I'm a bit late to the game, where reporting on the Summer #Omniten trip is concerned, but that doesn't mean it didn't make an impact on me.

On the contrary, the time taken to process this adventure feels short compared to how much this trip meant to me. I'm going to try and capture it in this post, and be a good gear reviewer too, but I have a feeling I'm going to fall short. 

How do you put into words feelings of belonging, rejuvenation, discovery and wonder? It felt like breathing again, after a long time under water. I'll be clear here, grad school and internship in this metaphor are the water I've been drowning in - though I did get a taste of what it's like not to breathe for a bit on this trip too...
This spring I posted my surprise and pleasure at being chosen to be a part of the Summer 2013 #Omniten crew, hosted and supplied by Columbia clothing. They could not have picked a worse year for me, if they were expecting a dedicated gear reviewer. Thankfully, that was not part of the deal. They made it clear that this was about #TryingStuff, and nothing more. So from April to August I slogged along. I worked 30 hours at my daytime gig and another 30 at my internship, plus classes and stuff like sleeping and eating - I didn't really have a lot of time to "Try stuff." But thanks to Columbia, a glimmer of hope shone in my future. 
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Day 1: HOLY CRAP!! 

I think I was the only one without flight troubles. I found myself on a plane with @HikingTheTrail, and after a short shuttle ride we were deposited at the SUPER AWESOME Lodge at Riverside in Grants Pass, Oregon. In our rooms we found a bag stuffed full with Columbia gear to use on the trip. This is the part where I had my first heart attack. We were given shoes, the oh-so-swanky Compounder II Jacket, shirts with OmniFreeze Zero technology, a variety of water shorts, and a SLEEPING BAG with OMNIHEAT!!! <-- I was especially excited about this cause I'm usually a cold sleeper. 

After rolling around in all the gear we went to meet the rest of the #Omniten crew for dinner. 

This is always my favorite part of any Twitter-induced trip: Finally MEETING everyone I'd been talking to online for so long! I was a bit nervous, but that quickly faded with the smiles of people like @ToriLesikar,  @Trails2Brews and @DavidECreech

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Day 2: SO HARD TO SLEEP!!

I packed my stuff the night before in prep for our early departure. We were given dry bags and water bottles from our rafting guide company, Rogue Wilderness Adventures. Bright and early, we met in the parking lot for the bus to the river. 

<-- This is how excited @Wigirl4ever and I were...

At the "Put in" spot, we learned how not to die. I'm discovering that is typical for trying new sports. If you are going to "Try Stuff," first know how not to die while doing it. Our lady-guide, Corey, demonstrated how to use the Ducky (the blow up kayak-thingie) and then asked for volunteers to take the ducky on the first leg of the trip...
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Obviously! (That's me.)



What a rush! The ducky was super nimble and so small you felt every bump and bend. I was soaked almost immediately, but it was worth it. I spent the morning trying to keep up with the rest of the rafts. There were two rafts full of people, and another THREE with gear! 

The gear rafts were probably the weirdest part of the trip for us. The group concurred that as self sufficient adventurers and generally helpful people, it was weird for us to arrive at our lunch spot each day to find an elaborate spread and nothing for us to do but eat. The same went for where we camped each night. The guides even set up our tents! 
Not only were we completely taken care of by the guides, this was a Paddles and Pints trip! What, you may ask, is that? Well, dear reader, a Paddles and Pints trip is a rafting trip with BEER! Along with all the amazing food, we had SIX kegs and a variety of bottled beer hand picked by Ninkasi's Master Brewer, Mark Henion, and paired with our meals. 

It was so great to have Mark along on the trip. Getting to spend time with people who live their passion is inspiring, and although Mark is not a blogger or social media outdoor adventurer, he LOVES what he does. I think it took about 30 seconds to make him the #OmniEleven. 
At our campsite that night we learned what "Ducky Wars" are...
And I got the chance to test out the Omniheat Refractor Sleeping Bag. It wasn't the coldest of nights, but man was I warm! The zipper isn't super reliable though (others on the trip reported this as well), so in the middle of the night when I woke up too hot I couldn't get out. It was like being trapped in a Chipotle burrito wrapper in a solar oven. More reviews to come when I take this baby camping in the desert...
Day 3: Smoke on the Water

The smoke you can see in each of these photos is coming from the fire the burned much of the Rogue Wilderness over the later part of the summer. We were lucky to get to go on the trip, just a few days before our scheduled departure the area was closed to trips. Each morning we woke to a heavy haze, which lifted as the sun warmed the air. Our whole trip smelled like a campfire. Even though many historic buildings along the river were at risk, it was sortof neat to be so close to nature's way of cleaning house. It made the Rogue feel even more wild. 
We saw bears, buildings covered in fire-proofing, and had some awesome conversations about what it means to get out there and try stuff. 
We also talked a lot about what it meant to be a badass lady in the outdoors.  Corey (above), @Active_Explorer, @AnneCarneyMedia, @Wigirl4ever and I bonded over how gender still plays a role in expectations, and how much we like blowing those expectations wide open. So awesome to spend time with suck kickass girls. 

That afternoon I went through my second class 3 rapid and ate it. I earned "river cred" by flipping my boat and washing up down the rapids next to the "mother duck" raft. Scary, but so fast I barely had a chance to react. So much for padding hard and fast! 
Day 4: Leaving the Rogue

Our final day on the river was the most beautiful. By then the group had gotten almost too comfortable with each other, and the scenery was epic. We passed through Blossom Bar (below) thanks to the skill of our guides, saw giant logs left way up high on the cliff after the flood, and entered the part of the river where the water is slow and steady.
We jumped off rocks... (I was so brave!)
And attempted to drink the rest of the beer we brought (This may have been the best day of my life).
At the end of the (all too short) trip, I wasn't feeling overwhelmed by school and life any more, I was just me and a group of like-minded friends, breathing in the amazing wilderness around us and letting our souls come to life. 
After pulling out and riding 4 hours back to the lodge, stopping to check out the Pacific Ocean, I spend the night awake in the hot tub talking about life, social media, gender, adventure and trying stuff with @Krystl_Hazle, @lukasavige and @PortlanDaniel. We debated till the sun came up, then sadly said good by to the group before boarding our shuttle home. 

I usually leave these posts with a take home, so on the wake of the most epic trip ever, here it is:

TAKE CHANCES!
MAKE FRIENDS!
LOVE WHO YOU ARE!

It doesn't take a huge company to bring a bunch of people together, in fact it wouldn't have worked if we weren't already ok with who we are and where we came from. Find out what you like (and don't like) about yourself, and learn to accept it unconditionally. Put yourself in a group of like minded people (twitter and meetup.com are great places to find these) and see what happens. 

I'll hang on to the memories from this trip, and use them up as much needed air for my lungs. I can't imagine a life without times like these - so as long as I have friends and open spaces to explore, I'll continue to live life in a way that lets me make more awesome memories.

Thank you so much to the Columbia crew that made this possible. There is a fine balance between gear testing and community, and you've struck it so very well. And thank you to all the #omniten and guides that made this trip awesome inside and out. 

Toes up, my friends, toes up!
Video and photos (all but three) by the great Mark Going of Columbia, who gave me permission to participate in this great adventure rather than stand back and document it. Thanks Mark for letting me fully dive in.
 


Comments

10/28/2013 05:16

Excellent! Loved reading and seeing all about your omniten adventure. See you in a couple months at the omnigames?!

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