Adventure East: An adventure in your own backyard

  • Brian Pearson, right, founder of Adventure East in Sunderland, answers questions from Jesse Bay of Montague during his visit to the outdoor activity organizer on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Brian Pearson, right, founder of Adventure East in Sunderland, answers questions from Jesse Bay of Montague during his visit to the outdoor activity organizer. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Brian Pearson, founder, president and owner of Adventure East, operates his outdoor activity business in Sunderland where he has put together a fleet of kayaks for guided tours on the Connecticut River as well as a stable of bikes for guided or self-guided road and gravel routes around the Valley. Photographed at his shop on Bridge Street (Route 116) on Wednesday, Oct. 6. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 10/13/2021 2:37:05 PM

SUNDERLAND — Brian Pearson has been organizing nature escapes ever since he moved to Santiago, Chile, in 2003 and founded his own travel company to get people outdoors.

All these years later, he’s bringing his know-how to western Massachusetts with Adventure East, a Sunderland-based business that offers outdoor activities including paddling, biking, hiking, yoga and farm-to-table dining to connect locals with nature.

Since Pearson founded the company last March, he said “there’s been a lot of excitement around what we’re doing.” Ever since COVID-19 forced people inside, Pearson said he’s seen “a real demand for outdoor adventure.”

According to Pearson, the idea behind Adventure East is to give families, friends and students the chance to “experience the untouched beauty of New England” on the local scale. He said all it really takes is to “get people outside with the right gear,” which often includes paddles and kayaks for paddling events and bikes and helmets for cycling events.

To make his business possible, Pearson works with a team of around 15 guides with specialties including paddling, hiking, caving, and yoga.

“We’ve been doing a ton of paddling,” Pearson said of Adventure East’s October calendar of activities. Other events this month include a wellness retreat and two hikes through the Mount Holyoke Range.

Ellen Putnam, a returning customer at Adventure East, said they do “a fantastic job providing opportunities to be out in the Valley.” Putnam was already a fan of hiking, paddling and yoga, but said Adventure East gives her the chance to do these activities “in a more adventurous and creative way” alongside like-minded people.

Shorter activities typically range from $25 to $55 per person, including many shorter kayaking, biking, hiking and yoga experiences. Longer events, such as full-day retreats, can cost upward of $100 depending on the activity and group size. More information on pricing and events can be found on Adventure East’s website.

Putnam also mentioned that Adventure East is “really skilled at building community partnerships” with local businesses and nonprofits.

Jose Martagon-Villamil, a past Adventure East customer, echoed this sentiment, recalling an activity he and his wife did that consisted of a scenic hike and a visit to Black Birch Vineyard in Hatfield.

“It was a very positive experience,” he said, mentioning that “it’s great to be able to go out again” after pandemic lockdowns.

Pearson said he’s also worked with local middle and high schools to organize field trips for students. On top of this, the organization worked with Amherst College on its orientation this fall to help more than 150 students explore the atmosphere of western Massachusetts by being outside.

Adventure East also collaborates with organizations including Connecticut River Conservatory, the Eagle Eye Institute, and Kestrel Land Trust.

Adventure East will continue its biking, hiking, and paddling activities through mid-November.

As winter approaches, Pearson plans to expand into more seasonally appropriate activities including hiking with microspikes, snowshoeing, as well as cross country and downhill skiing.

“I see the amazement on the faces of our paddlers and guides when we are the only ones on the stretch of the Connecticut River between Turners Falls and Sunderland. It’s like they never knew all of this was here,” said Pearson.

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