When we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015, Bend, Oregon was one of the most popular trail towns. Dozens of breweries, friendly locals, amazing food, and a cultural embrace of dirtbaggery made the slightly complicated hitch from the trail into town well worth it for most, even if they left having spent way more time and money there than they had planned.
Maybe it's no coincidence then that about a third of the participants at our first event in Bend were PCT veterans. And while we didn't realize it at the time, two of the crowd favorite storytellers were trail famous.
Kolby "Condor" Kirk, who told a moving story that we featured in our 3/20/17 podcast "How to Make an Adventure." His story was about his transition from a young dreamer to a bonafide world-traveler. He was also the creator of the video linked above - a concise but comprehensive record of the scenery he saw, the beard he gained, and the 90 lbs he lost on trail. After he posted, it went viral and is one of the most watched short video records of the PCT journey online.
Condor is also a talented artist, and his artwork was recently used by our personal favorite local brewery and Pacific Crest Trail Association sponsor, the Crux Fermentation Project, on their can design for the PCT Porter. Pacific Northwesterners will understand what I mean when I say that this demonstrates that Condor has achieved peak Bend.
And Modern Hiker recently profiled Condor as one of their "Trailblazers", and we'd definitely encourage you to check out their write up, which has examples of the incredible artwork he created in his trail journals during the PCT, as well as details of upcoming plans for publication.
Not a Chance
Our event winner, "Chance" (short for "Not a Chance") is a peripatetic traveler (originally from Ohio, like us!) who we were lucky to catch when she was swinging through Bend visiting some friends. She was initially unassuming and told us she wouldn't be putting her name in the hat, but bowed to peer pressure and told a hilarious story about her experience hiking with a nude partner on "International Hike Naked Day". When Angel was following up with her about the podcast, she learned some remarkable things - including the fact that she's hiked over 14,000 miles in the last 7 years, and has a huge online following on her blog and Instagram.
Intrigued, we dug a little deeper, and found out that Chance is a bit of a PCT legend, having hiked the trail four times since 2009 (she says she repeated it, among other reasons, because she wasn't as good as she wanted to be at thru-hiking), and filled in the rest of her time completing the type of rugged, epic, only partially developed routes that serious hikers always say they're going to attempt, but usually don't: The Great Divide Trail through the Canadian Rockies, the South Island portion of Te Araroa in New Zealand, the Lowest to Highest route from Badwater Basin in Death Valley to the top of Mt Whitney, the San Diego Trans County route, and a bunch of others.
If you check out her blog or Instagram, you'll see why she's a popular web presence: they are both fascinating looks into the life of a person who makes thru-hiking a lifestyle, as well as a great resource for those who are thinking about following in her thru-hiking footsteps, either literally or figuratively. Her blog posts are focused on the various hiking projects she has worked on and completed, and posts range from detailed gear lists to impressionistic, sometimes poetic, and always funny descriptions of trail experiences.
A typical excerpt:
"Grand Enchantment Trail, Me Own Outhouse, April 2015
A short distance from the outhouse I can smell a fire. I sniff. Again. Sniff. Again. Am I hallucinating? Sometimes this happens, when you want something so bad you can smell it, or see it, or dream about it.
This time my brain isn’t messin’ around. Four cowboys have built an extravagant camp near the outhouse. Not only do they have a fire, they have a kitchen, three tents with cots and wood burning stoves, and beer.
I coyly tell them I’m going to stay inside the outhouse until the blizzard subsides. They look perplexed. I wonder how long it’s going to take them to ask me to the fire.
One of the cowboys slowly approaches and it seems like he’s trying to figure out what to say…
“Hey listen Little Gal, I’m havin’ stomach problems, this ain’t gonna work.”
We were stoked for the opportunity to meet both Chance and Condor, because they're exactly the kind of people we're hoping to connect through Boldly Went - great people with adventure in their souls.
If you want to hear either of their stories, subscribe or download our podcast, because stories from the Bend event will be featured in the next few episodes!