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Help people learn from mistakes

Let’s help people learn to be safe and considerate on the trails.  (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

Recently a couple of young hikers were lost in the woods near Ray Brook. They were admittedly unprepared for hiking at night with only a dead phone for a light source. They did have the means to start a fire. Thankfully they got out safely with the help of a ranger who had originally directed them back to the path and when they didn’t arrive at the trailhead, hiked back in to guide them safely to the parking area. One of the hikers was a minor. 

There have been plenty of times I’ve been out in the woods with my children when something has not gone according to plan. Even though I was prepared for an emergency, it didn’t make the emergency any less stressful because I was dealing with someone other than myself.  I learned from the experience. I was able to pass along some coping skills to my children and we’ve all gone on to hike any other day. 

This, of course, is only one example of the many stories involving inexperienced hikers not being prepared that we’ve been hearing about over the course of the summer. I also understand that willful ignorance endangers the rangers as well as hikers. The part I have difficulty reconciling is the amount of humiliation strangers feel two young people need to experience. 

Yes, I’m writing about those people safely sitting behind their computer willing to eviscerate two young people. If someone feels the need to comment, why not do so with helpful information another inexperienced hiker can use rather than taking jabs at a visitor. I realize some hikers just won’t learn from their risky behavior. We’ve all dealt with those folks. They want to shift the blame and create chaos to hide their error. 

There are opportunities for people to learn from their mistakes. Embarrassing people into doing the “right” thing doesn’t work. It causes resentment and a litany of other issues. With the overcrowding of trailheads and excessive garbage, there are openings for experienced backcountry trekkers to volunteer within the Adirondack Park. The state Department of Environmental Conservation website has forms for individual and group stewardship programs. These opportunities to volunteer can include trail and lean-to maintenance. The approved tasks may take some burden off of rangers so that they may continue to focus on education and safety. I’m sure there are other volunteer opportunities available so that all those experts can put their knowledge to benefit the Adirondacks. Thank you to the rangers, stewards and volunteers for helping keep the Adirondacks a beautiful place for all. Stay safe!

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