Friday, June 12, 2015

Doing Their Part on the Trail

interview with "Packing it out"


At Appalachian Trail Days this year, we met up with Seth "Cap" Orme, "Goose" and "Spice" of the Packing It Out crew. Their mission is to pick up trash as they hike the AT, and so far they've carried out 470 pounds of litter. Needless to say, their adventure is one that should be shared, in the hopes that others on the trail will pick up trash and pack it out. Recently, we chatted more in depth with Cap to learn more about his thru-hike.


GG: We’re big fans of your work. We really admire the fact that instead of just talking about all the trash on the trail, you’re actually picking it up and packing it out. Where are you on the trail now and how many pounds have you picked up so far?


Cap: We are currently in Front Royal, Virginia at mile marker 969. Since starting our northbound hike at Springer Mountain, Georgia, we have removed 470 pounds of trash from the trail.


GG: When did the idea to  “pack it out” while you hiked the AT come to fruition?


Cap: Prior to Packing It Out, I worked as an outdoor/ adventure guide so practicing Leave No Trace environmental ethics was a part of my daily life. The idea to clean America's trails was sparked in early December 2014 during a trip home to Georgia. Having spent 200 days outside that year, the woods really felt like my home. I just couldn't walk past pieces of trash anymore. I resolved to clean up any trash I saw during hikes. On two separate day hikes I found that I had collected an average of at least one pound of trash per mile hiked. I stood on the edge of a rocky outcropping in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness when the idea to clean the entire Appalachian Trail hit me. Combined feelings of awe, inspiration, and a little vertigo had me yearning for more time in the Appalachians. I looked back at the overfilled trash bag on the ground and the spark was lit. I decided that in 2015 I would clean the entire length of the Appalachian Trail with the hopes of inspiring others to respect and clean our trails. 

With the seed planted, I had all winter to water the idea of Packing It Out. I kept Packing It Out quiet for a couple months, mainly because I wasn't sure if cleaning the entire Appalachian Trail during a thru-hike was realistic. I told a few close friends and they were stoked on the idea. I was rebuilding wood canoes with Spice (Paul) and saw little of Goose (Joe) since our last adventure down the Mississippi River in 2010. Shortly after telling Spice about the idea to pack it out, Goose called. I told him what we were planning to do this summer. One week later, Goose called back and said he was coming with me. Spice committed to the hike shortly after. Packing It Out was now a trio and the idea to clean 2,189 miles of trail quickly became much more realistic.
We started hiking north on March 29th. 74 days later we have hiked 969 miles and have removed about a quarter ton of trash from the Appalachian Trail.




GG: You have a blog post about Trail Karma. Out of all the karma that has come your way on the trail, which has had the biggest impact on you and your team, and the mission?


Cap: We have received nothing but amazing Trail Karma along our hike thus far. The Heaton family has by far had the biggest impact on the team as well as the Packing It Out mission. 

The Heaton's have taken care of us the majority of our walk in Virginia. We met the first Heaton (Doubleback) on the third day of our thru-hike. She loved what we were doing and quickly decided to continue her section hike with us. Every week she would say "Wait till you get to Virginia; my family will take care of you guys." She was not kidding! Her family has jumped through hoops to help make our hike in Virginia as enjoyable as possible. They have given us places to stay, fed us relentlessly, shuttled us all around, packed our collected trash in to town, and have even packed-in our three-day resupply to our shelter for the night. I'm literally answering these questions from the Heaton's beautiful mountain home in Front Royal, VA. We can not thank Trail Angels like the Heaton's enough for their encouragement and continued support. 

GG: So far, which areas on the AT have had the most litter?

Cap: Georgia and North Carolina have had the most litter, so far. 
A large portion of trash, early on, was a result of poor prior planning by folks heading into the woods. For example, a quarter mile before reaching the start of the AT on Springer Mountain we met a man with an empty looking backpack who told us that he left his sleeping bag on top of the mountain because it got wet the night before. He said "It just doesn't make sense to carry something that heavy down the mountain now, you know?". Most of the trash we find now is located around shelters and near towns. A lot of folks still think that plastics and foil based packages burn easily. We can assure you that they do not.

GG: Do you think you’ve inspired others on the trail to pick up trash while they thru-hike?

Cap: Absolutely! Multiple thru-hikers we've met have started picking up litter as they hike north to Maine. On a daily basis, hikers erupt with joy when they see us cleaning around the shelters.

GG: After you complete the AT this summer, what’s next?

Cap: After cleaning the Appalachian Trail, we plan to clean America's other trails. Packing It Out will be on the Pacific Crest Trail summer of 2016.

GG: We know that your mission is to  “Inspire a greater sense of environmental stewardship within our communities by raising awareness for litter conditions along America’s trails.” Is there anything else you’d like us to know?


Cap: Whether we go out for 5 months or 5 minutes, lets work together to keep America's trails cleaner. 

Every bit of support we receive further perpetuates our chances of completing this hike. Friends, family and folks like the Heaton's are a large part of this trip becoming and continuing to be a reality. To support our current Appalachian Trail effort check out our Go Fund Me site. Thank you for your time.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

NEW Virga 26 Backpack is now available!


 Our Virga 26 backpack is now available!  
• 1 lb., 26 liters
• Frameless suspension
• Fixed padded belt
• 10 MM webbing straps
• Internal hydration hanger
Great summit / travel / ultralight hiking backpack! While it is minimalistic by design, it carries the essentials comfortably and securely.
More details: http://bit.ly/1D8uekB

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Backpacker 2015 Spring Gear Guide


Backpacker Magazine featured Granite Gear's new Virga 26 and Cross-Trek 32" Wheeled Duffel in the 2015 Spring Gear Guide. 




Friday, March 13, 2015

Five questions with Justin “Trauma” Lichter

Granite Gear athlete and accomplished thru-hiker, Justin “Trauma” Lichter just finished the Pacific Crest Trail, making him the first to complete the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail during winter months. So naturally we had a few questions about his accomplishment.

What was your first thought most days while waking up? Falling asleep? 
It was really dependent on the conditions. Some days my first thought waking up was "sweet, it is going to be so pretty today" and other days it was "do I really have to put these shoes back on and get out of my sleeping bag right now". At night I don't think I thought of anything. I would fall asleep exhausted as soon as my head hit the pillow (any extra clothes in a stuff sack).

We know an expedition like this has a lot to do with endurance but how did you stay mentally strong?
I think the mental challenge can be just as hard as the physical challenge. It's important to learn from previous days and experiences but to also be able to put them behind you.

How did you train for this, and would you do anything different now?
We didn't train specifically for this trip physically. The planning for this trip was a culmination of skills gained on previous trips and tune-up trips to get our gear dialed. We worked on this for a few years. We also pieced together logistics and a resupply strategy as it got closer since many of the standard resupply options in the summer are closed in the winter.
 
If you could bring one luxury item with you (weight does not matter), what would it be?
Weight does matter so I am not sure how to answer this question. If weight didn't matter then I might pack a house with TV and a heater. But realistically my luxury item is carrying a small book to read at night.

Did you sing any songs in your head or out loud while hiking and why was it Katy Perry’s “Firework”? (we joke)

I can't say I have ever even heard that song! I always get different songs stuck in my head but I have to say that The Proclaimers are probably the most common song going through my head.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lichter and Forry Complete First Winter Thru-Hike on the Pacific Crest Trail

Two Harbors, MN – March 1, 2015 – At 1pm on March 1st, Granite Gear athlete and accomplished thru-hiker, Justin “Trauma” Lichter and hiking partner Shawn “Pepper” Forry have finished the Pacific Crest Trail, making them the first to complete the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail during winter months. 

From October to March, Lichter and Forry found themselves battling frostbite, icy ponds, frozen ski bindings, blinding whiteouts, 80 mph wind gusts, negative temperatures, and many other unpleasant conditions. However, with over 55,000 miles of trail experience between them, Lichter and Forry were able to meet the conditions with safety and confidence. Detailed packing and preparation also played a major role in the safety of their trek, and Lichter and Forry are pros at packing the best ultralight gear. On the trail, Lichter and Forry carried various Granite Gear backpacks and stuff sacks. View Lichter’s full list of gear here. 


“We set out on this adventure to challenge ourselves and test our physical and mental limits and skill sets,” said Justin Lichter. “We also want to open the door and hopefully show people that the winter can be a beautiful and amazing time to experience the outdoors.”




Lichter and Forry have worked closely with the PCTA along their trek, and plan on continuously acting as stewards to protect and preserve the trail. Viewing the PCT as a capstone and symbol for America’s value of wilderness and conservation, Lichter and Forry would like to see the PCT respected enough so that people will enjoy it many generations to come.


For detailed stories around each stop on the trail, read Justin Lichter’s blog and Shawn Forry’s blog. View more photos from the trail here. To learn more or schedule an interview with Justin, please contact Shelly Smith at Shelly@DarbyCommunications.com


About Justin Lichter

Justin Lichter has hiked the equivalent to almost one and a half times around the Earth, and in one year hiked over 10,000 miles. (In total, he’s racked up over 35,000 miles!) His accomplishments include hiking unsupported from end to end through the Himalayas, through the Southern Alps of New Zealand, through Iceland and Norway, across the United States six times, and over 1800 miles through Africa. He is a ski patroller and enjoys backcountry skiing, Nordic skiing, biking, surfing and anything else outdoors and active. During his trek through the Himalayas, Trauma proudly carried the Leopard AC and found it to be the perfect pack for the treacherous 1500 mile hike. Justin is the author of Trail Tested and Ultralight Survival Kit.

About Shawn Forry

Since 2003, Shawn has hiked over 20,000 miles through 26 states and 7 countries, including Nepal and New Zealand and most of Europe. Long distance backpacking has taught him determination, problem solving, compassion for fellow neighbors and the environment. He is currently residing in Truckee, CA (winter) and Midpines, CA (summer) and works as an Outward Bound Lead Instructor and Wilderness Adventures Musher.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Granite Gear Hires Hartford Sales Group to Reinforce West Coast Territory

Granite Gear, award-winning manufacturer of legendary backpacks, packing systems and travel gear, announces today their partnership with The Hartford Sales Group. The team is joining Granite Gear’s sales force with four reps in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.

For over 30 years, the highly esteemed sales agency has represented some of the top outdoor brands in the industry including Adidas Outdoor, Five Ten, PowerBar, Feetures! and Timex. The Hartford Sales Group, managed by Larry Hartford, has an extensive network that includes outdoor stores, travel goods stores and sporting goods stores. With their reach to more than 600 accounts, Hartford will help grow the Granite Gear brand, and ensure that the right stores are carrying the best and most innovative backpacks and travel gear on the market.

“It is very exciting to align with such an energetic, driven group of reps who support our brand on the West Coast,” states Rob Coughlin, Granite Gear VP of Sales. “The team comes equipped with years of experience and expertise in the outdoor industry and an innate understanding of our brand.”
Hartford Sales Group is a dedicated group of reps that focuses on building long-lasting relationships and offering personalized service to each customer.

“We have been very fortunate to represent some of the most quality and innovative lines in the industry, and work with people who share our work ethic and love for the outdoors – and Granite Gear fits right into that culture.  We look forward to the journey,” said Larry Hartford.
This new partnership, effective immediately, will continue to help drive Granite Gear forward as a top backpack manufacturer in the world.  For more information about The Hartford Sales Group, please email Larry Hartford at larry@hartsale.com.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Granite Gear Announces Partnership with North Brand Agency

Granite Gear, award-winning manufacturer of cutting-edge outdoor and lifestyle products, is pleased to announce their partnership with Portland, Oregon-based brand agency North for the upcoming year.  Effective immediately, North will assist Granite Gear with marketing strategy and creative campaigns as the company continues to make waves in the outdoor industry.

In the past year, Granite Gear has delved into the adventure travel market with the release of their Cross-Trek Collection and has revolutionized the school backpack market with their technical Campus Collection.  The brand has continued to add versatility to their offerings with the addition of lightweight packable duffels. North will be pivotal in developing messaging that speaks to Granite Gear’s Two Harbors, Minnesota heritage and to the consumer who needs quality technical gear for their travels and adventures.

“We have made huge strides in developing a product line that touches every corner of the outdoor and adventure travel markets,” says Rob Coughlin, Granite Gear’s VP of Sales and Product Development.  “We’re thrilled to be partnering with North so that we can share the unique story of our brand and continue to reach a blended outdoor audience.”

About North
North is an independent advertising agency that creates fans for good brands. We're in love with creativity, and believe fans are earned, not bought. So we think less like traditional marketers and a little more like musicians who care about results. 

We work in a big, open, light-filled space in beautiful Portland, Oregon, designed for smart, curious people to think, make, do their best work, collaborate, grow, have fun, be honest and kind to each other.