Friday, January 18, 2008

2008 Trips and Events are Taking Off!

I wanted to take a second and intro some special new trips and events coming up soon. First up, we're hosting the Focus the Nation Live Webcast on Climate Change on the 30th of January. This special event will be a wonderful educational experience for all of Lafayette as well as a chance all of us to come together as a group in supporting this important issue.

Since the first time I did my Ultra-Light Backpacking clinic, I've gotten a lot of request for a repeat. This is your chance to see me turn a 43 pound pack into a feathery 25 pound load. And if you're into going light, check out Mark Menou's session on Alcohol stove building on the 19th of February.

On the 16th of Febuary, Mark and Jennifer Menou will lead our first ever backpacking retreat that will make your foray into the wilderness feel like a weekend at the spa. The Menou's are long-time members of the P&P family and we are excited to have them as facilitators on this unique outing.

An exciting new addition to our lineup is our Valentines Romance paddle. Becky and I are planning on pulling out the stops in hosting 8 couples for a Valentines evening that won't soon be forgotten.

Another addition we're really excited about is that we will be hosting an Outdoor Photography class with our good friend Jason Cohen. Believe me - Jason is an amazing photographer. I'm planning on being a student at this class. We'll have classroom sessions and a field session. This should be a great class for climbers, hikers, paddlers, or anyone that spends time in the outdoors.

A new option for a trip will be our new Level 1 waterfall hike. This is designed to allow folks who want to see the waterfalls at Clark Creek, but not have to hike the entire primitive trail a chance to participate.

And this is not all! I have lots of other events and trips that you'll see posted over the next 3-4 weeks. Stay tuned and come out to join us!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Refreshing My Life

This blog entry was supposed to be about a trip we took recently. In retrospect, I think it's more about things that happened after we got off the trail. But - let's start at the beginning so you can hear the whole story.

On New Years Day, Becky and I along with our son Matt and his wife Rebecca met our friends Mark and Jennifer Menou and their daughter Ruthie to head up to Kisatchie for a 3 day backpacking trip. We had planned to hike the Backbone and the Caroline Dormon trail as a single thru-hike of these interconnected trail. When we arrived at the trailhead, the cold front was blowing through and we all bundled up to head out. Ruthie led us down the trail with their dog, Ginger in tow.

We arrived at a beautiful overlook about an hour before sunset. While the women went down the hill for water, we set up tents, collected firewood and started the fire. We enjoyed a great meal that included dried veggies, bullion cubes and dried veggie patties. Everyone laughed as Ruthie climbed a nearby tree, looking like a little bear cub up in the branches.

The next morning we headed down the trail hoping to complete the 11 miles to our intended campsite along Kisatchie Bayou. Almost immediately we had to cross a creek that was too wide to hop over. Ruthie, Mark and Rebecca shimmied across a log while the rest of us waded the shallow water. It was really funny to watch Mark crossing with his big external frame pack. Soon enough we had crossed the creek, and finished off the rest of the Backbone Trail. We continued down the Caroline Dormon trail and stopped for lunch at the mini waterfall described in the book. The mini waterfall was even more mini than normal because of the low water conditions. As the day wore on, I became more and more amazed at how great a hiker Ruthie was. She just constantly kept hiking all day - completing our route around 5pm. Wow! 11.5 miles is a long hike for a 7 year old!

That night we all shared a burrito meal made from dried TVP and other ingredients. We built the fire up to stay warm as the temperatures dropped until we headed to our sleeping bags. It was wonderful to watch two young wilderness families meshing perfectly with each other on the trail and around camp that night.

Our final day, we wound along the beautiful Kisatchie Bayou, over some hills and then finally to Kisatchie Bayou Camp. We took a group picture, walked the last 50 yards up to the car and shuttled back to the Backbone end of the trail. After hugs and goodbye's we got into the car and turned for home.

This was one of those low key trips - without a huge epic to deal with and nothing really remarkable happening to us on the trail. It was not the same rush as finishing an Appalachian Trail thru - hike or a hike of the Wonderland trail. Yet, I felt like a different person as we headed home. It's amazing how going into the wilderness can completely refresh your life. I can't exactly explain it, but the cloudy funk that surrounded my spirit before the trip was completely gone. My eyes felt clearer, my step felt stronger and my mind felt sharper. Replacing it was a new wind of excitement blowing through my life. Excitement about new friends. Excitement about new opportunities at the shop. And most of all, excitement about a new year of outdoor experiences like this one.