Fayettechill Blog

WELCOME TO OUR BLOG

This is the world of Fayettechill, a cultural institution that integrates apparel, gear, athletics, non-profit organizations, art, music, craft, and visual media.

Surfing the Ozarks

Last Sunday Fayettechill warehouse extraordinaire, Darrin Wahl, invited a few of us onto his boat to cruise around Beaver lake, and do some board riding.

Darrin grew up on Beaver Lake and was raised in and around water, where he has developed some amazing skills behind a boat. His father is a world class bare-foot skier, so for Darrin, pushing the limits behind a boat was always encouraged. He is typically seen on a wakeboard doing back rolls and spins while being towed with a rope, but on this balmy Sunday he taught us how to navigate the wake without a rope using a wake surfboard and one of my surfboards I have laying around the house from my time in Costa Rica. We were ready to get into the water.

Wake surfing is the same as normal surfing in that the angle of the wave creates a continual slope that propels the board forward. The main difference on Sunday from being in the ocean was that we were on a man-made wave, cruising through a lake.

We put as many people on one side of the boat along with a huge sack filled with water, adding about 500 pounds. This weighed down the boat and created a huge wake with a picture perfect, curling wave behind us. Darrin jumped on first and showed us how it’s done. He carved smoothly and methodically through a few sets and then let Mo and I get our feet wet. We were having a blast feeling the wave propel us and learning small tricks and turns. 

Once I was able to get the rhythm of the wave, I was feeling super comfortable. It was just the same as my many years surfing in Costa Rica and California. Mo and I each shared more than ten sets, each time feeling out the wave better and adding more technical moves to our runs. Although it is a very different experience from the ocean I was able to fulfill my passion for the surf and became a instant addict to the lake wave that Darrin so skillfully learned to sculpt

People passing by on the boats would stare and point, as riding the wake without a rope caught a couple odd looks. After a long sun-tapped afternoon on the lake, Darrin dropped us off at the nearby marina, satisfied with letting us in on his little piece of refuge. Big thanks to Darrin and Shelby for making this happen. I really look forward to hitting this again while Summer is still peaking.

- Chris

The Triumph of Human Spirit

I met Jessica Day about 6 months ago. I recognized her name after fulfilling many of her online orders. When most of my days were spent reading order manifests and folding Fayettechill shirts, a lot of the names I read through to began to run together, but I immediately recognized Jessica’s name when I heard her story.

Since I began at Fayettechill in 2011, I have always tried to present Fayettechill as more than a product or an item of clothing. Fayettechill is the platform that we use to inspire people to experience nature. I see the Ozarks as our muse, and Fayettechill acting as the product of that inspiration. This has had a real and personal effect on everyone that I work with. Our non­-profits we help support, the hiking and camping trips with my fellow friends, and the people who have found a new outdoor hobby through Fayettechill are what make my job so satisfying. But the most important thing to me is meeting people, one by one and hearing the unique and inspiring ways in which Fayettechill has helped them in some way or another. Despite everything, by far the most lasting impression I have had is my interaction with Jessica and her best friend Timmy.

Jessica and Timmy have been avid outdoor enthusiasts since they were young. Timmy loves hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and anything and everything that is outside. Timmy and Jessica are Ft. Smith natives and are true Ozark enthusiasts. On any given weekend, you could find Jessica and Timmy floating the Mulberry, gazing at the view over White Rock Mountain, or camping at many of the region’s beautiful parks. Jessica was always there to support Timmy during a tough problem on a boulder, someone to hike with, and just enjoy each other’s company. Timmy and Jessica found companionship, nature, and beauty,­ and things were good.

The accident happened on September 22nd, 2013 on Hwy 215 between Ozark and Mulberry. Timmy was in a terrible car wreck near the Mulberry River and had to be life flighted to Fort Smith, then later that night to Little Rock. He was on a ventilator for about a month and a half. He had a tracheostomy, countless surgeries, dialysis, heart rate problems, pneumonia, and more. Everyone close to Timmy was heartbroken. The doctor’s prognosis was pragmatic and bleak. Timmy had a 1% chance to even live, and was told he would certainly be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. On top of this he had a brain injury which would take him years, if ever, to return to the “old Timmy.”

Timmy, Jessica, their families, and their loving support system did not give up. They stood by Timmy’s side day after day, supporting him and praying for a miracle. A miracle is exactly what they received. The doctors, who initially gave him such a somber prognosis, were amazed to see that he not only survived, but began to re-gain function of his arms. Timmy made slow progress, moved to several hospitals throughout the next few months and was finally given the okay to go home with his mother, Elizabeth.

Timmy’s fight is still not over. He is making positive strides everyday but is currently looking for a surgeon to fix his throat so he can eat solid food. He is making progress in motor functions but is still in a wheelchair, which helps with his arm strength. He is under constant care from his mother, and the days of hiking the Ozarks seem like only a distant dream.

After Timmy improved upon the unpromising prediction from the doctors, the possibilities are endless as to how far he can go. “Timmy never has been and never will be the type to give up. Every day is a struggle and fight but he keeps on going,” said Jessica. Timmy would ALWAYS say, “Everybody love Everybody,” and “God bless us each and every one.”

Jessica admitted to this being one of the toughest stretches in her life, but her feelings are unfathomable compared to how Timmy feels. As Jessica has stood by while Timmy fights, going from being outside everyday to stuck in a bed has not been easy to live through or witness. But they don’t really have time to ponder on what­-ifs and other scenarios. “It has not been easy but we all realize that the situation is what it is and now the only choice we have is to move on and make the best of what life has dealt,” said Jessica. “There is so much further that he has to go and much more healing that needs to take place. At this point even though he is in a wheelchair, who is to say that he won’t ever walk again,” she added.

After speaking to Jessica, her story left me numb and feeling selfish. I thought about all the things I had stressed about over the past few days, and realized how self­-serving it was. Timmy is fighting for his life and Jessica and their families are there throughout it all and I’m sitting here worrying about my late rent payment and the $10 I spent at Andy’s Frozen Custard the night before. Timmy’s story is not about pity or empathy, but about the beauty of human perseverance. You find out a lot about yourself when you’re in a hole and feel like there’s no way out. Then, when you’re above ground, you leave the experience stronger and better. Life happens in the trenches. Life is hard. It’s about dealing with life and making it work for you. 

Whatever I experience in my daily grind with Fayettechill will never fathom what Timmy and Jessica are going through. My goal with Fayettechill is for people to be inspired. I want people to see a Fayettechill product, or a photo tagged with Fayettechill, or someone talking about Fayettechill, and take away a positive feeling from that. Whether you are hiking the Ozarks, riding your bike in the city, or at home with family, I want Fayettechill to help people realize what’s really important in life. Timmy and Jessica have definitely helped me realize what’s important in my life, and I hope their story can do the same for you.

-Grant

Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trails Grand Opening

In an area with renowned floating, fishing, climbing, bouldering, camping, and any other “-ing” activity people love to do outdoors, there’s little mountain biking. This has been corrected with an exclamation point for the mountain biking community, from the mountain biking community. With over 30 miles of rolling Buffalo National Forest we welcome the trails of the Upper Buffaloimage

On Monday, June 16th, marked the grand opening of another (soon to be) epic trail in Arkansas, as it has applied for “epic” status from the International Mountain Biking Association. Beside meeting the thrilling epic trail qualifiers, what makes this trail a stand out is the simple fact that it’s located right around the headwaters to the iconic Buffalo National River.

image

It truly was a community that birthed this trail. It appears that same community has plenty of energy to continue to raise it, and share it for all to enjoy. The native Arkansas company Progressive Trail Design was selected to connect the long time work of the local non-profit group Ozark Off-Road Cyclist’s trails, a local organization we are proud work with at Fayettechill. Aside from chopping these trails since the beginning, the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists put in over 200 hours of work in the few weeks leading up to the opening, hauling in and planting over 25 heavy, steel trail markers (with a complete map of the trails, sections, difficulties, topography, and more thanks to IMBA for gps mapping) at each intersection. The OORC and IMBA have also been hard at work establishing a maintenance and Bike Patrol program, with the aid of the Walton Family Foundation, that will utilize local riders and residents to do trail recon, weed eating, and offer their renowned hospitality to visiting riders. Camping and guided rides will soon be introduced to the park.

The celebration of the trails official opening was hosted by the United States Forest Service with a large gathering of OORC members, IMBA reps, excited locals, and mountain bikers from around the area. Phat Tire Bike Shop out of Northwest Arkansas even donated a Trek hardtail to the USFS crew for them to enjoy the trails on when they weren’t busy maintaining our pristine forests and rivers. After this, we rode.

image

These trails are badass. You want flow? They give you flow. You want water crossings? They’ve got those too, and lots of them. Did we mention this is the buffalo river headwaters? Waterfalls, blue holes, vegetation, - LIFE is everywhere. Miles of downhill sections, miles of uphill sections, but, most magnificently, miles of secluded, beautiful, Buffalo wilderness is all around you. As we rode we heard water falling, brakes squealing, and an occasional “YEEE” and “Wahoo!” as riders were taking flight over the rolling sections or off rocks serving as a quick kicker, whipping around the hairpin berms, and splashing through clear mountain streams.

image

Next time you’re looking for an epic ride, look no further than the Upper Buffalo. Located just 1.5hours from Fayetteville downtown and get ready for a truly breathtaking experience.

How to get there: Directions from Fayetteville… Take Hwy 16E through Elkins, Brashears, St Paul, (Hwy 16 turns right about 2 miles east of St Paul) to Pettigrew to Red Star. Continue 6/10 mile past Red Star and turn left on Madison County 3595 (dirt road known locally as Cave Mountain Road). Hwy 16 bends right and MC 3595 turns back to the left. Stay to the right on the County Road and you will find yourself a large gravel area with a big wooden trail sign structure. Park here.

For more information on the Upper Buffalo and other nearby trails, check them out in detail here

Thanks and happy riding - Eric Kearney, Fayettechill Basecamp manager image

outdoorkidsplay:

Road Trip!

Capt. Rouse and I made a quick trip to Supreme Boats to pick up the new Predator drift boat. It will be making the journey to Colorado next week! The drive was beautiful and we had a blast. Rob Williams is the owner of Supreme, Shawnee, and Predator and has just moved into a new warehouse where they manufacture the boats that JRFFA uses exclusively.  Jamie had to inspect the riverboats, of course. He is contemplating the 16 foot Shawnee for his next.
As a side note, Capt. Rouse looks quite sporty in the Rouse by fayettechillco, and I really would have loved to take the VW bus with us! The bus was not for sale.

Lost Boys Chronicles: Sugarloaf Surprise

The Lost Boys Chronicles are a collection of stories, recaps, and journal entries shared by those who work at Fayettechill.  Each one offers its own unique perspective into Fayettechill, a world created by those following their hearts and passions into the unknown. We hope that these stories will be windows both into what we are doing and why we are doing it. We hope that they make you want to create stories that inspire you to write them down. And always, we hope that you grow our community and share stories of your own making with us and others. 

We might not know where we are going tomorrow, but we are happy from what we have learn today. These are the Lost Boy Chronicles. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My brother Devin has always had a way with gifts.  So while I was initially surprised at receiving a fly fishing rod (an item I had only seen and never actually used) for my birthday last May, I trusted he knew me well enough to know I’d enjoy it.  Soon he laid out the plan to go to Heber Springs for a day full of yoga and fishing, and before I knew it we were on 540 South with the setting sun in the rear view mirror.

My eager expectations for the weekend were met by a rocky start.  Long lines, missed exits, and setbacks galore threatened to stall out our adventure.  Trading off driving duty through the night, we eventually arrived at our campsite around 1:30am.  Three and a half hours before the sunrise yoga class, barely enough time for a cycle of sleep.  We set up our Kammoks, and within seconds I was out.  

And in the next moment I was up once more, awakening almost as fast as I had fallen asleep.  Emerging from our nylon cocoons, we crept into our cars to begin a dark and quiet drive.  Espresso shots were worth their weight in gold at this point, and I savored mine as such. We soon arrived at Sugarloaf Mountain, an area equally sweet in name and sight, and complimentary to my morning drink. 

The incline of the trail did not care that it was barely five in the morning.  I quickly shed layers to appease the heat the exertion created, and each of my breaths was short and shallow.  I said less than ten words the whole way up.  Through several narrow crevices with tricky footwork and limited light, we finally reach the flat top of the trail.

image

image

Just Breathe Yoga guided a gentle class of over 25 participants.  Spanning over three sections divided by fissures, the class makeup ranged wildly in age and experience.  Yet all were in awe of the scene spun out of the mist reflecting the waking sun’s warmth.  After class there was quite of bit of socializing among participants, which I’ve found to be common after sharing such an extraordinary experience. These events, the ones that push you outside your comfort zone, tend to lead you to interact with others of adventurous mindsets, and the attraction is magnetic. Strangers become friends in mere moments. Obstacles are both physically and mentally overcome. Time stands still just long enough for you to enjoy the simplicity of it all. These events are about much more than yoga, and somehow everyone seems to know it.

The group eventually dispersed to soak in the numerous scenic overlooks. One of the local breakfast shop owners offered free coffee and pastries to all on the mountain, which incited simultaneous smiles across the group.   Finally we began our descent, and by nine in the morning I was assured that I would never think of the day as wasted.

image

image

Once back to our campsite, we met with our fly fishing guide and FC athlete Jaime Rouse.  A bottomless wealth of information and wisdom, he set up our Orvis rods while dropping pro tips like candy.  Fully stocked and stoked, we got on to a river I had heard and seen so much about despite never visiting; the Little Red.

image

With lingering mist abound, we began to practice casting technique.  The motion is as elegant as it is difficult, but under Jaime’s guidance we were able to set our lines adequately.  Jaime was adamant that Devin and I be the first to catch a fish on our own rods, and thankfully within the first 30 minutes we caught a pair of rainbow trout.  The morning was full of analogies for technique (flicking mashed potato for casting being my favorite), learning an entirely new vocabulary, and pleasant exchanges with other river occupants.image

I made numerous mistakes.  My line tangled on itself, my hook at one point seemed more at home on my shorts than in the water, and I encountered knots of Gordian proportions. In each case Jamie calmly explained what went wrong, and fixed the problem with ease.  There was frustration when missing a prime section due to a time consuming mistake, but in each one was a lesson that had to be learned.  Soon the lack of food and the rising heat caught up with us, and we pulled into the shade for lunch.

image

We ate delicious meals prepacked by Fish Food, a super cool start up company who sets up fishermen with a full days worth of boat worthy food. As we relaxed and ate, we discussed the innately intriguing nature of Jaime’s long time occupation as a guide.  His clientele includes CEOs, chemists, and doctors from all over the world.  Each one was drawn to fly fishing under different circumstances, but all were looking for the unique type of relaxation it offers.  I am incredibly grateful my first fly fishing experience was under such excellent guidance, and soon the fruits of his lessons came to bear.

I don’t know if it was beginner’s luck, some super potent bait Jaime used, or if I was actually starting to get the hang of it, but after lunch there was an absolute frenzy of fish to be caught.  Jaime put us in perfect positions with his encyclopedic knowledge of the river’s sweet spots. Rarely did my line stay out longer than fifteen minutes without at least a nibble, and by the end of it I had caught roughly a dozen.  Towards the end of the day came the crown jewel; a rambunctious rainbow trout that bitterly fought for every inch of line.  Breaching the surface several times, I eventually steered it closer and closer towards us until we were finally able to bring it into the boat.  Jaime aptly described it as,  ”a noble warrior fighting for what it felt was its life,” and I fought and respected it as such. But lucky for him, the Little Red River is strictly a catch and release river, and after a quick photo op, the big guy was back on his way.  We returned soon after, and I had an ear to ear grin that felt as if it would never fade.

image

The exhilaration of fly fishing shocked me.  It demanded focus, patience, and subtle movements in a way unlike anything else I’ve done.  You feel connected to the fish at the end of the line far beyond just the faint physical line that lies between you.  Every twitch and turn of the fish reverberates from the rod through your body, and it almost feels as a dance of sorts.  I cannot wait until my next outing.

We arrived back at camp around five, and it felt like I’d been awake for days.  Swaying in the shade we relaxed in our hammocks, and reflected on the day. Its always amazing to realize just how much you can put into your day, how deep you can feel each moment. The world quickly melted away once again as my brother and I took a much needed nap in our Kammoks before driving back to Fayetteville.  I had done an old favorite activity in yoga, and found a new passion in fly fishing all within one day.  Needless to say, Devin’s gift went well beyond a rod and reel. 

image

Written by Brian O’Dea

Photography provided by Matt Paladino