Mile… Mile & A Half
“219 miles and 25 days to complete the John Muir Trail. Each day another story, another achievement and another photo. The smiles sometimes wavered, but my Osprey backpack never did.”
We always dreamt of creating a documentary to share the adventure and grandeur of the John Muir Trail, and after nine years our eclectic group of five finally stepped into the California wilderness. Truth is, that first day on the trail, July 10, 2011, we didn’t know what all to expect. It was a record snow year, which in and of itself presented a formidable challenge. We had no idea whether we’d be able to overcome the endless obstacles set out before us, let alone capture enough footage along the way to produce a feature-length film.With a bit of luck and a lot of perseverance, we finished all 211 miles of the JMT (as well as the 8 miles required to return to civilization after summiting Mount Whitney). As we had cautiously hoped, we left the trail with more than just sore feet. Our packs were often ridiculously heavy and the amount of work was no small task, but we truly exceeded our own expectations in capturing the images, sounds, and experiences of the trail.
The original Colorado home for Osprey is the town of Dolores, Colorado located about 11 miles north of our headquarters in Cortez. It’s a quiet town of about 900 people with what nightlife there is, centered on the local brewpub. As a result, most Dolores residents are connected to the “day” life which primarily involves outdoor activities. I’ve lived here for 13 years and feel blessed that I can mountain bike or ski out my door depending on season, walk my dog next to the river or journey less than an hour for epic and wild desert or mountain adventures. Last summer my neighbors, Dave and Kelly Finlay informed me they were journeying a bit further for their summer adventure—a thru-hike of the Muir Trail. Dave and Kelly are serious backpackers, having hiked the Colorado Trail 4 years prior, so they spent some time with me lining out their Osprey packs to maximize fit and performance for their California adventure.
Upon their return, I enjoyed an incredible slideshow of their journey on the Muir Trail. They also told me that they had hiked most of the trail with a film crew that was making a movie about the trail. As it happened, just about everyone they ended up hiking with was wearing Osprey packs. This certainly got my attention. Here was a film dominated by our product with no intentional product placement and here was a film about an iconic Sierra trail—the mountain range where Ospreys first started hitting the trail in 1974. Now a year later and following countless hours of editing, the film is nearing its completion and in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign. I recently sat down with Dave and Kelly to chat about their thoughts on the adventure and the film.