In a Facebook Live forum held recently, three Adirondack leaders asked visitors to make sure they are wearing masks and practicing social distancing this Memorial Day weekend, which is expected to be busy because of the holiday and the warm, dry weather forecasted for the region.
“We have some responsibilities to our local communities and residents to make sure we keep our infection rates low, so anyone coming from outside the region, we’re really encouraging them to get back to the principles,” said ROOST CEO Jim McKenna. “Let’s go beyond social distancing as much as possible, a mask all the time whether it’s required inside or not, let’s wear masks.”
The forum was hosted by Dave Figura, an outdoors editor with NewYorkUpstate.com. It focused on visitation to the Adirondacks Memorial Day weekend.
Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson asked visitors to be patient and to not expect to have access to amenities that are normally available in the Adirondacks, including things as basic as bathrooms.
“Right now, there is only one public toilet in the Town of Keene, so people are really going to have to plan ahead, and if you are going into the backcountry, you really need to brush up on your Leave No Trace skills,” he said. “You need to come prepared to go to the bathroom properly and safely in the backcountry. This is just the reality of where we are at. We don’t have the staff and revenue to put out all those toilets right now.”
Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Michael Barrett asked people to avoid popular High Peaks trails such as Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak. He encouraged people to “find somewhere off the beaten path.”
He said hikers should keep a respectable distance from each other on the trail and “throw that mask up” when passing each other.
He also noted there is snow above 3,500 feet and mud on High Peaks trails, so conditions are not great there for hiking.
The leaders said visitors should expect to find less parking available than normal and to have a plan that includes multiple trip options in case the first one is crowded.
McKenna said that restaurants and outfitters will be offering curbside services. That includes canoe, kayak and boat rentals. State campgrounds are currently closed but camping at primitive sites is allowed.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is still encouraging people to recreate locally, something Barrett endorsed.
Wilson said that in Keene people are most concerned about people being responsible and respectful.
“Here in Keene, it’s not where that person is from,” he said. “It’s how they are behaving.”
Photo: The Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) High Peaks Information Center is opening this weekend. Photo courtesy of ADK.
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in Mike Lynch’s “Backcountry Journal” newsletter, through the Adirondack Explorer. Sign up here: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/newsletters