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Five Veterans Hike Nine Miles and Over Two Peaks in Latest WIM Event

WINDHAM, N.Y. – Five injured U.S. Military members spent three days and two nights in the Northern Catskill wilderness and hiked over eight miles in the Adaptive Sports Foundation’s (ASF) Warriors in Motion® (WIM) backpacking event, which took place June 25-27.

“To have an opportunity to come out and meet people that have a similar background as me and have a similar experience as me and just get a break from the everyday world is a great mental health refresh,” U.S. Air Force veteran Nicholas Schuman said. “This trip was exactly what I needed.” This was Schuman’s first ASF WIM trip since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five veterans met with program manager Tony Vasile and the rest of the ASF staff on Tuesday afternoon at the Gwen Allard Adaptive Sports Center at noon. They were treated to a lunch before Vasile showed the participants where they were heading on the three-day trek and how to properly pack their backpacks. After everyone’s bags were packed, the WIM group was dropped off at the Batavia Kill Trailhead and began the 1.5-mile hike to the Batavia Kill lean-to. The trek only took 45 minutes up the rocky and rooted trail before they reached their destination and set up camp. Vasile and the warriors spent the rest of the evening around the campfire sharing stories and listening to the nocturnal nature.

The WIM group was all packed up and ready to start their long day by 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The veterans and Vasile set off from the Batavia Kill lean-to and began their climb up the back of Blackhead Mountain, a notoriously challenging 1,000 ft climb over a 0.9 miles stretch of trail. The equally steep descent led the group over a smaller lookout point, Arizona Mountain, before the veterans began their descent from the peaks and made their way to Colgate Lake via Dutcher Notch, arriving at the lake’s primitive campsites and setting up the area by 4 p.m. Day two’s hike covered over eight miles and lasted seven hours and 40 minutes. They were rewarded with the opportunity to relax and cool off by the lake.

Due to the heavy rains that rolled in Wednesday night, the warriors packed up their campsite after their dinner and took the ASF shuttle bus back into Windham. Hotel Vienna was very accommodating and allowed the veterans to stay in its rooms, despite the late check-in. The participants were able to wash the forest off and rest their tired bodies on a comfortable bed for a good night’s sleep.

The warriors and some ASF staff members met at the Windham Diner the following morning for a nice breakfast before heading back to the ASF lodge. There, they unpacked their equipment and had one final stretching session before the veterans returned to their homes.

“The ASF’s Warriors in Motion works much like other organizations with its goal of fighting isolation and getting vets to do things that they may not have felt they could do in the past, myself included,” U.S. Army veteran Ryan Pearson explained. “Something like this, where I was just able to hike over nine miles in the mountains and complete a feat that four years ago I couldn’t do at all since I couldn’t walk without assistance, is important. Organizations such as the ASF is so important because it’s giving us veterans an opportunity to make a goal and then taking care of us and helping us to get to that goal. I can’t thank the ASF enough.”

The Warriors in Motion program provides participating injured United States servicemen and women with a basic knowledge and practice of wellness and the importance of lifelong healthy living. All WIM programs are goal-oriented and empower the warrior to take charge of their own fitness and wellness. If you’d like to learn more about the Adaptive Sports Foundation’s Warriors in Motion program, visit