“What a long, strange trip it’s been….”
Eight days on the road so far, and it feels like a month. Shredding the I-90 corridor to Coeur d’Alene started off the trip on an encouraging foot- it’s as if we are toting pure gold in the bed of our truck. Fellow Idahoans have taken kindly to our design, and we are excited to followup with our new friends at Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint, and a few shops in valley below. Enjoying a pizza and beer in the Powder Hound Pizza spot at the base of Schweitzer, we made more new friends in the 30 minutes than I did in elementary school recess, all through sharing our design and story. We also got a run in with our old friend Meg Sprocket from BHam, who’s Ski Patrolling at Schweitzer. Affirmations such as these keep us on the grind.
Finding the fall line toward Kellogg, we stopped off the side of the interstate at a little gem called Silver Mountain; home of the world’s longest gondola. To our disappointment, we had missed the last chair ride of the day. Fortunately though, we had heard that the swell was rising in North Central Idaho, and we were trying to catch some surf. We met with some key folks at the resort and got our business out of the way, and were miraculously granted access by our contact at the resort.
The Flowrider is a standing wave-shaped slope that becomes surfable by blasting fire-hydrant-esque water onto its surface. The edgeless snow-skate Flow boards made for many whiplashings and noggin crackers, but we had a blast getting barreled in the most unsuspecting of places. The surf session was fun, but we had to get back in the mountain mentality and keep our train moving.
With hot springs on the radar crossing into Montana through the Bitterroots, we pulled off the freeway onto a primitive, dark, snow covered road. Unsure as to how much trust to place in Google Maps, we took some necessary precautions and pushed on into the mountains. The time was 11:00 PM. A 2 hour long journey through the back r0ads of Montana’s Bitterroot Wilderness, we took a pit stop to experiment with fire, light,and time, capturing some unique images with a moonlit, diamond speckled field of snow as our backdrop.
After a much longer drive than expected, missing all the landmarks for our hotspring pullout, we opted to pull off in a DOT sand lot and stuff ourselves into the truck bed camper for the night. A morning session at Lolo Hotsprings rejuvenated us for our 8 hour trek into the Wasatch Mountains and Salt Lake City. Luckily we had a cozy abode to stay at, and arriving late into the wee hours of the morning, this was warmly welcomed.
The next two days were spent on the grind of the trade show floor at Salt Lake’s Salt Palace Convention Center. Minds sharp and bags packed full of INNATE visuals, we trickled out into the mass of nearly 25,000 other industry heads at Outdoor Retailer’s Winter Market. Encounters and discussions with key folks at Patagonia, TREW, Avalaunch, KAVU, Sanuk, JONES Snowboards, and more provided us with invaluable feedback to refine our approach for the next time. With seeds planted in various corners of the industry, all we can do now is follow up and do our best to continue creating a brand that people are receptive to.
After two days on the floor of the trade show, we were exhausted and satisfied with our efforts to connect. We had made drastic improvements to our approach since 2011′s show, and we’ll continue the trend as we continue on with the INNATE project. We were ready for a day in the mountains, and we decided to head up the Little Cottonwood Canyon for a shred session at Snowbird. An afternoon of some of the most dynamic, fast paced, drawn out runs, we had fallen back in love with an old flame. This place is the cats pajamas, and after rapping with Rick, the area’s graphic designer, we see great potential to work with this wonderful company.
The evening brought us to downtown SLC, where our home-town heroes Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were playing an industry show at the renowned venue, the Depot. My words fail me to explain the power and influence of Ben Haggerty’s words; he’s a lyrical genius, a humanist, a real dude. His music, derived from the depths of his painfully relatable human experience, has made its way to the top of the Nation’s charts. Their independent approach is an inspiration to us at INNATE, so thank you Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for showing us that it is possible to make change if you truly believe in your work.
Another drive toward the foothills and into Big Cottonwood Canyon brought us to Solitude Mountain, a 2000 foot vertical drop in the Wasatch Range. A rendezvous with their retail director got our info into the right hands and we linked up with some family to taste the flavors of Solitude.
Now that our time in SLC has come to an end, we have our sights on the Tetons, about 6 hours North East of here. Stay tuned for another update from both the Idaho and Wyoming sides of the border! Many thanks to all of those we’ve crossed paths with and shared their time, we appreciate you!
Life is good!