Biking, Hiking, Paddling and Kayak Fishing in South CarolinaÂ
I recently had the opportunity to hit the Chattooga River in SC while attending the Outdoor Sports Marketing Invitational, put on by the OSM Agency.
A little about OSM, from OSM:
"Team, Technology, Commitment and Fun are the four pillars of our agency. Sales, Service and Marketing are our expertise. We focus on the Outdoor, Bike and Tactical industries for the Southeastern United States. Representing Chaco, Osprey, prAna, SmartWool, Vasque and Cascade Designs (Therm-a-rest, MSR, Platypus, Seal Line, Tracks and Hummingbird) in the southeast."
The OSM event was held at the Chattooga River Resort and Campground from March 18-21st in Long Creek, SC. My co-worker, Daniel, and I loaded up the swagger wagon and headed down south.
The OSM Invitational gives retailers the chance to clinic and use new products over a 3 day period, while interacting with Reps., Brand Managers, Marketing Managers and Athletes from the top notch outdoor brands that they and OSM represent. It was cool to be amongst some of the brightest minds in the outdoor industry and to feel the psyche permeating throughout the tribe. The presentations by all the brands were awesome and the people giving them were very accessible during the whole event.
Confluence Watersports was there with Tony Turner from Wilderness Systems and Chris Gragtmans of Dagger Kayaks. I went out for a day of paddling with them and Invert Paddleboards on my first full day at OSM. We hit Lake Tugaloo. Invert Paddleboards impressed everyone with their Ecolicious line-up. Co-Founder Matt McClain and his sister, Chelsea were on hand, and both repped the Invert boards with style.
I paddled the Wilderness Systems Ride 115X fishing kayak and used the Adventure Technology Exodus FishStix Paddle while on the lake. The Ride 115X is a fairly new kayak and has already generated a lot of buzz. The Fishstix is a bent shaft made of Carbon, Aramid, & Fiberglass Braid and has unlimited feathering, plus adjustable length. I was definitely impressed after paddling 4-5 miles with a tough wind. The paddle saved me a lot of energy due to its comfort and lightness.
Chris Gragtmans, a heck of a paddler from Team Dagger Kayaks, even broke out his new Quad-Copter for some sweet aerial GoPro shots.
The next day I went rafting on Section III of the Chattooga River. I was psyched, given that the Chattooga is a designated Wild and Scenic River and therefore protected. It was beautiful. I had heard a lot about the Chattooga from my father-in law, Bob Taylor, my mother-in-law, Martha and my wife, Harriet, who had each paddled the Chattooga in there lives.
Here is Bob styling 7 foot Falls, Section IV, Chattooga River in 1979.
I joined my OSM group in a raft piloted by our guide, Drew, from Wildwater LTD. It was a pretty casual float and we finished on Bull Sluice Rapid, which was awesome. The whole crew at Wildwater LTD. were very cool and our guide Drew was a great ambassador to his home river.
Here is a cool shot of one of the rafts going over the drop.
But that photo is not nearly as cool as this one of my mother-in-law, from one of the first Perception catalogs, cruising Dick's Creek Ledge in an open boat canoe on Section III in 1979.
While I was paddling and rafting, Daniel was hiking and mountain biking through the mountains. We both had a blast on our adventures. Each day we spent 9-12:30, in the main lodge, learning about products. Then we would recreate. Every evening we came back to the lodge for dinner and marketing strategy presentations and discussions. The food was excellent and the presentations were engaging and informative. Most importantly, the beer was always good. ;)
A big buzz word during the event was "Heritage" - the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group or nation.
Many brands talked about their company heritage. It was an idea I could identify with, working at Appomattox River Company. As you can see from the photos of my in-laws, ARC has been in the game a long time. Â ;) Both of the photos were from a weekend spent with Bill Masters, Founder of Perception Kayaks, testing out some of the first Perception boats.
I spent a lot of time, at the OSM event, talking about our company history. Appomattox River Company was founded in 1977 in Bob Taylor's basement. He had fallen in love with whitewater canoeing and wanted to share his passion for the outdoors and paddle-sports. We have 3 stores now, and Bob is still the owner, sitting about 20 feet from me as I type this blog. He spent many years paddling amazing rivers, both big whitewater and lazy family canoe trips.
ARC has always been about paddle-sports adventures and family fun on the water. My wife learned her love of paddling from her father. It was that love of paddling that lead her to the New River Gorge in WV. It was there that we met and fell in love. We have a family now, and my wife and I are growing that paddling passion in our children, with family canoeing and fishing trips.
We are far from the only ones. Our General Manager of ARC operations, Tom Detrick, has been here for close to 2 decades, paddling and working alongside Bob. His wife, Sarah works here as well, and their children have grown up in canoes and kayaks, learning to fish and paddle these VA waters.
Mary, who works in the front office and used to run ARC-Midlo, has been at ARC for over a decade, and her son works for ARC in Richmond. Both are accomplished whitewater kayakers. Mary and her husband, Andy, passed down their love for paddling to Daniel, who accompanied me to the Invitational.
Most of the ARC family have been here for many years. Vic and his wife Tracey have been strong members of the ARC-Hampton family for awhile now. Another ARC family member, Andrea, and her daughter, can often be found in our ARC-Hampton store as well.