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Hero Hike

Back to nature with Ayn Rand true believers.

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Objectivists always like to challenge themselves. Since scouring the fictional Galt’s Gulch for Atlas Shrugged’s put-upon genius protagonist, John Galt, wasn’t an option, on a recent weekend the New York Heroes Society decided to go for Breakneck Ridge, the hiking trail up the Hudson in Cold Spring. The group was founded by IT guy Robert Begley, who was inspired after reading Ayn Rand Institute employee Andrew Bernstein’s novel, Heart of a Pagan, in which the protagonist launches a Heroes Society to worship human beings at their highest. Begley, who lives “in happy solitude in Murray Hill, Ayn Rand’s neighborhood,” named himself president and instituted biannual hikes. They’re usually very competitive. “I won the race last spring with a time of 27 minutes, after being challenged by a few twentysomethings,” he says. Unfortunately, the “take-no-prisoners, violently aggressive” spirit had to be toned down this time owing to the heat. “I love the hot weather, but not everyone agrees with me.” It was almost … cooperative. At the summit, the sixteen hikers launched into something called Celebrate Self. One climber announced her success in finally getting her daughter out of the house. At age 39. Begley shared news of his job: “It combines two of my favorite subjects: technology and money,” he says. “And I love where I live.” A couple announced their engagement after meeting through an objectivist dating service, and another their marriage; a handful marveled at their objectively talented offspring. And climber Laura Baron demonstrated how to rip an apple in half with her bare hands.

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