In 1955, Mel and Winkie Brewer first opened up their gates to 66 campers from the Dallas area. This new camp, Sky Ranch, held their vision of getting kids out of the hustle and bustle of the growing Dallas metroplex and into nature where they could relax and grow mentally, physically and spiritually.
Over the next 60 years, Sky Ranch maintained Mel and Winkie’s vision while expanding to serve over 7,600 kids each summer at their main camp in Van, Texas. Sky Ranch also has two other camps, a Retreats-only camp in Oklahoma, and a Family Camp located near Lake City, CO called Ute Trail.
After working three summers in Van, I am getting the opportunity, over the next two summers, to serve at Ute Trail in Colorado as a Wilderness Guide. From navigation, cooking and leading devotional times, I will be responsible for guiding groups of campers on six-day backpacking trips throughout the San Juan Mountain Range in Southwest Colorado. One of the most important factors that will keep me comfortable (and alive!) in the backcountry is the gear and clothing I take with me. Gearhead Outfitters became an invaluable resource for me when I began working here in September of last year. I have had the opportunity to learn the in’s and out’s of the outdoor industry which led me to purchase the right gear, so I can perform my job at the highest level. From camp mugs to backpacking packs, I’ve purchased 90% of my gear from Gearhead, and there are three things I want to spotlight that I am in love with!
1. Salomon Quest 4D GTX Boots ($229.99) — This boot is Salomon’s biggest, burliest hiking boot, but without the weight usually accompanied with a shoe of this caliber. Salomon used the technology they have with their trail running shoes and created a full size backpacking boot that is capable of eating up the miles. The 4D Advanced Chassis gives great support and the Contagrip sole provides incredible traction regardless of the terrain. With a Gore-tex liner keeping my feet dry, I have no doubt these will last for many years!
2. MSR Whisperlite International Backpacking Stove ($99.95) — When the Whisperlite came out over 20 years ago, it instantly became the standard for backpacking stoves. The International version can take a variety of liquid fuels, and it’s ability to simmer and cook large meals for groups will help me become a bonafide backcountry chef this summer. Trusted by countless adventurers, this stove has provided reliable service when the dinner bell rang!
3.The Marmot Minimalist ($200.00) – Throughout most of June and all of July, the area of Colorado I will be in usually has a storm come through every afternoon. I needed a dependable rain jacket that would keep the rain off of me. The Marmot Minimalist is made of Gore-tex Paclite, which was developed in 1969, and has kept outdoorsmen (and women) dry ever since! Other features include pit zips for ventilation, two hand pockets, a chest pocket, and a fully adjustable hood with a stiff brim to keep it’s shape. It is a durable jacket that will no doubt hold up multiple seasons.
With these pieces of gear and the countless others from Gearhead, I fully expect to have the best summer ever with the best gear possible! And don’t worry, when August rolls around I’ll be back at the Chenal Promenade store to help share my stories and knowledge about these rad products and all the cool new Fall stuff that will be coming in!