March 03, 2020 6 min read

Our Wildway Crew highlights ordinary people doing extraordinary things.


Within each of us lies the potential to live life to the fullest. We have the ability to choose our own destiny, live without fear or limits, challenge ourselves and grow, do and be whatever makes us happy. We have the ability to be free. It's how you live a Wildway of life and there are people all around us inspiring others with their actions. We want to celebrate that by highlighting and honoring those who #LiveWild. 


Meet the newest Wildway Crew member:

Stand up paddling

Rachel Kenney

Schoharie, NY

Wildway of Life = Exploring the outdoors with my dog, Wylder.

Motto: "Bring the dog" 

Here's Rachel's story in her own words:
"I was born and raised in upstate New York, smack dab between the Catskill Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains. My sister and I always played outside and every once in a while my dad would take us hiking on some trail nearby. I was a normal college kid trying to pass classes and enjoyed being outdoors, but not to the extent of which I do now. I began taking horse riding lessons at the age of 6 which led me to pursue an equine degree in college. The program I was in required a 15-week internship, and it was in this very internship where my life changed for the better because I found my best friend. I had always grown up with dogs, so when the last family golden retriever passed away there was definitely a hole. It was at that point I knew I had to get myself a dog.
..
outdoor hiking
..
I'd always wanted a Bernese mountain dog since I met Mac, a Berner of some homeowners my dad did work for. I got myself an 8-week-old Bernese Mountain dog puppy and named him Baloo. He sparked my desire to get outside, to let him run around and chase butterflies and to watch him love to explore the world around him. Baloo was with me for the majority of my time away on my internship. We lived in hotels, and we made pretty big drives together going from one horse show grounds to another, from Florida to Virginia. Once my internship was done and I decided to return home, we made the over 8-hour road trip home fromVirginia to upstate New York.
...
A friend of mine from high school was hiking local trails with her dog, so I joined her and took Baloo. As he grew, we began to chase longer and more difficult hikes. When he was about a year and nine months old, I thought it would be fun to do some small mountains just north of where we lived. We had so much fun and slowly but surely the mountains we climbed continued to grow higher and higher. At this time, I discovered the Adirondack 46ers, a challenge which consisted of the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. Later in the summer of 2015, I decided to pursue the 27th highest peak; it was about 9 miles round trip and featured cliffs, small rock scrambles, lots of elevation change, views for days of other high peaks across the valley, and even a small ladder. Despite not being prepared for the trek, the mountain bug really bit me. We continued on this 46er journey.
..
camping in the wilderness
..
Later in the summer of 2015, Baloo was diagnosed with Idiopathic Epilepsy at two years old. I was devastated, and I remember thinking how could my dog have epilepsy!? After that we took a break from high peaks and did more smaller hikes, which he still thoroughly enjoyed. Then through the winter we snowshoed more mountains and we got stronger and stronger. Then in the spring, I decided to hike another high peak with Baloo. I wasn’t sure how he would hold up and thought we might have to turn around, but not surprisingly, he crushed the hike. A few weeks later, we did a sunrise summit of another peak, as well as an adjacent peak. Again, he totally killed it! Baloo seemed to love every second of it, scoping out how he'd attack rockier sections and I loved how he’d trot down the trail. When we'd summit he'd gaze out with the wind in his fur and a huge smile on his face. He seemed unstoppable in the mountains, like he was right at home.
...
Not long after, the two of us set out on our first of many solo backpacking trips. Though I was nervous at first, the nerves quickly went away when we started hiking and the outcome was one incredible weekend. Another first that summer was learning to paddle board together; we loved it so much we eventually bought our own board. Though Baloo wasn't a water dog by any means, he knew the board was his safe place. He'd fall asleep as I'd paddle and we were able to see some of our favorite mountains from a different perspective out on the water. We paddled quite a bit that summer and completed many more high peaks. One of my favorite trips was when my boyfriend, Baloo and I hiked in and camped overnight, then woke up to summit three high peaks. After reaching the highest peak in New York State, Mt. Marcy, we gazed at an incredible sunset on the summit and it was there that my husband proposed! That day will always be ingrained in my heart and I reminisce about it often.
..
hiking engagement
..
Our last high peaks together were at the end of January on an unusually warm and sunny day. That day Baloo reached his 21st high peak which meant he was almost halfway. After a few more months of hiking, I unexpectedly lost Baloo. My whole family was devastated; to this day I haven't gotten over his loss and I’m not sure I ever will. His epilepsy resulted in an emergency situation and after being rushed to the emergency vet and staying overnight, 24 hrs after he was brought in, it was apparent that multiple systems were beginning to fail. The situation made my decision for me and I had to say goodbye to my best friend. He was only four years old. After this all happened, I thought I'm lucky this didn't happen in the backcountry camping or hiking, but it made me realize that regardless of his condition he still lived life to the fullest.
...
The mountains meant more to me once he was gone; all of those memories we made, and how much he loved those days walking so many miles, summit to summit or down floating on the water below, always together. These mountains gave us confidence, helped us grow as a team and strengthened our bond more than I ever thought possible. These mountains were home. I continued to hike with friends but still felt a huge whole in my life. Then surprisingly, I found a Bernese Mountain pup and our lives haven't been the same since. The 16 lb ball of fur I’ve named Wylder is imperfectly perfect. He is a whirlwind of fur, puppy teeth and all the sass our lives were missing. Wylder and I have hiked quite a few mountains, paddle boarded a ton, and have made so many memories already in just a year of having him. We’ve even tried paddle board camping and canoe camping and had a blast both times. At 10 months old he was in great shape to hike with me to finish my 46er journey. Together we climbed my 46th high peak which made for a bittersweet, but amazing day.
..
hiking in the snow
..
After having Baloo be so special to me, and now Wylder filling those 'paws' you could say, adventuring with dogs has a way of slowing you down to take in the little things and they've taught me how to live in the moment. Wylder has taught me it's ok to be different and to march to the beat of your own drum. He is unapologetically himself and as we've grown to know each other I have found I love him more for it. But Baloo, he taught me you can do anything you set your mind to and to do so with all your heart. Despite his condition, he lived life like a normal dog and never let it get to him especially on our adventures. These two dogs have shown me how to live my wildway of life and have made it infinitely better. They are the reason I love the outdoors as much as I do because if they're happy, I'm happy, and whatever they are happy doing, I'm happy doing it too."


Also in Crew Stories

Colorado outdoor athletes, trail running athletes in Colorado, motivational athletes in Colorado
Wildway Crew Stories: Randi Whitley (Trail Running)

March 18, 2020 2 min read

Meet Randi. Calling Colorado and the trails that wind through it home, Randi thrives exploring this great world with her own two feet. A true weekend warrior at heart, her ambitions are as great as her triumphs. Read more of her story of breaking boundaries and finding her Wildway of Life.
Read More
Wildway Crew Stories: Robin Vieira (Outdoor Adventure)
Wildway Crew Stories: Robin Vieira (Outdoor Adventure)

February 03, 2020 2 min read

Meet Robin. Transitioning from the path of neuroscience to yoga is a tough decision, but it has given Robin the opportunity to do what she is truly passionate about: being outdoors and helping others lead mindful and intentional lives. Read about her journey from the waters of Hawaii to the mountains stretching through Oregon.
Read More
Wildway Crew Stories: Karina Wild (Backpacking)
Wildway Crew Stories: Karina Wild (Backpacking)

January 13, 2020 2 min read

Meet Karina. Having been introduced to the wonders of the outdoors at any early age, Karina has learned how to grow through her day to day struggles through lessons learned by seeking out challenging adventures. Her story is one of finding her place in the outdoor community and being a source of inspiration to all who choose to follow her journey.
Read More