Written by Granite Gear’s VP, Rob Coughlin
I had the honor of hiking with Paul ‘Spice’ Twedt last weekend. For those who aren’t familiar with Paul, he’s one of the founders of Packing it Out. Paul and his other Packing it Out brethren packed out almost a ton of trash off of The Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails over the past 2 years. And, just to be clear, I’m not talking like ‘I have a ton of work to do.’ I’m talking they literally picked up close to 2,000 lbs. On this hike we managed to pick up only 5.5 lbs but we were proud to do it.
Paul led a team of Granite Gear team members and our Japanese Partner, Mr. Suzuki, on a three day two night hike on the Superior Hiking Tail. While the Superior Hiking Trail does not have the high elevations that some of our other Scenic Trails do, do not be fooled into thinking it’s an easy trail. Like any trail, there are some easier sections. However, we were not on one of these sections. What also didn’t help was going in with 42 lbs on my back, but we were going to enjoy our nights and whiskey weight is nonnegotiable. I used a Nimbus Trace Access so the weight rode as well as 42 lbs can ride. The rest of the hikers rocked Crown 2’s. I can tell you that we may have packed on the mileage that day but the GG Team Members were super happy to get to the campsite early that evening. However, I don’t think Paul and Mr. Suzuki’s heartrates got over 60.
That night at camp was glorious. Under a full moon and half bottle of Maker’s Mark, we had Andrew (Funghi) Ford running the culinary detail. When dinner was served, I don’t think we said a word to each other for a good half hour. No one can resist Chrorizo Tacos topped with avacodoe’d rice and just the right amount of Chlolula Sauce. Eventually the bugs, the day’s hike and the Maker’s chased us all to our tents by 10:00.
We woke to a beautiful morning. Paul began the day leading us on a day hike down to Lake Superior. Eventually, I made the decision to take the lead. It was my time. I began a nice pace at the front of our 5 person pack. I began to put some distance between myself and Paul when I heard a pretty close and alarming sound coming from the brush to my right. There was something loud and pissed off moving through the brush and there was no doubt it was coming for me. Now, there’s no real cool way to run away from a Grouse. This Grouse was having a bad day and proceeded to chase me up the trail a good 30 yards. At this point, I turned, made myself big and faced my adversary. This Grouse would know it messed with the wrong ‘man.’ Luckily, he backed off. However, by that time, Paul had a pretty good look at the entire situation. I imagine it was a bit more comical from his perspective.
Anyway, a big thanks to Paul, Mr. Suzuki and The Grouse for making it a special few days. As of writing this, Paul has already begun his Three Rivers Project with the Adventure Stewardship Alliance – another organization he founded. It is a 1200 mile place-based environmental and cultural exploration by canoe of the Mississippi, Minnesota, and Namekagon/St. Croix Rivers. Within 24 hours on the Namekagon River they’ve packed out 18 pounds of litter. Here’s to making it better.