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Guide Lines, by Zack Floss

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 ...

Fighting exclusion in the wilderness

Journeying into nature is frequently thought of as an escape. For many, it offers the ability to step away from the normal constraints of social and economic existence. It allows us to be immersed in a seemingly different reality than the one that faces us daily. Wilderness is a space where we ...

The traces we leave

If you live in the Adirondacks, or anywhere with nearby wilderness, hopefully you’ve heard of “Leave No Trace.” If you haven’t, the term refers to the set of 7 Principles created by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. In their language, these “provide an easily understood ...

Frustrated? Take time to talk it over

This Memorial Day weekend was, by some accounts, a rough one in the Adirondacks. In the most obvious cases, underlying tension felt between permanent residents and seasonal visitors here seemed to reach a boiling point against the backdrop of the angst and frustration that has built up over the ...

Unpausing the Adirondacks

A month ago, I wrote about folks coming up to visit the Adirondacks from downstate or out of state to adventure during the COVID-19 crisis. In that column, I outlined the mix of frustration and empathy that these visitors can elicit. The hope was to highlight these dichotomous feelings that ...

The challenge of challenge culture

Over the past couple of months, you may have noticed the resurgence of a variety of challenges in the social media universe. Whether it’s a challenge to post a picture a day during quarantine or to see if you can do 50 pushups a day for 30 days in a row, I’ve noticed them popping up all ...

What wilderness means

Over the past few weeks I’ve written the words “wilderness” and “wild nature” dozens of times. I often use them casually to refer to any place on a trail or mountain, in the woods, and so on. It occurred to me today, though, that wilderness is perhaps not a word that should be used so ...

My new favorite trail

This past Saturday, my partner and I found a trail that was brand new to us. It had been on my list for a while, having heard stories about it over the last couple of years, and it fell within our local circle, so we finally wandered out to give it a try. It became clear by the halfway point ...