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Guide Lines, by Zack Floss

A closer look at winter visitors

If you drove through Lake Placid parked at the High Peaks Information Center for a hike over the past weekend, the only way you’d know we were in the middle of a pandemic would be all the face masks. The Tri-Lakes region and the High Peaks seem as busy as they would be during any year ...

Preservation might restore faith in USA

Over the past week, we have, collectively, been given reason to pause and think about what it is to be a citizen of the United States of America. Whether you were glued to the television on Wednesday or tried to distance yourself as much as possible; whether you thought those protesters cruel, ...

Be prepared for unpredictable, changing conditions

With the amount of time I spend in the woods, I get to see a lot of preventable errors and mistakes wrought of inexperience or oversight. Because so much more goes into planning and preparation during the colder months of the year, those mistakes can be much more consequential. It’s not only ...

The joys of stick season

In my line of work, I often wind up on a trail with people who are stunned by how much there is to do in the Adirondacks. Many have never visited before, so when they learn about the huge variety of outdoor recreation opportunities that have been waiting mere hours from where they live, ...

Staying found this winter

By the time I heard about the ongoing search operation on Allen Mountain last week, the subject had been lost for the better part of three days. With nighttime temperatures in the valleys sitting in the low 20s Fahrenheit, it seemed fairly likely that those searching for the lost hiker were ...

Debar Lodge may be worth saving

The impetus behind heading into the backcountry is often to gain some space, to find solace in a place where time is measured more by erosion of soil or the decay of tree stumps than by clocks or construction schedules. There is a certain peace to be found, especially when one leaves even ...

Can’t escape our political nature

Election Day is upon us, and the fatigue from another vicious campaign season is palpable. There is no small number of people who have expressed the desire to take a break from the “real world” lately. This is a pretty common sentiment to hear on the trail, even in non-election years. ...

Safety first, then fun, then summit

Last Saturday, I was reminded of just how challenging shoulder season weather can be for those who aim to venture out in it. Setting out at 4:30 a.m., my good friend Bear and I were hoping to make some decent headway before showers that were slated to come and go all morning began. The goal ...

Will things slow down this fall?

“When things finally slow down” is a line I’ve heard repeated fairly often lately. Having more or less acclimated to a crazy summer, this fall has followed a fairly predictable pattern in the High Peaks Wilderness, though the amount of cars passing through Keene Valley at 4:30 in the ...

Jeep at Marcy Dam is a stunning violation

Last Tuesday, on my way down from the summit of Mount Marcy, I came across a sight I hope to never see again. Right next to the trail register at Marcy Dam was a white Jeep Cherokee, parked as if that were a trailhead lot. Perplexed, I assumed that this vehicle belonged to a ranger, though ...

AuSable Club tries to help manage overuse

In the beginning of September, the news that the AuSable Club will pilot access restrictions to Adirondack Mountain Reserve land this coming Columbus Day weekend evoked some frustration in the wilderness recreation community. This action will see yet-unspecified restrictions to hiker traffic ...

Seeing the forest for the trees

There’s something about the changing of seasons that tends to prompt reflection. As we’ve had our first few chilly nights of the summer, fall feels right around the corner now. Maybe I’m looking too hard for signs of it, but it seems that leaves are already changing, 8 p.m. darkness still ...

Combating unpreparedness

There’s something about being outdoors, whether its on a boat or a trail, climbing rock or biking, that leads people, in my experience to be more friendly than they normally would. Maybe it’s just the joy of being out in the open air, or maybe when you see someone else recreating in the way ...

Time for stronger action to combat overuse

Overuse is the word of the summer here in the Adirondacks. The influx of people feels unprecedented for a number of reasons. Parking areas are being pushed well past their maximum; search-and-rescue numbers are up; campsites and lean-tos are overrun and covered in trash. But despite all this, ...

Shared responsibility for search and rescue

Last Tuesday, if you were hiking in the High Peaks, you may have noticed quite a bit of helicopter traffic around Mt. Colden. If you were curious, you may have done some searching online the next day to see if you could figure out what happened. It only took a few seconds to come across this ...

Whose land is it anyway?

I have never been an advocate for commodifying access to the Adirondacks, but the last few weeks have started to make me consider things from a different angle. This week a hiking buddy and I took a trip into the Seward Range. A few years ago, that trailhead was one of the most reliably quiet ...

We need to be smart about bears

During any given week on trails in the Adirondacks, you hear a lot of people bring up bears. From what I’ve heard in parking lots, seen in trail logs and read in lean-to notebooks, it would seem that they are a constant menace, ruthlessly harassing hikers and stealing their food with great ...

Your dog isn’t superhuman

While heading back down Giant Mountain last Thursday, I came across a family struggling with their ascent. They were about a mile-and-a-quarter into their hike and were definitely having second thoughts about their trail choice. The mother of the family was the first one I encountered. She ...

Diversity on the trail

About a month ago, racial injustice in America jumped to the forefront of many people’s attention across the country. Dialogue on this front has been developing for decades, but it was more limited in its reach because the majority of white people had the option to disengage with this topic. ...

Fighting exclusion, part II

It has been 22 days since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers. Since then, as protests and demonstrations have erupted in every state in the country over police violence and systemic racism, many who had never paused to consider these daunting issues are now confronting them ...