By Jen Maguder, Great Camp Sagamore’s Program Director
In mid-May, seasonal staffers Lily Whiteman and Charles Sykes returned to work remotely for Great Camp Sagamore. Their positions are supported by the Payroll Protection Program, introduced by the federal government to encourage workforce retention and hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lily and Charles are helping to upgrade our online resources for visitors to the Historic Great Camps Special Management Area (HGCSMA).
It’s a long title, so we’re calling Lily and Charles’ work the “trails project” for now.
Amidst the global pandemic, and the resulting shortage of NYS funding, the Adirondack 46ers, (A group of people who have hiked all 46 mountains in the Adirondacks) have stepped up to provide financial support for the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program.
They have given $10,000 in 2020 and made a commitment to providing $75,000 of additional support over the next three years. The 46ers have been long time supporters of the stewardship program and have donated a total of $45,000 over the last three years as part of a joint commitment with the ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club).
This week it began. We have initiated the economic “phase-in” period of our return to normalcy, a studied collection of charts, graphs and data which, if all goes well, will allow us by mid-June to sit down in public and eat a cheeseburger.
“Easy, easy … caaareful … OK, now do you want fries with that?” By that time we will have worn masks so long that, forgetting they are there, we will smush a tuna sub right into the business end of our N95.
Then, on June 1, the North Country is expected to get back to the serious business of cutting hair. Stylists are going to be like humanitarian relief workers in Haiti after a Category IV hurricane — working around the clock to the point of exhaustion, until the average Adirondacker no longer resembles Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.
The opening days of hiking season are here, and with a warm Memorial Day weekend ahead, the Adirondack Council wants to remind outdoors enthusiasts to socially distance and continue using personal protective equipment while recreating.
Outdoor tourism is important for the North Country economy as well, and hikers traveling to the Adirondacks should take the time to research the local protocols and conditions beforehand. Residents and tourists alike should seek to avoid crowds and crowded locations so we can continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still getting the exercise and fresh air we all need.
Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report from NYS DEC for May 21:
Memorial Day Weekend
Expect large numbers of vehicles at trailheads and boat launches, and large numbers of people on trails. Recreate close to home with members of your household. Practice social distancing and wear a mask when you are close to others. Be prepared with three or four solid backup plans. Park only in parking lots and not along roadsides. If the parking lot is full at your desired location, move on to your backup plans until you find a less busy location. If all parking lots are full, head home and come back another day. There will be increased law enforcement presence along the Route 73 corridor this weekend. Parking will be strictly enforced.
Earlier this spring, I asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation for a list of lesser known hikes in the Adirondacks in an effort to provide people with options outside of the more popular trails. (As I recently wrote about the challenges that surround social distancing on well-traveled routes.) Part of that list ran in the May-June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, but the entire list can be found below. Many of the trails are relatively flat and go to ponds, a type of route that tends to attract few people but can be just as rewarding as a summit hike.
This list will provide you with the hikes. You can use other tools to find the details of each hike, such as maps, guidebooks, and the DEC’s website.
HIKE SMART NY by always being prepared for your trip, variable trail conditions, and unexpected weather when you go out on the trail.
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has recommendations for responsible outdoor recreation (leaves DEC website) during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Town of Keene now prohibits non-residents from parking on Johns Brook, Market, and Adirondack Streets in Keene Valley during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Violators will be towed.
Issuance of backcountry camping permits for groups of 10 or more, and for more than 3 days at one location is temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
DEC’s Lake Flower Boat Launch in Saranac Lake is closed to trailered boats due to construction at the site.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve (aka Ausable Club) is immediately reducing the parking capacity on its lot near the intersection of Ausable Road and State Route 73 to a maximum of 28 vehicles in response to COVID-19. Parking is not permitted along Ausable Road, on Ausable Club lands, or along the nearby stretches of State Route 73.
Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Information Center will remain closed through May 14 in response to COVID-19. Parking at Adirondak Loj Trailhead remains open to the public for a fee. The restrooms on the back porch of the High Peaks Information Center are also open.
Getting fresh air is more important than ever this coming summer during the public health crises, but it would be wise to remember that both ticks and people are going to be active and outside. Laura Harrington, a professor of entomology, vector biologist, and Director of the CDC Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases (NEVBD) has shared some tips on how to avoid ticks.
A bacterial infection that causes Lyme disease is the most important tick-borne human infection in the U.S., with around 200,000-300,000 reported cases per year. The blacklegged tick or ‘deer tick’ is the vector of Lyme disease in most of the U.S. It can also transmit other pathogens to people and pets, including the agents that cause babesiosis, anaplasmosis and Powassan disease. Blacklegged ticks are most common in forested areas and shaded trail edges with abundant leaf litter and shrubby plants, Harrington says.
Harrington recommends a few personal protection measures to keep ticks from biting, such as tick repellent, first and foremost. She also recommends light-colored clothing, and to tuck your pantlegs into your socks. It also wouldn’t hurt to treat your clothing with permethrin, or to purchase permethrin-treated clothing. Remember to check yourself for ticks often as well, both while hiking and after you get home! It only takes 24-48 hours after the tick attaches before it can begin to transmit Lyme disease. For other pathogens like the Powassan virus, transmission can happen quickly, so it is good to check as often as possible.
Check for ticks all over your body, including your back, neck, and hairline. If you happen to find a tick, carefully remove it with sharp tweezers by grasping as close to the point of attachment as possible and pulling. Once you are back inside, place your clothes in the dryer for at least 20 minutes, and take a shower (a good place to perform a tick check). You can also place your clothes in a sealed garbage bag to dry later.
Town of Lake George
Wilderness Rescue: On April 24 at 4:29 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from two 21-year-old women from Saratoga who became disoriented while traversing the Berry Pond Loop in the Lake George Wild Forest Area. Forest Ranger Chuck Kabrehl responded to their location, hiked into the woods, and located the women at 6:20 p.m. He then escorted them out to the trailhead where they had parked. The women told Ranger Kabrehl that they had started the hike around 4 p.m., and became lost at about 4:30 p.m. The incident concluded at 7 p.m.
Saratoga PLAN (The Preserving Land and Nature land trust in Saratoga County) has received a $500,000 grant from the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund. The donation will go to the planning, design, and stewardship of over 20 miles of permanently conserved trails in the 40,500-acre Southern Palmertown Range, an area that stretches north of Skidmore college in Saratoga Springs to the Hudson River.
It is the largest private cash gift ever made to the 17-year old conservation organization.
Saratoga PLAN aims to design Friendship Trails that will provide enjoyment through an inclusive spectrum of outdoor activities: walking, running, wheelchairing, dog-walking, mountain-biking, horseback-riding, bird-watching, botanizing, forest-bathing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and learning about nature and local history. Saratoga PLAN will announce new trail segments as they open to the public over the next several years, beginning in late 2020 if public health restrictions are lifted.
The Town of Keene is prohibiting spill-over hiking parking, in order to reduce health risks during the governor’s “New York State on PAUSE” directive. Access to the Garden, a jumping off point for all major trails into John’s Brook Valley and the Great Range, will remain open to local hikers and visitors, but once the 46-car lot is full, no more parking will be allowed. There will be signs and barricades to mark where it has been made illegal to park and violators of the new restrictions will have their vehicles towed.
At 8 pm on Sunday evening, March 22, 2020, the State of New York began its official “pause” of most commercial and public activities in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Under the Governor’s executive order, all non-essential businesses are to close, and all state residents are to remain in their homes. Click here for a list of “essential businesses.” » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
This weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is compiled each Thursday afternoon and updated on Friday.
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Learn and practice the seven Leave No Trace principles. Plan ahead and prepare. Carry out what you have carried in. Do not leave gear, food, or other items at lean-tos and campsites. Take the free online Leave No Trace course here.
BE PREPARED! Start slow, gain experience. Carry proper safety equipment and weather protection and bring plenty of water and lights, and a map. When on the trail, stay together, monitor the time, and be prepared to turn back. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods in cold temperatures. Accidents happen to the most experienced people. Always carry food, a space blanket, emergency whistle, first aid kit, fire making tools, extra clothing layers and socks, a map and compass, and the knowledge to use them. Inform someone of your itinerary and before entering the backcountry or launching a boat check the National Weather Service watches, warnings, and advisories here. Follow Adirondack weather forecasts at Burlington and Albany and consult the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.