By Mike Lynch
The Adirondak Loj and High Peaks Information Center are temporarily closed because an Adirondack Mountain Club staffer contracted COVID-19.
Adirondack Mountain Club Communications Director Ben Brosseau said his organization was contacted by the Essex County health department late Friday about the positive case and completely shut down its facilities by Saturday morning.
Those closures took place as a result of staff shortages because people had to go into quarantine.
“We believe there’s limited risk to the public,” Brosseau said.
President’s Day weekend is usually one of the two busiest weekends of the winter, along with Martin Luther King weekend. The parking lot was nearly full Saturday.
Brosseau said the facilities will be shut down for a minimum of 10 days. He said ADK hopes to have more information about a reopening date later this week.
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What’s still open, what’s closed
In the meantime, the trailhead parking lots will remain open. In addition, the public will have access to the information center’s restrooms. ADK’s wilderness campground will continue operating, and the front desk at the Adirondak Loj will be open on a limited basis for people using campsites and cabins.
The closed facilities are located on Adirondack Mountain Club property that is also home to trailheads for many popular destinations, including Mount Jo, Mount Marcy, Algonquin Peak, Marcy Dam and other places in the High Peaks.
The information center is used by hikers looking for trip advice, up-to-date backcountry conditions, and to buy last-minute gear such as maps and compasses. Many people also rent skis and snowshoes there because they don’t realize they are mandatory in the High Peaks when there is eight or more inches of snow.
Brosseau said that people visiting the High Peaks in the near future should be prepared for the deep snowpack. He noted there is a minimum of a foot in the lower elevations and six to eight feet of snow up high.
Skiers and other backcountry users should adhere to the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s avalanche advisory that was sent out recently.
So far this winter weekdays have been pretty slow, with most of the traffic coming on weekends, Brosseau said. In general, the High Peaks trailheads on ADK’s property haven’t seen anything close to the number of hikers that showed up in the spring, summer, and fall.
“It’s been a busier than normal winter but not overwhelming,” he said.