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Trip Report: Mountrek's Escape to New York

Heather Gunn-Rivera captures first Mountrek Challenge title.

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On Friday the 13th of July at 5 pm, while most 9-5ers were headed to happy hour or home to make dinner for the kids, three unheralded New York adventure enthusiasts sprinted to the 30th Street heliport with one mission in mind: to pack as much adventure into their weekend as humanly possible before their return to work on Monday morning. The three were part of a friendly competition, dubbed the Mountrek Challenge / Escape to New York, designed to highlight and celebrate the spirit of adventure and outdoor adventures available just outside of New York City.

The G.N.A.R.-style challenge awarded points for feats of firsts. Whoever accumulated the most points by Monday morning would “win.” And while the Catskills, ‘Gunks, and Hudson Valley provided the adventures, Mountrek provided the footwear, the heli-assist, and a $5,000 donation made in the winner’s name to Inner City Outings, a Sierra Club community outreach program that provides opportunities for urban youth and adults to explore, enjoy, and protect the natural world.

“Just outside of New York, one of the largest and most metropolitan cities in the world, is world class climbing, hiking, and paddling. The contrast is stunning,” said Jeremy McClintock, Mountrek’s Vice President of Design. “But, within a two hour-drive from most towns are similar adventures. Adventure is everywhere, and it’s your attitude that makes it happen. With Escape to New York, we provided a little extra incentive, but these three are no strangers to getting the most out of their free time.”

With rules relayed and gear packed, the challenge was on for Arturo Quinones, a New York area guide and climbing buyer at EMS; Heather Gunn-Rivera, owner and trainer at Grass Roots Fitness Project, and Adam Sherlip, an electronics specialist at Eastern Mountain Sports.

No sooner had the heli dropped them at the base of the Hunter Mountain ski area then the three Challengers changed from their work clothes into swim trunks and Mountrek HydroActiv shoes and headed out on North South Lake for their inaugural SUP session (points!), leaving long wakes in their tracks as they glided across the glassy, alpine lake to spot black bear, deer, beaver, and warblers during dusk feeding time. By the time darkness and a summer thunderstorm arrived, it was lights out at the campground.

Early Saturday morning, the team laced up the Mountrek LiteHiking boots and scrambled from camp down the Kaaterskill Creek bed vying to be the first to traverse across and rappel down Kaaterskill Falls–at 260 feet it is one of the tallest waterfall in New York State. While Heather and Arturo had rappelled before, Adam had not and immediately identified another opportunity to notch another first for points. He christened the experience with a fresh rope burn from an over-eager decent rate — 100 points.

The teams then headed out of the Kaaterskills Falls area, over the road, and bushwhacked 6 miles up and over High Peak. While the siren song of secret swimming holes in Plattekill Clove called to them, the ten miles of rappelling and bushwhacking in the hot and humid Catskill weather had taken its toll and the teams detoured to the dark, cool, and cloistered swimming holes at the base of Plattekill Falls. Summer at its best. That night, while at camp lounging in their SportShift casual shoes at the Stone Mountain Farm, Arturo dove into his home-spiced tequila concoction, while everyone else did some video light painting in the giant empty field.

Summer weather can be an ugly blend of heat, humidity, rain, lightning, and wind. On Sunday, Mother Natured picked all of the above.

The day started promising enough with partly cloudy skies for the hike to Bonticou Crag, where everyone scrambled to the top and set another rappel back down a point dubbed Hairy Lip. By the time they emerged from a spelunk through the Bounticou caves, a wicked line of storm cells had fully formed and unleashed on the area. The downpours were so intense that the Fahnestock State Park campground was flooded, causing the Challengers to detour to the Fishkill Hampton Inn for hot showers and dry clothes.

Not to be defeated, and with one last dawn patrol window available before they had to be back to work, the three launched their kayaks into the Hudson from Breakneck Ridge and completed a two mile sunrise paddle to the Cold Springs metro station, and grabbed some bagels and coffee for the 70-minute train ride from Cold Springs to Grand Central Station. Tired but fired-up from the weekend, the three Challengers were a sharp contrast to the other train passengers dressed for work on their commute into New York.

In the end, everyone was a winner (although Heather had the most points) The three challengers spent the train ride reminiscing on the blur of events and getting mentally prepared for reentry into their metro schedule.

But that’s why an intense weekend outside is important. It provides the opportunity to reconnect with fundamental priorities, to what matters to you, with people who matter, and hopefully inspire others to break out of the hustle and gridlock barriers to adventure that our work-a-day lives try to erect at every turn.

That’s where Mountrek comes in. Mountrek’s commitment is to inspire our customers to make every step an adventure. Because when we live our lives inspired and focus on what matters, life becomes a heck of a lot more fulfilling. This sentiment isn’t just words. The footwear Mountrek designs and make embodies this spirit of adventure. Our passion is to design and manufacture shoes that get people motivated to get outside

So, here’s to the Escape to New York crew and everyone else who had an adventure last weekend.