by Adam Wells
This is quite possibly my favorite way to take advantage of my kayak. A relatively easy hike to a mountain lake leverages the lightweight packability of an Oru while providing accessibility unavailable to the average hiker.
Tucked up at close to 10,000’, Mills Lake is an unlikely place to find a kayaker. It’s a subalpine lake surrounded by the jagged peaks of Thatchtop Mountain (12,668’), Pogoda Mountain (13,497’) and Chiefs Head Peak (13,579’) in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
On our way up we were often mistaken for climbers lugging up our bouldering pad, or even more commonly we were met with outright confusion - ‘What is that thing??’ Well let me tell you, if you’d like to perfect the Oru Kayak elevator pitch in a day, hike one up a fairly popular trail. The long and short of it is - it’s a boat in a box and you can take it anywhere.
The portability allows for unparalleled accessibility. Because the boat folds down small enough to fit INSIDE my trunk, driving with a boat or two is easy. When I park at a trailhead, I can throw on the backpack straps and hike as if I were wearing any normal daypack. Granted it’s a bit bigger than your average daypack, and if you have to dip under any low hanging branches you’re in for some serious limbo practice, but I bet you’re already excellent at the limbo. And if you’re not, you’ll be better off for the practice.
At the end of the day, what is most important to me is keeping a sense of awe alive inside. That feeling is unavoidable in grand remote landscapes. To sit on a lonely mountain lake and paddle to shores where there are no trails… that’s the reason these kayaks exist. That’s why I love them.