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A different review for AMR

As a response to Peter Bauer’s article “A review of the AMR [Adirondack Mountain Reserve] permit system” (Adirondack Almanack, June 3), I would like to offer my own review.

There are a few points of view that differ in perspective. I assume this will just be a letter to the editor with no way for users to comment, and therefore will probably be mostly ignored. But I felt a need to write something more substantial than in the comments section.

There has been so much debate around this subject, and truthfully, I think a lot of people think that what is going on does, in fact, not honor the easement of the deed, and the legal wording seems vague. What isn’t vague, however, is who the grantee is — it is clearly marked (on Liber 660, page 220) as “THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.” (It’s all caps, so that’s how I’m referencing it). Please note what that says. Does anyone notice it does not say “THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK” (or any other agency)? Rather, it is the people, aka the general public. This seems to be something that was overlooked. But how can they have overlooked who the grantee is? That’s kind of hard to figure out. That’s why people are having trouble understanding what is going on. That’s why a lot of people are a little upset. That’s why we’re biased about this going into it (both sides).

So as a disclosure, I’m against it, even if it might have some benefit that I like. I’m against it in principle. We, the people of New York, have an easement here for access to about one-third of the 46 High Peaks. And taking a different route is not a good option in any way. Many are also worried that this is a first step in our hiking rights being stomped out, that a permit system is probably already being worked on. Most of the press is only giving good news about the system, and those against it have no voice. I think if we knew for sure what is happening is legal and right, we wouldn’t have a problem with it.

And I feel sorry for any aspiring 46er right now because things just got a lot, lot harder for them. Why? Well, there’s this new access problem, as predicted. In one of the comments written in response to Peter’s article is a story of some (presumed) aspiring 46ers who hiked Dial, Nippletop, Colvin and Blake (which, by the way, is a great achievement — congrats!). Problem is, they didn’t get back to the car until 11:30 p.m. They started at 5:30 a.m. So they tried calling the “emergency number” and were refused the ability to exit and were told to sleep in their car, all wet, muddy and probably starving, exhausted and dehydrated. I’m surprised they didn’t have to call to be rescued by rangers. (Wouldn’t that have been a little ironic, being rescued from the parking lot?)

So getting back to the original intent of this letter, my review of the system: My first attempt was a Friday. I wanted that Saturday, but I couldn’t get it. I work four 10-hour days and I have Fridays off, but I’m usually pretty tired out on Fridays, and sure enough, that Friday I was too tired to hike. I needed more sleep, but I had to keep my appointment! So I was miserable the whole day. I was tired and just wanted to sleep, but I managed to hike to Indian Head. My second try was a little better in some ways. I got a Saturday this time (to my surprise) and planned to do Gothics, or at least Pyramid. (I did Pyramid.) So I parked and started out, and I kind of wanted to try something out.

I’ve noticed that they are checking people out at the gate (the second gate, not the parking gate). For some reason, even though this is a parking reservation and you’ve already parked, well … they want your info again at the second gate, and they want to know where you’re going, too. Now, I understand the log book idea at the trailheads, and I’ve used them a lot over the years, but they have always been optional. You’re not breaking any law by not using them, and generally, nothing happens if you forget to log out after a hike. They’ve always been a kind of backup, in my opinion; they are there in case someone is lost and they want to check the log book.

So, like I said, having already parked and used my reservation, I passed right by the second gate and the people calling to me over and over, “Sir … Sir … Sir … What’s your name? Where are you going?” etc. I had my headphones on loud enough to almost completely drown them out, and I wasn’t looking at them. So within 15 seconds, some dude in a golf cart blocks my way at the gate and tells me that I’m on private property. I told him there is an easement here. (I would have thought that he knew that if he worked there.) He asked me what my name is and where I was going. He had no identification on his shirt at all; it was just a green colored shirt. So I asked him why it matters where I am going, and who wanted to know. He didn’t tell me who he was or if he was security or anything. So I just kept going, and nothing became of the incident. It just bothered me a little, but I had to test this situation out. Why? Well, because I have not seen any signage about having to check in at the second gate. It’s not on the website, nor on the reservation itself, and I didn’t see any signs along the road. The reservation is called a parking reservation. So after parking, I should still be able to enjoy my rights on this easement, the same way we have been doing since 1978, without being harassed by AMR security. If they want to make the rule of checking in a second time, then simply post it and I’ll abide. Otherwise, it seems like harassment.

And lastly, I’d like to disagree with Peter’s assessment of the trail conditions. These are some of the best trails in the High Peaks. There wasn’t even any mud. True, compared to a benchmark standard, they are crap, but compared to most of the other trails, they’re just fine and no litter, blowdown, etc., to speak of.

Tom Lyng lives in Cadyville.

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