Moab, Utah (and the surrounding canyon lands) is one of our favorite places on this beautiful Earth. Some of my best memories with Ol’ Thunder take place in Moab. It has played a special role in our lives during the last 13 years. We first passed through on a cross-country road-trip when Thunder was a puppy nearly 13 years ago. I was not yet a BASE jumper and, being only a fledgling rock climber, I was not ready for jamming up endless splitter cracks at Indian Creek. So Thunder and I just meandered through the red desert a bit, sniffing around and taking in the views. I could have never foreseen the endless wild and raucous adventures Moab would have in store for us over the following decade.
It is truly a place like no other. It can be a menacing place. A place incapable of sympathy, unforgiving of error, but welcoming to courage. The Earth towers in jagged sandstone cliffs shifted over millennia, eons, into a barren oasis of slick-rock and canyon-land with shelved walls extending hundreds of vertical feet like the unfurling fingerprint of a god. There is nothing human about a place like this. Moab is almost anti-human, and the moment you cease to respect it, you’ll understand just how insignificant you are in the undiluted face of her ruthless elements.
If you have ever been there—to those places deep in the desert, far off the trail, that blaze by day and blanket you under the milky way at night—then you know some stretches are so rugged and wild that they will never be conquered, can never be conquered.
So instead we seek not to conquer, but to pay homage. Our adventures, our BASE jumps, our rock ascents—they are dances of worship, acts of deference to our understanding of the laws of physics, the forces Nature.
The Wild West may have died, but the spirit of its frontier men and women—the cowboys, the renegades, the pioneers and vigilante sheriffs—is still alive in Moab. I found it in a ragtag crew of misfits and lost boys, born into a world with too many rules, starched collars and decorative neck-tie-nooses: the general attitude being one of meekness and blind compliance.
Moab seems to call to a rebel crowd, a singular ilk, bonded by our desperation to escape the stifling boredom of the Status Quo, to abandon the cubicle cage for open air and modest means.
We traded our televisions for campfires, a comfortable apartment for a sleeping pad and a tarp, and the nine-to-five routine for new climbing routes. Among us are intellectuals and free spirits, introverts and extroverts, beer drinkers and deep thinkers, stoners and teetotalers, successful professionals and adrenaline junkies alike, and artists of all kinds.
We are an eclectic group sewn together by a familiar thread, a filament of truth that rings in each of our hearts—
that we would rather be dead than dying, we would rather get born than be bored, that to simply be alive is not to be living,
and that when we die, we will go gracefully raging yet grateful for havinglived well.
We are students of the Extraordinary, disciples of Adventure, and pupils of La Pachamama bonded by our pilgrimage along the path less traveled.
For some reason, Moab calls to us—those calloused by isolation yet humbled by the beauty of the desert stars at night. Those of true grit who after so many lonely nights beside a fire, have learned to listen to the language of the land. Wearied by the unforgiving desert, watered by the generous spring, we are children of our Mother the Mountain. Reared on her bosom, hardened by her elements, and tutored in her wisdom, we are men and women who have learned that life is fleeting, that we are but a hiccup compared to the illustrious canyons and shifting sandstone monuments.
So where do the cowboys go? The societal outlaws, the vagabonds, the dirt-baggers, the ceaselessly curious who want to explore everything all at once? They run toward hidden worlds and search for kindred souls. They ride west to Moab or the Mountains in search of the spirit that once inhabited those desolate areas, wondering if any of it remains or if it too has been conquered and claimed by the stifling laws and borders of the Status Quo.
Moab the unconquerable. There is no place for Status Quo deep in those red deserts. There is no place for ego when you’re facing her harsh elements. And the stars at night? Look long enough into those endless stars and they will reveal certain Truths. Maybe that’s why I and so many of my friends continue to be drawn back to it. Thunder and I have been to 30 different countries and almost all the US states, hiking and camping everywhere we’ve been. There are a few landscapes that stand out to me in particular, and Moab is one of them.
I thought it a fitting sobriquet to call our first backpack the Moab (Lite), especially given its design. It is both a nostalgic reminder of our many happy adventures there, and an apt description for the purpose of this style of dog backpack. Our ultralight, minimalist design makes it perfect for landscapes like Moab.