Amanda and Larry McMahon are the owners of Seek Dry Goods, a Wisconsin-based business providing quality lifestyle items. Think clothing, hats, travel mugs.
They partner with the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Continental Divide Trail Coalition and other hiking groups to produce trail-themed goods. And they’re members of 1% For the Planet, donating at least one percent of their total revenue to the group, which distributes member funds to local and national environmental nonprofits.
Here, Amanda explains how the couple became passionate trail fans and some of the things they’ve learned about hiking over the last decade. And, of course, what led them to create Seek Dry Goods.
Planting the Seed for Seek Dry Goods
It was the spring of 2006 when my boyfriend (now husband) Larry and I completed our undergraduate degrees, moved from Massachusetts to Georgia and began to cultivate our love for hiking and the great outdoors.
Living in Georgia, we spent a lot of time in the state’s northern mountains. We also explored, the Chattahoochee National Forest and North Carolina’s Great Smokey and Blue Ridge Mountains. It was here where we completed our first long hikes and backpacking trips. (Back then, “long” to us equaled anything over eight miles.)
In Georgia, the mountains are full of rolling hills and covered in beautiful pine trees. It’s also home to some fun sections of the Appalachian Trail. While living here, we read books on backpacking and researched tips and gear online. We joined the Atlanta Outdoor Club to help get us more comfortable overnight in the outdoors. And we learned how to layer in breathable fabrics vs. cotton. Also, that it’s much different planning a hike versus an overnight backpacking trip. And that mountains are way more fun to explore on foot than by car!
Next Up: Colorado
Moving next to Colorado, we learned that hiking there is a whole other ballgame. Colorado’s mountains are taller, rockier and much more rugged than the ones in Georgia. Rather than just the black bears out East, we found ourselves watching out for wolves, coyotes and cougars. In Colorado, we for the first time felt the awe of standing on top of a mountain and looking over either side of the Continental Divide. Since many high-alpine trails are covered in snow through June, we learned to throw on a pair of snowshoes. Or stick to the lower elevations until everything melts. And in winter, we snuck out to the mountains to hit the slopes on skis.
Finally, it was in Denver that we learned about “14ers” (14,000-foot mountains) and managed to hike a handful of them over our two years in this wonderful state.
California, Here We Come
Then we moved to California, near San Francisco, where we most often hiked and backpacked near Tahoe, in Big Sur and, of course, visited Yosemite National Park. We also hiked almost daily in our own backyard in Walnut Creek.
The northern California mountains are full of amazingly clear lakes, tall peaks and steep terrain, while the Pacific coast provides a much lusher habitat (and lots of poison sumac!). We learned that backpacking in the snow can be really fun in low-snowfall winters. And we learned that a short hike near home can be equally satisfying, especially when it gets you outside on a work day.
Settled in Wisconsin
It was a few years after relocating to Wisconsin that the idea for Seek Dry Goods began. We spent our initial time in Wisconsin exploring places like Devil’s Lake State Park, Wausau and Door County. Then, in June 2016, we completed a 100-mile European trek called the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). It was an incredible experience with breathtaking views every day.
After finishing the trek, we were surprised to find not one good-looking or soft piece of clothing that represented the trail. After arriving back to Wisconsin with no “TMB” memorabilia, our wheels started turning. With our passion for the outdoors and business experience, we knew we could create an authentic, inspired and sustainable outdoor-lifestyle brand. And Seek Dry Goods was born.
Once Seek Dry Goods got going, we decided to join forced with 1% for the Planet to ensure we always donated to outdoor-focused nonprofits. We made sure to focus on materials and business practices that are less harmful to the outdoors, like using organic/recycled materials, reduced packaging, etc. We also began a partnership with the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the organization that oversees Wisconsin’s +1,100-mile National Scenic Trail.
Learning How Trails Work
From that partnership, we discovered the Ice Age Trail’s vast network of trail communities and volunteers. We hadn’t realized that while many parks have staff that maintain their trails, our 11 National Scenic Trails require help from hundreds to thousands of volunteers each year to build, maintain and support them. The work can be as simple as pulling weeds or as complicated as using heavy machinery to remove huge boulders and cut new trail.
This spring, we’ll be announcing two new National Scenic Trail partnerships (in addition to the Ice Age Trail and Continental Divide Trail). And we hope to build that piece of our business even more. We’ll continue hosting a weekly trail run series in the spring and summer called “Seek the Trails” as a way to get more people to experience trail running. And in the coming months, we plan to spend more time volunteering with local organizations and trails. It’s an exciting time for our business, as well as for everyone who loves getting outside on a trail.
Throughout all of our experiences on hiking trails, one thing is for sure. Trails are a wondrous, treacherous, mind-altering thing. And we can’t wait to see what trails we get to step foot on in the future!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.