Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Trip to Moab, Utah

In mid-January, I went on my first Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador trip to Moab, Utah.  A group of about twenty hikers, backpackers, and leaders in the trail community spent four days hiking, hanging out, and learning from one another. 
Will picked out some incredible hikes for us, and led us through stunningly gorgeous scenery like the Syncline Loop at Upheaval Dome in Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park.
Descent into Upheaval Dome, Canyonlands.
I’ve been a Trail Ambassador for about a year and a half, but this was my first Gossamer Gear event.  It was also the first time I’d hiked with any of these folks, though I’d met a few of them briefly while I was on (and off) the PCT.  Going into it, I was nervous about what it’d be like to hike with “famous” hikers and hikers who have inspired me over the years, like Disco, of the Trail Show podcast, and Trinity, who hiked the length of South America.  What I learned (for the umpteenth time) was that connections happen easily on the trail, and those of us who are passionate about the outdoors have much in common.
OMG look that’s me hanging out with this great group of people!  So happy and excited!
I really enjoyed that there was a diversity of people who were all committed to building the trail community.  There were thru hikers, weekend-warriors, and section hikers, writers and bloggers and educators and organizers.  I think is really awesome to have so many of the various types of people that contribute to our community represented.
Jabba (Left) is an incredible photographer, a US Marine Corp veteran, and triple crowner. Dan (right) leads hiking trips for a meetup group in Pennsylvania and is a fellow hammock hanger. 
Grant (left), President of Gossamer Gear, hiking with Josh “Bobcat” Stacy and Liz “Snorkel” Thomas.
Janet (left) is incredibly knowledgeable about lightweight backpacking in the southeast and I had a blast hiking with her.  Guthook (right) developed the awesome trail apps that I used on the PCT and it was great finally meeting him.
Anish set the 2013 self-supported speed record for the PCT.  I didn’t think I’d have anything in common with such an incredible athlete, but turns out she also has reynold's syndrome (which is something I've struggled with because it gives me really cold and numb hands). It was really sweet talking to her about how she manages (she’s got a huge down puffy jacket and electric gloves which had me drooling).
Barefoot Jake (behind the camera) taped videos of everyone talking about their pack.
I'd only met Bearclaw briefly on the PCT last year, but she’s got an incredible spirit and optimism, and I can’t wait to follow her adventures on the CDT this year.
One really helpful thing for me was having conversations about leading trips with Allison, Jan, and Dan.  I don’t usually get to talk to other hike leaders from different hiking groups around the country, so it was fun to trade stories and tips with them.
Allison coordinates the Trail Ambassadors, is an organizer for Northeast Peak Baggers in New England, and is just as enthusiastic and fun-loving as could be.
Jan (left) got her trail name "Beekeeper" because of her ability to coordinate and lead trips.  Christy (right) inspired me with her positive attitude and great sense of humor. 
Disco of the Trail Show (left) and Dan (sporting his pink hat and awesome Purple Rain skirt) hike to Corona Arch.
 The most memorable conversations for me were about trails, places and regions.  I love to watch people light up when they talk about their past trips and dreams for future trails.  At one point someone asked Tomo (who has an ultralight backpacking gear store in Japan) if he’d done a particular trail and without missing a beat he replied “Not yet!”  That really optimized the can-do, optimistic hiking spirit.  In contrast to making excuses about why you haven’t done a particular trail, it shows an openness to new adventures and opportunities.  A trait that was shared among many in this group.

One evening, Sirena, who is a community liaison for the Arizona Trail, gave a presentation on the AZT that had many of us inspired to, many of us add the AZT on our “not yet” done trails but ones we hope to explore soon.
Sirena (left) and Tomo (right).
It was truly wonderful for this opportunity to connect with this great group of hikers and I sure hope to see some of them out on the trail again someday.
More Trail Ambassadors checking out the Ancestral Puebloan graineries in Canyonlands National Park.
Read reports from the other participants about their experiences in Moab:

Dan Bortz
Jan's Jaunts
One Who Cannot
Guthook Hikes
Sirena's Wanderings
Barefoot Jake
Trail To Summit
Lady on a Rock

No comments:

Post a Comment