On The Fragrance Trail with Juniper Ridge
words by Edana Isobel Jamora & photography courtesy of Juniper Ridge
'Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.'
"Juniper Ridge fragrance is exactly like wandering in the wild, you don't know what's going until BAM! It grabs you, and then you're kind of sunk in love." - Hall Newbegin
Founder, Hall Newbegin is a modern day cave man. Starting out with a truck, a pair of clippers, a Jepson's guide to California plants, and a keen nose for smelling and sticking it in the dirt. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Hall spent his summers hiking and backpacking around lakes and peaks of the Cascades, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters, distinct places that strongly resonate with what Juniper Ridge perfume is all about. "If I can put a summer day on Mt. Hood's Timberline Trail when the wildflowers are peaking into a bottle, well, that's just the most beautiful there is or ever could be."
Juniper Ridge is the only wild fragrance company in the world, with outdoor enthusiasts, mountain and nature lovers out on the trail sourcing ingredients from trimmings, mushrooms, moss, bark, and plants. The harvest is one big backpacking experience, hiking enthusiasts scour the West Coast attempting to bottle up the beauty experienced and found when hiking though the backcountry. There is a strong connection with nature to man in each bottle, varying from year to year and harvest to harvest based on the several factors such as temperature, season, location and precipitation. Every Juniper Ridge product has been stamped with a harvest number as a reference of its rich history, the harvest and collectors.
Hall's entire adult life has been spent on the trail. Learning about plants, wild mushrooms, natural history, and tapping into the innate human animalistic senses. He often uses his nose which he often commends as the 'animal part' of himself, that when ignited or excited instantly creates layers of magic in the air.
"Juniper Ridge has been gestating my whole life- it's just one expression of my love for the outdoors." At twenty-seven years old, hobby turned into serious pursuit which came with making scary choices. From working in offices in San Francisco to playing in bands - there was nothing that Hall wanted to do more than to be out in the mountains. Shortly after he left and moved to an organic farm then found himself taking Herbal Medicine classes in Arizona. At twenty-nine years old, bored of class and his hippie lifestyle drying up it was time to get back to the real world. In 1998, wildcrafting was so far off the mainstream radar that it seemed impossible for the thought to turn into reality but that was no object of discussion because it was the pursuit of passion that drove Hall's determination which inspired the creation of Juniper Ridge. "I've never been very good at the marketing/business(ey) side of business, for me its all about the plants, the places, and that quiet feeling that I get when I'm out on the trail- come to think about it, that is our ideology, that rich quietness that descends on you after you've been out backpacking for two or three days, I live for that feeling."
People have a sense of attraction to the fragrances, with many who often stay away from fragrances- fall in love. The reason being is that as humans, it is within us to fall in love with nature. The whole relation between human, fragrance and nature is on a visceral, primitive level that we have no control over. Biophilia, a concept developed by E.O Wilson recognised that we as humans have evolved with nature and the environment around us and with that we are hardwired to love nature, it is a strong element that ties us to our deep ancestral past. "When you smell something, it goes straight to your emotions, your memories, it doesn't even pause for the rational language-loving frontal lobe, the gatekeeper to our minds, it sneaks by like a shadow from a parallel-universe - we just instantly feel something."
On the trail, Juniper Ridge participates in all forms of traditional extraction methods and techniques which were commonly used up until about the 1960's. It's hard to think that the technicality of creating the fragrance is done through the process of harvesting plants on the trail, mashing them up, steam distillation, placing dirt in alcohol, lighting bonfires on beaches and smoking ingredients to bring in a more wintery earthiness. It's all about extracting the fragrant goodness from the plants and allowing them to be shelf-stable suitable, to be bottled, stored and worn.
"I tend to really indulge my animal senses out on the trail. I get a little embarrassed when I think about those hikers who come around the corner and see me moaning in pleasure with my face in a rotten log, but that's the kind of stuff I do." Hall also touches on the several other remedies and indulgences he participates in when on the trail foraging for ingredients such as a little marijuana to open up his senses, or a nice, round, buttery single malt scotch. Upon return from a trail expedition he often calls for a tasty Pinot Noir and fancy farm-to-table cuisine. "I'm clearly a bougie gentrified hippie, punk rock mess. John Muir turns over in his grave every time someone compares me to him!"
To find out more about Juniper Ridge please visit: http://juniperridge.com/