Summer Sojourn

I’ve been waiting to write a reflective entry in the Ashland Outdoor Store blog for a while. I haven’t, until now, found the impetus.

My personal sense of the Outdoor Store as a cohesive unit was altered irreversibly with Steve’s passing. He was a mentor to me, and a dear friend. The shop is a rigorous and professional workplace, and I always appreciated Steve’s energy and his frankness. He was also an incredibly caring individual, and this showed through in every way. It feels very different in the shop without his daily presence. Even on a Saturday, when he used to take his weekend and relinquish control of the morning meeting, can I feel his absence. It is undeniable, though; he is all around. His personal touch and his spirit thrives and lives on in this small Ashland shop. The excellence of service and the homely energy of our staff is a direct reflection of Steve’s commitment to the people he worked with — because of Steve, we are a family.

He was understanding and supportive when I came to him earlier this year and explained that I needed to involve myself less with the shop. He had always been supportive of me pursuing my English degree, but this time he encouraged me to travel. He pushed me on, and I began a new part of my life, split between Oregon and Arizona.

Steve had always drilled me relentlessly about my photography, and was willing to give me critique that was sincere and precise — something that I appreciated greatly, and that has shaped the way I think about the craft. I wonder what he would say about the following selection of photographs? One of them, I suppose, sums up this summer’s outdoor adventures, and thus I feel less of a need to include more. It was taken in the brief lull before the afternoon thunder came our way, while Sophia cleaned a route. This sweeping, expansive view that descends from the Santa Catalinas into the Sonoran desert reminds me of the joy and wonder that I felt in that place.

My traveling companions and I roamed through the mountains and the deserts of the southwestern states, pursued, it seemed, almost relentlessly by summer storms. We somehow spent three days in the backcountry of Arches National Park without drenching rain and lightning, and this seemed miraculous. Once we had finally gone our separate ways, and Sophia and I had arrived at our little casita in Tucson, this wildness permeated our house. It has stayed with us since. It seemed that the sadness we found at our brief parting was entirely diminished by the feeling of energy with which our summer sojourn had left us.

Steve, I think, was alive with a similar energy. His was found in different places than mine, and in different manners entirely, but as I think on it now, I understand how he could have been so vital and relentless. That energy he had found long ago pushed him to excel, to love fiercely, and to believe that everyone he lived and worked with was just as capable of this boundless vitality that characterized his life.

And so these photographs from the summer are dedicated to his memory. Without Steve’s push out the door, I never would have found them.


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5th Annual Siskiyou Challenge

Tracy Harding. Ashland, OR. 2014.

Tracy Harding. Ashland, OR. 2014.

We had the opportunity to sit down last week with Tracy Harding and chat about the upcoming local multi-discipline relay race, the Siskiyou Challenge.

The 5th annual Siskiyou Challenge takes place this Saturday, September 20th, and is open to both recreational and competitive racers. The six-leg, multi-sport relay race covers 46 miles in and outside of Ashland, and has kayak, cycling, mountain biking, and running sections. We are proud to be a lead sponsor of the event, and wanted to take a moment to congratulate Tracy on her hard work over the past five years, and ask her some questions.

When Deborah Gordon came knocking at Rogue Valley Farm to School five years ago, she wanted a partner organization for a local multi-sport relay, something similar to Montana’s Glacier Challenge, which she had recently raced in outside of Whitefish. Tracy worked closely with Gordon and the Rogue Valley Farm to School board to coordinate it over the next couple years. The multi-sport event, now five years in, draws families, teams, and solo racers from all over the country, and it has a long list of local sponsors.

Here at the Ashland Outdoor Store, we love supporting local events that both require and promote community involvement. The Siskiyou Challenge is a premiere example of this collaborative spirit. “The community loves it” says Tracy, “it’s a really well received event.” She noted that there were less local races when she started collaborating with Gordon five years ago, and that now it’s unavoidable to have schedule conflicts with other races. The benefit of this surge in popularity, however, affects our community. “We want to attract those racers who travel to other well-known events,” says Tracy. “And we have people traveling from Texas, and from New York. They are coming to race with their family.”

The Siskiyou Challenge is family friendly, of course. The Saturday event starts bright and early with a costume contest, sponsored this year by newcomer Picadilly Cycles. The early morning leg is a kayak loop out at Emigrant Lake. According to Harding, the Challenge seems to benefit from a casual atmosphere, but it has the right structure exactly where it’s needed.

This year there is a student athlete discount price for registration, as well as a welcoming pre-race barbecue on Friday. Harding expects a good turnout. “We’ll probably have over 350 individuals racing this year, and maybe 70 teams,” she said. Harding also added that it takes about 100 volunteers to properly staff the event, and that it is never too late to volunteer! The event website,, has an easy sign up method for those interested in volunteering this year. For racers, registration is open until midnight on Thursday, and links for the online form can be found on the event website as well.

This year’s Siskiyou Challenge is dedicated to Alex Newport-Berra, a local endurance athlete, mentor, and dear friend to many in our community. Alex lost his life in a mountain running accident this summer in Colorado, and had been working with Tracy Harding and Leland Fulton on developing the Challenge into a weekend-long event. Come race this weekend (or even just hang out), support local businesses, and share in this great community event. It is the vision and determination of organizers and the enthusiasm and support of our community that makes the Rogue Valley such a wonderful place to live. We’ll see you on Saturday!

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure. Canada!


On September 4th, Rick Sayler successfully made it to the Canadian border.

His trek on the PCT, done partially in the company of Dashiel Hillgartner, took him through Three states, over 2,650 miles.

We’d like to offer him our most sincere congratulations, and specifically highlight what a joy it was to sponsor such outstanding young gentlemen in their quest for adventure on our nation’s greatest distance hike. From all of us here at the Ashland Outdoor Store: Congratulations!


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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Friday, August 23rd

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.


Washington has been great to me so far. It is often said that entering Washington from Oregon on the PCT is like hitting a wall. Now I can see what they were talking about – the Washington side of the border is often quite humid, with lots of up and down. The first day or two was a lot of work with little reward (e.g. views or things of that nature). But one reward that has been getting better and better every day is huckleberry picking. They cover the trail and have been getting larger and riper daily. They have been referred to as Huckle-apples. Mt. Adams was amazing and seemed to be even more impressive than the cascades of Oregon. Adams isn’t much taller than Hood but has huge glaciers and seems to take up a much larger area. Our afternoon on Adams was rainy with a COLD barefoot creek crossing.

After crossing next to Adams I headed into the goat rocks wilderness which turned out to be one of the prettiest places I have ever been. Large rock peaks, picturesque alpine meadows with a ton of wild flowers in bloom and wild mountain goats, for which the area is named. The trail then proceeds over “the knife’s edge” – a shale ridge with steep drop offs on either side. When Cecil and I were up there it was windy and foggy but that made for some exceptional sights and smells as the clouds rolled in and moved on.
Before leaving the Oregon border I met with some friends, Long Legs and Jorge, and we had planned on hiking together. Six days later they were still behind Cecil and I and we were enjoying some magic provided by a trail crew in White Pass. The next day, with full bellies and some good company, we were having trouble getting motivated. Then, after seeing and chatting with Scott (a southbounder who held the previous speed record, and is out to get it back), we were motivated to go. At the same moment Long Legs and Jorge came into town. One zero, lots of beer and a fun day later we were back on the trail. Mt. Rainer and the Urich cabin made this “ugly and dry” stretch quick and fun.

With 266.8 miles it’s time to get back at it!

Without computer access I’m unable to load photos –

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Thursday, August 8th

This gallery contains 11 photos.

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail. Into the land of plenty After the fateful event in Ashland I decided to spend an extra day off and see what … Continue reading

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Friday, July 26th

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

Game Ender!

With our bags packed and provisions for the remainder of the PCT set, Rick and I were good to go. But, before we left we had to climb one last tree which turned out to be the worst idea ever.

A branch broke and I fell to the ground, dislocating my elbow. As of now it means I won’t be hiking for a while. In two weeks I’ll go to a check up and get a better idea of when I’ll be good to go. Rick has pressed on – I drove out to Crater Lake yesterday and dropped off his box.

If things work out, I may be able to join him for the Washington section but due to commitments starting in September it looks like I will be part of that 70% of people that attempt a through hike and fail. Fortunately, the trail isn’t going anywhere and I still have many places to go on it. Two beautiful states that someday will be the event of another summer :)


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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Friday, July 19th

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

Hiking Home/ Shasta


As we left the shadow of Mt. Lassen we moved into the shadow of Mt. Shasta, which for me meant two things. The first was something that reminded me of Ashland, and Oregon. During high school in Ashland I often skied on Shasta, which was only an hour and a half drive to the south. The second thing was that we would be climbing Shasta in a few days.

As we hiked we had set a date to meet our friends David, Matt and Ed and hoped that we we would be ready to climb this mountain that got larger and larger every day. Once I got to I-5, I quickly hitched a ride to the city of Mount Shasta and heard that Ed, Matt and David would be heading down after work with the gear and the plan to get us on top.

With a one a.m. wake up we were headed up five miles and 7000 vertical ft., with only a view that our headlamps would provide. As the sun was rising it was time to strap on our crampons and and head up the avalanche gulch route. Though there were some quite steep sections, but we made it up slowly under the excellent coaching of David and Matt. The top gave us an amazing view and a great sense of accomplishment.

After putting some Mexican food in our stomach, our friends dropped us at the trail with eight days of hiking left until Ashland. This stretch turned out to be one of my favorite sections, between the Marble Mountain Wilderness and hiking on the back of Mt. Ashland, I had a surprising sense of accomplishment after finishing the state of California. Ashland has been full of great food, great friends, a few drinks and a free massage! With a full stomach and fresh legs, it’s time to hit the trail again and see what Oregon has to offer.



As Rick said, the section after Shasta was one of the best so far. Shasta dominated the horizon for nearly the entirety of it, but the Trinity Alps, Castle Crags, and Marble Mountains all competed with its beauty. As we entered the Marbles I came around a corner and saw that the trail lead straight to a big furry butt. I had finally encountered a bear! It was a very large, cinnamon colored black bear and I followed it for about a minute. I set down my things and tried to get close so I could get a good picture but when it saw me it dove into the bushes. Never have I seen an animal more afraid of a human. The next day Rick and I parted ways – I felt like doing larger miles and potentially getting to Ashland earlier. I ended up doing 44 miles to Seiad Valley which was a wonderful little town full of generous people. I ate breakfast the next day with the owner of the R.V. park, Bruce, and then set out. I got pretty close to the Oregon/California border but decided to spend one last night in California. That night I heard movement and saw the largest spider I’ve ever seen in the states. Apparently there are Northern California tarantulas and one happened to crawl on my bag. When I entered Oregon I let out a shout of joy. I couldn’t believe we had finally finished that ridiculously long state. It had been years since I hiked around the backside of Ashland. It is so wonderful and I urge anyone from Ashland to get out there while the wild flowers are still in bloom. You can actually drive all throughout it too if hiking a lot isn’t your thing ;) As of now Rick and I have been hiking for three months. We did about 950 miles in the first two months and about 800 in the third. 950 to go!  Here are some pictures.


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Rick & Dash Climb Mt. Shasta

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Summer Mountaineering On Saturday afternoon, our sponsored PCT hikers reached Mount Shasta City. They’d long had the goal of climbing Mt. Shasta in a day, before hopping back on the trail. David, Matt Faurot, and a mutual friend, Ed Dickey, … Continue reading

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Saturday, July 6th

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

Personal Record

After leaving Chester and the wonderful home of trail angel Piper’s Mom, we had some miles to make up. The incident with L.P. had set us back and presented us with the challenge of hiking 50 miles in one day. It just so happened that this day would be in one of the hottest parts of the trail with the least amount of water…..still, we went for it. Our friend Henry and us awoke at 4am and quickly hiked 16 miles through a burn section as the sun rose. We reached Hat Creek Rim by noon and without hesitation set out to knock off the 15 mile stretch without water. We were very fortunate because a gentle storm passed over, blocked the sun, cooled us down, and then gave us our own little light show. As the evening set in, we watched powerful lightning strike down, illuminating Mt. Shasta in the distance. It was incredible – our own little 4th of July. At the end of the day we had in total hiked nearly 53 miles, a double marathon. We limped into camp just before midnight and in the morning realized we had slept in the front lawn of a fish hatchery. Henry hitched into the town of Burney and we continued on to Burney Falls State Park. That day was very hot and we were told that the temperature on Hat Creek Rim was 117! We had just barely dodged a bullet. I hiked down to Burney Falls to take a dip and then it was back to the trail. We hiked out to a little creek and soaked in it. I hate cold water, but the past day and a half had taken such a toll on my body that this time I was alright soaking in a cool pool for a very long time. We’re now in Mount Shasta waiting for our friends Ed, David, and Matt to drive down from Ashland. Tomorrow we are all Climbing Mt. Shasta which I have always wanted to do. It’s going to be so cool!


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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Wednesday, July 3rd

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

A little problem half way

As we waited out the storm at the Red Moose Inn, we were informed that there was a resident ghost – apparently a man had died way back when, in the bar. Later, we were informed that we were going to be sleeping where he had died. Needless to say, I was creeped out and ready to get going on the trail the next morning. We climbed out of the valley and back up onto a ridge line, where now the views had transitioned from tall snow-capped peaks to rolling green mountains. The cold wet weather has now been replaced by blue sky and 90 plus degree weather. To make up for our lost time, we pushed hard to get to the town of Belden by hiking a 32, a 35, and a 25 mile day which allowed us to arrive in town just before it got way too hot. In Belden, we regrouped with two other hikers we had met on the trail, Catch Up and Henry. As a solid crew, we left Belden early in the morning and conquered the 5000 ft. accent out of the canyon by 10 a.m. In a strong, comfortable pace we were flying, but then we hit trouble. I came across what at first I thought was a bear but quickly realized was a dog. The dog was clearly lost and due to the fact that it was just fur and bones, it had been lost for a while. We hiked behind it for a bit but couldn’t get close enough to grab it and we didn’t want it bolting off the trail. I fashioned a make shift leash out of some rope and was able to get to the dog when it attempted to cross a river but was too weak to swim. Wet, ten miles from any road, and now responsible for this mangy mutt, we sat down to game plan. Henry was able to get service and called every animal shelter within 50 miles of Belden but everyone was either closed or not interested in helping. We ended up having to hike back the ten miles to Belden in 95 degree heat with the dog draped over our shoulders. In our time with the dog we named it L.P. (Little Problem) and all became quite attached to it. The rescue mission ended in success when the owners of the local general store agreed to take L.P. off our hands and even better, give us a ride to a town called Chester further up the trail. This morning we hiked south on the trail to make up the miles we missed and then back to the town of Chester. In this 20 miles we reached the midway point of the Pacific Crest Trail. We are now more than halfway to Canada, 1,335 miles! It is a great bench mark to arrive at. We have already had an incredible adventure, and we are so excited for what is to come. At the mile post we looked at the log book to see how many people are in front of us. 1,100 miles back, there were 115 hikers in front of us. There are now only 13, most of which we know. It is obviously not a race, but it is still fun to know we are part of the leading elite!


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