If Only a Backpack Could Talk

Having a properly fitted backpack can make a huge difference on a hike. One of my first backpacks was my Osprey 22 litre. Oh, how I loved that backpack — it went so many places with me over the 25 years I had it! I personalized it with some badges; every time I looked at it, I thought of the many places I had gone.

My name is Mary Hof and I live in Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island. I am a wife to Gerry for 45 years, a mother of 3, and a grandma of 4 boys. I am a lifetime member of both the Outdoor Club of Victoria and Cowichan Hikers, and a member of the Island Mountain Ramblers, and Alberni Outdoor Club, as well as a women’s group that I hike with every Thursday. You got it right, I love to hike and have led hikes for the past 30 years. With all the hiking I do, my backpack is very important.

That Osprey backpack would start many conversations on the trail and at airports in the many different countries where I led hiking and humanitarian trips.

At a surprise gathering when I turned 50 in 2007, my son Paul sang a song to the tune of, ‘She’s been everywhere’. The refrain was “She’s been everywhere man, she’s been everywhere man, further then you’d dare man. Up some serious mountains, a long way from this island, she’s been everywhere”. He then went on to sing of the many places I have hiked. A few of the verses were, “Whatcom Pass, Cascade Pass, Rainy Day Pass, I think I’ll pass. Jade Lake, Hart Lake, Grass Lake, Crypt Lake, Lake Ann, Miller Lake, Lomas Lake, just can’t wait. Moriarty, Maple Mountain, wanted to climb Mount Unnecessary. Cobble Hill, West Coast Trail, Whistler’s Summit, Ptarmigan Circuit, Mt. Beecher, Mt. Rainier, even to Haleakala Crater. He had many verses but ended it with “Mt. Galiano, Tongariro, hiked for days up Mt. Kilimanjaro”. The crowd joined in on the verses and it was just beautiful. My daughter Christina then sang ‘Climb Every Mountain’ and I know there were many tears in the room, including my own.

I was attached to that backpack, if only it could talk. Then came the day when my backpack was showing a lot of wear, but I refused to give it up! In 2019, I made the decision that I had to get a new one. When you start losing the stuff out of your backpack — you know it’s time.

Someone told me to contact Osprey because they had a lifetime guarantee. Yes, it was true, but there was a catch! I had to send my backpack in and if they decided I needed a new one they wouldn’t return my old one! If it only required repairs, they would fix it up and send it back. I knew there was no way to repair it so what about all my patches? Yup, I took them all off and waited till Osprey made their decision.

I finally got word — I needed a new one, and they would send me a 24litre backpack, no questions asked. I chose my colour and it was on its way. What a terrific lifetime warranty!

Once it arrived, a wonderful friend sewed all my patches back on and my new backpack has followed me on all my hikes since.

Well, I just turned 65, I wonder how many more peaks, lakes and valleys I could add to that song?

Quite a few, I’m sure – even the Golden Hinde – and I am not ready to stop yet. Like the song Christina sang for me, ‘Climb Every Mountain,’, I will continue as long as I can.

I hope this backpack will join my journey for a lifetime, It has had a good start already — in 2021 it hiked 2118km with me and climbed 105,20m.

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