Early-bird registration for the Lake George Land Conservancy’s (LGLC) Hike-A-Thon is now open, in an optimistic step towards a year of in-person events aimed at getting people out onto the land around Lake George. The event, to be held on July 5, is free and open to the public and offers a variety of hiking and paddle options. The early-bird registration period goes until April 30, and includes the incentive of a free t-shirt for each person registered.
The Hike-A-Thon is a watershed-wide event that has included nearly 700 hikers, paddlers and volunteers in an organized morning of guided outdoor recreation. The simultaneous hikes and paddles culminate with aerial photography of each group by Carl Heilman, II, who will once again be flying in a helicopter donated and piloted by Bruce Mowery of North Country HeliFlite.
Due to the pandemic, the LGLC adjusted last year’s Hike-A-Thon to be virtual only, inviting the public – registered or not – to participate by enjoying a hike or paddle of their choice, wherever they were, and submit photos of their excursions. This year, the organizers are merging the two formats in order to involve as many people as possible, as safely as possible.
“The Hike-A-Thon embraces the current need for outdoor recreation, for mind and body, and pairs it with building a sense of community,” said Sarah Hoffman, LGLC Communications and Outreach Manager. “Because of the pandemic, we morphed last year’s event to virtual, which meant we lost that community feel, but the format did allow us to include people all over the country, and even internationally – we had one participant in India!
This year we are excited to get back to in-person groups but understand that not everyone will be comfortable with that option, or won’t yet be traveling to the area. To get the best of both worlds, we feel confident that we can once again hold in-person hikes, with extra safety protocols in place, but are also extending the virtual option for those unable to attend in person.”
The desire to get back to in-person outings was clear when in just a few hours after opening, 250 people registered for the event; by the end of the week that tally was nearly at 400, including 16 who registered to participate virtually.
To keep the event participants safe, the LGLC has implemented safety guidelines that include distancing on the trails between family groups, wearing masks when distancing is not possible, and completing a health questionnaire at check-in. In addition, the maximum size of each Hike-A-Thon group has been reduced from previous years’ capacities.
“We are hopeful that by July some of these extra protocols will no longer be necessary,” explained Hoffman, “but we are prepared to follow the guidance of New York State and the Center for Disease Control as best we can to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 a result of participating in this or any LGLC event.”
The Lake George Hike-A-Thon encourages participation from people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities, by offering sites that have varying levels of difficulty. Details about each site is available at lakegeorgehikeathon.org.
After organizing the first Lake George Hike-A-Thon in 2013 as a celebration of the LGLC’s 25th anniversary, the event has continued each year since to showcase the LGLC’s parks and preserves as free public resources, and to promote an appreciation for the outdoors and for the protection of the land that protects the lake.
Since then, the Hike-A-Thon has expanded to include partner sites – properties that are being cared for with both ecosystem health and recreation in mind. Those partner sites for 2021 include Silver Bay YMCA Conference and Family Retreat Center, Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center, and Wiawaka Center for Women.
The Hike-A-Thon is a free public outreach event, made possible with the financial support of business sponsors and individuals who choose to donate with their registrations. To date, the 2021 Hike-A-Thon sponsors include media sponsor, The Lake George Mirror; Carl Heilman, II/Wild Visions, Inc.; Bruce Mowery of North Country HeliFlite; the Town of Bolton; Life Well Lived by Beth Tiger; Lake George RV Park; Camp David, Lake George; Connally Creative; Staloff Brothers Custom Metal Fabrication; the Adirondack Mountain Club; Arcurio Consulting; and Clothier Planning and Consulting.
To register for the Hike-A-Thon and for more information visit https://lakegeorgehikeathon.org/, or contact Sarah Hoffman at 518-644-9673, or email [email protected]. For news and updates, follow the Hike-A-Thon on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LakeGeorgeHikeAThon/.