By Jamie Organski
Old Forge resident Beth Pashley said she could think of no better way to kick off the New Year than with an easy local hike alongside her grandchildren to complete her goal of hiking 1,000 miles in (and around) the Adirondacks during the year 2022.
Pashley, who is 68, and her five grandchildren, who range in age from 12 to 21, met at the trailhead of Lock n Dam in Thendara for an easy, mostly flat, 2 mile round trip hike that is a favorite spot for families and fishermen alike.
“Well, I met my challenge with three days to spare,” said Pashley. “It was the perfect way to wrap up my challenge and I’m so glad they could all join me. It was a nice throwback to the Grandma Chronicles. My grandson, Christian, kept asking what my next challenge was, and I said, ‘Nothing!’ I am happy just exploring new trails and revisiting old ones, and doing some walkabouts around town for now.”
Pashley said although she enjoyed hiking with her family during her childhood, it didn’t become part of her routine until April of 2020, when many people were staying indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pashley’s 2022 Adirondack hikes:
(An asterisk indicates multiple hikes on that trail)
- Whetstone Gulf
- Pashley Falls
- *McCauley Mt. Trails
- *Nick’s Lake Loop Trails
- OK Slip Falls
- Stillwater Fire Tower
- Middle Settlement Lake
- Gull Lake Trail
- *Nelson Falls/ Nelson Lake
- *Lock and Dam Trail
- *Maple Ridge Trails
- Slim Pond
- Cascade Pond
- Santanoni Farm Trail
- Moss Lake
- Black Bear Mt.
- Henderson Lake
- Ager Falls
- Queer Lake
- Pixley Falls
- Coney Mt.
- Goodman Mt.
- *Town of Webb and TOBIE Trails
- Little Safford
- Mt. Jo
- *Bald Mt.
- Lost Pond
- Rock Dam Trails
- Icehouse Pond Trail
- Catlin Bay Trail
How the challenge started:
In January of 2021, Pashley decided to try for a 100 miles in the month of January challenge, and ended up being only 10 miles shy of that goal. A friend suggested she shoot for 1,000 miles in a year, and at 80 miles per month, Pashley was ready to give it a go.
A lover of schedules and organization, Pashley kept track of her miles, time, distance, and more using a spreadsheet, and a phone app called SkiTracks which provided maps, altitude, length, average speed, and kept a history log.
One of the most memorable moments of her challenge was observing the beauty of nature, a fitting reward after hiking through unfavorable conditions at times, Pashley continued.
“I stumbled across a couple inversions, where I was above the clouds, on the top of Whiteface and Bald Mountains,” she said. “ It was a crazy, beautiful thing to witness.”
Her most challenging hike was Mt. Jo in Lake Placid ( ~ 2,876 in altitude with an elevation gain of 700 feet), which Pashley equated to Bald Mountain in terms of length, but stated that Mt. Jo is far steeper (elevation gain was about 300 feet higher.)
“That was a lot of rock climbing for this grandma,” she joked, “It’s not a High Peak, and I don’t have any aspirations to attempt any High Peaks. The views of the High Peaks and Heart Lake made it worth it. A friend described the hike as, ‘An endless waterfall of rocks!’ Very appropriate description. It took almost 3 hours with lots of stops for pictures and water breaks. [I] met some hikers at the top who had made it up in 37 minutes. At my age, I was just happy to make it up (and then back down!) Speed was not a concern.”
Making the proper preparations:
During the winter time, Pashley said she frequently used snowshoes or spikes and trekking poles and kept an eye on the weather to help gauge what the hiking conditions may be like. Pashley stressed the importance of checking the weather and dressing accordingly, and having the right equipment and supplies for the weather.
“[I used] water and power bars, the right hiking boots or shoes, snowshoes, cleats, hiking poles, etc.” she said. “The biggest thing is to know my limitations (at my age- 68) and just enjoy the scenery. I’m not in a race and not out to set any records.”
What’s next on the list?
Pashley said what helped her stay motivated was that hiking wasn’t a chore, rather it became a favorite part of her day.
“It helped boost my stamina, and it was nice to see that I had hiked so many more miles in 2022, in comparison to 2020 and 2021” she said. “The mental health benefits were also a plus, and I hope to keep it up for 2023. Hey, maybe I will do a fire tower challenge sometime in the future?”
By the numbers:
Pashley hiked a total of 303 days in 2022, with her longest hike being 10 miles to Beaver River and back via the railroad tracks, and her average distance being 3.5 miles a day. In addition to Adirondack hiking, Pashley said she enjoyed hiking while on vacation in Nova Scotia last spring.
“[I] started the year out averaging 2 miles day, but as the year progressed, the average was closer to 3.5 [miles.] One of the most rewarding aspects of this experience was to show my grandkids that you are never too old to do something you want to do when you set your mind to it.”
A determined and adventurous soul, Pashley credited her late mother with describing her ability to stick with something she is passionate about and commit to it 110%.
“My mom used to tell me, ‘You’d put your hand through fire to get what you wanted.’”