In its 2022 midseason report, the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program reported a modest rebound in hiker contacts between May and July. The program stated that summit stewards spoke to an average of 81 hikers per day over that time period on Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, and Cascade, the four peaks with the most coverage by stewards. By comparison, the 2021 average was 62 hikers a day.
“So far, this summer has been busier than last year. However, our average daily contacts to date do not compare to the numbers we saw between 2016 and 2020, which were some of our highest on record,” said Kayla White, ADK Stewardship Manager. “Of course, this only represents a snapshot of the summer through July. We will get a complete picture of this summer’s numbers once we have data compiled for August, September, and October.”
This summer, a key focus for the Summit Stewardship Program has been its photopoint monitoring program. Using photos taken of the same 59 locations at roughly five-year intervals, stewards create visual timelines that they then use to measure the recovery of alpine vegetation. This season, stewards have been focused on expanding the program, which includes adding new photopoints across the alpine zone, updating the analysis, and soliciting review of these changes by publishing them in a peer-reviewed journal.
“The last photopoint survey took place in 2015 and showed no statistical decline in alpine vegetation on summits with a stewarding presence,” said White. “However, in the years following we experienced an even bigger spike in visitor use, so we look forward to analyzing this new data set to determine if and how this impacted alpine vegetation.”
The Summit Stewardship Program’s mid-season report is available online. The final season report, which provides a more comprehensive analysis of hiker contacts and trends, will be released in November.