Bill tackles Salida’s famous waters and the FIBark Fest – Osprey Packs Experience
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Bill tackles Salida’s famous waters and the FIBark Fest

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Durango, Colorado resident Bill Grasse. Bill wrapped up a crazy week of travel, music, and rocking river action at Salida’s FIBark whitewater festival. Here’s the story…

It’s been a crazy week. First, in a rush on Wednesday night I was off to Telluride for a day of lounging out and listening to bluegrass (T-ride Bluegrass Festival) only to end that day with David Byrne dancing in a white tu-tu. Killer show! The next day: Wake up, drive home, work for six hours, and then drive to Salida for FIBark. Oh yeah, that’s right… FIBark!

FIBark is one of the oldest whitewater festivals in America. Starting as just a race in 1949 it has grown to encompass a multitude of events from music and a fair, to a whitewater rodeo, to the famous Hooligans race where costume clad people try to paddle home made crafts through the Ark’s play holes right in downtown Salida. An orgy of whitewater fun for the enthusiast or spectator, FIBark is always high on my list in the summer.

Osprey loaded me up with coupons, “soda” cozies, hats, stickers, and sweet osprey tattoos to be handed out around the festival. I also received a GoPro camera, so some yaking was most definitely on the menu for the weekend. After all, I had to get some action shots for this blog!

So Saturday morning started with meeting some friends for a quick run down Browns Canyon and then off to the events. Well, after many phone calls and an hour long nap at the take out, my friend’s group finally woke me and we drove to the put in.

Everyone decked out and loaded up with Osprey goodies I found myself answering questions about Osprey Packs and helping one guy decide between a pack from the Osprey Atmos or Exos series’. He’s going for the Exos which may be because I happened to have one at my truck for him to look at. At the put in: rain, but we didn’t care. Browns Canyon was just down stream. Brown’s is a classic class 3+ that was bumped up a bit more by high water.

Mutant 38

Mutant 38

Next it was off to the festivities. I loaded my Mutant 38 with Osprey swag and headed into an afternoon of hooligan racing, handing out swag, and talking Osprey with anyone sporting a pack or that would listen. The night ended with music and friends and the twenty minute drive back to camp.

Sunday we were running the big one; a run that had me nervous… very nervous. It wast he quiet-staring-into-space-glazed-over kind of nervousness that left a bad look plastered to my face. This nervousness wasn’t there all morning, it started after I realized that everybody was still psyched to run the Numbers even though the water was at 2200 cfs making this class IV into an IV+. So after breakfast in Buena Vista and handing out more swag, we were off to the put in, scouting the river as we made our way.

So how was the run? It went smoother then I thought but some beatings did occur. What did it look like? I wish I could show you but I was so nervous that I forgot the camera. Let’s just say this: big holes and BIGGER waves.

If you find yourself in Salida this year – whether on the Arkansas River, atop one of the area’s multiple 14’ers , or ripping lines at Monarch and want to check out a full range of Osprey Packs, check out Salida Mountain Sports. SMS is located right in historic downtown Salida on 1st and F Street.

For more information, please see Bill’s bio page here.