With the help of explorers and scientists, eight students are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. The Hudson River Source to Sea Expedition, which is departing tomorrow, is a two-week, human-powered trek that traverses the Hudson River— All 315+ miles of it. Along the way, the group will analyze and research water quality at over 50 stops, from its point source in Lake Tear of the Clouds to its entry into the Atlantic Ocean.

If you want to follow along on this incredible adventure, you can, via the group’s periodic status updates, and a documentary after its conclusion (more on that below). You can also take part in the project by assisting with funding; donations directly support low-income students from the Adirondacks, Capital District, and the New York City/Jersey City area and will assist with trip expenses like food and rental gear. 

Adirondack Hamlets to Huts and Mountain Goat Movement

This first-of-its-kind collaboration is a project born by Greg Morrisey, M. Ed., and Dr. Joe Dadey of Mountain Goat Movement and Adirondack Hamlets to Huts, respectively. Both coming from educational backgrounds, their combined backgrounds and experiences make them a tailored fit for a trip of this scale and nature, which aims to be the first of many.

“The 2023 Hudson River Source to Sea Expedition is slated to be the first in a hoped-for series of annual offerings that would be available to a variety of demographic groups, including, for example, an all-female group, military veterans, and adults who could do the trip in stages if and as needed,” says Dr. Dadey, who brings over 15 years of education, a doctorate in Environmental Policy, and numerous outdoor leadership expeditions to the project. He is the Director and co-founder (along with friend and colleague Jack Drury) of Adirondack Hamlets to Huts, a 501(c)(3) headquartered in Saranac Lake, New York, that creates, manages, and promotes an internationally acclaimed hamlet-to-hut system fostering vibrant communities by advancing economic development, conservation, wellness, and responsible recreation. The entity accomplishes this by providing rich, memory-making outdoor recreation experiences to diverse demographics that helps maximize the sustainable tourism economies of communities throughout the Adirondacks: Through strategic trail and lodging networks running throughout the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, the aim is accessibility to the outdoors for all. 

“The Expedition is simply an extension of the Adirondack Hamlets to Huts model beyond the Adirondack Park Blue Line boundary,” Dr. Dadey explains. “This excursion still emphasizes self-powered travel along a community-based hut-to-hut route that juxtaposes the wild and the settled and the rural and the urban in ways that provide rich learning adventure experiences. This trip is just on a grander scale where the differences between the wild and the settled are more dramatic.”

Students catching an ADK sunrise on Cascade Mountain.

Joining forces with Adirondack Hamlets to Huts is Mountain Goat Movement (MGM), an adventure hub launched last year by Greg Morrisey, M. Ed., with an aim to connect young people in cities and populated communities to the outdoors. Morrisey and Dr. Dadey met through Morrisey’s parents when they stopped by the Trails Center years ago: “They thought that as fellow adventurers we should meet… We ultimately connected and my girlfriend and I hosted Greg and his students,” Dr. Dadey explains. “It was during one of those visits that he and I came up with the idea of a Hudson River expedition of some sort while sitting on our deck in Saranac Lake with its expansive view of the High Peaks to the south. We honed our thoughts about such a venture, committed to it, and we have been working hard ever since last November putting all the numerous pieces together.”

Morrisey was a high school literature teacher for nine years in Jersey City, New Jersey; as an avid adventurer, he wanted to share his love of the outdoors with his students so he founded the school’s outdoor education program, which provided adventure trips to students. The roots of this mission can also be partly traced to Morrisey’s receipt of the American Alpine Club’s Live Your Dream Grant in 2017, with which he completed an unsupported 1,800-mile cycling trip and raised $40,000 for low-income students to go on educational outdoor trips. In an article with the AAC, he states, “It’s easy in Colorado, Wyoming, and Upstate New York to just walk out your backyard, and go for a beautiful hike, but it’s difficult in the greater New York City area so we’re trying to rally a community to get in the outdoors and provide resources for anyone and everyone who wants to experience the beauty of nature.”

Through these programs, the MGM team is sharing the mental health benefits of the outdoors as well as skill-building and fostering leadership. What is also compelling about MGM’s model is the involvement of the students’ teachers in the adventure—so that the experience can extend beyond the days on trail. Additionally, Mountain Goat Movement connects students to explorers, scientists, and storytellers, like Jimmy Chin.

The Hudson River Expedition is a representation of what Mountain Goat Movement does best: merge the worlds of education, exploration, and storytelling through epic adventures. “We are so excited to lead a group of curious, motivated students down a river that is so rich in history and culture,” says Morrisey. “We hope to curate a transformative experience for students that inspires them to continue to be lifelong stewards and community leaders.”

A student meeting Jimmy Chin at The Explorers Club. Right: Greg Morrisey.

Other key players in the expedition include Emmy-winning filmmaker, educator, and explorer John Barnhardt, who will be documenting the expedition (slated for film release at Banff Mountain Film Festival, The Explorers Club, and Arc’teryx New York, as well as schools nationwide), as well as Dr. Tim Keyes, a college professor and outdoor researcher with expertise in air and water quality analytics.

Alongside testing and research, the adventure also includes rafting and paddling the Upper Hudson River, hiking Mount Marcy, biking from Albany to Fort Lee, New Jersey, and sea kayaking to Jersey City. At its core, the program will unpack the importance of sustainable travel, environmental study, experiential learning, and the health of a river that defines the identity of the greater NY/NJ region, but the takeaways will extend beyond nature’s classroom.

By bringing together individuals from varying backgrounds and skill sets along with outdoor leaders, explorers, and scientists, the program provides a unique and powerful opportunity for mentorship founded by a principal goal of grassroots conservation efforts that will foster the next generation of explorers, scientists, stewards, leaders, and life-long learners.

The expedition will include water testing at over 50 sample points along the Hudson River.

As a 1% For The Planet member, Eastern Mountain Sports is proud to partner on this project and support the expedition students and leaders. Stay tuned for the film release and screenings, speaking panels, and special events in the coming months. The kick-off event is today, July 17th, a day before their departure, from 6-8:30 pm at Arc’teryx’s flagship store in New York City and will feature a panel of speakers who have dedicated their lives to the great outdoors. The team will also be stopping by our Saratoga store for a gear pick-up on Tuesday the 18th, so if you see them be sure to wish them good luck!