The Stories Behind Our Gear

The stories I tell on my website are pretty straightforward. I usually write trip reports about obscure places with a dose of sarcasm and (hopefully) helpful tips. So far, my #OmniGames reports have followed my normal pattern and voice. But for our last #OmniGame, Columbia asked us to tell our story. For this last post, I’m taking that as a challenge to step outside of my normal format and think about my experience with the #OmniTen in a different way.

How do I tell a story about the adventure that goes beyond my typical trip report style? As I sit here in my home office trying to figure out the answer to that question, I have a nice view into my gear closet. My eyes pass over the abundant outdoor gear and a grin comes to my face. The trekking poles I had to jettison when running for shelter during a lightning storm. My “Campfire Jacket”, complete with melted patches of fleece from sparky campfires with friends. The solo tent that was my home for weeks on the John Muir Trail. Each physical object has a story (or two) behind it that reminds me why I love adventuring outside.

My Muse: The Gear Closet
My Muse: The Gear Closet

Then I turn to the unsorted pile of Columbia gear I brought home from Park City. I go back to my gear closet and peek at the Columbia sleeping bag and a pair of shoes I brought home from our Arizona trip. No specific event comes to mind. Rather, I see faces. I see the grinning, happy, giggling faces of my #OmniTen friends.

#OmniTen, Season 1 (and best!)
#OmniTen, Season 1 (and best!) at Havasu Falls

The piles of Columbia gear I have acquired aren’t just tools for being successful and comfortable in my outdoor adventures. They represent an attitude in which I approach the outdoors. An attitude that is shared among my #OmniTen friends. You gotta give it to the folks at Columbia. They sure have a knack for picking people out.

As much as I joked about our inability to ski giving Team Florifornia a disadvantage, everyone had their weaknesses and strengths in the OmniGames. While my disadvantage was certainly skiing, I am lucky to be unafraid of heights. Some strong skiers struggled with other activities. But the one thing we all had in common was the attitude in which we faced both our strong and weak activities.

An amazing collection of people!
An amazing collection of people!

We would barrel through our strong activities with an enthusiasm that was barely dampened in our weaker activities. No one sat down and cried that they couldn’t do something. From time to time people would get frustrated, whether it was with the fire not lighting or falling down on the ski slopes. But the one common thread was how people responded to the setbacks and frustrating situations. No one dwelled on the “I can’t”. People faced their discomforts and frustrations with a grin and a determination to get through it, finding the opportunity to laugh about the ridiculous situations we often found ourselves in.

When a few of us poor skiers got frustrated with falling, we didn’t stomp back to the hotel and pout about it. We found an alternate solution and turned our disadvantage to an afternoon of shared fun on the Gondola. On the ropes course, constant encouragement helped some of the people who were the most afraid of heights rock the course the hardest. In those moments we weren’t competitors. Despite a big prize being on the line, the shared camaraderie and friendships trumped any need to gain a team advantage.

Team Gondola
Team Gondola. Photo Credit: Heidi

I am eternally grateful for Columbia Sportswear and their creation of the #OmniTen program. They have connected us beyond our virtual ties by bringing us together in dream locations like Havasu Falls and Park City. They’ve created a community and memories that I will hold near and dear for my lifetime. Every time I put on one of my (numerous) pieces of Columbia gear, a smile will come to my face from the memories and friendships that have been formed. Each piece of gear tells a story and the stories behind my Columbia gear are among the best in my closet.

 #OmniTen, starry sky, and Havasu Falls, photo by <a href=
#OmniTen, starry sky, and Havasu Falls, photo by Will Rochfort.

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Free range human. Mountain sports addict. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Team OmniTen and Evernote Ambassador. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    It was so great to hang out, Rebecca! You’re absolutely right that the gear all reminds me of specific stories. I never thought about it, but that’s my big intention when I acquire it: to live better stories. I have a lot of jackets and my wife gives me a hard time, but it’s tough to get rid of them with all of the memories attached.

    Next time we’re in San Jose we need to get together. You and my wife, Christine, would really hit it off.

    • calipidder

      Definitely! We have some climbing gym passes with your name on them! And good point about getting rid of gear. I am always getting rid of stuff, but there is still plenty left. When I look at the stuff I still have that I don’t use that much, it’s always the items that have a lot of memories attached.

  • Heidi Henry

    Ooh, I like this voice. You have such a way with words and this is absolutely perfect.

    • calipidder

      Thanks! I think whenever I put on my TurboDown I’ll think of a big OmniTen hug.

  • http://www.100peaks.com/ 100Peaks

    It’s nice, my team was similar as yours: Califlorida! Associating the gear with whatever positive emotion you feel is definitely a healthy way to go.