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Sawtooth Relay - Can Matt Run the Distance?

6/8/17-6/12/2017

The next adventure, ‘twas a great one. I got a text from my buddy a few weeks ago saying: “So where’s the adventure this weekend?” 1. I was flattered that he asked me that and 2. What a way to live life! Life is an adventure. It’s easier than people make it, just get off your butt and make some plans. Netflix can wait. So, Blane, if you ever read this, thanks for the inspiring text. It will keep me motivated to continuously find what’s next.

May 10th: A good friend asked if I wanted to come visit her in Idaho. I said sure. My reward miles were in abundance, and heck, an opportunity to get out West? Absolutely. I had to jump on it. As I was booking the tickets, she informed me of what we would be doing that weekend. Running a 60-mile relay race through the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Whoa, Matthew is not a runner, and a flat-lander. Queue a fast track training program to get ready.

Fast forward to June 9th, I was sitting at Flying M Coffee House in Boise, www.flyingmcoffee.com , wrapping up the week. The place was pretty hip. Like the hip kinda place where no two chairs are alike. I was a little out of my element, but pressed on. Our schedule for the weekend was set. Cruise up to Stanley, find a place to camp, and be at the starting line by 7am Saturday morning.

With a few hours to kill, I wanted to check out some local shops. I gravitated to the outdoor stores, and with that, landed on a gold mine. ‘Outfitters R US’ is a co-sign shop. For the flat-landers reading this, it’s a Goodwill for outdoor gear. The stop to peruse quickly turned into over an hour long shopping scavenger hunt. There was so much to investigate, what deals could be found? I ended up buying a pair of mountain biking shoes, 3 kits for riding, and a rock climbing helmet. Something I know couldn’t be done at any store in the Midwest. All things I needed, bought at a fraction of the cost. Stoked was a word that came to mind.

Now that my inner shop-a-haulic was quenched (jk I don’t shop), it was time to head to the mountains. I picked Bailey up and we were on our way north, in search of hot springs and a good campsite to break in her new engineering feat: The Tramper. We took highway 21 which followed the Payette river.

With spring conditions, most of the hot springs were washed out. We did find a spot that got the job done. It’s amazing sitting in a pool of hot water just feet away from a class 4 river. Humbling, to say the least. Many mental pictures were taken, but sadly, none of the digital variety.

Stanley, where our exploit began, is a little town of 63 nestled in the Sawtooth Mountain range. As we were almost in town, Bailey spotted a sign that said Lake Stanley, turn right. Both sharing a love for water, we had to check it out. Coincidently, some camping spots were available. It was a no brainer site to break in her new set-up

Dinner was delicious. Bailey @baileykrstic knocked it out of the park with beef stew, rice and beans. A perfect combination complex carbs to fuel is for tomorrows race.

You know how weathermen are always right? Well, let’s just say they were not calling for snow. This was our view at 5:30 am. Snow. I was set to start the 1st leg of the race at 7am. It was going to be an interesting morning. Did I mention it was June 10th?

Sidebar: Sawtooth Relay - The race is broken up into 10 legs all ranging from 5-6 miles per leg. The starting point was in Stanley, elevation 5,600 ft and ending in Ketchum, elevation 5,200. The race is relatively flat, with the exception of legs 5 and 6; a climb and downhill at the Galena summit. Up 1,500, down 1,500. Start times ranged from 2 am Saturday morning all the way to 10 am.

With snow falling, the starting bell rang as we started the race. I was nervous and excited. How was the Midwest boy going to handle a distance race, in the mountains? Thankfully, I ended up doing just fine. I think I owe a majority of that to my team: ‘The Team 4mally Known as Prince.’ A real rag-tag group of people thrown together at the last minute. It was awesome. We all came from different backgrounds and stepped up to race because the team needed people. As each runner set off on their leg, we used Bailey’s truck as the rally car. We’d drive by hooting and hollering, roll ahead to the next pull-off, get out of the car, and do it all again. It was an awesome way to pass the time, and fuel our runners!

In just under 8 hours, our team finished in Ketchum, Idaho. Ketchum is home to Sun Valley. It was great to see the town during the summer. Vastly different in the winter.  Greeted with food and beer tickets, it was a great way to end the day. The mountains are crazy. 7 am, 30 degrees and snowy to 65 degrees, sunny, and beautiful.

Sunday was a  rude awakening. My legs were quite sore and needed to get shaken out. We tried to find more hot springs, but were unsuccessful. To get the blood flowing, trying to break up some latic acid, we did a small hike in the foothills of Ketchum. Idaho is stunning.

Cheers to conquering another adventure with a great group, in a beautiful pocket of our country! Never stop pushing yourself to the limits, you might be surprised what you find when you get there.

"One extends one's limits only by exceeding them."

- M. Scott Peck, Author 'The Road Less Traveled'

#embracethebalance | #vivaveital

Matthew "Matty-K" Kownick

Co-Founder, Veital Designs, LLC.


Veital Designs, Veital, Adventure, Winter Park Colorado, Colorado, Skiiing, Mountains, My Tiny Atlas, Travel Young

Anvil does Winter Park, CO

3/16/2017 - 3/21/2017

Although we are only a few months in I have filled, for what in years past would be, an entire year's quota for travel. I wrapped up 2016, and subsequently brought in 2017, with a trip to Tazania to visit my sister, Madi (IG: @coolbeanmadi), who has been studying and working in East Africa for just under a year. A few weeks after getting home from that trip, I hopped on a plane for a quick three day trip to Naples, FL for some late Winter sunshine therapy. While there, we stayed with a friends grandma, and although we may have brought the average age down significantly - the old folks brought the party.

That leads me to the next trip which, was very shortly thereafter the trip to Florida. The plan was to regroup with seven of my college amigos for another long weekend of skiing, snowboarding and general mountain Tom-Foolery. Unfortunately, we were not able to reunite the entire band, but we were able to find a group of four to tackle the Rockies.

The crew was rendezvousing from all over the country. We had John (IG: @theronjoberts) coming from Houston, Andrew (IG: @aschuch6) lugging camera gear all the way from Pheonix, Nathan (IG: @n8_schwenk) flying in from Knoxville, and myself from Indianapolis. The four of us had met at Purdue, all graduating between 2014-2015, and were trying our best to make a habit of this yearly trip. We had a group of eight last year in Park City, and if this participation trend continues, losing half the team each year, this is going to be a short lived tradition. Despite the decline in numbers, there was absolutely no decline in stoke for the getaway.

After having grown my hair out quite nicely over the six to eight months prior to the trip, I wanted to make a little noise upon my arrival in CO. The plan: a mullet. Flying out on a Thursday around lunch, I worked the first part of the day from home. This led perfectly into me getting the cut just before heading out to the airport, which is exactly what I did. Desean, at my local Great Clips, cut the quaff to perfection (after I pulled up several pictures to illustrate what a mullet actually was), and I left the joint feeling unstoppable. I immediately maxed the speakers in the car playing the Top Gun soundtrack and jet off to the airport. I caught my Southwest flight (because who else lets you fly a snowboard bag for free), and was on my way to Denver.

I was set to arrive a few hours before the other guys, and had scheduled a van into the mountains. The host of the Airbnb, suggested Home James (www.homejamestransportation.com) for our transportation needs, which certainly did not let us down. I sat outside the terminal on the sidewalk waiting for my ride in 75 degree weather... This was certainly not what I expected for a ski trip.

I get to the Airbnb, which I did not realize until I arrived, was in the Founder's Pointe Resort. The accommodations were very nice, we had a hot tub (which is absolutely essential) and were a short walk to the lifts. After settling dropping my gear off in the room, a bit famished, I set off into town to find food and a cold one. I hopped on the resort shuttle that met just outside of the Mountain Lodge at Fraser's Point, aka right across the road.

The shuttle driver recommended The Peak, and really did not give me much choice as he dropped me off at the front door. Feeling a bit defiant, and adventurous, I did not head his recommendation and walked to the next closest place - Randi's Irish Pub (https://randiswinterpark.com/). I was greeted by a friendly bar tender as I bellied up to the bar solo, still waiting on the amigos to arrive. I got myself a green brew, this was the day before St. Patty's, and a stew. The beer, stew and company that I was in, were superb. As I was eating I started chatting with the absolutely RAD, Maria (IG:_mfgv). Home girl had just gotten off the Appalachian Trail and was gearing up for the PCT in a month. Keep up with her and her travels via Instagram. When the dudes finally arrived, an hour or so later, we greeted each other with the typical bro hugs and catch-up pleasantries. We caught a couple more brews and ventured back to the condo... we had a couple big days ahead of us.

As I mentioned before, the weather in Winter Park was especially warm. We were seeing 50+ on the mountain, which made for very comfortable temperatures, but relatively sticky snow. That being said, the first day on the mountain was the coldest and had the best snow. They had opened the bowl at the top of the Panoramic Express lift up for the first time in over a week so, per the advice of a local, that is where we headed. We were all knocking off the rust of not having ridden in a bit and took our time hitting things too hard, at least the other guys were. I on the other hand bombed a couple runs, sent it down Forget-Me-Not into the trees, overcooked a corner, and went down hard on my left wrist. Mind you, this was before lunch, on DAY 1, I am such an idiot. The rest of the day went on as planned, sort of. I spent lunch with ski patrol, who told me definitely don’t continue to snowboard, got a wire mesh brace from them, and immediately returned to do what they said not to.

That afternoon we took the same shuttle back into Fraser to the Safeway to get groceries for dinner. We whipped up an unbelievable amount of spaghetti, wolfed it down, and then, since it was St. Patty’s, returned to our local watering hole, Randi’s. We soaked in some live music, green beer and a bit of Jameson and ventured home exhausted from the day.

Day 2 was pretty well a repeat of day 1, minus anyone getting injured. Since we had groceries we were able to pack our lunch, and with the weather being as nice as it was - caught some sun as we ate outside at Lunch Rock, mid way up the mountain.

Day 3 was more of the same, with the introduction of a lot more drone flying from Schuch. The last few years the dude has slapped together awesome recap videos for us. I typically find myself binge watching the 3:30 minute video for a decent time after each trip. Link for this year’s video is below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ztLlzfe2Ec

Day 4 meant traveling back to real life. I caught lunch and a few beers at the airport before my flight left, direct to Indy (bless up). I strategically sat myself next to the cutest girl I saw with an open seat next to her, thanks Southwest, for the flight. Maddie, from IU, was heading home from Salt Lake after some absolutely bad assery of mountain biking and skiing. Biggest mistake of the trip - not getting her number. So if there is any chance she is reading this, or anyone knows who she is GIVE HER MY NUMBER (317) 997-5157.

Overall the trip was, of course, awesome. Stoked for next year!

#embracethebalance | #vivaveital

Adam "Anvil" Taylor

Co-Founder, Veital Designs, LLC.


yellowwood, Veital Designs, Veital, Adventure, hiking, travel, everyday carry, Step Outside, Wander, minimalist gear,

It's Pronounced Vital (/ˈvīdl/)

3/27/2017

Both fresh out of school, Matt and I were adjusting to the real world and the unfamiliarity that came with living in a new city. We hadn't know each other before moving to Milwaukee, where we hired onto the same development program. The whole process of how we came to live together felt very 'college.' HR sent a generic email introducing us and I immediately took to social media to find out about this guy. First impressions were good. He seemed active and appeared to be a good water skier. I dug deeper and found the proof that we'd work living together. There the dude was, probably shirtless, holding his jumpers in one hand and a can of Busch Light, 'Blue Smoothies' as I later learned them to be named, in the other. It takes a special individual to imbibe in such a beer, and I can get onboard with a dude like that.

After getting into the swing of things at our first ‘real-life’ jobs, we found that it was easy to let work begin to takeover our lives. Both Matt and I stressed very heavily the work-life balance, ensuring we kept time for ourselves and our countless hobbies. Whether Matt was fitting in a morning ski set before work, or I was fitting in a sunset-lit long ride after leaving, we did not restrict our hobbies to the weekend. To be clear, we worked very hard, and continue to, but we never let the work all-consume us. Not only did we milk our evenings during the week, we got the absolute most out of our weekends. By Monday at lunch, you could bet, we're already scheming about what lied ahead come Friday. As this trend continued, riding the weekend high as long as we could then to re-up on the good stuff come Friday, it began to wear on us. There had to be another way to for this real life stuff to work.

Taking matters into our own hands, Matt and I started Veital Designs late in 2016. Our goal: to facilitate the balance between work and play through our multi-functional products. We believe that gear should be just as at home in the office as in the forest. We understand that without the outdoors to escape to, we have no reason for business. Because of this, we are committed to ensuring our products are manufactured using sustainable practices. We source all our raw materials from the Midwest. This not only cuts down on the environmental impact of long transit, but it also helps to enrich our local communities.

The company name Veital Designs, comes from the lifestyle that Matt and I live. To be Veital is to be “full of life and vigor.”. We bring this vitality to everything we do, work, sport, our families. We are stoked at your interest in our mission, and invite you to join us. Viva Veital!

#embracethebalance | #vivaveital

Adam "Anvil" Taylor

Co-Founder, Veital Designs, LLC.