When we bought the tickets, I remember thinking “I better fucking learn something for almost $500 apiece.” After all, I was skeptical being a fairly experienced outdoorsman, that heading to an event specifically for introducing people to types of outdoor recreation might be a bit beneath me. This specific event I am speaking about is called The Camelbak Pursuit Series. It is put on mainly by The Outbound Collective and Camelbak with a long list of other well-known sponsors. It is marketed “…as a summer camp for grown-ups who love the outdoors…but instead of camp counselors, you’ll have expert guides and pro athletes teaching you all of the outdoor activities and skills that you’ve always dreamt about experiencing. Plus, complimentary meals, nightly open bars, fire pits, and live music.” Adventure Actual went and let me say this, it was marketed well and represented even better.
We were on the road leaving my spot in Lakewood CO by 4 am and headed to Salt Lake City UT. My girlfriend and I were both stoked to get out to this “Summer Camp for Adults” at Snowbasin Resort. A few hours later we sped past our normal stop in Utah, Moab, it almost felt unreal driving right past the exit off 70 but we barreled ahead. A few hours after that we pulled into Salt Lake, before all the fun I had some 9 to 5 business to attend to. I straightened my hair, threw on a nice shirt and headed into a meeting with a client. After that, it was back into the truck, a refuel, and off to Snowbasin resort outside of Salt Lake.
We parked outside of the resort and as we walked towards registration for the event I noticed that the lawn of the resort was covered in these huge white log and canvas tents and teepees. I was already getting excited! We checked in with the front desk and were instructed to head to the Camelbak tent to receive our gift bag, the coolest gift bag I have ever received. It was a Camelbak Arete 18 backpack complete with a reservoir, a Camelbak Kickback, Kuju Coffee, Rinse soap, Juniper Ridge incense, Mountain House meal, Organic Clif Bar, and Lorissa’s Kitchen beef jerky. That’s when it dawned on me that basically, they had this event set up so someone could just show up with a tent and everything was already taken care of. How rad is that? We then proceeded to the camping area and set up our home for the next 3 days. That night we made some dinner and hung out at the open bar. Tomorrow we had adventures planned.
Friday morning, we woke up early and grabbed a quick breakfast along with some Kuju coffee. I want to shout out Kuju Coffee really quick because these guys provided fresh pour over coffee and cold brew for free the entire event. The coffee is absolutely delicious and I highly recommend you check these guys out. After that is was onto our first activity of the day, intro to rock climbing. Now my girlfriend and I had been climbing a decent amount this summer already so we expected to just be standing around for a while listening to some boring lecture. We were wrong. After being outfitted by Petzel we took a gondola ride up to the top of Snowbasin where guides had hung ropes for some top rope climbing. Surprisingly my girlfriend and I got to start climbing right away…on a very tough route. In fact, this route wasn’t rated because it wasn’t a climbing route. You see climbing isn’t allowed on top of Snowbasin and we were the first to climb there. The guides hadn’t climbed the route to set the ropes either, they hiked around and set up natural anchors for the ropes up top. The first time I tried to climb the route I ended up getting denied but the second time I got to the top. The others in our class were much less experienced but they had easier routes to climb and several made it to the top their first time climbing outside. Once the class ended we all headed back to Camp Pursuit on the gondola…and I kept thinking “this place is awesome!”
We got to the bottom and it was already time to catch a shuttle down to the nearby reservoir for stand-up paddle boarding, this being a first for both of us and we were excited. We arrived at the reservoir to see that Jimmy Styks had provided the boards and after a brief overview from our instructors we hit the water and the next thing I knew I was standing on a paddle board just cruising. We took them the length of the reservoir and even stopped at a rope swing. The instructors taught us how to paddle, good balance technique, and even tail turns. The water was warm and we were both having a blast.
Our next event was kayaking and it was at the very same location so we didn’t have far to go. We turned in our paddle boards and I was stoked to find out that Oryu Kayaks had provided the boats. I had been eyeing these things for quite some time and now I got to test one out. They were giving instructions on how to get in and out of the boats…but I didn’t need that, I had plenty of experience with kayaks. I then proceeded to flip my kayak three times as I tried to get in it. After the third time, one of the instructors stopped me, emptied the water, and gave me plain instructions on how to get in. Aside from the dent to my pride I finally got in and started paddling. The first thing I noticed is that this thing moves! I was loving this kayak! It turned on a dime, it picked up speed quickly, and just felt so smooth in the water. I kept thinking, “This thing folds up to the size of a suitcase?” If you ever have the opportunity to check out one of these kayaks I highly recommend it. After another trip to the rope swing, it was time to head back in. 4+ hours on the water were taking their toll anyways so we were happy to head in.
Our next event wasn’t until much later that night so we meandered up to the shuttle stop to head back to camp for drinks and food. As we walked up we noticed there were a few Teslas there to take us back to camp. We piled into a new Tesla Model X piloted by one of Tesla’s representatives and we headed back up the mountain. During our ride, the rep explained a lot about the Model X and the more she said the more I wanted one. At one point, we came to a complete stop to test the 2.9 seconds 0-60 acceleration and boy was that thing fast, definitely the fastest car I have ever ridden in. Add in a super low-cost of ownership, outstanding safety features, falcon doors, self-driving capability, a 295-mile range, and that thing had my vote along with everyone else’s in the car. Of course, with the 100K+ price tag we were all quickly humbled by our meager means of ever buying a car like that. Still, this had me thinking a lot more about Tesla as a car company.
Once we were back at camp we got some dinner together and then headed back up to the main lawn and bar for happy hour. This was a time where really no one had any classes and was encouraged to show up, have a drink, and meet other people. After a few drinks and some smores, it was time for our last class of the day, Introduction to Night Photography. They took us out for a hike right after the sun went down to take pictures of a meteor shower that was occurring. While only a few of us got a meteor, everyone learned a lot more about photographing the night sky and after a few hours, it was time to head back and turn in.
Saturday morning, we were scheduled for Introduction to Mountain Biking so after some Kuju coffee, we headed to the tent with all the mountain bikes under it. TREK supplied the mountain bikes and Giro supplied our helmets both of which were top quality. The Inspired Summit Adventures guides we had were great. They structured the class for all levels of riders so even someone like myself who was pretty far past an intro class had things to work on and got a more critical eye on my techniques. The class was very informative and interactive with us jumping on bikes and heading out to practice right away. After a few hours, we headed back in so we could all catch our next class.
Next, we swung by the Smith Optics tent to “up our mental game” as they called it. Basically, what Smith has done is outfit their Lowdown shades with EKG readers in the temple and have a software program that tracks your meditation efficiency in order to encourage you to meditate more and learn to meditate better. I for one was super stoked on this and plan to follow this technology as it becomes more available. Immediately following that we headed over to the Campchef tent for a base camp cooking class. Being pretty crafty with food even while camping I was interested to see what this class was about and I was not disappointed. They talked to us about everything from the temperature of food while in transport, pre-prep, unusual ways of cooking certain dishes, cooking with fire, and even basics of just how fast to heat certain items for a meal. I was blown away at the attention to detail and everything I learned in that class, plus they fed us so that was cool.
After our cooking class, we headed straight back to the TREK tent for an intermediate mountain biking class. This particular class was called “Riding the obstacles” and that is exactly what we did. We hit the trail immediately and when we would approach an obstacle they would stop the whole group and then clinic that obstacle. The guides would break down exactly how to hit that obstacle best and what your other options were. After that everyone would hit the obstacle and then we would move on. Unfortunately, my girlfriend took a digger on the first obstacle but she popped right back up and kept riding the rest of the class. She still has a bruise as of me writing this and wears it proud. We proceeded on towards several other obstacles and repeated this process. I learned a lot about technical riding I did not know before that class and it seemed like everyone else involved did as well.
About two hours later we headed back to Camp Pursuit for a lesson in camping mixology from Tito’s vodka. This was perhaps my favorite class. We learned 3 or 4 different cocktails that you could potentially make while in the backcountry. They were all absolutely delicious and all made with Tito’s vodka. Afterwards, I got a unique opportunity to test out a One Wheel thanks to one of their reps Michael, and now I need one…great. If you have never tested one out I highly suggest it, unless you really can’t afford one because then you will just be heart broken. While we were scheduled for a hike later that night we decided not to attend and enjoy the libations instead as we were pretty beat. That night was spent, drink in hand, around propane campfires cooking smores, surrounded by new friends, and talking about the adventures we had experienced during those two days.
Sunday morning was a bit groggy after those drinks. Luckily there were bloody marys and Tito’s/Kuju cold brew drinks on the house to get everyone back on their feet. My girlfriend and I had a backcountry cooking class with Campchef that morning and again their guys did not disappoint. I am pretty sure Jack from Campchef knows just about all there is to know about cooking away from home and I came away from that class with even more ideas for backcountry meals and a full stomach.
After second cooking class, we headed over to Slacklining 101 with gear provided by Slackline Industries and taught by none other than Heather Larson! She taught us some basics and demonstrated a few tricks. While I am no high-liner I was starting to get the hang of slacklining, maybe I will actually start using the one I have. After that, we headed over to a class called “How to prepare for an unexpected night out.” Being well-versed in survival and bush craft I again was not sure I would learn anything but the guys from Mountain Education and Development proved me wrong once again. I learned a great deal about new technology out there to help you in case you have an oh shit moment in the wild as well as some basic first aid and some other must have essentials you should really be bringing with you during outdoor trips.
Soon after it was time to head back to Colorado and eventually to work the next day. I have to say that The Outbound did a great job of coordinating and getting this event going. I am sure the sponsors all had a great deal to do with the success of the event as well. If you have the opportunity to do so the next event is just outside San Francisco September 8th through the 10th. If I could swing the time off I would plan on being there it was that good that I would attend twice in the same year. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who made that weekend possible, it won’t soon be forgotten. – Martin Upton