I arrived at the airport in Salt Lake City to find a truck filled with hikers fresh from the Gossamer Gear hike in Moab. Bobcat, Swami, Snorkle and Jabba had all been together for days, and by the jokes and insults flying I could tell they had fun. It wasn’t long before I was pulled into the fold and we laughed and giggled our way through the night…but early to bed for we all had a big first day of the OR Show.
We all gathered at the Woolrich booth on Wednesday to ooo and aaa at the beautiful blankets they made to support our long trails. It’s an incredibly generous gesture as 100% of the proceeds of the limited edition blankets sold during the show went to the three trail organizations: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Pacific Crest Trail Association, and Continental Divide Trail Coalition.
I was also stoked to see the t-shirt I designed for the recent CDTC Indiegogo campaign: The Next 32 Miles.
The rest of the day was a blur of color and free snack samples…and the show proper ended in a happy hour for the three trail alliances at the Woolrich booth. A well known fact about the Outdoor Retailer show: they maintain the close relationship between adventure pursuits and booze. Many many happy hours happen throughout the duration of the show (and almost all raise money for a chosen non-profit through the sale of cool mugs or some kind of schwag). The thru-hikers flocked to the booth (it may have also been the free food) and we all had a blast.
While traditionally the long distance hiking community attracts about .01% of the attention of the outdoor industry, this year seemed to be an exception; more hikers than ever attended the show, and companies actually were recognizing what an incredible thing it is to walk across the country.
It was quite thrilling to go to dinner with the executive and development directors of the AT, PCT & CTC that night, and I had fun meeting Zach, the founder of Appalachian Trials, later at the OR Industry party.
An incredible first day of the show, and just a hint at the goodness to come.