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Meet Big Craig: A Filson Motorcycle Fly Fishing Trip

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Tommy Monette, our Sales Representative for the Rocky Mountain area, always finds time to leave the city lights of Denver behind. He grabs his bike (complete with custom Filson upholstered seat), wrangles up his crew, and heads out to remote(ish) areas for some old-fashioned R&R. His latest outing was complete with fishing, friends, flasks of whiskey, and a run-in with “Big Craig,” one of Filson’s biggest supporters.

Photos courtesy of Adam Bove.

We like to go on moto-camping trips every once in a while, usually for a few days at a time, and we try to hit a different spot each night. Based on the fact that we like to fish, drink whiskey, have loud motorcycles, and act like 12-year-olds; we carefully choose our campsites based on their remote(ish) locations –as well as easy proximity to a main road in case of the inevitable medical emergency.

On an earlier trip this summer, our first stop from Denver brought us into the Avalanche Campground just outside of Carbondale in the White River National Forest.  This is a great spot. It’s only 4 miles off of the highway, yet utilizes a pretty rugged road (including a river crossing) to get to the campsite.  There isn’t much weekday traffic as a result of this.  We pulled in, had the congratulatory “great, we made it safely” flask retrieval, and set up camp.

After a little more whiskey a hearty game of catch started up, and we heard a rumble up the road.  There was a newer F150 pulling into camp, with (what seemed to me) a giant trailer.  This trailer wasn’t an RV, or camping trailer, but looked like an extra large enclosed trailer meant for pulling ATV’s.  Instantly a common groan went up, as the thought of our hatchet filled raucous evening plans went south, in lieu of our polite demeanor towards fellow campers.

The man in the truck circled around a few times and decided to back his trailer into a spot directly caddy-corner from us. His new truck acting as the perfect back-stop to our errant whiskey fueled baseball throws.  After a bit, we summoned up the courage to go introduce ourselves and explained to the nice looking gentleman that we were in fact here to act like 12-year-olds, and if he became offended we apologized in advance.

His name was Craig**.  We called him ‘Big Craig’. We called him Big Craig because everything he did was king size.  Upon introduction, as Craig was setting up camp, we realized the scope of his supply list and camping method.  He had what was probably a full cord of wood, a literal ton of provisions, a full bar’s supply of alcohol, a gas powered blender, tools upon tools, camp furniture (the really nice kind), and out of a heated/cooled diamond plate box in the back of the truck appeared two fully cooked* German Shorthaired Pointers.  We were needless to say, in awe.

As conversation progressed, the introduction went in typical fashion and the topic of our career choices popped up.  Big Craig was an environmental consultant in the Aspen area, with his own company he explained, and I told him that I had the amazing opportunity to work with the best apparel brand out there…  Filson.  Craig’s reaction wasn’t foreign to me, I have received it in many random airport conversations, and it’s usually the same.

“You, work for Filson?”  Big Craig said after a real thorough up-down.  “YOU, work for Filson?”

“I do!” I replied, “and that guy over there (pointing to Eli Cox from Berkeley Supply) sells Filson in his store!”

Big Craig was pretty excited.  He then went on to explain to us his torrid love affair with the outdoors, with hunting and fishing, and went on to list the catalog of Filson products he owns, and has been using for quite some time.  At this point I had only been with Filson for a few weeks, and Big Craig gave me an entirely accurate field review of Filson, one that I still refer to in my travels.  Big Craig was probably the most helpful, genuine person we have ever met on one of our trips.  He made the most delicious margaritas with his gas powered blender for us, he shared with us his amazing jerky.  Big Craig poured lighter fluid on our fire to our 12-year-old amusement, and when I woke up with a ‘bit’ of a headache there was a brand new PowerAde outside my tent.  That morning we had trouble starting one of the motorcycles, as the plugs hadn’t been changed in, well, ever.  Big Craig literally gave us his toothbrush to clean them.

“I’ve got a new one in the trailer,” he said.  Of course he did.

*Cooked = Trained… we don’t eat fancy dogs.  

**Big Craig is Craig Heydenberk, an environmental consultant with his own company, Environmental Services Inc.  He and his wife are based in the Aspen Valley.  He’s an avid outdoorsman, and a huge Filson fan.

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