Meet The Squad
So you've read a couple stories and now you wanna know who the heck all these smelly hikers I'm hanging out with are. I've written plenty about our adventures, so lemme tell you a little about some of my teammates.
This Is Me, Joe Wilderness
The Man, The Myth, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda
Maybe you’ve read the blog and maybe you haven’t. So maybe you don’t know how I got here. The gist is simple. I wouldn’t say I was completely out of shape. But I definitely loved me some couch-potato time. My wife and I decided to get in shape and be more active and I decided I wanted to climb a mountain. After my first, I was hooked. And now I’m here. Master hiker (self-proclaimed) and lover of all things mountains.
Just because I’m the guy who writes the blog and runs the YouTube channel (click that bad boy, Subscribe!), don’t call me the leader of this pack of hoodlums. We are a team and we all contribute in different ways. I’m just kinda like the mouthpiece. I tend to be the planner – for better or worse. Which means, I generally tell everyone where we’re going and when and just expect that people will follow. Just like Jesus. Or Charles Manson.
Outside of hiking, I love movies and hip-hop music. Star Wars is my jam. I love it all, the prequels, the new movies, the cartoons and I don’t wanna hear your opinions about how bad any of them are.
It’s really hard to get anyone to read anything anymore, outside of poorly written headlines or lame news articles. So if you’re here, reading any of this, I really do appreciate it. I love writing about our adventures. I’m learning so much every time I hike and backpack and if I can inspire anyone to try it out, it’s all worth it to me.
And This Is My Main Man, Johnny Mountaintop
The guy I'm gonna hike the world with; also the guy who has smelled me at my worst.
So again, maybe you’ve read the blog and maybe you haven’t. It’s ok, we can still be friends. But lemme tell you real quick about this guy. We went to high school together, shortly after an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. I’d say we were what you could consider pretty close, at least for a couple years. Ya know, we ran in the same circle, as the kids say. Eventually, the real world took over, we graduated and lost touch for many, many years. Aside from a BBQ at my house a few years back, I hadn’t really seen Johnny Mountaintop (real name Joel, by the way) for nearly twenty years. Early in 2019, I finally gave up my social media boycott, started posting hiking photos on the ole Instagram and BAM! I get a message from Joel, who was also hiking the Adirondacks – “Dude, let’s go hiking”. Just like that we’re a team that can’t be stopped. And our plans are way more ambitious than our time off and wallets can handle.
Joel is someone I rely on for research and safety and so much more. Not that he’s a huge worry-wart type, but I am definitely a jump-in-with-two-feet kinda guy. And sometimes I need that person to say “hey, maybe we should see how deep it is before we jump”. He’s the brains (and the good looks, really) of the operation. Plus, he’s the motivator and positive thinker I need to surround myself with. Whenever I’m down, or stressed, or unsure, he’s always my voice of reason. And, he also politely reminds me when it’s time to shower.
JM's Current Challenge Counts
18/46 Adirondack High Peaks
3/9 Lake Placid 9ers
3/30 Adirondack/Catskills Fire Towers
2/6 Saranac Lake 6ers
The Bushman Zack
A Gear Guru and All-Around Badass
When I first started on this journey, I had a million questions about gear. Still do. This guy knows so much and is full of incredible tips and tricks, from the best gear to packing better. He’s not just a hiker, but a lover of bushcraft, survival tactics and camping. The dude is also a beast in the gym. But when Zack first joined me on a hike, I thought we’d killed him. (Story here) Now, he’s started his own journey to 46 Adirondack High Peaks (8/46!!) and hopes to one day share his passion for the outdoors with his two young sons. Zack will be a part of our team heading to Costa Rica in July 2020 to attempt to hike Cerro Chirripo, the highest mountain in that country (12,553 ft). Of course The Bushman is on Instagram.
One Of Our Very Own Terminators
I’ve known Al for a long time. But only through hiking have we ever hung out. One day at work, I tossed him a compliment about how in shape he’d gotten over the last couple years and invited him to join us on a hike (Story!). It turns out, he’s a Terminator – how I refer to hikers who can just go and go and go. He never seems to tire, he’s one of the nicest, most genuine humans I know and a great addition to our core team. You can tell by the smile on his face that hiking is in his blood. He’s currently chipping away at couple challenges too, both with us and on his own: the ADK46ers (12/46) and the Saranac Lake 6ers (3/6).
T2: The Sequel - Another Terminator
Joel brought Dave in to the mix on one of our 2019 hikes. Dave hadn’t hiked a High Peak in almost 10 years. And yet, he didn’t miss a step. Our hikes that summer rejuvenated Dave’s ambition to finish the 46. We did 7 mountains together in 2019 and 2020 shows no signs of slowing him down. He’s another guy, like Al, who just doesn’t run out of gas. Dave is an avid skier, loves camping and the outdoors and just fits right in with our group due to his chill and genuine nature. The worst thing about Dave is that he hasn’t eaten McDonald’s in 22 years (long story!) – which throws a wrench in my post-hike tradition! Probably for the better.
T3: Our Final Terminator
Jason is another guy I had never met before Joel brought him along. And truly, he just fits our group like a glove. He is also yet another cardio beast. Our first hike together was a day when we committed to one mountain – and ended up doing four, because we had such a great day. Jason is a budding photographer, world traveler and all around chill dude. In addition to our four High Peaks together, Jason snagged another on his own to bring his journey up to 5 of 46. Without a doubt, 2020 has many more mountains waiting for us. Now if I only there was a way I could borrow his cardio.
The Icepick Phil
Master Rock Climber, Hiker and Adventure Aficionado
Another part of our team heading to Costa Rica in July 2020, I first hiked with Phil on my third ever hike. After only doing single mountain days, my third hike was a three-mountain day. It broke me physically. Phil didn’t even break a sweat. He, like Zack, is a gear head and is just full of knowledge. In addition to hiking, Phil is a triathlete, a big time rock climber and world travelling adventure enthusiast. Phil has 21 of the 46 done, including the most dangerous climb in the ‘Dacks – The Colden Trap Dike – SIX times! Unlike the rest of us, the dude has even got some big Peruvian 18,000 footers under his belt – Ishinca, Vallnaraju & Tocllaraju, all badass mountaineering hikes! As for “The Icepick”? I dunno how that came about, but I assume it has to do with a crazy story involving climbing some crazy frozen waterfall in a place I’ve never even heard of. He also owns the cutest dog in the world. Which you can see if you check him out on the Gram.
Enthusiastic About Enthusiasm
Linda & I spoke online about hiking long before we ever actually hiked together. And even before meeting her, her enthusiasm for adventure was infectious. Thinking one time that she was just going to film Joel & I doing some rock climbing, we pushed her to try it out and she loved it. Yoga, world travelling, hiking – Linda does it all and does it while bringing smiles to the faces around her. We haven’t gotten together yet for a High Peak, but something tells me 2020 is gonna bring us around to it. She does have a few done from before I met her – Whiteface, Marcy, Cascade – plus a whole bunch of the other ADK hikes, including Ampersand, Hurricane, Rooster Comb and Haystack. Linda is a blast to be around, loves all the stuff we love and adds to the overall positive vibe of our tribe. Check out her inspirational Instagram account.
Not Just My Tattoo Artist, Also My Lake Placid 9er Partner
Loni and I have been friends for, geez I dunno, almost twenty years? She’s my incredible tattoo artist and one of my favorite people. When I started hiking, she couldn’t wait to get in on it. Obviously, with such a cool job, she’s super busy and doesn’t have much time to get out there. But after doing Mount Jo with me, she was hooked. With Mount Jo being one of the Lake Placid 9ers, and with me not having started the 9er challenge yet, it became obvious that Loni and I should finish together what we started on Mount Jo. It may take us multiple years to finish, but we will become Lake Placid 9ers together. And then we will get a matching tattoo to commemorate. Check out her chihuahua and tattoo laden Instagram right here.
Here's what's up
Of Course You Can Hike With Us
We’re real easy to get along with. And Joel and I say all the time that we’ll hike with almost anyone. All we ask is that we vibe with the people around us. That means on the trails we’re not looking for drama or BS, we’re not looking to bring real world problems with us. We’re looking to chill out in nature, push our own physical limits and see some ridiculous views along the way. We’ve had many people hike with us one time. And they’ll likely join us again soon because we’re awesome. If you’re a newbie, we lead hikes called The Hustle & Motivate series. Or, if you think you can handle a High Peak, that’s cool too, let’s go. Either way, there’s a million ways to get in touch with us. Keep an eye on our schedule here on the website or over on Facebook and let us know you’d like to join. I don’t bite, and Joel usually asks for consent before he does.