One truck, two bikes, two boats, a whole slew of climbing and camping gear and one very large continent; this is the setting for a tale of two dirtbags.
As Urban Dictionary defines it, a dirtbag is,
“A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags can be distinguished from hippies by the fact that dirtbags have a specific reason for their living communally and generally non-hygenically; dirtbags are seeking to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle. The best examples of dirtbags and dirtbagging are the communities of climbers that can be found in any of the major climbing areas of North America–Squamish, BC; Yosemite, CA; Joshua Tree, CA; etc.”
Our particular extreme lifestyle centers around the holy trinity – that is, mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, and rock climbing. Through our work at Southern Oregon University’s Outdoor Program and our involvement in the Outdoor Adventure Leadership major at SOU, we have become heavily involved in these three sports. We will take what we have learned at SOU and travel the country, seeking out the best places we can find to ride, paddle, and climb. Through this journey we hope to gain experience and judgement to help guide the next group of outdoor leaders at Southern Oregon. This trip will take us to places we have only dreamed of, introduce us to unforgettable people, and put us into situations we could never have predicted. Through all of this, we aim to represent Southern Oregon University’s Outdoor Program along with organizations that have helped in our development as outdoor leaders, such as the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and USA Climbing, as well as our gear and equipment sponsors. Along the way we will not only be living out our own adventures but also encouraging others to get out and supporting the communities that brought us to where we are today.
Bennett Edward Kornbrath
Though I am unable to remember my first time standing on skis or floating through a rapid, there’s no doubt those experiences were influential to who I am. Skiing and boating were the first activities I pursued; a logical gateway since my mom spent time a ski bum and my dad as a river bum. About the time I was ten, I became tired of skiing and gradually traded in for snowboarding. My boating has seen a similar progression. I began paddling inflatable rafts and kayaks, but I gradually switched to a canoe. Even more recently, I’ve switched for a hard-shell kayak, finding myself to be more capable having twice the paddle.
Perhaps my most practiced passion is rock climbing. My first interaction with climbing was at the age of seven. I went to a youth national climbing competition that a family friend was competing in. After witnessing the competition, I insisted on trying it. My dad became a weekly belayer as he, my sister, and I made regular trips to our local gym. After a couple years, I joined the Stonework’s junior team and began training and competing. Since starting college, climbing—like all of my outdoor pursuits—has become purely for fun.
When I arrived at Southern Oregon University in the fall of 2011, I sought work through the Outdoor Program. Immediately, I began volunteering on trips and took other students outdoors. One of those students was Nathan, my fellow traveler. He and I became friends by exchanging passions; he introduced me to mountain biking and I introduced him to climbing and boating.
I had mountain biked some before arriving in Ashland, but by my current standards it hardly qualifies. Since then, I have been to events such as the Sea Otter Classic, participated in several local races, and traveled to places like Whistler specifically to ride. Now, I have taken a role leading mountain biking trips of the Outdoor Program, in addition to the climbing, whitewater, and hiking trips I was already leading.
Nathan Jon Granados
I grew up in Berkeley California, and spent my early years running around my dad’s bike shop, the Square Wheel. However, it wasn’t until I joined Berkeley High’s mountain bike team that riding became central to my life. I raced cross country for two years in high school and after I graduated I began working for the Nor Cal High School Cycling League and for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association in Berkeley. Through NICA I helped coach my high school team, put on races, coached at an invitational camp in Santa Cruz and traveled to Nationals in Idaho with a team of exceptional student athletes. Shortly after, I began my studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership at Southern Oregon University in Ashland Oregon. Through the Outdoor Program at SOU and friends like Bennett (my partner in this upcoming adventure) I began rock climbing and whitewater kayaking, and have been actively developing those skills since by taking courses such as Swiftwater Rescue and Rock Climbing Facilitation, as well as going out on regular personal and OP trips. I joined the Rogue Riders, SOU’s mountain biking team, and since then have organized two trips to the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, one trip to Whistler British Columbia, and a host of events and fundraisers.
My involvement in the Outdoor Program has earned me the role of Student Director, and as such I was able to implement a brand new mountain biking program based around a fleet of Marin Bikes for which I was able to garner funding from the University. We are now running inexpensive, beginner-oriented mountain bike trips to get new riders out on the trails and into the community. Over the years I have been fortunate to have incredibly generous guidance from my family, coaches, teachers, co-workers and friends who have shared their experience with me and helped me to become a viable member of the outdoor community. I hope that this epic adventure of ours will help me grow into a person who can guide the next wave of outdoor leaders.