In the shadow of Earth Day, blissfully aware that we live on Earth and not Uranus, and celebrating the fact that Spring has finally decided to channel its inner El Chapo and come out of hiding, I thought today would be a great day to shine a sunny spotlight on how a Colorado Springs-based, Capital Region-born-and-raised-transplant is currently crushing it.
Weekend Warriors of the 518, meet BarkEaters, a start-up outdoor apparel company inspired by life in New York’s treasured Adirondack Mountains. While its founders are currently based in Colorado Springs, BarkEaters proudly reflects that forever wild attitude you can only find inside The Blue Line.
(FYI: “The Blue Line” is the term used in New York state for the boundaries of the Adirondack and Catskill parks, within which lies the state’s Forest Preserve. All the cool kids with a seasoned ADK resume and vocab will toss the phrase around when referring to any trail, mountain, stream, or lean-to within the six million acre Adirondack Park).
It’s said that the word Adirondack derived from the Mohawk Indian word, atiru:taks, meaning, “tree eaters,” and apparently that’s the phrase the Mohawk tribe used when referring to their Algonquin neighbors to the North. When food was scarce, the Algonquins would chow down on the inside of some sweet Eastern White Pine bark. (Native American shade at its finest. I love it.)
Therefore, the brand pays homage to the, “no-surrender spirit of today’s Bark Eaters,” and its co-founders are proudly giving the Rockies a taste of that same ADK shade ferocity. “We wanted to create something to celebrate where we came from, and so that others could show their ADK pride as well.”
Craving a new playground at a higher altitude, where New York’s highest peaks seem puny when compared to the big boys out west (4,000 ft. vs. 14,000 ft.), Cohoes, NY native and BarkEaters co-founder, Brecka Coonradt, 29 – but with a birthday this week, traded her life in the Adirondack High Peaks for a new chapter out west last year, but wasn’t ready to abandon her Upstate NY roots.
Holding down a sweet gig as a stay-at-home RN case manager by day, Brecka’s a proud dog-mom to two adventurous sidekicks, Cooper and Trekk, bonafide outdoor junkie, ADK 46er, budding photographer, and weekend warrior who dreamed up the idea of starting the ADK-inspired apparel with her boyfriend on a two-hour drive to the mountains one Friday; when they returned home that Sunday, they registered the company and got to work designing.
Brecka’s boyfriend, business partner, and BarkEaters co-founder, Nick Mayo, is also from Upstate New York, technically the Syracuse-area, so his Upstate pride and geography is a little skewed, but having also lived in Oswego, NY, he’s covered a lot of territory, so we’ll give him a break. Regardless of their Upstate allegiance, these two are committed to sharing their appreciation for the ADKS with fellow adventure-seekers, and hopeless romantics alike.
You see, their passion for the ADKS runs deeper than its network of trails: Nick and Brecka first crossed paths during a chance meeting at the Times Square trail junction while hiking the Santanoni Range in the Adirondacks a few years ago; thanks in part to social media, all it took was a hefty data plan and a visit to Colorado a year and a half after first meeting on a High Peak in New York to realize that these star-crossed lovers were destined for more than just day hikes. Nick made the move to permanently join Brecka in Colorado shortly after, and together they are currently living their best life in The Centennial State.
Even though Brecka and I are both two Capital Region girls with a love for the ‘Dacks, chicken wings from the Ale House, and a strong loyalty to Stewart’s, we haven’t actually met IRL.
We have what you might call a classic millennial friendship, whose digital paths crossed courtesy of Instagram, through a series of Adirondack-centric hiking hashtags instead of hiking trails, and a shared love for sarcasm, puns, and quoting the movie, “Dumb & Dumber.”
We’ve been on this pixelated path together for a little over two years now, and I love keeping up with her incredible feed of inspiring pictures that make me want to drop what I’m doing and hit the trail. It’s been really fun following her journey and supporting a local chick who’s out there crushing mountains and her goals.
So if mountains, adventure, craft beer, and dogs are your cup of tea, check out her Instagram and give this hometown girl at heart a follow. She may currently be in Colorado, but she’s just like us: she fancies a Browns IPA, ice cream from Snowman, admits that apple fritters from Stewart’s fueled most of her High Peak summits, and can’t get enough of that garlic crust on the pizza from Mick’s in Cohoes! (wow, that sounds next level; I have to get over there for some ASAP) If that doesn’t scream Capital Region pride, then I don’t know what does.
Just for being a basic birch, Brecka created a Two Buttons Deep-inspired discount code for 20% off your BarkEater purchase – 2BD20 – so now you don’t have an excuse to not add a piece to your summer adventure wardrobe, whether you plan to explore the mountains, or just your local bar’s patio.
In closing, here’s a little Q&A I did with Brecka to dive a little deeper into the psyche of someone from our own backyard who’s a dog-loving, adventure-seeking, hopeless romantic trapped in the body of a badass b*itch, with a sharp wit and a mind that sometimes has a tendency to mimic an adolescent boy. Enjoy!
Q: What’s your day job?
I work at home as an RN case manager for a health insurance company.
Q: What do you miss most about living in the Capital Region?
A: Stewart’s! Although I feel like I should say my family?
Q: How is life in CO different than Upstate NY?
A: We have more access to different trails and areas here, but it’s an effort to get to them. In NY I was 15 minutes from the high peaks. Here, it’s over two hours minimum from where we live, and if you don’t have 4WD or a bit of bravery, you’ll never even reach the trailhead to some. The convenience factor is lacking! But that’s also part the appeal sometimes.
Q: What exists in CO that’s not in the Capital Region, but should be?
A: An abundance of breweries, and most places are dog friendly here.
Q: What’s something we have in NY that should be in CO?
A: Can I say Stewart’s again? Or also just good chicken wings. If someone could ship me Ale House wings weekly I would be in love.
Q: What’s the most annoying habit of people in CO vs. Upstate NY?
A: When people in CO find out we’re from NY they always think it’s NYC. I get personally offended by this!
Q: What does Weekend Warrior mean to you?
A: Being a weekend warrior means when I sign off of my computer on Fridays, the adventure starts. We pack up the truck and the pups, and travel someplace new most weekends, whether to hike, camp or mountain bike. It’s what keeps me sane throughout the week when I’m planning and what fuels my passion for the outdoors.
Q: Tell us about Cooper and Trekk:
A: Cooper is a 4-year-old Black Lab, and Trekk is a 6-month-old Mastiff mix. Coop is my best friend. We’ve been through everything together these past four years. I wouldn’t have the confidence to camp or hike alone, or to move to Colorado without him.
Trek joined the family when my boyfriend and I were out grocery shopping; I convinced him to stop at the Humane Society, “just to look,” on our way home. He is a maniac in the best way and comes alive on the trails! Author’s Note: Great read about Brecka and Coop: “Conquering 14,000 FT with Man’s Best Friend”
Q: What’s your favorite piece from the Bark Eater collection?
A: My favorite Bark Eaters shirt is the Adirondack one for sure. I met my boyfriend on the trails there, my parents still live in Jay, NY, and the ADK is home to me. We wanted to create something to celebrate where we came from and so that others could show there ADK pride as well.
Q: If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
A: I could obsess over maps, trails, trip reports and weather for hours planning what we’re going to do next. If I didn’t need sleep, I think this obsession would intensify! That, and watching my dogs sleep like a weirdo, thinking about how cute they are.
Q: Pick one mountain range to play in for the rest of your life: ‘Dacks or the Rockies
A: Today it’s the Rockies, but tomorrow will probably be the ‘Dacks! I change my mind daily.
Q: If you could take off on the trip of a lifetime today, where would you go?
A: Alaska to see the Northern Lights!
Q: What’s the Five Year Plan for BarkEaters?
A: To keep creating and expanding. We’ve gotten into some stores in the Adirondacks and 1 here in Colorado. I would love to be in more stores around both states and to make everyone proud to be a Barkeater!
So, if you’re chomping at the bit to get some BarkEaters gear, use the discount code 2BD20 for 20 percent off your purchase! Thanks, Brecka!
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