Adventure, trail work and a backcountry happy hour
In 2022, Explorer recreation writers made backcountry trips to a variety of areas throughout the Adirondack Park, traveling by bike, skis, foot and boat.
Among the most prolific, Tom French headed out on trips in all kinds of weather, in all sorts of terrain. Take this fall, for instance. In November, he jumped at the opportunity to ski through the first deep snowpack of the season, trudging through two feet of storm droppings in Wanakena. Roughly a month before that he authored a story about road biking through the Boquet Valley on a tour of historic buildings. Which came a few weeks after his story about paddling the Middle Branch of the St. Regis River. And that’s just a small sampling of his work from the fall and early winter.
While French spun his first-person tales and documented them with his camera, we also captured glimpses of the outdoor culture through the perspective of other writers.
Betsy Kepes joined a group of hard-working 46er women in the Central Adirondacks during a weekend of trail work. She also wrote about some high school students on a backwoods adventure in St. Lawrence County to learn more about their environment.
We always try to highlight the unique efforts of individuals and my profile of Tony Goodwin reflected that. He retired from the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society, giving us the opportunity to highlight his impressive career.
Sign up for the “Backcountry Journal” newsletter, sending trip ideas, info and more on Thursdays
Tim Rowland, the humorous and humble columnist and reporter, wrote personal accounts about many excursions. He also captured the essence of a happy hour for bikers on the Hardy Trail in Wilmington one Friday night. And the story of how Essex Industries is delving deeper into the canoe making business while also training people with disabilities in trades that could help them join the workforce. Plus explored how the Adirondack Land Trust is looking at opening up some scenic lands outside Saranac Lake, perhaps developing a set of inclusive trails through the meadow and bog habitat.
Accidents and education
But 2022 came with some tragedy and reminders of the dangers that occur in the Adirondack Mountains. A pair of enthusiastic backcountry skiers launched a website for recording avalanches, putting a spotlight on this sometimes forgotten phenomenon. Shortly after, we wrote about that website, two skiers barely survived a snow slide on Wright Peak. Then in March, a climber died in the Trap Dike in a suspected avalanche.
There are always opportunities to educate the public. We covered what some other areas are doing to reach visitors and opportunities that are present here in our Solutions series about visitor management. Just as we finished that reporting, the Adirondack Mountain Club opened its Cascade Welcome Center, where they hope to dispense vital information to hikers and other backcountry users. Gwendolyn Craig also recapped what happened in year two of the hiker permit system at Adirondack Mountain Reserve in St. Huberts.
And, of course, the year contained plenty of coverage of the Adirondack Rail Trail. This long-running story goes back more than a decade, but it appears to be entering its final phase, as construction officially began on the section between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake this fall.
— Mike Lynch
As a nonprofit, we rely on the support of readers like you.
Join the community of people helping to power our independent,