Why We Never Stop Hiking: Tales from Our Trail Blazers
Do you remember your first big hike or your first overnight backpacking trip? You might've made some rookie mistakes or ended up with some gnarly blisters. You might've thought it wise to bring everything but the kitchen sink in your pack and had to cut your mileage a little shorter than you'd planned. Yet, somehow, we bet through any discomfort or trials you experienced on that first go, once you found yourself back at home, you longed to be out there again. We get it. There's something about hiking in the wilderness that calls us back time and time again. There's something that makes us swear to never stop hiking.
Meet Gossamer Gear's Forever Hikers
Gossamer Gear is lucky to have an inspiring community of brand ambassadors who are committed to adventuring in the great outdoors. They understand how lightweight backpacking can improve that experience. They live our motto: take less, do more. And, they happily share those tips and tricks with others looking to stay out longer, to explore more.
We took some time to chat with three of our "OG Roamers," trail blazing brand ambassadors who spearheaded the ultralight movement, helped make us what we are, and just keep keepin' on. They shared with us why they never stop hiking, what gear helps them keep going, and some of their favorite memories from many miles on the trail.
Rik Christensen, also known as "Ranger Rik," is 74 years young and calls Summerland, California his homebase. The reason he never stops hiking?
"Backpacking keeps my mind and soul in a happy and healthy state," Rik shared.
Rik's favorite hiking memory is from the first time he hit the trail with all lightweight gear: "It was like I was set free."
In fact, Rik has become such a believer in lightweight hiking, that he's since acted as an occasional designer for Gossamer Gear. For all the fans of the "Rik" Sack 17 Packable Daypack out there, this is the Rik you have to thank! While he loves all of his Gossamer Gear products, he shared that it's a good pair of lightweight trekking poles that helps keep him hiking today.
Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl
Lightweight backpacking has been a special bond that Will "Willi Wabbit" Rietveld and Janet "Buns Of Steel (BOS)" Reichl have shared since they married. In 1997, they retired to Durango, Colorado and have only continued their lifelong exploration of the great outdoors. The reason they've never stopped hiking?
"It's an addiction," they shared. "The more we hike, the more we want. We love the physical and mental health benefits. It's also spiritual. And we hike with a purpose–as Forest Service volunteers, we promote Leave No Trace principles, and as Gossamer Gear Ambassadors, we demonstrate and promote lightweight backpacking for all its benefits"
They use a whole host of Gossamer Gear goodies to keep them hiking, including: LT5 Three-Piece Carbon Trekking Poles, the Murmur Hyperlight 36 Backpack, the Gorilla 40 Ultralight Backpack, and The One shelter. The gear they get the most questions about when they're on the trail is the GVP Ultralight Stove System: "It's easy to promote because it works so well for us."
When asked about their favorite trail memory from their many years exploring, they exclaimed, "One time we were herding bears! We backpacked into a canyon in the remote backcountry of Canyonlands National Park and immediately saw bear tracks everywhere. It was April and the bears were there, after hibernating in the nearby Abajo Mountains, to munch on the early spring grass. On day four, we were completing our loop and climbs to a bench to avoid a canyon bottom jungle. When we descended back into the canyon bottom, we saw fresh bear tracks everywhere in the soft sand, some as big as saucers. The tracks were heading up the canyon, and so were we. There were about 5 bears, and we were right behind them for about three miles. They eventually peeled off, one by one, and we were down to one bear. That one finally turned left at a fork, and we needed to go right, so we got past the bears. Interestingly, we never saw a bear in our four days in the canyon, only fresh tracks. They were like ghosts. After we split with the last bear, we hiked another mile or two before we made camp, just to put some distance between them and us."
Paul Cronshaw, also known as "The Beeman" as a result of his passion for beekeeping since graduating high school in 1971, calls Santa Barbara, California his homebase. He's 65 years young, and the reason he never stops hiking?
"Because of the lightweight gear," he shared. "I can't carry 50 to 60 pound packs, but I can carry a 12-pound pack. I suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder, and I want to make sure I can continue to hike well into my eighties and nineties."
Paul wants others to be able to benefit from lightweight backpacking so that they, too, never stop hiking. He partners with the Los Padres Forest Association to teach lightweight backpacking to others through a 5-week course. It was on a five-day backpacking loop in Los Padres National Forest that he had a rare and memorable sighting of not one, not two, but five bears. It's these memories and adventures in the wilderness that make it so important to keep hiking and keep writing your life's stories.
The key gear that Paul uses to keep hiking? "The One!" he exclaimed. "I love the One. It's great, and it is key to have a good shelter." Paul also hikes with the Gorilla 40 Ultralight Backpack.