Americans get behind things. I mean, when there is something Americans believe in, they wholeheartedly invest their time and energy into making it a reality. Us laid-back Canadians might poo-poo this idea, but in many ways it is true. How do you think the good ol’ US of A grew into a superpower in the span of a few short centuries? Or, look at the near-rabid following of the Tea Party, or hardcore evangelism. When people wanna believe, they stick to their guns (forgive the pun).
It’s no different with mountain biking, and the way mountain towns have latched onto the sport as a way of bringing tourist dollars into their communities. This fall I traveled to America with some friends from Vancouver, on a road trip to some of the new, and old, mountain bike meccas of the Lower 49.
In the span of ten action-packed days we drove to and rode in Sun Valley, Moab, Fruita and Park City. All mountain bike hotspots in their own right, and deserving of a “mecca” status for different reasons.
Sun Valley, our first stop after leaving Vancouver, was a spot I had visited years ago on a Bike Magazine assignment, driving through the American MidWest in Honda Elements and riding the most obscure spots we could find. Sun Valley is far from unknown, especially in the ski circles, and the riding surrounding Ketchum and Hailey, the two towns that make up Sun Valley, is world class.
Our host this time was Greg Randolph, the director of public relations and social media for the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance. Greg has a rich background in cycling, and straight up loves where he lives, which shows in all of his marketing efforts and events hosted. Lucky for us mountain bikers, he does play favourites, organizing an annual mountain bike festival, developing a detailed trail map and generally stoking out the mountain bike community whenever possible.
We rode two days of perfect singletrack, from sinuous desert rips to flowing loops in the forest. We hit the road after riding the Prairie/Miner Loop, a mini-epic that took us up into the fresh snowline of the alpine, and where Greg had to get in a dip in one of the close-to-freezing-over lakes. “I never miss a swim up here!” he exclaimed, surveying all the new snow in the high country. With ambassadors like this, Sun Valley is going to continue to attract keen riders for years to come.
A late night drive, along with a stop at a suspect Taco Bell in Salt Lake City, took us to Moab, our southernmost destination and a spot I had never ridden. Yes, I had never ridden. That’s blasphemy according to many riders who consider Moab the true Mecca, and make pilgrimages whenever possible. I thought I had to check it out for myself.
Moab is a place that seemingly needs to do no work to attract mountain bike tourism. Gracing covers of magazines worldwide, the surreal landscape of the Utah slickrock has implanted itself in mountain biker psyche as the place to go, as the ultimate mountain bike experience. This is evident in the number of bike shops, guiding outfits and shuttle services that dot the town. While the Slickrock trail has sustained this mountain bike boom for years, Moab is not one to rest on its laurels. The Whole Enchilada, a 42 km, 7,000-foot downhill epic draws thousands of riders each year, as does Captain Ahab, a newly-handbuilt maze carved out of the unforgiving sandstone that offers perfect flow its entire length. The mountain bike community in Moab has seen the sport evolve, and has evolved the trail offerings to match.
We were welcomed to Fruita by a three-story banner of a mountain biker in action plastered to the side of a grain elevator towering over the small town. A sure sign that the community is on board! As we only had the day to check out the riding, we tried to maximize our efficiency and headed to the 18 Road trail system. We were not alone here, and for a mid-week day the parking lot was surprisingly busy. The trails were flowy and fun, and we looped back and forth underneath the Bookcliffs, sampling as much singletrack as we could possibly muster. We ended the day with amazing pizza at the Hot Tomato Café in town, a business born of the mountain bike boom, owned by mountain bikers, and a rad spot that definitely catered to the two-wheeled brethren.
Another late night drive (and more shady Taco Bell) took us to Park City, our last stop on this roadtrip. We had planned this stop based on some rumours, and a friend who promised great singletrack. I had not ever heard of the riding here, but was willing to give it a try. When we arrived it was obvious that Park City is ready to show the world what they have to offer. With over 400 miles (yes, 400) of trails, three lift-served bike parks (and some free public bus shuttle zones) this place is a mecca in the making. IMBA apparently knows how good it is here, and this year gave Park City the first (and so far, only) Gold Level Ride Center designation.
It was certainly golden in Park City, with vibrant fall colours from the aspens lining the long singletrack climbs and epic descents. We rode trails straight out of our condo, and did shuttles to 10,000 feet. The mix of trail styles was amazing. The main street indicated the level of commitment Park City had to mountain biking as well. Every lamp post was adorned in bike-focused slogans; “IMBA Gold Level,” “Epic Singletrack” and more. Money abounds in this wealthy area, but smart minds prevail also, and are not letting the mountain bike tourism opportunity pass them by.
Real life was calling the desk jockeys on our road trip, and we sadly pulled up stakes and made the painfully long drive back to Canada. During the drive we had plenty of time to reflect on the impact that mountain biking is making in these small communities, and marveled at how Americans really do get behind whatever they believe is a good thing. Lucky for us, in these cases, it’s singletrack.
With snow beginning to fly and temperatures plunging, our cycling season in southwest Colorado is coming to an end. Of course, there is still riding to be done by the lunatics that get out in the snow on their fat bikes and the hard men and women who suffer through frigid temps on the their cyclocross bikes, but the rest of us are packing away the bike gear and dusting off the skis or snowboards. As a Colorado native, I have been through this annual ritual plenty of times, as have most of my Osprey co-workers. This year it was a little harder to let go so we decided to celebrate a terrific year of biking by going out with a bang. The “bang” being a company-sponsored three-day journey around the White Rim in Canyonlands National Park. The White Rim is an iconic ride that circles the Island in the Sky on a mesa above the Colorado and Green rivers in southeastern Utah. Overall distance for the loop is a bit over 100 miles and with the exception of a few relatively short, hard climbs, elevation change is minimal. The lure of riding the White Rim for us was as much about the scenery, camping and camaraderie as it was the actual riding. One person in our group compared the ride to a river trip for cyclists, which is a perfect correlation.
The Osprey trip started on Thursday night where we all convened for dinner at the Moab Brewery and then headed to a campsite near our ride start point. There was definitely some nervous anticipation among those who were on their maiden White Rim voyage. Those of us who are veterans of the trip were constantly bombarded with questions of, “How far is it again?” and “How hard is the trail?” Our team consisted of a mixed crew of riders ranging from experienced riders, to bike commuters who hadn’t spent much time on the trails, but we had confidence that all would come out the other side with flying colors.
After a quick breakfast and some gear shuffling on Friday morning, we started the ride. A few miles of rolling pavement on the highway served as a perfect warmup. Conditions were stellar when we finally turned onto the dirt road and approached the steep Schafer switchbacks dropping off of the Island. The route we would be riding could be seen for miles in the distance and hundreds of feet below us. The thrill of standing atop the mesa at Schafer and seeing the trail drop down the canyon walls, knowing that you will be down there in a matter of minutes, was pretty special. Once everyone was safely down the descent, we naturally settled into smaller groups and rolled on our way, stopping occasionally to soak in the postcard views.
Each day would be a repeat of riding the rolling terrain while straining to maintain a focus on the route without becoming too distracted by the amazing rock formations, towering cliffs, distant mesas and snow-covered LaSal mountains. Multiple stops along the way for sightseeing and adventure broke up the riding segments. Landmarks such as Musselman Arch, White Crack, Murphy’s Hogback and the Holman Slot Canyon were not be missed and we made sure to spend some time enjoying the spectacular landscapes of this region. An exploration down the Holman Slot Canyon resulted in non-stop laughter as we struggled to climb back out of the slickrock canyon. The group up top had a rope and gear to get us out if needed so we were never in real danger, but instead we took on the challenge of an unaided egress.
Afternoons and evenings were a highlight as everyone reconvened at camp. We settled in to celebrate the day’s ride with cold beers, hot food and great story telling. It is amazing how good everything tastes when you have been on the bike all day! Everyone got to learn a little bit more about the people they work beside every day without the distractions of ringing phones, email and text messages. The skies remained perfectly clear making the stars and moon so bright, we barely even needed headlamps.
After three days of riding and two nights of camping, we ascended our way back off of the White Rim and up the intimidating Mineral Bottom switchbacks. Looking up these switchbacks from the bottom was as awe-inspiring as looking down the Schafer switchbacks the first day. The difference is we had to claw our way up these instead of joyfully speeding down. Eventually, each rider celebrated his and her own personal success and reached the upper rim to the cheers of those ahead of them. We laid out one last, well deserved spread of food and basked in the joyous feeling of a mission completed. Even though it was late on Sunday and we all had to drive for a few hours to make it back for work on Monday, it was obvious that no one was really in a hurry to leave. Our legs were tired and we hadn’t showered for days, but I am almost sure that given the opportunity to keep riding and do the whole thing over again, every person would have jumped on their bike and ridden off into the sunset for another lap.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Story and photos by Osprey Athlete Joe Schwartz
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.
Thanks for the love, Singletracks!
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.
Last 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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Of course here at Osprey, we’d always choose to grab one of our packs and carry it with us to any destination, no matter how far off or close to home. But we’re always excited and flattered to know when others pack an Osprey for an adventure of any kind. In this case, the Osprey Quantum pack was picked by Bicycling.com editor Matt Allyn, who carried it with him to the Tour de France. Here’s what he had to say about it!
Prior to leaving for Corsica to cover the 100th running of the Tour de France, I was searching for a backpack that would suit my needs as a one of Bicycling’s videographers for the race. I needed to haul a 15-inch laptop and an assortment of production gear, including my DSLR, microphones, cables, and adaptors. That made the Quantum my top choice. The pack includes plenty of pockets to stow and organize my gear. The zippers have handy pull-tabs that made accessing the main compartment easy. The ridged back panel was comfortable and breathable even with the backpack completely full. The laptop sleeve has a 15.4-inch capacity and it held my 15-inch computer securely. An additional sleeve kept my iPad safe and I used the internal zippered pockets for smaller items like keys, a GoPro camera, and iPhone chargers. A few other travel friendly features: side compression straps to secure small loads, side pockets for water bottles, and a removable waist strap.
Everyone has one or two unbelievable experiences in their life that they will remember forever. The kind of experience that makes you look around and think: “Wow, this is actually happening.” In many cases, we may work a lifetime to achieve these moments. Other times, they are completely unpredictable and just sort of happen.
In this case, I’m going to tell you a story of the unpredictable and just sort of happened kind. It all started with an e-mail in my inbox titled “WINNER,” one that I would normally write off as Spam and ignore completely. But this e-mail was from Osprey, who I had recently entered in a Facebook contest with to win a trip to the Telluride Jazz Festival. Things like this never happen to me, I was dreaming. After asking the nearest person to pinch my arm, I read the details and enthusiastically responded to the message. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, flight and lodging confirmations arrived in my inbox and a cardboard bundle of joy containing an Osprey Ozone 22 bag and Comet pack landed on my doorstep. It was real. I was going to the Telluride Jazz Festival.
The days couldn’t go by fast enough. I spent my evenings Googling popular restaurants and searching for nearby hikes, listening to jazz on Pandora and dreaming of the cool Colorado mountain air. August 2nd finally came, and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I left my home in Lake Tahoe for a whirlwind weekend in the San Juan Mountains. When I arrived in Denver for a layover and met up with my plus one, my friend Ashley, the wow, this is actually happening started to take over my entire body. After one final flight to Montrose and a gorgeous car ride into the valley of Telluride, I was in full disbelief.
After a quick geek-out over our epic condo in Mountain Village, we high-tailed it down to the festival; we didn’t want to miss the “Spirits Tasting” or any of the evening entertainment. Five samples of miscellaneous liquor and two Tempter IPAs later, the alpenglow started to simmer on the peaks surrounding our venue and the good vibes started to flow throughout the entire valley. It was my first time to Telluride and I had no idea such a small town could nonchalantly carry so much charisma and personality. There couldn’t be a better setting for such a brilliant event.
The rest of the weekend wasn’t any less incredible. We tasted local food, watched some truly amazing musicians and visited the iconic Bridal Veil Falls. Best of all, we met a bouquet of people from all different walks of life, each with an interesting story and unique reason for finding themselves at Telluride Jazz. When Sunday came around, although I felt completely satisfied and successful with our weekend, I was not ready to wake up from my dream.
Monday morning, I zipped up my pack and quietly stood in the village waiting for our ride to the airport, sipping in my last breaths of Rocky Mountain air and contemplating my good fortune. I still can’t believe that all just happened. Thank you Osprey, Elevation Vacations and the organizers of the Telluride Jazz Festival. I will remember this forever.
The happy winner of our Telluride Jazz Festival Contest, Margo Stoney, wrote this aprés-Fest blog post. Margo works as a graphic designer at Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe where she eats, breathes and lives the mountain culture. She fills her days (and nights) with snowboarding, longboarding, mountain biking, camping, beer, huevos rancheros, hanging with her dingo dog and, of course, long walks on the beach. Follow Margo on Twitter and Instagram @highmtncreative.