By Mike Lynch
Albany resident John Sasso,53, is an avid hiker. Bushwhacks, trails, peaks, he’s hiked it. On Saturday, Nov. 26, he got what he described as a “rude awakening.” That morning, he hiked Hurricane Mountain from 9N in Keene. Afterward, he drove to Poke-O-Moonshine to hike the Observer’s Trail off Route 9 in Lewis. When he returned from the second hike, he found his passenger’s side window smashed and an estimated $600 worth of gear missing. The Essex County Sheriff’s Office in Lewis later told him that vehicle break-ins not only occurred at Poke-O-Moonshine that day, but also at trailheads for Hurricane and Baxter in Keene and Belfry Mountain in Moriah. The sheriff’s office could not be reached by the Explorer, but here’s how the day went in Sassos’ own words — edited for clarity and space.
I could not have foreseen this. I’ve hiked every stretch of the Adirondack Park for over 12 years. I mean, you name it, I’ve been there: south, north, east, west, central. All sorts of hikes and bushwhacks, (and) I’ve never had an incident. And I’ve been to Poke-O-Moonshine. I probably hiked Poke-O-Moonshine more than a dozen times, probably more than 15 times. Same thing with Hurricane. I was totally, totally caught by surprise.
I’m especially surprised that they hit Hurricane. I mean, I can understand them getting Poke-O-Moonshine because the parking area is kind of like set in, so someone driving by is not really going to see these guys going into a vehicle, as opposed to the Hurricane, (which is right off 9N in Keene). So it seems like they were pretty brazen, especially if they were trying to break into vehicles only in the afternoon.
I think I arrived at the (Poke-O-Moonshine) trailhead around 2:20 p.m. Anyway, I only saw one other person on the trail, a middle-aged gentleman who was on his way down. We chatted a little bit. When I got back to the trailhead, which according to a timestamp on a photo of mine it was around 4:14 p.m. I was the only car in the lot, and I opened my front door and I’m noticing glass or bits of broken glass on the passenger side, the front passenger side. I then noticed that the center compartment was open. Also, there were some things that were taken out. My old gym bag, which I had a few things in, that was taken. Fortunately, my wallet was locked in the glove compartment, so that was safe right there. As I was about to leave I actually noticed that there was a voicemail from the Essex County Sheriff’s department.
I learned several lessons here, and I actually posted this to everyone on that trail conditions Facebook group. Yes, first of all, on any hike I go to, I’m bringing my wallet with me. No. 2 is if I have items with me in the car that have value either I’m gonna leave those at home, or I’m gonna take those along with me.
The other thing is make sure you also take your house keys with you. I know they’re not going to know where you live and all. But you know, I don’t think you want to get a call and find out.
It certainly isn’t insignificant, but the thing is, and I told people, I said, ‘I’m putting things into perspective in that, if my wallet had been stolen, which would have included credit cards, driver’s license, I would have been in a much more world of hurt. So, again, putting things in perspective, I kind of got off cheap in a sense.
Photo provided by John Sasso