Some of the Bedrock crew just finished up 23 days driving to Arkansas and back from our headquarters in Richmond, CA. We packed a lot into each day, visiting nearly 30 stores, putting on 6 events with our dealers, and having plenty of micro and/or mis-adventures along the way. Below are some of the highlights of the Tour-de-Bedrock!
Mid Monday morning, as we were putting the final boxes of sandals and gear into the van, longtime customer Daniel Stranahan stopped in for a quick re-soul, upgrading his Cairns to Pros with Vibram's Megagrip and getting us stoked to link up with several more rad Bedrock customers on the tour.
First stop was at The Mountain Air in SLO for a short clinic with floor staff to get everyone up to speed on all things Bedrock! As it's our first year in U.S. speciality retail, it's very rewarding to see our gear on the shelf amidst brands who've been around forever! It's even better to see floor staff rocking and racking up miles in our Cairns, spreading the word to new customers!
Our first event was at the radical bike hub of L.A, Golden Saddle Cyclery. We set up our tent and table in the alley for the afternoon and got the chance to connect with several dozen old and new customers looking to grab our Cairn Sandals. After the shop closed for evening, a group of 50+ folks dawned their bicycles and headed up the hill to the Griffith Park Heli Pad. It was an amazing experience to charge through the streets of LA as a group and make new friends as the sun set over the hills. The climb was well worth it on the descent back to the shop. If you're ever in LA, stop by Golden Saddle for your cyclin' needs!
We took a few last plunges into the Pacific ocean, before heading due east for Phoenix, Arizona. Rolling down the windows for the first time since San Diego, we embraced from arms length the 120 degree heat Arizona had to offer. When we arrived to our campsite at 10 o'clock to find the gate locked at the park entrance, in addition to the thermometer still reading over 100 degrees, we decided on a cheap hotel over our previous nights arrangement - sleeping 3 deep in the van off the side of the road.
Over the next 3 days we visited with 4 shops in AZ, had an event in Flagstaff, and did some hiking in Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We're super grateful for our Arizona retailers getting folks outfitted in sandals where in counts. We'll be back for more Sedona hiking and hopefully a trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River in the future.
After a sweaty hike into the Grand Canyon and big breakfast at the rim, we kept on going east, stopping the night in Pecos, NM for some camping and tenkara fishing before landing in Lubbock, TX for the craziest night of KOA camping we'll ever hope to experience. We set up our tents and fixed our tiki masala and pasta dinner in one of the only available spots, 15 feet from the highway service road. A couple hours into slumber the thunder, lightning, rain, and wind began, effectively lifting my lackadaisically placed tent stakes out of the ground. The walls and floor of the tent too lifted from the ground, leaving only what was below my weight on the ground. Rain penetrated the exposed tent wall, as my down bag began accumulating precipitation, and my thoughts of a good nights sleep escaped my mind.
I set my ambitions on the open space in the van, corresponding with Dan via text about sliding open the door, to let the least amount of rain in. Long story short, I nabbed the space, lugging wet bag and gear into the tent. Naresh suffered through the night outside, squeegeeing up water with his buff, and getting a few hours of sleep before our meeting at Lubbuck dealer, The Mountain Hideaway.
10+ more hours of driving passed until we landed in the Ozark's for a few events and a planned micro-adventure on our "rest day." We had a great event with our Little Rock dealer, Ozark Outdoor Supply. We set up shop at the local climbing gym during their bouldering league and had the chance to connect with a bunch of Arkansas customers! The next morning we woke up near the Buffalo River, and after not doing any river flow research, loaded up the Kokopelli pack rafts to the racks of our bikes and started on our adventure up stream. We hiked our bikes and packs up the 2 mile and nearly thousand foot elevation gain dirt road that meets highway 74 and took off towards Ponca, a raft put in spot 9 miles up stream. A few miles into the ride we stopped for water at an off the road restaurant. There we started hearing the news, "waters too low for floating," then again at the Buffalo River Adventure Center where we planned to lock up our bikes for retrieval later in the day, "We took our boats out of the water 3 weeks ago, gonna have to go to Pruitt if you wanna get in." The plan had been to bike the 9 miles, lock up the bikes, float the 10 rivers miles downstream, get the van, get the bikes and head to Fayetteville for the night. We road our bikes down to the river and did some swimming in a pooled section of the river that locals had created with a rock dam. Delaying the thought of biking the 9 miles, all up-hill, back to our van, we blew up the pack rafts just to see how far we could get.
It was past 4 o'clock we made the call, let's do this! We stashed the bikes and got back in the water. The pack raft turned out to be the only device capable of floating the Buffalo at such low levels while simultaneously being the worst. With little weight displacement and surface area, we were able to float the inches deep water. But with no current, we were left to our own devices to get down stream. Paddling was slower than hiking pace and at many sections portages were welcome relief to our arms. 2 hours and 4 miles in we started to get worried about floating well into midnight.A break in the bluffs allowed us a spot to once again make a stash of the rafts. We took the Buffalo River Trail the rest of the way back. We hiked and ran the forgotten trail back to our parking space. Waving sticks like Harry Potter, we broke the path of the multitudes of spider webs and brushed our legs of ticks as we hurriedly walked back to our home base. We took a chance on a dry creek bed 7 miles into the hike that took up back to our van 2 miles faster than the trail.
Fayetteville welcomed us with the only pizza spot open, Dominos, where we each ordered a large pizza for the price of a medium. We had a great time slinging sandals at Fayettechill'sflagship store and hanging with our friends in Northwest Arkansas. Next was Tulsa OK, where Naresh did a short talk and showing of his new short film, The Man in Sandals, at our dealer Ascent. It was a great night of adventure stories, good beer, friends, and chance connections with some inspiring locals.
On Saturday we headed back west for the Rockies. With July 4th falling on a Tuesday, we knew weren't going to be able to conjure up any meetings on Monday or a Tuesday, so we scheduled a campout and with our friends Caveman Collective. They did a killer job with our photos and video for the launch of our Cairn sandal last year and our time spent together outside of Buena Vista was no exception. On Sunday afternoon, after a stop in BV to get grub and fishing permits, we followed google maps on miles of washboard, before arriving to the 4x4 section that stood between us and our campsite. We decided to play it safe with the new Sprinter, so Dan and Naresh biked up the road to find our friends, while I packed the gear for the weekend.
The national forest land and the site the Caveman crew scored couldn't have been more beautiful. Campsite right next to the river, mountain vistas at every angle. It was great to be back in Colorado again for some r&r and shooting. We got up at a photographers favorite hour, 3:30 a.m. and started our hike towards Lake Ann where we'd get some some sunrise shots for next years line. Along our hike we'd pause as Andrew and Tom meticulously framed the picture, bouncing the sunlight, and catching Cairns at their most sexy angles. As early morning shifted to mid morning, we came up with a wise idea. Let's use the pack raft like a sled and glissade down the steep snow pack into this alpine lake, which was still thawing after a season of ice. We kick stepped into the hard packed snow until we found the perfect take off zone with no rocks in sight. Dan and Naresh dug footholds as they braced the pack raft. I stripped down, unsure if sled would send me plunging into the freezing water. 3…2….1!
It worked, save for some chilling water in the raft. "You guys got to try this," I insisted! Naresh was next, propping his feet up a little more to show the sandals for the picture. By the time it was Dan's turn, the dark cloud moved overhead. "It's raining, no it's snowing, no that's hail!" Dan sent it in, and we hurried back to grab our wet gear before taking back down the trail for camp. We fished, pack rafted, and chilled the night away back at our spot. As the campfire flickered, conversation about a summit of the nearby Mt. Huron arose. Just Naresh and I were up for the challenge. Once again we awoke before 4 a.m., dawned our headlamps, packed our nut butter filled clif bars, and started the 3.5 mile, 3,500 elevation gain ascent of Mt. Huron. Save for a few shouts above us, Naresh and I were alone on the trail we heard was a highway since it's one of Colorado's easiest 14'rs. We watched the sunrise just shy of the summit and paused to let the ambitious group pass on their way back down. We spent a few moments at the peak, posing for a picture and singing a godawful version of God Bless America for the Fourth of July. As we journeyed down by way of running, we saw the highway begin and noticed the puzzled look of hikers as we ran down the trail in sandals.
We spent the next few days visiting core speciality shops in small towns dotting the two lane highways that connect mountain town to mountain town. Our van was rockognized in parking lots and we sold sandals right out of the back. We jumped in various rivers a few more times before heading out to the desert of Utah. Over the last weekend of the trip, Naresh and I decided to stay in Colorado for one more 14r attempt. 6 a.m. research in the Durango Starbucks revealed Mt. Wilson and El' Diente an attainable choice. It was "kind of" on the way to Moab, and based on our report skimming, doable.
With more groceries and clif bars, we headed northeast and two hours later pulled off the road to arrive at Kilpacker Trailhead. One 30 minute, bug swarming nap, later we were set to take off. A group was about to peel out of the trailhead lot when we asked "did you make any summits"? "We tried El' Diente" they said," but there was too much snow and we only brought micro-spikes, so we turned around." "I cringed "we only have sandals." "Good luck" they offered.
5.5 miles of steady hiking and we were at Navajo Lake, with one more warning from a crew of summit hopefuls, "The route takes you up a snowy couloir, I'd scout it tonight so you know where you're going tomorrow morning." We made some friends around the lake, got good beta for a campsite nestled in a thicket of trees, and made a boxed indian dinner worth repeating. When four o'clock came around we did not want to wake. All of our rest days for the last few weeks had looked just like this, early rises in search of some fun. At 4:45 we bit the bullet and got ready to hike, or rather climb El' Diente and hopefully traverse to Mt. Wilson, before backpacking out to the car and driving towards Moab. Moments into the hike, and the trail was barely visible in the scree that composed this mountain. We crested the initial ridge, with water cascading towards Navajo Lake below. We looked up and saw the literal mountain in front of us. Snow laden couloirs sandwiched between skinny sections of boulders and scree aggressively pointing upwards toward the ridge between the peaks. We found our line and began climbing, hand over hand, Cairn Pro clad foot jamming into secure places, pausing for a breath in the elevation and continuing on. We kick stepped across the snow when necessary to find more stable and direct approaches.
4 hours later and we were at the summit of El' Diente, the toughest of the fourteeners I've stood atop of. As we started the traverse towards Mt. Wilson we met the party we'd spoken to the day earlier. They were exhausted from the ascent via the couloir. Still wearing their micro spikes, we chatted about Mt. Wilson and the challenge of summiting it with all this snow. We decided to bail on the double header and make our way down. They muttered "maintain safety" to us sandal summiters before switching places on the knife-edge ridge separating them from the summit.
Maintaining safety gave both parties a run for our money on the descent. The way down had us on a slightly different rock section than our ascent. It turned out to be the worst scree and loose boulders I've ever encountered. One loose "kid sized" boulder went sliding out from my feet, picking up additional boulders, while simultaneously breaking into several pieces of it's own, as it avalanched down the mountain. I screamed for Naresh, who had been out of my site the last hour, as I cautiously and begrudgingly walked down from loose rock to loose rock. Finally I got a response, "You Okay" he screamed, somewhere below and out of my vision.
Sometime later we caught up, he'd heard the echoing thunder of rocks cascading down the mountain and looked back to see the culprit. He did something like a dive for cover, protecting his head and DSLR camera he had slung across his chest. All but one rock missed him. The small rock clipped the Nalgene bottle from his backpack, and sent it, like the rest of the rocks in a downward trajectory. When he retrieved it the lid was maimed and unusable. I offered to buy him a new one at the next gear shop as cheap consolation for the near death experience I gave him. After at a nap on the hike out towards the van we ran into the group who had summited after us, they'd experienced a nasty fall on the snow that left one member with bruised ribs and bloodied face. We were all glad to be relatively okay after the sketchy descent. On the way towards Moab, we passed through the towns of Bedrock and Paradox, before crossing over into Utah for our second and last night at a KOA on this trip. We'd much preferred the Walmart and Hotel parkings lots we'd crashed in nights previous. In Moab we visited with several local gear shops in search of the perfect spot to have Bedrocks in 2018. After work we found play and solitude on the Slick Rock mountain biking trail Moab is known for, and the next morning found everyone at Arches National Park, making pilgrimage to the Delicate one!
We had dropped Dan off at the Airport in Durango a few days prior, so Naresh and I drove on towards our last event in Salt Lake City. We posted up at the Front Climbing Club, one of Salt Lake's premier gyms and one of our most recent stockists. We slung sandals for a few hours with our friends Monique and Chris in the courtyard and celebrated the end of our trip at a local burger bar. We spent Wednesday charging back to the Bay and arrived home safe and exhausted.
Altogether we were stoked on this not so typical business trip. We had some great experiences with customers and dealers and found some time for micro-adventures and product testing for our 2018 line along the way. We're super excited to grow Bedrock this next year into more stores and onto more feet!