If there was any thought that the pandemic might ease pressure on High Peaks trails this summer, forget it.
Like a lot of the hikers themselves, our photographers have had trouble getting a parking spot at the trailheads over the last couple of weeks, as they’ve looked to document the surge in hikers. As Adirondack Explorer reporter Mike Lynch noted in a recent story, the strain on the alpine environment and the summit stewards who protect it persists. Clearly, after months of lockdown, people from all over New York and beyond decided it was time to get out of the house. (Explorer reporter Gwendolyn Craig reported that boat traffic on Lake George is also breaking records.)
The state’s advisory group on this matter has started to recommend some solutions, though the bigger changes — such as the potential for hiker permits — are yet to be determined. The September/October issue of the Explorer takes an in-depth look at this debate — and at what it takes to continue finding solitude in parts of this popular wilderness area.
It’s not quite as in-depth as I had hoped when the year began. At that time I envisioned comparisons to crowding and management tools in other popular outdoor zones around the region and country. The coronavirus thwarted our travel plans for that package, though we hope to revive it soon.
We know that the hikers, and this topic, aren’t going away.