A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers

- Pink Floyd


Adventure Travel

Mar 24, 2017

Leave it Better: Hikers Being Sponsored to Pick Up Your Trash

Upping the ‘Leave No Trace’ ante! To reverse the poor state of some of America’s trails, Granite Gear has hand-picked a team of dedicated ‘Grounds Keepers’ to hike their butts—and toenails—off, to clean up the parks you love.


Alyssa Fowler

“I’m confident that together we can inspire a positive shift in our nation’s values and help rejuvenate landscapes that are being loved to death.”

Words from Seth Orme, founder of Packing it Out and a huge part the inspiration behind the idea for Granite Gear’s Grounds Keepers program: selecting and sponsoring 15 individuals committed to thru-hiking long trails for the next year, scooping up as much garbage as they can find and documenting their experiences along the way.

Seth “Cap” Orme and Paul “Spice” Twedt heading in to pack it out.

In 2015, a chance meeting took place at the Appalachian Trail Days. Cap and Spice (trail names for Seth Orme and Paul Twedt), from Packing it Out sauntered up to the Granite Gear stand and nonchalantly mentioned that they were on a mission to remove 1,000 pounds of garbage from the Appalachian Trail that year. Instantly wanting to help, Rob Coughlin and Shelly Smith got involved and Granite Gear became the team’s first sponsor.

Packing It Out: Cleaning America’s Wild Trails from Colin Arisman on Vimeo.

Proving Cap and Spice’s belief that “attitudes are contagious”, Smith told The Outdoor Journal that their work continued to inspire the Granite Gear team until they asked Seth, “what if we had a bigger group and you were their mentor? People that were already committed to trails.”

So, that’s exactly what they did.

After placing the call out on the world wide web, over 200 serious thru-hikers applied to dedicate themselves to the Grounds Keeper program

“We found people that already had strong Leave No Trace ethics, who poured their hearts out to us, who really wanted to do this. They understood that it could be treacherous work and they were committed to it,” says Smith.

Overwhelmed with the amount of people still wanting to be involved, Coughlin, VP of Sales and Marketing for Granite Gear, told The Outdoor Journal, “we still have so many people out there that weren’t able to even apply that are helping out with the program. Picking up trash, whether on long trails or at their local park, and calling in to tell us about it. The idea is that anyone can be a Grounds Keeper at this point. You tell us what you’ve done out there and we’ll post it.”

At The Outdoor Journal, we are always impressed by brands that really stand-out in making an effort to protect this planet that lets us do what we love—no matter the size.
Rob makes it clear that “as an outdoor company, as any outdoor company, the trails, the thru-hikers, that’s our business. If we keep polluting our trails, we’re not going to have our business anymore.”

We’re not huge, we’re not Patagonia, but we’re going to do whatever we can and try to be as effective with the funds we have. 

Photo courtesy of Granite Gear
Photo courtesy of Granite Gear

Armed with their kit from Granite Gear, the Grounds Keepers will update the team throughout the year with as many stories, photos and increased numbers to the ‘total garbage collected’ tally as possible. The kit was worked on with Seth and includes the new Crown2 multi-day backpack, 1 Dump Trunk (Tactical Line), 2 16L Air Zippsacks, 1 7L Air Bag, 1 Scale and 1 Trash Grabber. They will also have access to Seth for any advice or inspiration if things get tough along the trails.

Some updates from the trails so far:

Ali “Chicory” Edwards (with special guests Aqua Pops, HoHo and Van Geaux)
Hiking with her boyfriend and their dads, optimism is high on the Arizona Trail as they’ve gathered over 30lbs so far (despite lost toenails). Continually impressing Chircory on the trail, her father replied with a sincere, “Well, it’ll grow back!”.

ali and all
It’s all smiles with Chicory, Aqua Pops, HoHo and Van Geaux.

Leland “Woodsy” Kolson
After 6 days of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, he’s already added 16.7lbs of trash to his tally—including a full blow-up mattress he found half a mile in, a selfie-stick and more dog poo than anyone expected.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 11.23.16
The man makes a good point…

Gretchen “Dirty Bowl” Matt
Through swampy waters and with more than one close call with alligators, she has cleared 29.6lbs of trash out of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Oh, and she celebrated her birthday the day she completed the trail—gator-free!

Already thinking about the future of Grounds Keepers, Rob speaks excitedly and confidently about what’s in store after this inaugural year:

We have 15 out there today, but 5 years from now, I would love for there to be hundreds! On trails throughout the world. And this is where we’re going.

We’ll be keeping up with the team and posting updates of their progress when we can. For more information on the members and their trails head to the Granite Gear Journal.

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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.



Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma


“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”


For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

Subscribe here: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/in/subscribe/

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