“Matt, do you see anything?” I cried in his general direction. From the other side of a small grove of trees, he shouted again “Just a lot of grass and moss.” Less than a mile from the trail and we’ve already lost track. twice. In terms of context, Matt and I run a lot. Seventy miles or so every week, mostly on the road. We’re not new to navigating neighboring countries either. We met while staying in Jackson, WO, and became close friends during the big days in the Tetons. Now, on our day, we were stuck in a maze-like swamp in what might more properly be described as the middle of nowhere, Lofoten, Norway, serving as a gear tester for Hardware Mountain.
The best – and perhaps the only – decision was to climb up a nearby rocky feature to get a better view. That’s what we did, and we quickly re-finded the path. Fortunately, from there, the trail went back down a steep incline for the lift, and pulled us out of the swampy swamp onto a single joggable track. Then we follow a series of ridges a few miles off the coast, before doing everything in reverse, to get back into the car.
Last winter, sitting at my faux wood desk between my ski rack and my living room window, I got an email. Among the hundreds or more I read that day, this book stood out. The subject line was just one word, “availability,” and the body was pretty much the same—anything but flowery or verbose.
Friends who worked at Mountain Hardwear were looking for gear testers to throw their unreleased performance line through the wringer. Full disclosure, I work with these guys regularly on a variety of projects and there’s a good relationship both ways, so this wasn’t a complete cold call. The offer was simple and succinct: a paid trip to northern Norway, to spend a week hiking, climbing, and jogging as much as possible. The goal was to see how these new coats, layers, and packs could withstand the elements.