The Journey is the Reward


Here at Osprey we try to live and work by one underlying ethos. A method of approaching not only the mountains we climb outside but also the mountains of life. Rob Wylie, Managing Director Osprey Europe, explores this mindset below.

Their packs are loaded and ready to go. The transition from driver to backpacker is a quick one. Throwing his pack onto his back the man thinks it’s very heavy. Once we’ve eaten some of this food and drank some of this water I’m going to enjoy carrying this a lot more he tells his friend. They set off along a well-defined and hiker worn pathway. The first part of their journey winds gently up through thick pine forest. The trees surround them blocking out the sun and the view, in the shade it’s cold. The man and his friend press on, knowing that in a few hours they will be out of the trees and onto the shoulders of the mountain where they will finally have a view and sunlight. After hours of walking they emerge from the forest, the cloud is low and there is no view. That’s disappointing says the man. He was expecting to see the mountain. As we ascend we can get above this low cloud says the man’s friend. He nods in agreement and they set off. The path is much steeper now and their progress is slow and more difficult.

Up above the path turns into switchbacks, that will be a lot easier says the man. But it takes a long time to reach them. At last they break through the low cloud, the setting sun is shining and they are rewarded with views to the summit and the surrounding peaks. Up above them the trickiest part of the climb awaits. You can see our route up to the top says the man. That’s where we will be tomorrow. He points upward tracing the ridgeline with his finger. Its getting late in the day, they need to find a place to camp. When we get the tent up and stove on we’re going to be feeling pretty satisfied with the days achievements says the friend. As the sun drops so does the temperature. Time for me to try out my new sleeping bag says the man. I’m going to be very warm tonight, not like our last trip he laughs. Their night of sleep is interspersed with turning, waking and thinking. Mostly about how much nicer it is in a warm bed at home and how much closer the toilet is. In the morning they both rise early, eager to start drinking coffee. Surveying the gear spread out around them the man says it will be good once it is all packed back into his pack.

Shortly they begin walking again, legs ache from the previous days efforts and the packs feel no lighter. I’m really looking forward to tackling that ridge says the man to his friend. After a few hours travelling upright, their feet and hands are now on rock as they start to scramble. Lets put on the rope says the friend, just for safety. The man agrees and they both feel more confident surveying the drop on either side with a rope between them. They are both nervous climbing with heavy packs, making each step and handhold is a slow and deliberate movement. The clear skies afford an amazing view in every direction, also highlighting their exposed position on the side of the mountain. This is pretty full on says the man to his friend with an anxious grin. His friend agrees, looking for signs of reassurance but finding none. I don’t think it’s this steep for much longer says the man. Although he sounded more hopeful than certain. They press on for a few more hours climbing, enveloped in silence and concentration. Suddenly the air is filled with noise. I can see the summit shouts the man’s friend. They both look up in unison. The man turns to his friend and gives him the thumbs up. It’s going to be an amazing view the man yells back.

With renewed energy and optimism they both move faster and more confidently across the jagged rocks. Soon they arrive together at the top. Physically connected by the rope and mentally connected from the effort they have shared to reach this place. Packs are removed and placed carefully on the rocks. They exchange a brief man-hug and survey their surroundings. They both stand hands on hips, breathing in and out theatrically in unison. Well done says the man. You too says his friend. After a few pictures and a quick drink there is nothing left to do here. We’ve still got a long way to go says the man hauling his pack onto his back. Would be great to get back to the car before dark says his friend.

Down the mountain they head, retracing their steps and picking out landmarks along the way. They pass their camp spot and the switchbacks. By the time they reach the tree line it’s dark and starting to rain. At least it is downhill says the man. I think two hours back to the car maximum confidently predicts his friend. The going is easy on the well-worn path. Can’t wait to get into the car and out of this rain says the man. His friend agrees. Finally a metal object reflects their torchlight, the car roof. The man lays face first spread across the bonnet. His friend laughs. Soon they are inside the car and happy to be out of the rain. I’m exhausted says the mans friend. Me too says the man. They pull out of the car park and onto the track. This is a terrible drive in the rain says the man, I read that sometimes it floods. I’ll be happier once we are back on a real road adds his friend. They drive home safely, occasionally talking about how nice it will be to have a shower, real food and to sleep in a proper bed. They talk about work on Monday morning and the week ahead. Later a car pulls into the driveway of the man’s house. Out steps the man, a scruffy figure still adjusting between trail life and real life. He carries his pack the last few metres dropping it onto the floor in his hallway and deciding to leave it there until tomorrow. I can’t wait to get into bed the man thinks.


That night the man realised that his trip was over. He should try harder to enjoy the moment and the journey. He had a realisation that it is important to have the vision to create a plan and the drive forwards to see it through. But not to let goals and milestones override the experience of achieving each of them. Taking in the surroundings and the experience along the way. He realised this was also true for work, relationships, family and life, everything that was important to him. It was just as important to enjoy the journey as it was to achieve the goals. He vowed to himself to try harder to realise the moment in everything he did. That night when the man went to sleep he thought to himself – the journey is my reward.

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