Microadventure Feature : Salem Summit Staff Retreat

Outdoor adventures can take many shapes. Sometimes they are weeks long and sometimes its just an epic weekend. There are only so many weekends in a year though and the re-centering effect that a night spent outside creates is powerful. Here enters the benefit of a microadventure. It provides the opportunity to sleep under the stars for a night while still making it to work in time the next day (microadventures are particularly encouraged if you have access to a shower at your respective office). Here is a recap from crew at Salem Summit for some PNW microadventure inspiration. 

Words and pictures by Conor Foley


Taking a staff retreat without having to close the store is a tricky proposition. Travel time to the trailhead, hiking to camp, cooking dinner...the hours add up and pretty soon you’re only left with enough time to sleep. Luckily, Oregon provides. As we are so fond of saying to our customers it only takes an hour to get to the mountains and planning our trip for a week after the summer solstice gave us maximum daylite.

In our case some steep gravel roads added a little drive time but only an hour and half after leaving the shop we stepped out of the car greeted by the sound of the engine slowly cooling off, the grasshoppers clicking through the warm air and birdsong in the canopy above us. There were no crowds, no other cars along the road, only a half broken brown sign marking the trailhead. With just a mile and half hike in to camp we were all tempted to pad our bags with all the comforts of car camping but the fleet of lightweight Osprey demo packs delivered to our shop several days before enticed us to pare down our load.

Short but steep, would be an accurate description of our trail. We lost around 1,000 feet in only a mile and none of us looked forward to the hike out the following morning. Nevertheless, after only an hour of hiking we had arrived at our camp beside Tumble Lake and we set up tents and prepared dinner as the the rock pinnacles around the lake caught the light of the setting sun. New staff members checked out several different stove setups, learning a thing or two about lighting a Whisperlite in the process, and in no time at all we were all enjoying canned chili with green onions, Tillamook cheese and Fritos.

Morning rituals don’t look too different in the mountains, some of us lathered cream cheese and peanut butter on bagels, others brushed their teeth and gazed out at the valley below from the edge of the lake. On any other morning we might be making juice and putting away dishes in the kitchen, instead we were steadily filtering water with our Trailshot and rolling up our tents. Our hike was made easier by cool morning air and the light loads on our backs. I can say, for myself at least, that the comfort of the light packs had me daydreaming about my next pack purchase. 

We crested the last ridge to views of the Old Cascades stretched out before us and after nesting our bags in the car and packing ourselves in we made our way back to town. Some of us were bound for a shower and maybe a nap, others were headed straight for the shop smelling of pine needles and summertime after a night in the woods.


Carmi SchulmanComment