Stu Watson
April 3, 2015 | Stu Watson

For Portland ultra-hikers, next challenge will get fuel boost from Outdoor Vino

As the old saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss, and neither does Gleb Velikanov.

Not that Gleb is a stone. Or has anything against gathering moss. Or that he even comes close to rolling across the landscape.

But like that proverbial stone, this Naked Winery fan is sort of a perpetual motion machine. You would have to be, too, if you wanted to cover as much ground, for the pure fun of it, as Gleb has, does and will.

Next up, starting April 4, Gleb, 35, and his partner, Barbara Prescott, 27, fly from their home in Portland, Ore., to Georgia, and begin hiking about 2,100 miles north along the classic Appalachian Trail.

In keeping with Naked Winery’s spirit of helping other people walk long distances, our Bend club manager, Chris Garvey, arranged to provide regular drop shipments of Outdoor Vino to Gleb and Barb.

Gleb has some experience at what the insiders calls “through hiking.” He spent four months in 2010 hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs roughly 2,600 miles.

“That time, I was solo,” he says. “I started at the Mexico border and went to Manning Provincial Park in Canada.”

Hoofing that far, Gleb has no interest in strapping an RV to his back. He is an exponent of “ultra-light backpacking,” which means the pack weighs around 20 pounds, depending on how much trail mix he has hoovered on any given day.

Adding a couple of bottles of Rambling Red or Wanderlust White to their packs might force them to jettison excess weight, but who needs a tent, anyway?

Not Gleb. He’s got places to go, people to see. Also a fan of ultra-marathon running, he did 56 miles during a South African event in 2007.

“The way I usually put it is that I use running as way to train for ultra-light backpacking,” he says. “The longest I've ever done on foot in one stretch was 60 miles, the last day on the PCT.”

It only took him 26 hours, starting at 5 a.m. one day, finishing at 7 a.m. the next day. Just in time for a day of flogging himself with barbed wire (remember Frankie and Willie on Saturday Night Live ? Boy, they coulda used some Outdoor Vino) .

Gleb, a writer and adventure tour operator, has been ultra-marathoning for 10 years. Barb took it up three years ago. Earlier this year, she did her first run of 50 kilometers (about 31 miles, which makes it a bit shorter to do it that way. Just kidding. We can act stupid around Blogging Central, but not THAT stupid.).

To augment their trail work, Gleb and Barb lift weights and do Pilates and yoga for core strength.

Gleb met Naked’s guy Garvey at the Sportsman Show in Portland. Garvey mentioned his New England upbringing, Gleb mentioned the hike, and symbiosis happened.

“We started talking about Outdoor Vino,” Gleb recalls. “We adhere to the ‘leave no trace’ ethic. Outdoor Vino bottles are light, and I can use them as a water bottle.”

Gleb cites writer Bill Bryson, author of “A Walk in the Woods,” as an inspiration to hike the ATC, and chronicle their exploits online.

Gleb is all prepped up to beam reports of their hike via Instagram to his website.

“When I did the PCT, I chronicled that with hand-written, hand-drawn little notes every night,” he says. “When I came into town, I snail-mailed what I had written to a friend, and he scanned and put them up on my website – there was about a 10-day delay.”

Through-hikers, he says, give themselves nicknames. He met Emily “Goldenchild” Shirley on his Pacific Coast hike. She lives in Atlanta, and will shuttle Gleb and Barb to the trail start at Spring Mountain, Georgia.

Gleb adopted the trail name “Drugstore” on his earlier hike, because he had brought way too much ibuprofen along. With all the long-distance training he’s been doing, he’s not worried about needing painkillers much on this hike.

“If I were a cigar smoker, I could put out cigars on my feet by the end of a hike,” he says. “My feet were like devil's hide. You could put out hot coals on them.”

Oh, man. Hate it when that happens.

* * *

Stock your own backpack -- or picnic basket -- with Outdoor Vino.


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