We’re back. We pulled into Peterborough, Ontario late one night last week, ending the journey by reversing into the same parking place in which we had loaded up the van one and a half months ago. There was an overwhelming rush of emotion – a strange concoction that never quite revealed what it was, but felt like a bittersweet mixture of relief, accomplishment, emptiness and slight anti-climax. We think they all stemmed from the fact that we never thought we’d actually do it. There were too many variables, too many ways in which something could go wrong. In the end, it all went fine. The things that went wrong had solutions better than the original plan
We last left you on our way to the Grand Canyon. We made it there as planned and cooked ourselves a simple meal whilst watching the shifting light of the sunset slowly leave the canyon floor and then its walls. We returned to Page, Arizona that night but not before seeing the moonrise opposite the setting sun above the eastern side of the canyon. Beautiful symmetry.
As the sun set in the west, the moon rose in the east. Photo by Sam
The setting sun burns up the walls of the Grand Canyon. Photo by Sam
The next morning we drove into Colorado, to Mesa Verde National Park. Robbie, our archaeologist had suggested this stop and we are thankful to him for it. Mesa Verde was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites. The park is home to some of the world’s best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites. It was almost as fun to explore the area and listen to the ranger-led talks, as it was to just watch Robbie walk around smiling. Absolutely in his element and so happy about it, his good mood was entirely infectious. We spent two days at Mesa Verde, a stay that unexpectedly became one of our favorites of the entire trip.
Robbie, a happy archaeologist. Photo by Sam
We left Mesa Verde to begin a journey that was ultimately the last homeward leg of the journey. Almost. First, we had one last stop to make – we had been talking about white water rafting for the longest time and our last chance to do that was before we left Colorado. We got out on the Lower Animas River after a period of extended rainfall. The water level had fallen enough for tours to restart just earlier that day. The rapids were insanely fast compared to how we’d imagined they might be and the water still rose to frightening heights at times. We made it though, thanks to the help of an awesome guide, who despite leading us through the most turbulent sections of water, managed to keep us all safely aboard. It was crazy good fun, a great last activity to do together before we got back into prairie country.
A break in the rainclouds, Colorado. Photo by Sam
We zoomed across Nebraska and Iowa to reach Chicago the next evening. It was here that we would be saying goodbye to Dian. She was flying back to Europe ahead of us to take up a great opportunity to work at a Dutch festival that had suddenly presented itself.
Having a quick (long) splash in Lake Michigan the day before Dian’s flight home. Photo by Sam
Saying goodbye hurt. It signaled the end of the road trip and the six weeks of fellowship that the five of us had shared. The journey back to Peterborough that followed was not the same, it was something different – it served no purpose other than getting us home.
The final tally. In a straight line around the equator that’s almost halfway around the world.
We’ve all gone out separate ways now. Robbie home to Scotland for summer, Lara to Indonesia for a research project, Sam to Indiana to visit friends and Ciaran to Washington D.C. to meet up with friends for another month’s worth of North American travels. After so much time together you begin to expect one another’s company forever. Now that we’re all apart it’s comforting to think that the journey we shared and unforgettable experiences that came with it will bind us together strongly enough that ten, twenty or fifty years down the line when we’re all grey and old, we can do it all again.
Of course, we plan the next trip to be much sooner than that – hopefully you can all join us when that time comes. Thanks for reading, and thank you to Osprey for the fantastic gear!
Osprey is 40 years young! I fondly recall the moment I selected “Osprey” for the new company, way back in 1974. At that time this beautiful bird was an endangered species and I thought, if that bird can survive the next few tough years, so can this new company! Like the bird, Osprey Packs has flourished since then, and continues to grow and multiply. Over all these years, we at Osprey have had the pleasure to meet and work with some of the finest, warmest people involved in this wonderful, friendly industry. We are indebted to all of you out there who have supported Osprey along the way, through thick and thin, and have made the last 40 years so fun and rewarding!
-Mike Pfotenhauer, Osprey Packs founder and Head Designer
Since 1974, when Osprey Packs was founded by Mike Pfotenhauer in the front of his rented house in Santa Cruz, California, our mission has been to create innovative high performance gear that reflects our love of adventure and our devotion to the outdoors. We’re so honored to be commemorating the 40th anniversary of Osprey Packs — thank you for 40 incredible years!
To celebrate, we’re giving away 40 Limited Edition bags over 40 days in celebration of our past, our present & our future. Enter to win #Osprey1974 by submitting a photo showing us where you’ve gone with Osprey: your favorite day hike, a long summer weekend backpacking, or satisfying your wanderlust abroad. One Grand Prize winner will win the Osprey pack of their choice!
Below are the winning photos from of Round 1 of the #Osprey1974 photo contest! Each winner will receive a 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Transporter 40 bag.
Have you entered #Osprey1974 yet? Join us in celebrating 40 years of Osprey Packs by sharing a photo of your adventures with Osprey! We’re thrilled to celebrate 4 decades of adventures with you and to give away 40 bags over 40 days.
Enter to win: tinyurl.com/osprey1974
Complete rules: tinyurl.com/osprey1974rules
1974, 40th, 40th Anniversary, adventures, Anniversary, backpacking, British Columbia, celebrate, Climbing, contest, Denmark, Eastern Sierras, facebook, Fort Kochi, giveaway, grand canyon, Grand Teton, Grand Teton National Park, India, Instagram, journey, Kerala, Limited Edition, Little Rock, Mica Creek, mike pfotenhauer, Mont Blanc, Osprey 1974, Osprey1974, photo contest, photography, photos, prize, Revelstoke, Santa Cruz, Santiago de Compostela, Sierra Mountains, tetons, Transporter 40, travel, Twitter, Ukraine, wanderlust
In February, Nate Damm stepped out in Lewes, Delaware and started his walk across America. On October 15, he reached his destination: San Francisco, California.
I did my best to approach the trip without expectations, to just walk and see what happened if I kept an open mind. Since getting home about a week ago and having some time to reflect, I’ve realized that whatever expectations I didn’t shake were greatly exceeded by how much I enjoyed the trip. It changed everything for me… Here are a few big realizations about America that I got out this trek…
- People are good.
- Everyone has a story.
- America is full of beauty.
It may not take a walk across America to find those things, but Nate’s story serves as a good reminder to keep exploring, listening and taking in the beauty of whatever place it is that you call home.