By MIKE LYNCH
Adirondack Hamlets to Huts is looking for volunteers to participate in a focus session this weekend that will inform its marketing plan.
The trekking group is hoping to attract “people who are outdoor recreationists but are not too familiar with Adirondack Hamlets to Huts,” Hamlets to Huts Director Joe Dadey said.
The focus groups, both in Saranac Lake on Saturday, will be led by Advokate, a Glens Falls marketing firm. Participants will meet in the Hamlets to Huts office at 47 Main St., though the group’s staff will not be present.
Hamlets to Huts is a nonprofit whose goal is to connect Adirondack villages and outposts via people power in all seasons, allowing them to experience the backcountry without lugging all the gear for camping. It’s patterned after European hut-to-hut systems, and the yurt trails of Vermont and Colorado. In the Adirondacks, the emphasis is community-based lodging, in part because new structures are prohibited in the state forest preserve.
Volunteers will take part in one of the two sessions that will each last an hour and consist of eight to 10 other people and two discussion leaders. The first session is for people 55 and older, and will go from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The second session is 1-2 p.m. and is for people aged 20-45.
Adirondack Hamlets to Huts plans to finish its marketing plan by the end of the summer before entering the implementation phase of its project in 2020. Implementation will include creating an online reservation system and promoting completed routes.
Dadey said the first route in place will be from Blue Mountain Lake to Raquette Lake via the Marion River and a pair of small lakes. This is a paddling route with options for hiking and biking and several lodging options along the way. Trips will be self-guided.
“That’s the first one because the infrastructure is in place,” Dadey said.
Dadey said there is also a promising route connecting Old Forge, Inlet and Raquette Lake that may be ready in the near future. The organization is also working on one that connects North Creek to Indian Lake, among others around the park.
Interested volunteers should contact Caitlin Stedman at firstname.lastname@example.org.