BaseCamp: Gateway to the Gunks™
By L.A. McMahon
From Issue 54: Summer 2022
Depending on your life experience, the word “basecamp” may evoke images of Mount Everest, a Tour Du France staging area in the Alps, or a fishing village off the coast of Maine. By definition, a “basecamp” provides things that are needed for persons engaged in such wide-ranging activities as exploring, bicycling, hiking, hunting, skiing, or mountain/rock climbing. It’s exciting that Gardiner now has its own BaseCamp, located at Benton Corners (Route 44/55 and County Route 7-Bruynswick Rd). Founded by outdoor sports enthusiasts Deyano Manco and Kristin Hjeltnes, with support from local backers, this new, socially responsible, lifestyle business looks to fill a giant need in the area, both logistically and socially, and become a hub and meeting place for the community. How great it will be to stop at BaseCamp on the way to the day’s activities to discuss and fine tune plans, ask questions about trails & such with BaseCamp staff, and stock up on snacks. Then, after the day’s activity is done, go back to BaseCamp to kick back, have a beer (or two) and meet with other like-minded enthusiasts while winding down together from the day and discussing each one’s respective adventures around outdoor firepits. Being an outdoor enthusiast myself, it sounds great to me!
One might ask, is BaseCamp just for outdoors people? In a word, no. At the recent ribbon-cutting event in June, I caught up with Deyano’s mom, Carol, and she happily stated that BaseCamp is “for everyone” and she hopes everyone in Gardiner stops by to sample BaseCamp’s super-fresh, artisan-blended, coffee, “Gunks Daybreak”, and try the excellent smoothies, baked goods, wraps, and soup (in season), or pick-up a pair (or two) of the USA-made, organic, Farm-to-Feet socks. When Deyano was asked about how they decided what products to carry, he said, “We only carry products we’ve tested personally and believe in,” and he means it.
Deyano certainly has his finger on the pulse of the area’s tourism; he sits on the board for Ulster County Tourism and is the Chairman/Co-Founder of the Shawangunk Biking Association, and Kristin is a competitive trail runner. No doubt, the time has come for this type of lifestyle business in Gardiner, and BaseCamp is definitely on an evolutionary track of community involvement: They have established and are nurturing relationships with the Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC), Minnewaska State Park, and Mohonk Preserve, as well as with local eateries and farms, such as Julian’s and Café Mio, Willow Pond Sheep Farm, Full Moon Farm, and The Patchwork Quilt who provide various foods and catering for events. Through such local, community collaborations and continued hard work, Deyano and Kristin hope to evolve BaseCamp’s offerings to encompass services as well as goods. Some future plans include guiding services of various sorts, a coffee club starting this Fall, a shuttle service to transport visitors up and down the mountain, the hosting of cycling events, and the building of some discrete cabins in the surrounding woods.
For more info and days/hours of operation: basecampgunks.com.