Now and then we hear complaints that all of our pretty photography, and some of the accompanying writing, only serves to drive visitors to parts of the Adirondacks that don’t need or can’t handle any more pressure.
This is the Instagram problem that we hear so much about, with complaints about those who geotag their gorgeous hiking shots, enabling online viewers everywhere to stampede to the same vistas.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) completed several stewardship projects this summer along New York sections of the 740-mile waterway trail connecting Old Forge, NY, to Fort Kent, Maine.
“Each stewardship season presents us with challenges, and this year was certainly no different,” said NFCT Stewardship Director Noah Pollock. “Our work this summer included the construction of access steps at take-outs and put-ins, building ADA-compliant privies, improving campsites and more — all aimed at ensuring that the canoe trail is safe and accessible for public use.”
A Siena College Research Institute poll of New York voters in September showed that by 68% to 22% they overwhelmingly want New York State officials to protect heavily used public lands in the Adirondack Forest Preserve by enforcing resource capacity limits. The poll results were released by the Adirondack Council.
The Governor and the State have acknowledged the overuse problem, expanded education and public information efforts, and appointed a Wilderness Overuse Task Force. The Center for National Center for Leave No Trace recommendations have been endorsed by the task force, and include testing hiker permits to improve visitor access and help communities.
Over the past few years, articles in the Adirondack Almanack, Adirondack Explorer, and other media outlets, in addition to posts on blogs and social media, has made quite apparent the issues facing the High Peaks Wilderness related to hiking and backpacking.
Matters of hiker education, the ever-increasing number of search-and-rescues, an overly strained and understaffed force of Forest Rangers, parking, and litter have been brought to the forefront of the public’s attention.
A variety of solutions have been proposed by groups such as the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), Adirondack Council, and the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group (HPAG). A hiker permit system is one of the proposed solutions. In contrast to other articles regarding hiker permits, this one does not opine on the merits of such, but to make readers aware that they were once implemented in the Adirondacks – albeit at a very small scale.
The first weekend in October is one of the biggest hiking weekends in the Adirondacks each year, and often sees peak leaf color at many locations. Many trailhead parking areas will fill up early and the trails in the High Peaks Wilderness will likely see continued unprecedented crowds through the fall. In an effort to lessen the flow of thousands to the High Peaks Wilderness, Protect the Adirondacks has published online trail guides for 50 terrific hikes and destinations throughout the Adirondack Park in areas outside of the busy and over-used High Peaks Wilderness Area. These online trail guides are available now.
Town of St. Armand Essex County Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 22 at 12:10 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an injured 64-year-old hiker from Dyer, Indiana, on Baker Mountain. The hiker went off the trail, fell, and injured his right leg. Forest Rangers Evans and Sabo responded to assist. Once on scene, Forest Ranger Evans provided first aid for the subject’s unstable knee and ankle. Due to the extent of the injury, New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation was requested along with backup rescuers including members of Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks in case of a possible carry-out involving a high-angle rope technique on steep terrain. NYSP Aviation, with Forest Ranger Benzel as hoist operator, completed the hoist rescue off the mountain at 4:18 p.m. The hiker was transported to a local hospital for further medical treatment.
I biked from Saranac Lake to Burlington, Vermont, on the first day of fall. (Well, I meant to end up in Burlington, but a wrong turn added some miles and hills and left me on some suburban road east of the city in Williston.)
My route through the Adirondacks was State Route 3 to the Lake Champlain Ferry at Plattsburgh, and it took me through much of the Saranac River Valley, with colorful fall views of a river whose health and fish our magazine will profile in-depth in our next issue. I shot some video along the way.
The Long Path was created in 1931 by my father, the late Vincent J Schaefer (1906-1993). It followed in the tradition of the Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine) and The Long Trail of Vermont. Both the AT and Long Trail popularized “End-to-End”—through hiking.
The Long Path was designed as a corridor rather than as a singular blazed trail. My father’s hiking philosophy was to leave no trace – “all one needs is a compass, map and good woods sense.” From the start his concept was to engage hikers in finding landmarks on the Long Path — a mountaintop, a waterfalls, a geologic anomaly, or a cultural or historic site.
The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) is pleased to announce the launch of Adirondack Wayfinder, a new website that showcases the Adirondacks through thematic road trip itineraries. Originally developed through the support of a DEC Smart Growth Grant awarded to Hamilton County, the goal of Adirondack Wayfinder is to help highlight the variety of experiences and the unique communities that make up the Adirondack region.
Oh the perils of winter camping – at least when you use modern equipment. I read the article, “A Winter Trail Too Far,” (posted Jan. 29, 2020 in the Adirondack Explorer) with great interest. My sympathies to the brave team hiking the Northville-Placid trail in winter. Hearing about the toil of breaking trail, frozen clothes, iced-over boots and the physical exhaustion from days in the cold made me realize how inadequate modern equipment is for winter.
Town of Piercefield St. Lawrence County Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 17 at 10:25 a.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call from a relative of two campers on the Bog River after one of the campers injured their back and had difficulty moving. Forest Rangers Baldwin, Lee, and Hogan responded to assist. At 12:20 p.m., Rangers Baldwin and Hogan located the campers and began the walk out to the road. At 1:07 p.m., Ranger Baldwin transported the campers back to their vehicle. The 66-year-old man from Honeoye Falls who had suffered the back injury stated he would seek further medical attention on his own.
The ADK Iroquois Chapter has created a unique challenge that requires participants to camp in 18 of the 21 designated wilderness areas within the Adirondack Park.
Statement from ADK: Ideally, these types of initiatives would undergo wider scrutiny, not just by the ADK Board, relevant committees and staff, but also by partner organizations, such as the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Regrettably, this challenge was not. We are hoping that the Iroquois Chapter will delay a launch so the challenge can be discussed in more detail.
It was a warm clear morning when I met Ben at 4 a.m. to go hiking in the High Peaks of New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The weather was forecasted to be sunny, dry and very hot (100+°F).
We had a great drive up to the trailhead and arrived around 6:30 a.m., it was already around 80°F.
Our plan for the day was to hike up over Blueberry Mountain and summit Porter, one of the Adirondacks’ designated 46 high peaks. We made good time getting to the shoulder of Blueberry where we stopped to take a break. Ben said he wanted to make a video to send to his old college friends back in Ohio. He said to go on ahead and he would catch up to me. I went ahead about 100 yards and found a nice rock outcropping facing towards Whiteface where I stopped to have a snack and take a couple pictures.
Town of Peru Clinton County Wilderness Rescue: On the morning of Sept. 13, Ray Brook dispatch received a report of three stranded paddlers on Valcour Island on Lake Champlain. The three boaters spent an unexpected night out due to bad weather. Ray Brook called the paddlers to advise the group that they were not in danger and to get more details about their whereabouts. Rangers Bronson and Russell responded to the boaters using a stationed motorboat from the DEC dock at Peru and located the three paddlers secure on Bluff Point. The paddlers and Rangers were back at the Peru Boat Launch by 10 a.m.
Whether the time has come to install a permit system for hiking/backpacking in the High Peaks Wilderness has been in the news lately, and a topic for debate in this recent commentary by Dave Gibson.
Here are a few recent comments that came in via email:
“Sustainable Trail design, rather than our 100+ year old trails. One way trails on the 2-3 busiest peaks, one trail up a separate trail down. One half the foot traffic, and, except for the summit, hikers won’t be passing each other all the way up and down, especially since most people hike at roughly the same pace. Now the real problem is that this will take MONEY. We need a lot more Rangers as well, so that some of them can go back to their core duties, not just rescues. Gov. Cuomo is good at promoting tourism in the Adirondacks, but woefully lacking in the financial support this extra traffic requires. This is the People’s park, we all deserve to enjoy it, it soothes the soul. — John Marona
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