a ton of photos and videos at the event. You can find the entire collection on his Flickr page here…see if he snapped an action shot of you and your little one!

Native-American princess, Pocahontas would’ve been pleased with the course. A half-mile canoe sprint followed by a 3.5-mile mountain bike race, ending up with a 1.5-mile run got more than a few hearts racing! Two-person teams of one child from 7-to-17 years old and one adult knocked the cobwebs of winter off their bikes and the dust off their shoes. It was inspiring to watch the parent/child teams work together to accomplish this common goal. That was evident by the bright smiles and high-fives at the finish line. At times the transition zone took on a chaotic appearance with bikes, canoes, paddles, helmets and participants all converging in one spot. But the organizers, Running Kids, kept things moving smoothly along and provided an excellent adventure for one and all.

There are few events that bring families together these days, but Little-Big was just the ticket. Nothing quite cements that paternal bond like a mom’s or dad’s encouraging word or pat on the back. What a great event, I thought. It made me wish for childhood again. I witnessed some outstanding efforts by both parent and child in succeeding at their goals even when injured or exhausted. These kids today proved that their generation is not soft and doughy. They showed their muscle, grit and determination on a demanding course. They, and their parents, should be very proud of this accomplishment.

Also noteworthy, a portion of the proceeds of this adventure race benefited the Coalition for Active Children (COACH). COACH is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a healthy future for children and their families through education and awareness about the lifelong benefits of increased physical activity and good nutrition. Sounds like a very worthy cause, huh?

Osprey Packs drew considerable attention at the Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Sponsor Tent. BRMS is an Osprey retailer in Richmond and store manager Nick Orrell introduced race participants to the advantages of a variety of Osprey Packs. There was a pack for all types of outdoor activities. We gave away some great Osprey hats and coozies and one lucky girl went home with a nice Osprey backpack for her next adventure. Everyone walked away a winner after completing this grueling battle against the clock. If you ever have an opportunity to enter such an adventure, you should jump at the chance. And what better way to cross-train for a triathalon than hiking and backpacking? A winding trail and an uphill grade will get your heart beating faster than a cat up a tree!

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports: Since 1972 Blue Ridge Mountain Sports has served as the outfitter for the Blue Ridge Mountains from New Jersey to Virginia to Tennessee. BRMS in Richmond is located in the Chesterfield Towne Center at 11500 Midlothian Turnpike. Phone – (804) 794 – 2004.

For more information about Karl check out his bio page here.


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