Saturday, January 15, 2022

Discussion time: The virtues of repeating an outing over and over

Poke-O snowshoe hike

In the era of hiking “challenges” that encourage people to knock off multiple peaks, I’ve been thinking lately about the benefits of hiking the same favorite, familiar trails.

One of my go-to hikes is Poke-O-Moonshine (pictured here in a photo by Tim Rowland). It’s close to where I live, and one that I can do in an afternoon. Over the summer, my husband and I hiked it for the first time with our 5-year-old twins, making for a special event and their highest mountain they’ve climbed so far. It was a proud moment on top, with the wide, sweeping views of the Champlain Valley, under the shadow of the fire tower that you can see from the Northway.

Please share your thoughts, ideas, experiences on your favorite treks.

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

14 Responses

  1. geogymn says:

    Take pics of family members along the trail. Through the years you can see the changes in your favorite forest.

  2. Ray Mainer says:

    It’s a great hike for kids and best of all, you can see Vermont from it.

  3. Todd Eastman says:

    The same route is never the same…

    … you are now free to sense the variations…

  4. louis curth says:

    Keep enjoying those family outings Melissa. The memories will be precious, and you’ll get to keep on enjoying them over and over.

    Back when the fire towers were our eyes and ears, rangers made multiple trips up the same old mountains – usually carrying a pack basket full of dry cell batteries or tools. It was the rangers ritual of fire season. We opened the towers every spring and closed them again every the fall, with many other trips in-between.

    In retrospect, I guess these trips up picturesque mountains in the company of some very memorable fire tower observers and other rangers, were, indeed, more of “busman’s holiday” rather than a work detail.

    Like you Melissa, the late Barbara McMartin was always asking people about their favorite places for her guide book series. When she asked me, I probably told her, reluctantly, that mine was Crane Mountain, knowing that her efforts would bring even more visitor pressure to the mountain. That is still our dilemma; How can we share these wonderful places for ever more visitors to enjoy, who will, in turn, help preserve them for future generations, without loving them to destruction?

    • JB says:

      Wise man, Mr. Curth! How can we share these places and also preserve them? That is the hardest question of all to answer. Perhaps there is no conventional answer. Melissa, being the good editor that she is, is very good at breaching those sorts of questions in the most nonchalant and relatable way. That is what I think is happening here.

      Hiking locally–what we used to call “going out for an afternoon walk”–done for pure enjoyment and love of place, can help us foster those deep relationships to the land and to its people that humanity is so desperately missing. “Hiking challenges” are a symptom of the disease of modern hiking in general–an expeditious passing through that engenders competitiveness, encourages overuse and prevents us from building the lasting connections that Americans will need to restore the fundamental land ethic. In an urbanized America, few can be direct stewards and experience the specific kind of reciprocity that was commonplace not long ago. But the mad rush and tourism boom economy does not need to be its replacement. Cities are creating green spaces, towns are preserving communal landscapes and the Forest Preserve can become a refuge instead of a retreat. Most importantly, restoring our relationship with nature must begin within ourselves.

  5. Ruth Gais says:

    I am so grateful for Melissa Hart’s comments on revisiting a favorite climb or outing. I have been hiking in the Adks for 60 years now with friends, family and strangers just met on the trails. Climbing my favorites again and again is like visiting cherished friends. I rejoice when I see what is new and mourn when I witness what has been lost or destroyed. “Cherish” is a verb I use when I think about the mountains – not “conquer” as I often read on FB and other posts – I don’t want mastery over the mountains. They are my teachers from whom I learn humility and gratitude and joy.

  6. Bob Meyer says:

    Certain bushwhacks to special points and views around our camp near Pottersville always hold something new even after over 50 years of doing them.
    As for trails: Crane Mtn never disappoints. Moxham ( now with a trail & soon a 2nd) Pharoah, Treadway etc and can’t leave out Cascade & Porter, Wright, Algonquin and the Macs etc … no matter how many times climbed (over at least 20 for all the above) there’s always something new and surprising to discover.

  7. M.P. Heller says:

    I think that you finally become an accomplished Adirondack hiker not from finishing the 46, or even the HH, but when you have hiked the same routes so many times that you no longer truly know how many times you have done it. It’s never really the same hike despite being the same route. Time of day, season, weather. They all combine to create different experiences. If you keep at it for decades even the forest evolves to grant you different experiences. Trails get rerouted, bridges get washed out, and saplings grow. No two hikes are the same regardless of the route.

    • Boreas says:

      Indeed. Although I became a 46r in a previous life, there is a lot more to the Adirondacks than peaks. I always enjoyed the walk in to Indian Head/Fish Hawk Cliffs. Very little impact to trails and outstanding views. I used to just sit there for hours. It is a little beyond the ability of my leg joints now, but a great place. I also like to visit ponds and waterfalls for spiritual restoration. In fact, I can walk a few hundred yards into any forest, or even a field, and appreciate Nature. As my rambles shorten, I try to bring Nature closer to my door in the form of pollinator gardens and planting tamarack, serviceberry, and other atypical landscaping trees and bushes that provide glimpses back to places I have visited in the past.

  8. Ed Burke says:

    I’m a proud Adirondack 86er, been up Buck Mt at least 86 times. The hemlock stand on the back side is one of the finest forests on the face of the earth.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      And let’s hope those beautiful hemlocks survive HWA. Moving North due in large part to human caused global warming.

  9. Pete Henderson says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Poko has been the first fire tower hike for all my grand kids.
    All have done it by 4 or 5 years old. Rattlesnake by 3.

    If you hike Poko often, I assume you have met Marie from Peru.
    She, 80+ years old, tries to hike it daily. An inspiration for all!!!

    Pete Henderson

  10. Susan Weber says:

    This is the season when we leave the Adirondacks and head back home to Albany. I’ve discovered the charm of our daily woods walk and dog frisk behind our house. As the colors have softened from the brilliant reds and corals and oranges of early fall to the golds and yellows and tans, sprinkled with lime, of later fall, I am so appreciating what nature is giving us. It helps me weather the more disturbing aspects of current events! Forest bathing works!

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